Ed News Roundup: Two NSTA Press Books to be Read from Space

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This week in education news, two Ohio-based NSTA Press authors will have children’s books read from space station; getting students excited about STEM; interest in STEM may be ‘contagious’ in high school; number of minorities, women taking CS is skyrocketing thanks to STEM collaborations; how the Girl Scouts’ new CEO is using her time at NASA and Apple to promote STEM education; a 9-year-old applies to be NASA’s planetary protection officer; STEM Seals for high school diplomas aren’t enough; everybody loves the Nation’s report card, but how should it evolve?; how teachers are using the solar eclipse to shed light on science; NM needs to enact changes to take advantage of STEM opportunities, interest; Minnesota groups focus on STEM for the next generation; why some schools are closing for the solar eclipse — but others are staying open; new Florida law allows anyone to challenge teaching materials, and new science education program brings National parks to classrooms.

Two NSTA Press authors to have children’s books read from space station

Two NSTA Press authors from Ohio have children’s books bound for the International Space Station as part of an educational reading program. The works by Jessica Fries-Gaither and Emily Morgan, will be aboard SpaceX Falcon 9, a rocket that is scheduled to launch Sunday from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Space station astronauts will record themselves reading the works aloud as part of the Story Time From Space program, which is designed to excite children about science. “Notable Notebooks: Scientists and their Writings” by Fries-Gaither and “Next Time You See a Sunset” by Morgan are both published by NSTA. Click here to read the article featured in The Columbus Dispatch.

Getting students excited about STEM

Larry Plank, director for K-12 STEM education for Hillsborough County Public Schools in Florida explains how many school districts struggle with how to expand students’ interest, excitement, and achievement in STEM. Without the right approach, the result is often random acts of STEM that do little to show students how fascinating or relevant these subjects really are. He offers a few of the strategies that his district implemented to give students hands-on, inquiry-based STEM learning experiences that are preparing them for college and careers. Click here to read the article featured on Smart Brief.

Call the CDC! Interest in STEM May Be ‘Contagious’ in High School

You don’t have to be inherently interested in epidemiology to catch the science bug—just sit next to a bunch of other high school students fascinated by the topic, says a new analysis. The study finds that new college students are more likely to say they plan to pursue STEM careers when they were surrounded by other enthusiastic scientists-to-be in high school;—even controlling for factors like interest in science, previous achievement in the field, or parental support for studying science, says the study, which appears in the open-access journal Science Advances, a publication of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. The study is based on a survey of a nationally representative population of students in 50 college and universities in the United States. Click here to read the article featured on Education Week Curriculum Matters blog.

Number of minorities, women taking CS is skyrocketing thanks to STEM collaborations

Underrepresented minorities and women are breaking the barriers of entry into STEM-related fields, but significant challenges remain that require more attention from all stakeholders in education. Students who live in less affluent areas may not have access to schools that offer quality science education curriculum. Computer science is just one example of where significant gender and racial gaps persist — but also one where collaboration among different leaders from education, nonprofits and other organizations has resulted in progress. Click here to read the article featured in Education Dive.

How the Girl Scouts’ new CEO is using her time at NASA and Apple to promote STEM education

What started as simply stargazing with her Girl Scouts troop as a 7-year-old in New Mexico has since turned into a career at NASA, IBM, Apple and Dell for Sylvia Acevedo. In May, she was named the CEO of the Girl Scouts of the USA, the organization she belonged to growing up. Her mission: to ensure STEM learning is a part of every young woman’s life. Despite being one of the few girls in her science and math classes through grade school, Acevedo says she was “able to persist” because she realized she was both interested and good at the subjects. Acevedo was one of the first Hispanic students to earn a Master’s degree in engineering from Stanford University, but to afford it, she simultaneously worked at IBM as an engineer. Today, she is using her work experience to address the lack of exposure girls have to science, technology, engineering and math. Click here to read the story featured on the CNBC website.

Speaking of Science: My sister says I am an alien’: A 9-year-old applies to be NASA’s planetary protection officer

When NASA announced that it was looking for a new planetary protection officer, a 9-year-old boy in New Jersey took the vacancy seriously. “Dear NASA, My name is Jack Davis and I would like to apply for the planetary protection officer job,” Jack wrote. “I may be nine but I think I would be fit for the job.” James L. Green, director of NASA’s Planetary Science Division, wrote back telling Jack to “study hard and do well in school” so that they could see him at NASA eventually. As a bonus, Jack also received a phone call from NASA’s headquarters to congratulate him on his interest. Click here to read the article in The Washington Post.

STEM Seals for High School Diplomas Aren’t Enough

As the focus on subjects and tests overshadow the objectives of developing life-long learners, states are considering, and some have already, adopted rules that allow for STEM endorsements on diplomas.  They are based on students’ achievement in the four subjects. On the surface, one would think that is a good thing. STEM seals for diplomas are the end of the line, the exit seal of approval. But what of the students who were lost along the way, who didn’t have the belief in their ability, who were not natural at these subjects?  At the same time schools consider adding advanced classes and initiate STEM seals for their diplomas, they should also build capacity for all students. Without focus on growing the capacity of all students, the gaps will continue to grow and so will the readiness for college and career. Click here to read the article featured on Education Week’s Leadership 360 blog.

