The Vernier Go Direct Radiation Monitor: Well Worth the 90-Year Wait

Stephen Hawking died recently marking 2018 as another date in science history from which events will be measured. Isaac Newton was born in 1642, the same year Galileo died. And it is that 1642 date that is often used as a convenient moment in time to label as the birth of modern science. Three hundred years later in 1942 Stephen Hawking was born.

Stephen Hawking

Stephen Hawking (1942-2018)

During Dr. Hawking’s academic life, he worked at the University of Cambridge in England, the same university, and in fact the same faculty position as Isaac Newton. On the ground of Cambridge University in the Department of Physics is the Cavendish Laboratory. And in the Cavendish Lab back in 1908, a fellow named Hans Geiger invented something that ultimately led to the creation of the Geiger–Müller tube in 1928. The Geiger–Müller tube is still used today in an instrument we all know and love called the Geiger Counter.

While the design of the Geiger–Müller tube or GM Tube has remained fairly consistent over the decades, the housing and electronics running the show have changed considerably. Early designs were crude but elegant in their simplicity, while the most popular expression of a Geiger Counter is the yellow box version with silver-tube handle commonly known as a Civil Defense Geiger Counter or CD Counter for short. Distributed widely during the Cold War years of the 1950s and 60s, the CD Counters are still found in high school physics classrooms, and were even passed out for free at NSTA conferences at the end of a presentation on how to use it.

Vernier Go Direct Radiation Monitor

Today, however, there have been some remarkable advances in the design and electronics supporting the Geiger–Müller tube. In addition to a small lightweight housing, a rechargeable lithium battery weighing just a few grams can power the counter for hours compared to the five D-cell batteries used in the yellow box version. And since the function of the Geiger–Müller tube is to detect and share information on the number of ionizing radiation particles counted over time, the heavy duty analysis and data visualization can be outsourced to myriad of devices including smartphones (Grammar Girl says I can use ‘myriad’ that way). All that’s needed is a connection from the powered Geiger–Müller tube to the computing device. Continue reading …

Posted in NSTA Recommends: Technology, Safety, Science 2.0, The Science Teacher, The STEM Classroom | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ed News: How P-16 Education Can Increase Women In STEM Fields

News Roundup banner

This week in education news, the majority of the nation’s seniors will graduate having never taken physics; report finds teacher shortage and lack of supplies delay rollout of the new science standards in California; new study shows women dominate the education workforce, but still earn less than men; California science teachers wins $20,000 science lab makeover; and the House Education Committee voted to introduce a concurrent resolution repeating its earlier call for deleting portions of Idaho’s proposed new school science standards.

One Reason Students Aren’t Prepared For STEM Careers? No Physics In High School

Nationwide, ninth-graders don’t usually take physics. In fact, the majority of the nation’s seniors will graduate having never taken physics at all. And Sarita’s students, Spanish-speaking Latinos attending a high-poverty school, are an even unlikelier bunch to catch in a physics lab. Physics is widely considered to be a building block for a range of STEM disciplines— science, technology, engineering and math — and taking the course in high school is strongly correlated with getting a degree in a STEM field. Read the article featured in The Hechinger Report.

When Teachers Have A Fear Of Math, Their Pupils Can Absorb The Wrong Lesson

Often said in jest, the phrase “I’m not a math person” can provoke more than just laughter, particularly if said around students. To Erin Maloney, it can send the message that there are some people gifted in arithmetic skills and those that will never be — and that’s the wrong note to ever send to a child. Read the article featured in Education DIVE.

Continue reading …

Posted in Education News Roundup | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Making Connections @ NSTA 18

It is day 2 of the NSTA National Conference! One of my favorite ways to start the day is the Elementary Extravaganza—it’s a great event with lots of hands-on activities and demonstrations specifically for elementary educators. While walking through the extravaganza, I could not help noticing all the fun education and science themed shirts—one teacher said her team invites students to design a T-shirt each year and they select a winning design to print on their shirts.

I’m always impressed with the connections attendees make at the conference—and even some surprise reunions! I overhead two people greet each other in surprise: The woman exclaimed she was so happy to see a former student at the conference and discover he’d become a teacher, too!

