Sound inquiry–open exploration and direct teaching?

As early childhood educators, no matter what program we teach in or administer, we want to help children build knowledge of the world through experiences, teacher-supported investigations, and direct teaching. A conversation I had recently with a teacher made me think about how we balance direct teaching with open exploration:

Teacher: So, as I thought more about your question about what scares me about teaching this new science unit, I think I crystalized it more. I hate to be the one shoving information down to the children. I love it when they discover new things—learn something exciting. When I don’t know the information as well, I am not as comfortable with their discovery process. I’m sure that’s being an old dog learning new tricks, but I think that’s more what I’m feeling.

Peggy: One thing that comforts me when I am teaching children and I want them to get science content knowledge as well as experience, is remembering that this is just a beginning not high school graduation. They will have time to learn more facts and understand the concepts. I am not their only chance! Thank you for being brave and exploring new territory. The NSTA position statement on Early Childhood Science Education affirms that children are capable, often more capable than we teachers realize. When we check for understanding through conversations, reflecting on photographs, or having them draw and talk about their picture, we can find out if our teaching is effective.

I was reminded of how children will continue to build their understanding as they move through their school years when following a discussion on the NSTA physical science education listserv about teaching ninth graders about sound. I thought, “Children begin that work in infancy and I help them build on it in their preschool years!” The NSTA member listservs provide a wonderfully supportive community for growing as a teacher of science.

Given how much the two-to-three year olds that I work with love to use musical instruments, I thought exploring how metal objects sound in water would capture their interest and focus. This activity was inspired by the work of Alec Duncan, early childhood educator (and musician) in western Australia, who uses many instruments, makes instruments and explores sound in unique ways. Alec has a wealth of information and experience that he generously shares on his social media sites, including a blog post and video about making sound at the water table.

Children stirring the water and metal bowls in a sensory/water table.

Very interestingly, both the 2-3 year old and the 4-5 year old children did tap on the metal bowls but they were mostly interested in stirring and mixing and creating imaginative meals! While stirring and pouring, they observed the flow of the water and we briefly discussed volume–how much water could fit, interweaving science and math into the imaginative play about making meals. I wonder what the next step might be? Add measuring cups with numbers on them? Make the water deeper? Add real drumsticks instead of chopsticks to promote more tapping?

Like the teacher in the conversation quoted above, I feel I may be going too fast, trying to impart information before the children have had time to understand the properties of the objects and water through open exploration. I’m going to re-read the “Resources” section in Exploring Water with Young Children (Young Scientist series) by Ingrid Chalufour and Karen Worth to refresh my understanding of science inquiry in early childhood. “Inquiry is about questions, but it is hard for children to ask questions about something if they haven’t had a change to get to know the thing or the materials or the event, whether it is balls rolling, snails, or water flow. So the first stage in the framework is to engage, notice, wonder and question—it is a time for children to play, to see what they already know, to mess about in a rich environment with little direct guidance or structure.”

What next steps would you suggest?


Chalufour, Ingrid and Karen Worth. 2005. Exploring Water with Young Children (Young Scientist series) St Paul, MN: Redleaf Press.

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Calls for Papers for NSTA Journals

Write for NSTA blog header Do you have a great science teaching idea you want to share with peers? If so, consider writing for NSTA’s journals. Calls for papers for NSTA’s science education journals are online. The NSTA journals cover all grade levels, so no matter which grade level you teach or would like to write for, NSTA has you covered. Each journal does have its own set of guidelines, so please look them over in the author guidelines section before you submit your proposal. Getting your article published in a peer-reviewed NSTA journal looks great on your c.v. so don’t wait, enhance your career today. Below are calls with approaching deadlines, and more are available online.

cover of the NSTA journal Science and ChildrenCall for Papers: Science and Children

February 2017: Early Childhood: Earth Science (NGSS: ESS-1, ESS-2, ESS-3)
Deadline August 1, 2016

The NGSS provides specific standards for K–2 children. However, it does not indicate specific standards to be included in preK. Using the K–2, standards we are able to determine the types of experiences required in preK to provide the scaffolding necessary for building understanding. The topics identified in the NGSS connected to Earth Science for early learners include: weather and climate; how plants and animals change their environments; human impacts on Earth systems; natural resources; plant and animal habitats based on available resources; the history of Earth; Earth materials; the roles of water in Earth’s surface processes; and developing possible solutions to environmental problems. Within your explanation of classroom activities used to develop these concepts, you may want to include the following.

