Ideas and inspiration from NSTA’s February 2019 K-12 journals

In addition to an overview/review of the 5E model and the STEM disciplines, the Guest Editorial: Using the BSCS 5E Instructional Model to Introduce STEM Disciplines (in Science & Children)has a framework and suggestions for integrating the Model and STEM disciplines into planned and purposeful instruction. (An interesting read for all grade levels.)

Regardless of what grade level or subject you teach, check out all three K-12 journals. As you skim through titles and descriptions of the articles, you may find ideas for lessons that would be interesting for your students, the inspiration to adapt a lesson to your grade level or subject, or the challenge to create/share your own lessons and ideas.

The Science Teacher – Scientific Reasoning and Argumentation

Editor’s Corner: Scientific Reasoning and Argumentation – “When students defend and critique scientific explanations, experimental designs, or engineering solutions, they learn to create and evaluate arguments using evidence and logical reasoning. Through critical discourse, they are challenged to distinguish opinion from evidence. They learn that argumentation is how scientists collaboratively construct and revise scientific knowledge.”

The lessons described in the articles include a chart showing connections with the NGSS. The graphics are especially helpful in understanding the activities and in providing ideas for your own investigations.

  • Incorporating argumentation does not necessarily mean a need to develop new lessons or investigations. A New Twist on DNA Extraction illustrates a modification of a traditional DNA extraction activity from follow-the-directions to an emphasis on protocol design and collaborative problem solving. The article includes examples of student work.
  • The authors of Using Scientific Argumentation to Understand Human Impact on the Earth use the High Adventure Science project that guides students through the process. “When students hear “construct an argument” they often think in terms of an exchange of opposing viewpoints or an attempt to persuade others that an idea is correct or incorrect. Scientific arguments are different; developing a scientific argument involves defending a claim based on evidence, and should also include an examination of the evidence to determine its limitations and merits.”
  • Let’s Invent! has suggestions for incorporating invention as a way to engage students in engineering design and local problems. The article describes two strategies that any teacher could use to start students inventing: Grab Bag Inventing and Problem Finding.
  • Formatively Assessing NGSS addresses a need that many science teacher have: how to assess the three dimensions of the NGSS. The authors describe three models for assessment–sequential, concurrent, and embedded—with examples and tips. There is a helpful table showing how formative assessment strategies that teachers may already use can align with these models.
  • “Proxy data are preserved physical characteristics of the environment that stand in—serve as proxies—for direct measurements.” Proxy Climatology shows how students used tree rings to investigate climate change. The author includes a link to the lesson, including rubrics and data sets.
  • Focus on Physics: Quickly Teaching Speed, Velocity, and Acceleration—Part 1 takes a realistic look at prioritizing the number and depth of topics and distinguishing between the tool and concepts of physics.

These monthly columns continue to provide background knowledge and classroom ideas:

For more on the content that provides a context for projects and strategies described in this issue, see the SciLinks topics Acceleration, Climate Change, Dendochronology, DNA, Motion, Paleontologist, Paleontology, Speed, Velocity

Many authors share resources related to the lessons and strategies in their articles. These resources include rubrics, graphic organizers, handouts, diagrams, lists of resources, and complete lessons. You can access these through the Connections link for The Science Teacher.

Keep reading for Science & Children and Science Scope.

Continue reading …

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10 Reasons High School Teachers Should Join NSTA in St. Louis in April

I work at a school in a science department that needs a little bit of re-innovation. I am trying to invigorate my department and help connect them with ideas that will help our students shine!” High school teacher Meghan W. had a great reason for wanting to be at NSTA’s National Conference last year, and no doubt many science teachers feel the same. NSTA conferences have great science ed PD, and we bring together the brightest minds in the field. Here are 10 more reasons high school educators won’t want to miss #NSTA19 in St. Louis this April.

  1. High School Share-a-Thon—Saturday, April 13, 9:30–11:00 AM
    Join NSTA’s High School Division Director, Carrie Jones (ncscienceteacher@yahoo.com) for a high-energy morning designed just for high school educators. Session organizers say this is the place to come if you need new lessons for your high school classroom. Stop by for networking, great ideas, fun activities, handouts, and door prizes.
    (See page 13 of the program preview for more information.)

  2. NGSS@NSTA Forum—Friday, April 12, 8:00 AM–4:30 PM
    Held annually, this forum is considered to be the best place to explore three-dimensional teaching and learning. This year’s NGSS@NSTA Forum will focus on instructional materials. At the opening session, you’ll discover tools you can use to evaluate resources; and then five additional sessions will highlight instructional units designed to address three-dimensional standards. Click here for a list of the sessions. 
    (See page 11 of the program preview for more information.)