Meet Me in the Middle—which obviously focuses on middle level educators—is later today and the high school share-a-thon is scheduled for tomorrow.

Posted in Conferences | Leave a comment

#NSTA18 Atlanta: Day 1

Sketch notes from day one of the 2018 National Conference on Science Education

What a day! If your shoulders are not throbbing, bags not over-flowing, and brain not racing… you may have not been at the same conference as I was. I teach middle school Earth & Space Science and Environmental Science at an Independent school in Miami, Florida–Gulliver Schools. I still consider myself a newbie at NSTA “conferencing,” but having attended the NSTA STEM Forum & Expo this past summer in Orlando, my expectations are rightfully through the roof. Back in the summer I walked away from the STEM Forum with my passion ignited, with projects I am currently using to infuse my class with the type of lessons that may have other teachers asking me to “CLOSE MY DOOR” like Ron Clark mentioned this morning in his keynote. But that was exactly the type of makeover my classes needed. I’m here this week because I got a taste of NSTA and was hooked!!

Needless to say, Day 1 did not disappoint. I walked into the Georgia World Congress Center this morning with heart open to absorb all that was about to come at me. It began with Rob Clark’s keynote!

My Top Takeaways

  • Take time to genuinely check-in with people in your communities, schools, and classrooms.
  • If you feel it in your heart, DO IT!
  • Thank the RUNNERS in our lives who drive the “bus” forward, pulling and inspiring us in their wake.
  • And be willing to take different paths.

His session left me energized for my own presentation with my SEEC Crew from Space Center Houston. Continue reading …

Posted in Conferences | Tagged , | 1 Response

Ron Clark’s Opening Session: “We need to inspire the next generation!”

Ms. Valeria (@GA_ScienceRodva) captured the essence of Ron Clark’s dynamic presentation to thousands of science teachers first thing Thursday morning with her sketchnotes.

More About the 2018 National Conference on Science Education

cover of the program preview for the 2018 national conference on science educationBrowse the program preview, or check out more sessions and other events with the Atlanta Session Browser/Personal Scheduler. Follow all our conference tweets using #NSTA18, and if you tweet, please feel free to tag us @NSTA so we see it!

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

Future NSTA Conferences

Follow NSTA

Facebook icon Twitter icon LinkedIn icon Pinterest icon G+ icon YouTube icon Instagram icon
Posted in Conferences | Tagged | 2 Responses

#NSTA18 Atlanta: Tweet All About It!

The 2018 NSTA National Conference started with selfies,
and quickly evolved into group shots!



Continue reading …

Posted in Conferences | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Online community on learning science through play

Play may mean many things, but in early childhood education it can include learning science concepts. Looking for resources on “Learning Science Concepts Through Play“? Check the The NSTA Learning Center Early Childhood Forum, a community that includes early childhood educators in all roles in the profession and is free to all with registration. 

Screen shot of NSTA Learning Center online page

Looking for resources on “Kindergarten Activities“? Check the LC EC forum. “Teaching Science to Kindergarten in a Short Time Frame“? Check the LC EC forum!

Experienced educators share their ideas on how to choose science experiences and activities  (see “Pinterest” in the Elementary forum) and preservice teachers share the resources and ideas they find most useful in their beginning practice. One of the experienced educators I look for is Maureen Stover. See her questions for identifying worthy lesson plans online:

I do quite a bit of my lesson planning by searching for ideas and activities on the internet. Like all resources on the internet, you do need to be cautious of information and ideas you find online to ensure they are legitimate and valid. Here’s my mental checklist that I run through when I’m evaluating an internet resource:
1. Is this an activity/resource that meets my lesson objective/goal?
2. Is this activity on grade level (or can I easily modify it)?
3. Is this activity reasonable to complete in my classroom?
4. Is this activity safe?
5. Is this activity affordable?
6. Will this activity engage my students?
Also, whenever I am downloading a resource or looking up content knowledge, I try to validate the information from several sources to ensure the information is accurate.

What are your favorite Learning Center topics?