  • Describe posing a problem to early learners that surrounds the use of natural resources. Identify the prompt provided to children and how they are taught to create a solution.
  • Illustrate how students design and use a model to represent landforms, explain Earth processes, or solve a problem.
  • Explain how you use local resources to support student learning.
  • Sequence critical points in the learning progression necessary to build understanding concerning Earth Science core ideas.

Cover of the April/May 2016 issue of Science ScopeCall for Papers: Science Scope

January 2017: Systems Thinking
Deadline: August 1, 2016

Systems thinking—it is a relatively new term for many science teachers. Appendix G of the NGSS identifies systems and system models as crosscutting concepts through which students are expected to develop an understanding of disciplinary core ideas.  This is accomplished by specifying a system’s boundaries and by “making explicit a model of that system” (NGSS Lead States, 2013). Although there exists a natural connection to engineering through the testing that occurs when a model is used as a system, systems thinking is crucial to all the sciences by allowing students to see the interconnectedness of the various system components. Share your ideas concerning systems thinking by considering how you:

  • Develop student understanding of a habitat and how the physical, chemical, and biological components interact and impact each other
  • Explore how a change in a system impacts a system’s components
  • Use models to represent systems and their interactions—such as inputs, processes, and outputs—and energy and matter flows within systems (MS-PS1), (MS-PS2-4)
  • Construct explanations based on models of earth and space systems
  • Use modeling of Earth systems to predict weather
  • Explain the flow of the Sun’s energy through earth processes

Cover of the NSTA journal The Science TeacherCall for Papers: The Science Teacher

Deadline: Ongoing | Science for All

TST is seeking manuscripts for this annual issue devoted to the inclusion of all learners. The issue offers ideas and strategies to mitigate academic achievement gaps associated with ethnicity, socioeconomic status, gender, physical disabilities, limited English-language proficiency, learning differences, and even gifted abilities.

Learn more about NSTA journals.

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

Future NSTA Conferences

5th Annual STEM Forum & Expo, hosted by NSTA

  • Denver, Colorado: July 27–29

2017 Area Conferences

  • Baltimore, Maryland: October 5–7
  • Milwaukee, Wisconsin: November 9–11
  • New Orleans, Louisiana: November 30–December 2

National Conferences

  • Los Angeles, California: March 30–April 2, 2017
  • Atlanta, Georgia: March 15–18, 2018
  • St. Louis, Missouri: April 11–14, 2019
  • Boston, Massachusetts: March 26–29, 2020
  • Chicago, Illinois: April 8–11, 2021

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Should I present at a conference?

DSC02156My colleagues and I recently attended an NSTA conference. On the way home as we discussed what we learned, they suggested I share some of the successful activities I do in the classroom, but I’m not sure that others would be interested. Plus, I’d be really nervous doing a presentation, and I’m not sure how to go about submitting a proposal. Can you talk me into this? —J., California

 I think your colleagues have done a good job to get you to consider presenting, since you’re asking me about it! So I’ll add to the pep talk based on my experience.

Even though teachers spend all day every day in front of students, we get nervous in front of other adults. This is normal. But I’ve found most conference participants are attentive and courteous to the presenters.

Teachers like to hear about practical, classroom-tested activities and strategies. They like to see examples of student projects and ideas they can use without special funding or complicated materials. And they really like hearing from colleagues who “walk the walk.” It sounds like you have ideas that would be worth sharing.

If the topic you choose is specific to your school, try to show how it could be adapted to other schools, grade levels, or geographic regions. Think about what format would work best for you: lecture, discussion, hands-on activities, demonstrations, or a combination of these.

Interacting with others is an important part of conferences, so I often include activities that foster discussion among participants, such as a bell-ringer question, a think-pair-share, or a gallery walk following a small group discussion. Doing an activity and then debriefing on the science or pedagogy behind it can help people develop the confidence to implement it themselves. Allow enough time for questions or comments during the presentation or at the end.