  3. Dozens of sessions will be led by high school educators. Below is a small sampling of what you’ll find when you search the session browser for events targeted for high school science teaching:
  • Developing Inclusive, Three-Dimensional Science Communities in High School Chemistry Classrooms, Thursday, April 11, 8:00–9:00 AM
  • A Generation of Citizen Stewards, Thursday, April 11, 8:30–9:00 AM
  • STEP UP 4 Women: Bringing the Representation of Women in Physics to 50% with High School Interventions, Thursday, April 11, 12:30–1:30 PM
  • Creating a High School Physics Course in the NGSS Style, Friday, April 12, 8:00–8:30 AM
  • Adventures in Flipped-Mastery: The Do’s and Don’ts of Changing a Traditional Classroom into a Flipped Learning and Standards-Referenced Environment, Friday, April 12, 9:3010:30 AM
  • Integrating E-Books into the Secondary Classroom Friday, April 12, 11:00 AM12 Noon
  • NGSS Session: What Can and Should We Do with CRISPR? A Next Generation Storyline That Connects Science to Students’ Interests and Concerns, Saturday, April 13, 12:301:30 PM
  1. HHMI Night at the MoviesThursday, April 11, 6:00 PM, at the Ferrara Theatre in America’s Center.
    Admission is free! Complimentary refreshments before the show.
    (See page 33 of the program preview for more information.)

  2. Global Conversations: Welcome to My High School Classroom (W-2)—Wednesday, April 10, 7:20–11:45 AM
    Welcome to My Classroom is a program sponsored by NSTA’s International Advisory Board and is intended primarily for international participants to view science classrooms. Those with W-2 tickets will visit the Collegiate School of Medicine and Bioscience, an innovative college preparatory grades 9–12 high school with high expectations for its academic team and student body. For more information, visit slps.org/collegiate.
    (See page 18 of the program preview for more information.)

  3. Association of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC)–sponsored session: Citizen Science Investigations—Data-Rich Learning at Your DoorstepThursday, April 11, 3:30–4:30 PM
    Experience how citizen science provides a context for developing students’ understanding of data and variability along with science skills and concepts through local ecosystem investigations.
    Click here to see more ASTC-sponsored sessions.

  4. Learn how to get published in The Science Teacher (NSTA’s high school journal) or any of NSTA’s journals—Saturday, April 13, 9:30–10:30 AM
    Meet the editors of NSTA’s four grade-level teaching journals. Find out what types of articles they’re looking for, why it’s important to use your own classroom experience as the subject matter, how the review process works, and more. Would-be authors will find that it’s not so daunting to share their great ideas with peers.

  5. Meet the authors of your favorite NSTA Press books and share ideas for using their innovative strategies in the classroom. All NSTA Press sessions will be held in America’s Center. Click here to see all of the sessions. Many of the sessions are great for high school teachers, including the following:
    • Integrate Engineering into the Science Classroom Using Case Studies
      Thursday, April 11, 5:00–6:00 PM
      Struggling to add more engineering to your science class? Join us for hands-on case studies for grades 6–12 physical and life sciences.

    • Reading Nature—Engaging Biology Students with Evidence from the Living World
      Friday, April 12, 9:30 AM – 10:30 AM
      Engage adapted primary literature using an NSTA Press publication that allows biology students to not only understand core ideas, but understand how they are justified.

    • Beyond the Egg Drop-Infusing Engineering into High School Physics/Science Classrooms
      Friday, April 12, 2:00 PM–3:00 PM
      Egg drop, marshmallow tower, motor-building…we certainly don’t lack “activities” in our science classroom. How can we go beyond trial-and-error? Explore concept-based engineering infusion and assessment options.

    • Once Upon an Earth Science Book
      Sunday, April 14, 9:30 AM–10:30 AM
      Want your students to read and write more effectively? Join Jodi Wheeler-Toppen, author of the Once Upon a Science Book series, for lessons that integrate literacy and Earth science content.
  1. The Exhibit Hall—Daily
    Some call NSTA’s exhibit hall the “science teacher’s playground,” and while it truly is fun, you’ll also pick up a lot of PD and get to try top-notch science ed resources while there. Check out this blog to see what happens there (and only there)—from the whacky to the wonderful. View the exhibit floor and plan your route here (and don’t forget to leave room in your suitcase for all the swag).