Posted in Early Years | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Legislative Update: Congress Scrambles to Introduce Bills to Address School Violence & Mental Health

In the wake of the school shootings last month in Parkland, Florida that claimed the lives of 17 people, key leaders in both the Senate and the House have introduced legislation they believe will improve school safety and bring more mental health counselors to schools.

Senate HELP Chairman Senator Lamar Alexander has introduced a bill (School Safety & Mental Health Services Improvement Act) that would amend the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and allow states and districts to use ESSA Title IVA funds to “improve school safety infrastructure,” including “physical security, technology, and training of school personnel to recognize and respond to threats of school violence.”

POLITICO reported that Alexander told members of CCSSO during their legislative meeting that “states could use the funds for mental health, hiring more school counselors and steps for violence prevention, and that funds could be used for armed systems, improving entrances and exits of schools, installing security cameras and other infrastructure upgrades if you chose to do that.”

Alexander’s bill would also allow states to use Title II teacher training funding “to hire and improve the professional development of school counselors” and creates a Presidential Task Force to better coordinate resources between the Departments of Education, Health and Human Services, Justice, Interior and Homeland Security. It also updates Titles II and IV to clarify existing allowable school safety activities, including bullying and harassment prevention, crisis response, and other programs designed to reduce and prevent school violence. Continue reading …

Posted in Legislative Update | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ed News: The Prevalence of Collaboration Among American Teachers

News Roundup banner

This week in education news, new survey finds half of parents are not “very confident” in their ability to help their children with science; U.S. News STEM Solutions partners with USA Science & Engineering Festival; Pearson is selling off its U.S. print and digital curriculum business to focus on assessments and virtual schools; new research suggests that increasing access to STEM courses in high school may be no cure-all for producing more college students who take STEM classes or major in STEM fields; the New Teacher Center released the 2018 Teacher Induction Program Standards; a new study by 3M reveals that science is underappreciated; and a new report finds that the gender gap in STEM education is still prevalent.

Half of Parents Not ‘Very Confident’ They Can Support Children’s Science Learning

Only about half of parents are “very confident” in their ability to help their children with science, according to a new survey. Compare that with the 7 out of 10 parents who feel they can help their children develop reading and writing, math, and social-emotional skills. Not surprisingly, parents with lower levels of education felt less confident about their ability to help their children with science concepts at home than did parents with higher levels of educational attainment. Read the article featured in Education Week.

The Prevalence Of Collaboration Among American Teachers

Teacher collaboration is an important component of long-term career development for educators across the United States. For example, collaborative activities (such as peer observation and co-planning meetings) can provide opportunities for teachers to engage in informal mentoring with more-experienced and more-effective colleagues, experiment with new instructional approaches, and co-construct understandings of policies and practices — which, in turn, can shape their teaching practice. However, many factors impede support of teacher collaboration. Read more about the study conducted by the RAND Corporation.

Continue reading …

Posted in Education News Roundup | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ideas and inspiration from NSTA’s March 2018 K-12 journals

Regardless of what grade level or subject are you teach, as you skim through the article titles, you may find ideas for lessons that would be interesting your students or the inspiration to adapt/create your own.

All three journals this month include recommendations for the Best STEM Books for Students K–12.

Science Scope – Cells

From the Editor’s Desk: Sparking Student Interest in Hidden Worlds cells are the essence of life, and to understand cells is to begin to understand ourselves…Knowledge of cells and the life processes they conduct is the basis for understanding tissues, organ systems, genetics, and the brain…Cells’ impact on the human body therefore warrants more than a circumspect lesson in the middle school classroom.

Articles in this issue that describe lessons include a helpful sidebar (“At a Glance”) documenting the big idea, essential pre-knowledge, time, and cost; many follow a 5E format. The lessons also include connections with the NGSS, and many include examples of student work, assessments, and classroom materials.

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 Animal/Plant Cells, Biodiversity, Biomedical Engineer, Cell Structures, Cell Theory, Circulatory System, Concept Maps, Diffusion, How Do Plant and Animal Cells Differ?, Limiting Factors, Nanotechnology, Organelle, Photosynthesis, Plant Growth, Senses, Stimuli

Keep reading for Science and Children and The Science Teacher

Continue reading …

Posted in SciLinks | Tagged , | Leave a comment