Conference proposals are typically due well before the conference to provide the organizers with time to select and schedule the sessions. See the guidelines and deadlines at Presenting at NSTA Conferences. Conferences usually receive more proposals than there are time slots, so follow the guidelines to improve your chances of being selected. Choose a topic that relates to the conference theme and the Next Generation Science Standards, if applicable.

Continue reading …

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NSTA President Carolyn Hayes Says Thank You to Our Volunteers

On behalf of the staff of the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) and our leadership team, I would like to thank the following members of our Board, Council, Standing Committees, Advisory Boards, and Panels whose terms of appointment end on May 31, 2016. NSTA has been busy this year promoting the implementation of the Next Generation Science Standards,  working on the NSTA Strategic Goals, and helping me to promote my theme: Developing Creative Attitudes in Science.  NSTA is very fortunate to have dedicated members who volunteer their time to promote NSTA and its mission.  I am honored to have worked with all mentioned below as we advocate for science educators and build new leaders.  So to all of you on the list below, I say “Thank You” and I look forward to working with you in new capacities in the years to come.

Retiring Committee, Advisory Board, and Review Panel Members

College: Sally Harms, Sarah Haines, Christie Orlosky, Cindi Smith-Walters

Coordination: Kelly Price, Christopher Duvall, David Miller, Matthew Stolz

High School: Beverly DeVore-Wedding, Sharla Dowding, Karen Higuera, Brian Olsen

Informal: Stacy Glatz, Miriam Musco, Kelly Riedinger

Middle Level: Fran Hess, John Milam, Kitchka Petrova

Multicultural: Margaret Helen Carter, S. Maxwell Hines, Sami Kahn

Preschool-Elementary: Conni Crittenden, Jessica Fries-Gaiter, Jessie Kelly

Preservice: David Crowther, Cynthia Gardner, Kira Heeschen, Chris Ohana, Michael Troop

NSTA Teacher Accreditation: Cathy Gardner

Prof Development: Julie Luft, Christopher Soldat, Eric Walters

Research: Pamela Auburn, Anne Farley Schoeffler, Lise Whitfield

Audit: Paul Keidel

Awards: Linda Kennedy, Karen Nesbit, Jennifer Pritchard, James Puckett, Pat Shane

Budget: Susan Koba

Nominations: Bonnie Brunkhorst, Sharla Dowding, Herbert Dyasi, Barbara Pietrucha, Julie Thomas

Advisory Boards

Aerospace: David Black, Caroline d’Otreppe, Pamela Evans

Conference: Monica Ellis

Development: Barbara Pietrucha

International: Kathleen Horstmeyer, Teresa Kennedy, Edarlin Pagarigan, Kathryn Elkins

Investment: Jean May-Brett, Joseph Holm

JCST: Megan Litster, Barry Thompson

NSTA Reports: Mike Szydlowski, Barbara Thorp, Susan Locke

Retired: Susan Clay, Joyce Gleason, Deb Wickerham

Science and Children: Neporcha Cone, Wendy Frazier, Terri Hebert

Science Matters: Stephen Bartlett, Michelle Brand-Buchanan, Jean May-Brett

Science Safety: Theresa Curry, James Kaufman

Science Scope: Ekka Bowling, Kelly Chaney, Karen Jo Matsler

Special Needs: Jennifer Purcell-Coleman, Melissa Sleeper, Cheryl White

Technology: Gregory Benedis-Grab, Stephen Bock, Ben Smith

TST: Michael Brinkman, Carrie Jones

Urban Science: Selina Bartekls, Trudy C. Giasi, Michael Matthews

CBC: Conni Crittenden, Delene Hoffner, Linda Schoen Giddings

New Science Teachers: John Clark, Sumi Hagiwara, Michael Lowry

Shell: J. Carrie Launius, Ruth Ruud, Tamica A. Stubbs

NSTA members who are interested in volunteering for a position on one our committees, advisory boards, or review panels can find more information on our Committees page online.CHayes

Dr. Carolyn Hayes is the president of the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA). She began serving her one-year term on June 1, 2015. Dr. Hayes is a retired high school biology teacher from Greenwood, Indiana. Hayes earned a B.S. degree in biology from Indiana University in 1973, a M.S. degree in secondary education from Indiana University in 1976, and an Ed.D. in secondary education and biology from Indiana University in 2005. 