  2. Meet your fellow high school teachers at the First-Timers Session—Thursday, April 11, 8:00–9:00 AM.
    This may be last on our list, but it should be first on yours. You’ll find tables marked “High School” (among other topics you may choose from like STEM and NGSS), where you can meet other attendees with similar interests, get to know the NSTA leadership, win prizes, and have a lot of fun. It’s the best way to kick off your conference experience!

Can’t Attend But Want the Experience?

Follow along on Twitter and Instagram using #NSTA19, like NSTA on Facebook and check out our St. Louis album, or follow The Science Teacher editor on Twitter for high schoolspecific information about the conference and other happenings at NSTA.

Pro Tips

Check out more sessions and other events with the St. Louis Session Browser. Follow all our conference tweets using #NSTA19, and if you tweet, please feel free to tag us @NSTA so we see it and share.

Need help requesting funding or time off from your principal or supervisor? Download a letter of support and bring it with you.

And don’t forget, NSTA members save up to $90 off the price of registration. Not a member? Join here.

Future NSTA Conferences

2019 National Conference
St. Louis, April 11–14

8th Annual STEM Forum & Expo, hosted by NSTA
San Francisco, July 24–26, 2019

The mission of NSTA is to promote excellence and innovation in science teaching and learning for all.

Follow NSTA

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Sensory play for science learning

Children and people of all ages continually explore and learn through their senses. Prior experiences that build understanding of how we use our senses to learn about the world are the foundation for understanding the Next Generation Science Standards Disciplinary Core Ideas. Some children seek out specific experiences such as the two-year-old who would enthusiastically cling to my arm when I wore an especially soft microfiber fleece jacket, and the four-year-old who liked to be the last one to wash her hands so she could be there long enough to create a mound of bubbles to feel. Stomping in puddles and rolling down a grassy slope were favorite experiences of other children. The weight or softness of a certain doll, the bark texture of a special stick, or the size of a particular toy car, are why these objects meet the needs of some children.

Debra Hunter gives examples of how children address multiple areas of development through play at the sensory table (2008), including cognitive and physical development. An intentionally designated space or time for planned messy experiences make it possible for both children and adults to linger with the experience and not feel stressed to end at a set time. Having fun at a sensory table engages children in exploring the properties of matter, developing fine motor skills, and developing a beginning understanding of measurement and volume, force, and motion. Working together to share tools or create a shared experience strengthens children’s oral language and social/emotional development. Experiences with sensory materials introduce new vocabulary such as “sticky” and “absorb.”

Children add water to soil, making mud.Child plays with measuring tools in a tub of water outside on the grass.A sensory play experience attracts different children depending on what material is provided. Just as some children are drawn to certain materials, others avoid them. “Children differ in their ability to process and respond to information from the environment while engaging in activities” (Thompson and Raisor). Sensory activities that support infant and toddler exploration require closer supervision but provide the same opportunities for learning about the world (Schwarz and Luckenbill). Extensions 25(5), the HighScope newsletter has three articles about sensory play: Look, Listen, Touch, Feel, Taste: The Importance of Sensory Play;  Observing and Supporting the KDIs at the Sand and Water Table; and Providing Sensory Experiences That Meet the Needs of All Infants and Toddlers; that remind us that sensory play is “’food for the brain.’ Stimulating the senses sends signals to children’s brains that help to strengthen neural pathways important for all types of learning.”

Taking allergies and other safety concerns such as eye protection into consideration, and reflecting on the daily routine and available spaces, opens up possibilities for creative sensory learning experiences.

Boddy, Jessica. 2017. Are We Eating Our Fleece Jackets? Microfibers Are Migrating Into Field And Food. NPR. February 6, 2017, 1:21 PM ET

https://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2017/02/06/511843443/are-we-eating-our-fleece-jackets-microfibers-are-migrating-into-field-and-food 

High Scope. 2011. Extensions newsletter. Volume 25 No. 5. https://highscope.org 

Hunter, Debra. 2008. Teachers on Teaching: What Happens When a Child Plays at the Sensory Table? Young Children. 63(6): 77-79. 

