Author Archives: Valerie Bang-Jensen and Mark Lubkowitz

Shoes! Beaks! They’re All About Structure and Function  

As we watch students arrive for class, we notice that Alejandra hangs her jacket on a coat hook, while Calder reaches for scissors to make a fringe on his picture. Tessa replaces her rain boots with the sneakers from her cubby, and Nick searches for a spoon to eat his cereal. These daily scenes illustrate […]

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Exploring Structure and Function in Insects

As an entomologist, one of my greatest challenges is trying to overcome my students’ feelings of fear and disgust regarding insects. Insects often have negative images in society. Walk through any toy store, and you will likely find plastic insects with the words “gross” or “creepy” written on their colorful packaging. One of our main […]

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Using Toxic Algal Blooms to Teach Structure and Function

Young children often experience a developmental stage in which they question everything. Why aren’t there dinosaurs anymore? Why do cats purr? Why are some potato chips green? They go from simply observing their surroundings to analyzing, experimenting, and wanting to make sense of their world. As a high school teacher of ninth-grade biology and AP […]

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Ed News: The Case for (Quality) Homework

The Case for (Quality) Homework Do math worksheets and book reports really make a difference to a student’s long-term success? Are American students overburdened with homework? In some middle-class and affluent communities where pressure on students to achieve can be fierce, the answer is yes. But in families of limited means, it’s often another story. […]

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Ed News: There Are Many More Female STEM Teachers Now Than 20 Years Ago

This week in education news, new analysis reveals that the percentage of female STEM teachers has dramatically increased from 43 percent in 1988 to 64 percent in 2012; report shows that 44 states have enacted at least one policy that brings computer science education to students; NSF launches three-year, $4-million pilot for national high […]

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Balloon Racers

Anyone who teaches middle school students knows they have a lot of energy, and a lot of hot air. Why not put it to use? In this activity, students will be challenged to modify a simple plastic balloon racer to travel farther and faster. Students begin by asking questions and making observations to understand how […]

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First Graders Become Corn Experts: Using Questions to Drive Instruction

First graders love when fall comes to Kansas. It’s a magical time when lots of events are occurring in their environment, and I take full advantage of their natural curiosity. We begin the school year with a mini science unit featuring corn and agriculture. Every year in May, my class plants a few corn kernels […]

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Scaffolding the Practice of Asking Questions and Defining Problems

With the adoption of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), teachers are wondering how to teach their students to do the science and engineering practices (SEPs). Some SEPs, such as carrying out investigations and analyzing data, are a natural flow from the old science standards. Many, however, are new for both students and teachers. For […]

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Teaching Climate Science? Leading Teachers and Scientists Explain NSTA’s New Position Statement and Answer Your Questions

NSTA recently issued a position statement calling for greater support for science educators in teaching evidence-based science, including climate science and climate change. The statement promotes the teaching of climate science as any other established field of science and calls on teachers to reject pressures to eliminate or de-emphasize climate-based science concepts in science instruction. […]

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First-Graders Modeling Day and Night: Making Sense of a Phenomenon

As a first-grade teacher in Detroit with predominantly Latinx students and English language learners, I worked for several weeks at the end of last school year with a doctoral candidate in science education and former elementary teacher, Christa Haverly, and by extension, an associate professor in science education and expert in scientific modeling, Christina Schwarz […]

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