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

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The Maker Movement for All Learners

Maker Blog Image

All students can benefit from the Maker Mindset, which encourages students to believe they can learn to do anything. The Maker Movement is a resurgence of creating and making things by people of all ages and backgrounds. Learning through “making” can happen across a range of contexts and curricular areas and can be leveraged for inspiration and powerful student engagement.

Making can happen in a variety of places that might be labeled “maker spaces,” such as libraries, classrooms, museums, homes, or garages. But they don’t have to be labeled spaces—innovation and creating can happen on a table in a classroom. Some maker spaces may have the newest technological toys such as a 3D printer or laser cutter, but this is also not necessary; the focus in this design learning is not on the tools but on the process and product. 

This approach is close in heart to the constructivist- and constructionist-based design work that focuses on engaging participants in learning content and process. This work provides students the opportunity to experience the hands-on intersection of critical thinking, engineering, computer science, circuitry, art, math, technology, and innovation.

Building Up to the Maker Movement

I have been a special services teacher and a regular classroom teacher for total of 31 years. I worked as an Einstein Fellow in DC at the National Science Foundation in 2012–2013 and became very involved with the Maker Movement in that year. I now work as a Science Technology Engineering and Math Outreach Coordinator and work with students and teachers doing STEM activities with a Maker emphasis, sharing all I learned in my fellowship as well as in my classroom practice. I have been extremely impressed with the enthusiastic participation of the students and teachers that I have worked with in the past two years in this role.

In these experiences, I have seen that students who have learning challenges are as engaged and as successful as any other learner, and often have unique and innovative perspectives and solutions to the design task at hand.  Classroom teachers are excited to see their students’ involvement and investment in this learning as well. I work with the teachers and students for one to three sessions and provide the materials for the times I am there.  I offer ideas and resource lists for teachers to follow up with and also give students (at the students’ request) sources where they can get materials for continued making. It is amazing how contagious learning through making can be for everyone!

There are many ways to do this in a low–tech, low budget, with an easy-access on ramp to making. Two books I highly recommend to get you started are:

  • Invent to Learn, Making, Tinkering, and Engineering in the Classroom by Sylvia Libow Martinez and Gary Stager, Ph.D. (Chapter 14, Resources to Explore, gives you sources by topics and is worth the price of the book alone!)
  • The Art of Tinkering, by Karen Wilkinson and Mike Petrich.  (This is put out by the Exploratorium in San Francisco, and they have a great website: )

I wish you a happy final stretch of the school year and an exciting launch into or continued endeavors with Maker education. It is a fantastic way to ignite learning in our classrooms and beyond. The intellectual development that happens through direct, hands-on experience with creating and tinkering is empowering and something we can offer all students!

Author Sheryl Sotelo is a STEM outreach coordinator and educator in Alaska; contact Sotelo at This blog is part of a series being published by NSTA’s Special Needs Advisory board, the charge of which is to “Advise NSTA standing committees and NSTA headquarters regarding support for members with special needs and for teachers of students with special needs; make recommendations to the Executive Director and the Board of Directors regarding issues and projects related to special education.” Teresa M. Fulk is the board chair and can be contacted at with questions about the work NSTA does with this community.

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

Future NSTA Conferences

5th Annual STEM Forum & Expo, hosted by NSTA

  • Denver, Colorado: July 27–29

2017 Area Conferences

  • Baltimore, Maryland: October 5–7
  • Milwaukee, Wisconsin: November 9–11
  • New Orleans, Louisiana: November 30–December 2

National Conferences

  • Los Angeles, California: March 30–April 2, 2017
  • Atlanta, Georgia: March 15–18, 2018
  • St. Louis, Missouri: April 11–14, 2019
  • Boston, Massachusetts: March 26–29, 2020
  • Chicago, Illinois: April 8–11, 2021

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NSTA Legislative Update: ESSA Webinar and Rally on Capitol Hill

LegislativeUpdateChangeTheTextEachTimeAndTheDateV3 May20

Update on Every Student Succeeds Act

Almost 200 teachers and science leaders tuned into the NSTA Learning Center webinar last week on the new federal education law (ESSA), co-hosted by NSTA and the National Science Education Leadership Association (NSELA). You can find the powerpoint from the webinar here and learn more about the new federal education law here.