Schwarz, Trudi and Julia Luckenbill.  2015. Let’s Get Messy! Learning Through Art and Sensory Play in Spotlight on Young Children: Exploring Play.  NAEYC. https://www.naeyc.org/resources/pubs/books

Thompson, Stacy D. and Jill M. Raisor. 2013. Individualizing in Early Childhood: The What, Why, and How of Differentiated Approaches: Meeting the Sensory Needs of Young Children. Young Children. 68(2): 34-43  https://issuu.com/naeyc/docs/meeting_sensory_needs_thompson_0513 

Vanover, Sarah. The Importance of Sand and Water Play. National Association for the Education of Young Children blog. 7/18/2018 https://www.naeyc.org/resources/blog/importance-sand-and-water-play 

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Ed News: Higher Ed is Pushing STEM Diversity, But is Change Happening Fast Enough?

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This week in education news, Senator Klobuchar is running for president; girls of color have a place in STEM; report finds that the teaching force has been greatly changing, but few have noticed; University of California system now allowing high school computer science courses will be counted toward the core curriculum credit; President Trump calls for new AI workforce-development efforts; Linda Darling-Hammond named new head of California State Board of Education; Tennessee governor proposes $4M for STEM education; Astronaut Mark Kelly is running for U.S. Senate; and report finds that homework tends to be aligned to state standards, but not all that rigorous.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, a STEM Fan, Is Running for President

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., is the latest Democratic senator to announce her candidacy for the White House in 2020. We highlighted the Minnesota senior senator’s work on education issues late last year. Klobuchar, the daughter of an elementary school teacher, has worked to boost science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) during her tenure in the Senate—she was first elected to her seat in 2006. Read the blog featured in Education Week.

A 17-Year-Old Wants to Spice Up Science Classes and, Eventually, Democratize Education

Steven Wang got into the tech field about seven years ago – as a pre-adolescent. Now, at 17, he has a startup that is on the verge of being acquired and a concrete vision for how he wants to use technology to transform the learning experience for students all over the world. Read the article featured in The Hechinger Report.

A Principal’s View: How Introducing STEM Has Radically Changed My Washington, D.C., School — and Just Won Us a Major Innovation Award

Some might not expect a school in southeast Washington, D.C., to have the only all-black robotics team at a national competition. Others might look at Hendley Elementary School’s Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) scores and not assume that our students are coding, problem-solving, and engaging in critical thinking daily. Even I could have been discouraged when I saw that less than 10 percent of our fourth- and fifth-grade students participated in the annual school science fair when I started as principal. Instead, I was motivated by it. Read the article posted on The 74.

Continue reading …

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Why Should Middle Level Teachers Join NSTA in St. Louis in April?

So I can inspire more students to love science!” That’s why middle school teacher Katherine W. told us she wanted to come to our national conference. Inspiration is high on the list for most people who come to an NSTA conference, as is the best science ed PD you’ll find anywhere, plus lots of amazing people. Here are eight more things middle level educators won’t want to miss at #NSTA19 in St. Louis this April.

  1. Meet Me in the Middle Day—Friday, April 12, 10:15 AM–4:30 PM
    Join the National Middle Level Science Teachers Association (NMLSTA) for an amazing day designed just for middle school educators. The day’s events include 15 workshops and presentations, two roundtable networking sessions featuring a variety of topics, and an afternoon share-a-thon with up to 100 presenters swapping ideas. You’ll walk away with new friends and ideas you can use in your classroom next week!
    (See page 10 of the program preview for more information.)

  2. Show your NSTA St. Louis Conference Badge and receive complimentary admission to the Butterfly House for a self-guided tour, courtesy of the Missouri Botanical Garden. Great care was taken in the design and engineering of the 8,000-square-foot glass conservatory garden to assure a natural and safe habitat for the butterflies. As many as 80 butterfly species and 150 tropical plant species are exhibited.
    (See page 20 of the program preview for more information.)
  1. Dozens of sessions will be led by middle school educators. Below is a small sampling of what you’ll find when you search the session browser for events targeted for middle level science teaching: 
    • Middle School Science Fair: Tips and Tricks
    • Ice, Ice, Baby: An Integrated 3-D Storyline Unit for Middle School Science Using Instant Ice Packs
    • Stratospheric Ballooning for Middle School Students
    • All Kids Have a Voice: Using Protocols and Other Activities in the Middle School Science Classroom to Build Equity
  1. Association for Multicultural Science Education (AMSE)-Sponsored Session: How to Be a DonorsChoose Rockstar—Using Crowdfunding to Get a Killer STEM Space!Saturday, April 13, 3:30–4:30 PM
    Grow your STEM program in this session. Learn how to fill your space with learning tools, supplies, and more to complete your three-dimensional learning space.
    Click here to see more AMSE-sponsored sessions.