Everybody Loves the Nation’s Report Card. But How Should It Evolve?

The National Assessment of Educational Progress, better known as the Nation’s Report Card, is probably the shining example of educational measurement. But as the times change, the National Assessment Governing Board, the panel that sets NAEP policy, is exploring how its priorities should evolve. Issues it is investigating include frequency of testing; whether to keep, omit, deepen, or integrate content-area tests; challenges of testing 12th graders; and what to do about NAEP’s long-term trend paradox. Click here to read the article featured in Education Week.

Fade to black: How teachers are using the solar eclipse to shed light on science

With the total solar eclipse coinciding with the start of school for thousands of California students, teachers around the state will be using the rare solar spectacle to ignite students’ interest in science, showing them first-hand evidence that the earth rotates around the sun, the moon spins around the earth, and all three of them are undeniably round. The eclipse is a boon for educators. NASA, the American Astronomical Society and the National Science Teachers Association have all compiled teaching materials for parents and teachers to create lessons for students of all ages. The eclipse provides lessons in math, astronomy, reading and history, and is an event children will probably remember their entire lives. Click here to read the article featured in Ed Source.

State needs to enact changes to take advantage of STEM opportunities, interest

Giving New Mexico’s students better opportunities to understand science, technology, engineering and mathematics—and preparing them to lead the way in STEM-related careers, from physics and hydrology to video game design and civil engineering—will require real change in classrooms, beginning in the earliest grades. But in the last few years, Gov. Susana Martinez has been sending mixed messages. In 2015, Martinez announced that the state would bump spending on STEM programs and hire more STEM teachers. But earlier this year, Martinez vetoed a bill that would have required the state’s teachers to follow the Next Generation Science Standards. Click here to read the article featured in the New Mexico Political Report.

Minnesota groups focus on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) for the next generation

If the U.S. wants to gain pre-eminence in STEM fields and their social, economic, and national security benefits, we need to stay competitive. According to getSTEM of Minnesota, an online web portal provided by the Minnesota High Tech Association, 18 of the 20 fastest-growing occupations in Minnesota will be tied to STEM disciplines. There’s been an explosion of STEM-focused elementary and middle schools in the state, preparing kids for careers in STEM. High schools are offering computer science and tech courses—many also offering AP STEM subjects to prepare students for the future. Click here to read the article on the Minnesota Monthly website.

Why some schools are closing for the solar eclipse — but others are staying open

To close or not to close? That became the question for school districts across the country that are beginning the 2017-18 school year in early to mid-August but had to decide whether to let students stay home — or come to class — on the day of the Great American Eclipse. This will be the first time since 1918 that a total solar eclipse will sweep across the whole width of the United States, with the path of totality passing first over Oregon and then moving onto 13 other states (see map above): Oregon, Idaho, a sliver of Montana, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, a sliver of Iowa, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina. Click here to read the article featured in The Washington Post.

Got Science? New Florida Law Allows Anyone to Challenge Teaching Materials

Pamela Worth from the Union of Concerned Scientists examines how Florida state legislature and Governor Rick Scott approved House Bill 989 allowing any Florida resident to formally complain about teaching materials at public schools—and requires school districts to respond. Any Florida resident can fill out an online form to challenge the validity and appropriateness of educational materials being used in their local public schools. Complaints must be heard by an “unbiased and qualified hearing officer” who is not “an employee or agent of the school district.” She writes on the law is fuzzy on who might provide this service, though it tasks school boards with figuring this out themselves, and establishing a policy for hearing complaints. The result is that any climate change denier in Florida can now agitate for perfectly legitimate science to be removed from the curriculum—in a state already experiencing profound and damaging consequences of climate change such as extreme heat and sea level rise–induced flooding. Click here to read the article featured in The Huffington Post.

New Science Education Program Brings National Parks to Classrooms

Teachers and students across the country will have the opportunity to participate in a new science education program, Citizen Science 2.0 in National Parks, thanks to a $1 million Veverka Family Foundation donation to the National Park Foundation’s Centennial Campaign for America’s National Parks. Citizen Science 2.0 in National Parks supports collaborations among select national parks, local environmental science education providers, and local middle and high schools over a three-year period. The program is kicking off this 2017-2018 school year with four national parks: Cabrillo National Monument, Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and Rock Creek Park. Click here to read the article featured in National Parks Traveler.

Stay tuned for next week’s top education news stories.

The Communication, Legislative & Public Affairs (CLPA) team strives to keep NSTA members, teachers, science education leaders, and the general public informed about NSTA programs, products, and services and key science education issues and legislation. In the association’s role as the national voice for science education, its CLPA team actively promotes NSTA’s positions on science education issues and communicates key NSTA messages to essential audiences.

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


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