As states gear up for implementation of ESSA, more heated debate around the regulatory language for ESSA’s supplement-not-supplant provision, which says that federal Title I funds for low income students must be in addition to, and not take the place of, state and local spending on K-12. (Drafts of the regulations are in circulation, however the Department of Education (ED) is expected to officially release regulations for comment on accountability, state plans, supplement-not-supplant and assessments this summer.) Education Week reports that a recent Congressional Research Service report on ED’s proposed regulations are outside of the statutory language that ESSA allows.

Republicans (and unions) are concerned that ED officials would violate the new law by requiring districts to use a school-level test of expenditures to show compliance with supplement-not-supplant, which could ultimately mean monitoring teacher salaries when calculating how much schools receive.    Many Democrats believe this provision will provide an important tool to ensure the new federal law provides equity. Senator Lamar Alexander, a chief architect of the new federal education law, recently said that the Education Department has been “deceitful” in trying to force equity through implementation of the new education law.

Ed Groups Rally for ESSA Title IV Block Grants

NSTA joined over 75 organizations last week for a press conference and rally on Capitol Hill urging Congressional appropriators to fully fund Title IV, Part A of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). 

Congress authorized this flexible ESSA block grant, known as Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grant, at $1.65 billion for FY 2017.  Congressional appropriators are now working to provide funding amounts for this and other FY2017 federal education programs.  The Title IV grants will provide funding to districts for activities in three broad areas:

1) Providing students with a well-rounded education (e.g. college and career counseling, STEM, arts, civics, IB/AP)

2) Supporting safe and healthy students (e.g. comprehensive school mental health, drug and violence prevention, training on trauma-informed practices, health and physical education) and

3) Supporting the effective use of technology (professional development, blended learning, and devices).

Specifically, in regards to the use of Title IV A funds for STEM, districts and states can use grant monies to expand high-quality STEM courses; increase access to STEM for underserved and at risk student populations; support the participation of students in STEM nonprofit competitions (such as robotics, science research, invention, mathematics, computer science, and technology competitions); provide hands-on learning opportunities in STEM; integrate other academic subjects, including the arts, into STEM subject programs; create or enhance STEM specialty schools; integrate classroom based and afterschool and informal STEM instruction;  and expand environmental education.  

Myra Thayer, Prek-12 Science Coordinator, Fairfax County Public Schools, was NSTA’s guest speaker at the press event. She told participants that “Providing students with hands-on learning opportunities in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM), increasing access for underserved students, and integrating afterschool STEM experiences with classroom-based learning will improve instruction and student engagement in these fields. It’s critical that Congress fully fund the ESSA Title IV-A, Student Support and Academic Enrichments Grants, so that all students have access to quality STEM programs, and to a variety of health and safety programs, diverse academic courses, and modern technology.”

At the press event/rally the group also released individual letters from state and local groups in Minnesota, Missouri, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Washington, seeking full funding for this grant.

In addition to seeking funding for Title IVA at $1.65 billion NSTA, the STEM Education Coalition and 85 other organizations, is asking Congress to

  • Provide $2.250 billion for the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) Title II Supporting Effective Instruction State grants. This program provides support for teacher quality improvement initiatives, including professional development and teacher leadership.
  • Support the proposal of $100 million for the new Computer Science for All Development Grants.
  • Provide $10 million for a STEM Master Teacher Corps which was authorized through Section 2245 of ESSA. This program would help cultivate teacher leaders in STEM subjects and promote the sharing of best practices across the teaching professions.

These programs will be part of the FY2017 Labor, HHS, and Education appropriations bill.  Advocates expect to see some Congressional action on this bill in mid-June. Stay tuned.

Jodi Peterson is Assistant Executive Director of Legislative Affairs for the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) and Chair of the STEM Education Coalition. e-mail Peterson at; follow her on Twitter at @stemedadvocate.

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

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Creative Writing in Science

creativewritingWould you like to inspire students to be better writers while you incorporate new strategies into your teaching to assess their scientific understanding? Katie Coppens’ new NSTA Press book, Creative Writing in Science, provides engaging literary exercises that use the world around us to inspire. Designed for grades 3–12, the book offers fiction, poetry, and playwriting prompts that help students increase both their writing skills and their science knowledge.

Each writing lesson outlines foundational science knowledge and vocabulary and connects to the Next Generation Science Standards. The lessons also introduce language arts skills such as developing characters; writing conflict; and using personification, narrative voice, and other literary devices.

In the lesson “Travel Blog About the Digestive System,” students must apply their knowledge and vocabulary related to the human digestive system to compose a blog post from the perspective of a bit of food on a journey through the human body. Students will capture all of the twists and turns and use personification to convey this trip of a lifetime.

In another unique lesson, students are asked to imagine what life would be like if the KT asteroid had never hit. How would our landscape look and what organisms would be thriving today? Students must consider what role evolution would have played, and what animals might have become extinct. Would dinosaurs be here? Would humans still be roaming Earth?

Additional ideas to get students thinking creatively include writing comics, diary entries, songs, and letters from the point of view of the Moon, rocks, atoms, and more! The 15 lessons cover life science, physical science, Earth, space, and engineering. 

This book is humorous and engaging, and your students will love approaching science from a new direction.

Want to get your creative juices flowing? Try the free chapter “Group Poem: Earth’s History.”

Check out Creative Writing in Science in the NSTA Press Store

Spring Savings

Between now and May 31, 2016, save $15 off your order of $75 or more of NSTA Press books or e-books by entering promo code SPR16 at checkout in the online Science Store.

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Start and end the year safely

Questions and discussions about safety are often seen in the NSTA e-mail listserves and discussion forums. Each month, columns on safety in the science classroom/lab are featured in NSTA’s Science Scope (Scope on Safety) and The Science Teacher (Safer Science), with occasional articles in Science and Children (Safety First). These columns are written by Ken Roy, Director of Environmental Health and Safety for Glastonbury Public Schools in Glastonbury, CT, and NSTA’s Science Safety Compliance Consultant.

These are must-reads for K-12 science teachers and school administrators, regardless of what grade level or science course you teach. And NSTA members have online access to them, regardless of which print journal you receive.

The 2015-16 columns speak to a variety of safety concerns:

Each month, Scope on Safety also includes a Q&A on a safety-related issue. If you’re looking for a science department discussion topic, choose an article relevant to your situation. For more on safety topics, go to NSTA’s SciLinks and use “safety” as the keyword.

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NSTA Membership: It Opens the Door to Opportunity

NSTA Membership- It Opens the Door to Opportunity

Membership in NSTA comes with a wealth of benefits. Although the most obvious benefit may be the regular appearance of Science Scope and NSTA Reports in your mailbox, membership encompasses far more. The ability to connect through list serves, interact with other middle school science teachers via the Learning Center forums, serve on a variety of NSTA committees and advisory boards, and apply for prestigious awards are some examples of additional NSTA member benefits. There is, however, one hidden member benefit that we consider to be priceless; it is the ability to carve deep and lasting friendships through the personal connections afforded by involvement with NSTA.

As veteran middle school science teachers, we began our individual professional relationships with NSTA many years ago while serving on the Toyota Tapestry Grant Judging Panel. Although the panel no longer exists, the friendship that evolved through our common experience has stood the test of time and serves as an example of NSTA’s unique ability to connect science educators with each other. We have overcome the physical distance that separates us and have strengthened our friendship through presentations made at NSTA conferences, by teaching short courses together, and by recently authoring a book for NSTA Press.

NSTA offers numerous venues for personal and professional growth that will afford you the ability to connect with like-minded peers. We know from experience that attending a NSTA conference will leave you recharged as a result of your contact with other science educators. You can maintain that conference energy through activity in one or more of NSTA’s social media platforms, which include Twitter, Facebook, and the middle school list serve ( If you have taught for less than five years, we recommend that you to apply for the Maitland P. Simmons Memorial Award ( This outstanding program provides a year of professional development that includes attendance at the NSTA national conference.

Get Involved and Grow as a Leader

Involvement in NSTA will also allow you to grow as a leader in your educational community. We encourage you to expand your relationship with NSTA by volunteering to serve on a NSTA committee or advisory board. Consider lending your expertise to the Committee on Middle Level Science Teaching or to the Science Scope Advisory Board. This is a great way to meet colleagues from across the nation while helping to drive decisions that will impact the organization. 