  2. Teacher Researcher Day Session: Using Argumentation with a Social Justice Aspect to Improve Scientific LiteracyThursday, April 11, 2:00–3:00 PM
    Most people cannot remember their middle school science classes. By adding a social justice aspect for argumentation, students are able to see how science impacts not only their daily lives but also the lives of others in a global context.
    Click here to see more Teacher Research Day sessions.

  3. Learn how to get published in Science Scope (NSTA’s middle level journal) or any of NSTA’s journals.—Saturday, April 13, 9:30–10:30 AM
    Meet the editors of NSTA’s four grade-level teaching journals. Find out what types of articles they’re looking for, why it’s important to use your own classroom experience as the subject matter, how the review process works, and more. Would-be authors will find that it’s not so daunting to share their great ideas with peers.

  4. Meet the authors of your favorite NSTA Press books and share ideas for using their innovative strategies in the classroom. All NSTA Press sessions will be held in America’s Center. Click here to see all NSTA Press sessions.

    Many of the sessions are particularly useful for middle school teachers, including the following:

    • What Is the Difference Between Weather and Climate?
      Thursday, April 11, 2:00–3:00 PM
      Laura Tucker, co-author of the popular Uncovering Student Misconceptions series, will share student responses to address this key concept for teaching climate change.
    • Instructional Sequence Matters—Structuring Lessons with the NGSS in Mind
      Thursday, April 11, 5:00–6:00 PM
      Learn how to be an explore-before-explain teacher who structures lessons so student evidenced-based claims are the foundation for learning and promote long-lasting physical science understanding.
    • Reading Nature—Engaging Biology Students with Evidence from the Living World
      Friday, April 12, 9:30–10:30 AM
      Engage adapted primary literature using an NSTA Press publication that allows biology students to not only understand core ideas, but understand how they are justified.
    • Once Upon an Earth Science Book
      Sunday, April 14, 9:30–10:30 AM
      Want your students to read and write more effectively? Join Jodi Wheeler-Toppen, author of the Once Upon a Science Book series, for lessons that integrate literacy and Earth science content.
  1. The Exhibit Hall—Daily
    Some call NSTA’s exhibit hall the “science teacher’s playground,” and while it truly is fun, you’ll also pick up a lot of PD and get to try top-notch science ed resources while there. Check out this blog to see what happens there (and only there)—from the whacky to the wonderful. View the exhibit floor and plan your route here (and don’t forget to leave room in your suitcase for all the swag).

  2. Meet your fellow middle school teachers at the First-Timers Session—Thursday, April 11, 8:00–9:00 AM.
    This may be last on our list, but it should be first on yours. You’ll find tables marked “Middle School” (among other topics you may choose from like STEM and NGSS), where you can meet other attendees with similar interests, get to know the NSTA leadership, win prizes, and have a lot of fun. It’s the best way to kick off your conference experience!

Can’t Attend But Want the Experience?

Follow along on Twitter and Instagram using #NSTA19, like NSTA on Facebook and check out our St. Louis album, or follow the Science Scope editor on Twitter for middle school–specific information about the conference and other happenings at NSTA.

Pro Tips

Check out more sessions and other events with the St. Louis Session Browser. Follow all our conference tweets using #NSTA19, and if you tweet, please feel free to tag us @NSTA so we see it and share.

Need help requesting funding or time off from your principal or supervisor? Download a letter of support and bring it with you.

And don’t forget, NSTA members save up to $90 off the price of registration. Not a member? Join here.

Future NSTA Conferences

8th Annual STEM Forum & Expo, hosted by NSTA
San Francisco, July 24–26, 2019

The mission of NSTA is to promote excellence and innovation in science teaching and learning for all.

Follow NSTA

Facebook icon Twitter icon LinkedIn icon Pinterest icon G+ icon YouTube icon Instagram icon

 

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Interactive eBook Introduces Young Readers to Beavers, Nature’s Furry Engineer

As a member of her local nature preserve, Katie Dunbar learned so much about the symbiotic relationship between animals and their environment. Take beavers, for example. The absence or presence of this one species has the ability to completely alter its ecosystem.

“Beavers are considered a keystone species for the vital role they play in their ecosystems,” said Dunbar, a K-5 librarian for the Palisades School District in Kintnersville, Pa. “If you remove them, the whole ecosystem changes. Their very existence ensures a healthy balance across plant life, animal species, and water levels.”

When Dunbar learned that NSTA was seeking authors, she wanted beavers to factor prominently in her storytelling. She admitted to having “great fun researching these fascinating, three feet-long little rodents” for her eBook+ Kids interactive book, Beavers Building Ecosystems.

While on a visit to Maine, Dunbar hunted down known beaver habitats, but admitted to being “completely surprised” upon discovering some of them.

“There was a huge variety in their dams, some of which I didn’t know were there until I stepped on them,” Dunbar said. “Between the trees and the brush, I couldn’t even tell that a pond was there.”

Dunbar’s eBook actively encourages K-5 students to participate in hands-on, three-dimensional learning. The content takes students through science and engineering practices; crosscutting concepts; and disciplinary core ideas. A detailed teachers’ guide supplements the e-book and can be used as a tool for class-wide, small group, or independent study of the content; provides additional ideas and activities; and assesses students on the content standards to which this e-book is aligned.

“The e-book allows students to make so many more connections with the content than if they were just reading a printed book,” Dunbar explained. “You can tell kids the connections, but they are not going to remember. If they get to interact with ideas and make connections themselves they will remember.”

Once considered a nuisance, more recent evidence points to the positive effects beavers have on ecosystem repair, esp. in the west, in managing storm water runoff, elevating low water tables, preventing river bed erosion, and creating of new wetlands.

“I hope that students who interact with this e-book get excited about this little critter who makes so many positive changes,” Dunbar said.

The author is hard at work on her second e-Book about pygmy mammoths. Did you know that the Chanel Islands are the only place in the world where pygmy mammoths are known to have existed? Dunbar shared that they evolved from the Columbian mammoths of North America after swimming out to the Chanel Islands.

Stay tuned!

Find out how to order Beavers Building Ecosystems.

Read an excerpt from the Teacher’s Guide.

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[Sad Trombone]

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Have you ever been challenged by student teachers and the methods they bring to the classroom that differed from yours? Have students ever favored your student teacher over you? How did you react? 

— R., Ohio

 

On a few occasions I did learn some new activities or labs which I would gladly discuss with the student teacher and look at employing myself. I think because I dedicated myself to keeping current on new ways of teaching and tried many different techniques throughout my career, there weren’t really too many times that a student teacher came up with a completely new way to teach something. In fact, even though I and many other teachers have switched to student-centered approaches, some preservice teachers still start in a teacher-centered manner, much in way they themselves had been taught in school!

It was quite a blow to my ego whenever students preferred my student teacher and moaned when I took over the class again! I would brush it off, justifying it as their attraction to someone younger (and better looking). If I only had to teach for five weeks with a reduced workload I could be a rock star, too, I told myself. However, I also had to face up to the fact that some were better than me and that there will always be teachers better than me. And that’s a good thing for everyone. If teachers don’t improve then our education doesn’t move forward. And that means that we stop progressing.

Better said by John Dewey:
“If we teach today’s students as we taught yesterday’s, we rob them of tomorrow.”

Hope this helps!

 

Sound Attribution via Creative Commons 3.0: “Sad Trombone Sound” by Joe Lamb. Released: 2011. 

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Plan Your #NSTA19 St. Louis Elementary Science Experience

The biggest science education conference of the year is happening in St. Louis this spring! Elementary teachers who want to be the student for a few days should join us. Here are 11 reasons why.

  1. NSTA’s inaugural Linking Literacy EventFriday and Saturday, April 12–13
    (See page 11 of the program preview for more information.)
    Join science teachers from across the globe for a special event focusing on science and children’s literature. All are invited; however the event is especially geared toward elementary teachers looking for strategies to increase science instruction while meeting ELA standards as well. Highlights of the event include hearing directly from great authors of trade books as they celebrate their work, discuss their books, and suggest how to use them in the classroom.

  2. Global Conversations: Welcome to My Elementary Classroom (W-1)—Wednesday, April 10, 7:20–11:45 AM
    Welcome to My Classroom is a program sponsored by NSTA’s International Advisory Board and is intended primarily for international participants to view science classrooms. Those with W-1 tickets will visit Maple Richmond Heights Elementary School, a grades 3–6 elementary school in which teaching and learning are focused by using the “School As Museum” metaphor to organize classroom projects. For more information, visit http://www.mrhschools.net/ elementary-school/about-us.

  3. Show your NSTA St. Louis Conference Badge and receive complimentary admission to the Butterfly House for a self-guided tour, courtesy of the Missouri Botanical Garden. Great care was taken in the design and engineering of the 8,000-square-foot glass conservatory garden to assure a natural and safe habitat for the butterflies. As many as 80 butterfly species and 150 tropical plant species are exhibited.
    (See page 19 of the program preview for more information.)