If you are planning on attending an upcoming NSTA national or regional conference, submit a proposal for a session. Keep in mind, however, that proposals need to be submitted nearly a year in advance ( Presenting in front of your peers will help you grow both professionally and personally. If your strengths lie in written communication, you may want to consider authoring an article for Science Scope. A great way to build your confidence and knowledge prior to submitting a manuscript is to offer to review for Science Scope. In the process, you will be providing a valuable service to NSTA while gaining an insider’s viewpoint regarding the publication process.

The path to greater involvement in NSTA is as varied as the numerous member opportunities available to you. Whether you choose to become more active at the conference level, develop your reviewing or writing skills, or to serve in a leadership capacity, your growth as a science educator will be profound and may lead to the greatest benefit of all: friendship.

Patty McGinnis teaches at Arcola Intermediate School in Eagleville, PA and is editor of Science Scope. Kitchka Petrova is currently a doctoral student at Florida State University in Tallahassee, Florida. Their book Be a Winner: A Science Teacher’s Guide to Writing Successful Grant Proposals allows readers to learn from veteran science teachers about the secrets to successful grant writing. Formatted as a handy workbook, this practical book takes you step by step through the writing process.

Cover of the April/May 2016 issue of Science ScopeGet more involved with NSTA!

Join today and receive Science Scope, the peer-reviewed journal just for middle school teachers; connect on the middle level science teaching list (members can sign up on the list server); or consider joining your peers for Meet Me in the Middle Day (MMITM) at the National Conference on Science Education in Los Angeles in the spring of 2017.

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

Future NSTA Conferences

NGSS Workshops

2016 STEM Forum & Expo, hosted by NSTA

2016 Area Conferences

2017 National Conference


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Minneapolis, the Place to Be for Science Education This Fall

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Join NSTA in Minneapolis this October 27–29, 2016, for our first area conference on science education. Our outstanding program will have something for science teachers of all subject areas and experiences. With featured speakers who will leave you inspired, to sessions that will give you more resources than you can possibly use, the upcoming NSTA Area Conference in Minneapolis is the place you need to be.

To help you make the most of the professional development opportunities available at the Minneapolis conference, the Conference Committee has planned the conference around three strands that explore topics of current significance, enabling you to focus on a specific area of interest or need.

Teaching Science in a Connected World

Students and teachers have access to many forms of technology. These technologies can be effective tools to access information, deliver instruction, communicate ideas, connect with people from around the world, and build professional learning networks. Educators attending these sessions will explore instructional materials, technologies and strategies for effective learning for students and adults, and responsible use of digital resources and processes.

STEMify Instruction Through Collaboration Across the Curriculum

STEM can be a powerful unifying theme across the curriculum and in many settings. STEM provides an opportunity for collaboration among teachers, disciplines, and schools, as well as postsecondary, informal education, and community partners. Educators attending sessions in this strand will explore models of integrated STEM education programs, learn strategies to productively STEMify lessons, and investigate how to effectively engage students.

Celebrating Elementary Science and Literacy Connections

Children are born investigators. Science is an engaging way to develop students’ skills in thinking creatively, expressing themselves, and investigating their world. Reading, writing, and speaking are inspired through science experiences. Educators attending these sessions will gain confidence in teaching science, learn strategies for literacy and science integration, and celebrate elementary science. 

We hope to see you in Minneapolis in October! Save the date, line up your subs, and please check back here in early June for registration information.

jeanAuthor Jean Tushie is a High School Biology Teacher and the MnSTA conference coordinator. As a former NSTA council and board member, Tushie is NSTA’s biggest cheerleader!

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

Future NSTA Conferences

5th Annual STEM Forum & Expo, hosted by NSTA

  • Denver, Colorado: July 27–29

2016 Area Conferences

  • Minneapolis, Minnesota: October 27–29
  • Portland, Oregon: November 10–12
  • Columbus, Ohio: December 1–3

National Conferences

  • Los Angeles, California: March 30–April 2, 2017
  • Atlanta, Georgia: March 15–18, 2018
  • St. Louis, Missouri: April 11–14, 2019
  • Boston, Massachusetts: March 26–29, 2020
  • Chicago, Illinois: April 8–11, 2021

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