  4. The Elementary Extravaganza—Friday, April 12
    (See page 7 of the program preview for more information.)
    Many elementary teachers consider this to be the highlight of their conference experience! Gather resources for use in your classroom immediately. Engaging hands-on activities, strategies to excite and encourage your students, a preview of the best trade books available, information about award opportunities, contacts with elementary science organizations, sharing with colleagues, door prizes, and much more will be available to participants. Walk away with a head full of ideas and arms filled with materials. Organizations participating in the Elementary Extravaganza include the Association of Presidential Awardees in Science Teaching, the Council for Elementary Science International, NSTA’s Preschool Elementary Committee, Science & Children authors and reviewers, and Society of Elementary Presidential Awardees.

  5. Space Mission & “Stellar” Elementary Workshop at the Challenger Learning Center (T-2)— Thursday, April 11, 9:00 AM–2:45 PM
    Ticket Price: $82; by preregistration only
    Become a “Jr. Astronaut” by going on a simulated space mission and making compressed-air rockets. Then engage in a hands-on workshop that integrates reading, writing, and math into astronomy by doing standards-based activities that take the unreachable and make it hands on. Junior Astronauts programs are geared toward students ages 6 to 11. Strategies will be shared for embedding STEM throughout the curriculum. Leave with at least three classroom-ready lesson plans and a renewed excitement for the wonders of space exploration. Box lunch is included.

  6. Association for Multicultural Science Education (AMSE)-Sponsored Session: Rooting Peer Learning Across Grades—Friday, April 12, 3:30–4:30 PM
    Hear how yearlong written correspondence between elementary and high school students encourages authentic engagement in science content, racial equity, and social justice.
    Click here for more AMSE-sponsored sessions.

  7. Council for Elementary Science International (CESI)-Sponsored Session: Creating (and Transforming) “Predict, Observe, Explain” Hands-On Science Activities for Lower Elementary Science—Friday, April 12, 12:30–1:30 PM
    Learn how to create (or modify from activities you already do) Predict, Observe, Explain learning sequences for grades K–5 students.
    Click here for more CESI-sponsored sessions.

  8. Launching an Elementary STEM Program—Saturday, April 13, 12:30–1:30 PM
    Need ideas of where to start with building an elementary STEM program or enhancing your current program? The initial steps in building an elementary STEM program can be an overwhelming thought. NSTA’s PD expert, Kim Stilwell, will share success stories and how using Picture-Perfect Science resources became part of the foundation to a successful implementation. Leave with links to helpful resources and ideas on how to start an elementary STEM program.
    Search the session browser for this and other STEMtastic ideas for elementary teachers.

  9. Elementary Science with NOAA: Free K–5 Science Resources from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration— Saturday, April 13, 3:30–4:30 PM
    The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration offers an array of free resources to teach K–5 Earth system and environmental science. Learn about our curricular units and stand-alone lessons, digital storybooks, and inquiry-based activities—resources that enhance literacy skills while encouraging scientific exploration by young minds.
    Search the session browser for more NOAA-sponsored sessions.

  10. The Exhibit Hall—Daily
    Some call NSTA’s exhibit hall the “science teacher’s playground,” and while it truly is fun, you’ll also pick up a lot of PD and get to try top-notch science ed resources while there. Check out this blog to see what happens there (and only there)—from the whacky to the wonderful. View the exhibit floor and plan your route here (and don’t forget to leave room in your suitcase for all the swag).

  11. Meet your fellow elementary teachers at the First-Timers Session—Thursday, April 11, 8:00–9:00 AM
    This may be last on our list, but it should be first on yours. You’ll find tables marked “Elementary” (among other topics you may choose from like STEM and NGSS), where you can meet other attendees with similar interests, get to know the NSTA leadership, win prizes, and have a lot of fun. It’s the best way to kick off your conference experience!

Can’t Attend But Want the Experience?

ONE-DAY LIVESTREAM EVENTSaturday, April 13, 8:00 AM–1:45 PM
Join us on Saturday, April 13, for a livestream event specifically for elementary teachers. We’ve developed an entire event just for your professional learning needs. The event will take place in St. Louis during our National Conference on Science Education.

We will kick off the event with Sean Carroll’s The Many Worlds of Quantum Mechanics. Join Sean as he discusses the ongoing dilemma of how we still don’t truly understand the theory of quantum mechanics, despite its use on an everyday basis.

In between each of the breakout sessions, we’ll be featuring interviews from WebsEdge. The TV segments will profile prominent science educators and scientists, highlight the hard work of teachers and organizations committed to elevating the quality of science education in the United States.

In our first breakout session, Picture-Perfect Science authors Emily Morgan and Karen Ansberry will present Picture-Perfect STEM Lessons: Using Children’s Books to Inspire STEM Learning, K–5. Karen and Emily will share model lessons that integrate STEM and literacy through the use of engaging STEM-related picture books.

Carla Zembal-Saul, professor of science education at Penn State, will present the second breakout session of the day: Bringing English Learners into Focus Through Next Generation Science. Learn strategies and processes to intentionally design science instruction with ELLs at the center.

In the final breakout session, Linda Froschauer, former NSTA President and field editor of NSTA’s Science & Children, will present Facing Challenges, Making Changes, Changing Lives. In this talk, Linda will look back to what brought us to this point in the evolution of elementary science teaching.

We’re offering this program at a special introductory rate:

$75 for NSTA members; $99 for nonmembers.

We hope you’ll join us for this day of professional learning geared specifically toward elementary teachers.

Pro Tips

Check out more sessions and other events with the St. Louis Session Browser/Personal Scheduler. Follow all our conference tweets using #NSTA19, and if you tweet, please feel free to tag us @NSTA so we see it!

Need help requesting funding or time off from your principal or supervisor? Download a letter of support and bring it with you.

And don’t forget, NSTA members save up to $90 off the price of registration. Not a member? Join here.

Future NSTA Conferences

2019 STEM Forum & Expo
San Francisco, July 24–26

The mission of NSTA is to promote excellence and innovation in science teaching and learning for all.

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The Go Direct SpectroVis Plus Spectrophotometer: Listening to Plants (Part 2)

Continuing the story of the Vernier Go Direct SpectroVis Plus Spectrophotometer, we will now apply its power it for a more traditional use; to inspect the transmission and absorption of fluid or a material suspended in a fluid. And that fluid can be easily and quickly generated with little more than a sample of plant leaf and some isopropyl alcohol.
 
Plant leaves like some light wavelengths but not others. They tell us there preferences through their absorbance spectrum. They tell us their dislikes by their transmission spectrum. A simple, popular and highly effective demonstration of the Go Direct SpectroVis Plus Spectrophotometer’s power is with a basic inspection of the transmission (reflection) and absorption spectrum of a some green fluids generated from leaves.  Essentially plants can tell us their story through their spectrum and the Go Direct SpectroVis Plus Spectrophotometer acts like a translator so we can understand what the plants have to say.
 
workspace
 
Preparing the magic juice for the Go Direct SpectroVis Plus Spectrophotometer involves nothing more than a mix of isopropyl alcohol (95% preferred) and a sample of the plant leaf in question. For this example I used a piece of kale leaf. With leattuce and softer leaved veggies, its possible to grind the leaves by hand in a plastic bag into a beautiful green liquid. The kale, on the other hand, is a much more durable leaf so I poured the solution into a bowl and ground the mix with a spoon. Of course a mortar and pestle would be more suited for this job.
 
On a side note, it has been found that lower than 95% alcohol can act as an opaque material at very short wavelengths like those in the UV around 200 nanometers. While that is far below anything we are looking at, or can even detect with our test instrument and plastic cuvette, it should be noted where and how this limitation expresses itself.
 
kale in bag
 
kale juice
 
The green kale soup was then poured through a simple coffee filter and the green fluid dripped into the little vessel, or in French, cuvette. So hip is the ubiquitous transparent box that the cuvette even has its own Wikipedia page.
 
The cuvettes I’ll be using are plastic, about 1.5ml, and 15 of them with lids are included in the purchase of the Go Direct SpectroVis Plus Spectrophotometer. Something I did, that could be handled professionally, is that I took one of the cuvettes and cut it down to a smaller size flush with the top surface of the Go Direct SpectroVis Plus Spectrophotometer. I rolled up a piece of orange material inserted it into minimized cuvette, then glued the lid down tight. This special cuvette blank is for transport and storage in the spectrometer to keep debris, dust, etc. from entering the unit while in the field. As a Bluetooth device, the Go Direct SpectroVis Plus Spectrophotometer will be used in less than sterile lab conditions.
 
Posted in NSTA Recommends: Technology, Science 2.0, The Leading Edge, The STEM Classroom | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment