Legislative Update: Trump Releases “Skinny Budget” for FY2018

Administration’s Proposal Funds School Choice, Eliminates ESSA Title II and Afterschool Programs

President Trump released his “skinny budget” on Thursday, March 16 and as expected, the budget increases defense and security but cuts funding for key education programs.

The 2018 Budget proposes $59 billion for the Department of Education, a $9.2 billion cut to the Education Department’s $68 billion budget, which would cut agency spending by 13 percent below the 2017 CR level.

Funding for the two largest education programs—Title I (low income) and IDEA (special education)—was not cut. Trump’s plan seeks funding to expand choice options in public and private schools; he is proposing a $168 million increase for Charter Schools Program grants and a new $250 million private school choice program.

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NSTA Books, eBooks+, and Journals win 2017’s highest honors in educational publishing

Logo of the AAP REVERE AwardsThe Association of American Publishers PreK–12 Learning Group has just announced 2017’s winners of the prestigious REVERE Awards, education publishing’s highest honors. The 2017 REVERE Awards honor print and electronic resources for PreK–12 teachers and learners in the classroom setting and beyond. Browse this year’s best of the best in educational resources in AAP’s gallery of 2017 REVERE Award winners and finalists, including these seven NSTA publications.

Supplemental Resources

Book cover of "Inquiring Scientists, Inquiring Readers in Middle School"NSTA Press’s book Inquiring Scientists, Inquiring Readers in Middle School: Using Nonfiction to Promote Science Literacy, Grades 6-8, by Terry Shiverdecker and Jessica Fries-Gaither, is Winner of the REVERE Award for Supplemental Resources–Interdisciplinary Resources. These research-based, classroom-tested lessons integrate all aspects of literacy (reading, writing, speaking, listening, and viewing) with engaging science activities for middle school students. The authors show that embedding nonfiction text and literacy activities into inquiry-based science honors the best practices of both disciplines. The lively activities cover topics from sunlight and the seasons to chemistry, toys, and accidental inventions, all presented in ways so students see the relevance and importance of science in everyday life.

Professional Resources

SNTA eBooks+ title "Nutrition" NSTA’s eBooks+ Nutrition, is Winner of the REVERE Award for Professional Resources–Innovation. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle requires making informed decisions about personal nutrition using information backed by scientific research. Nutrition, a highly interactive, self-directed professional learning experience, provides an overview of how food, nutrients, and energy are used by the body and how other factors contribute to making healthful choices. Rich with dynamic multimedia, interactive enhancements, and pedagogy, this e-book immerses educators in learning aboutNSTA eBooks+ title "Rocks" nutrition. NSTA’s eBooks+ Rocks is honored as a Finalist this year. The Rocks eBooks+ studies different kinds and categories of rocks, the major formation processes, and the cyclical nature of formation and transformation of rock. A third NSTA eBooks+, Discover the NGSS, is also honored in the category of Professional Resources–Instruction and Classroom Practice. Discover the NGSS: Primer and Unit Planner offers a comprehensive introduction to the Next Generation Science Standards. This interactive e-book undertakes an exploration of the three dimensions of the NGSS—the science and engineering practices, disciplinary core Image of NSTA eBooks+ "Discover the NGSS"ideas, and crosscutting concepts. Using numerous interactive elements, learners analyze classroom videos, answer questions, and develop arguments from evidence while becoming proficient at understanding the structure and significance of the three dimensions.


Book cover of NSTA Press book "Science Learning in the Early Years"In the category of Professional Resources–Specific Learning Populations, NSTA Press book Science Learning in the Early Years: Activities for PreK-2, by Peggy Ashbrook, is Winner of the REVERE Award. Engaging children in science activities in the early years capitalizes on their inquisitiveness while introducing them to key skills they’ll use through a lifetime of learning and investigation. This book provides more than 40 activities, all clearly presented and developmentally appropriate for young scientists PreK to 2. Throughout, the author’s focus is on play-based delightful experiences for early childhood learners that enhance and maintain children’s natural curiosity and abilities. The winning book encompasses many of Ashbrook’s writings in her Early Years columns for NSTA’s elementary journal Science and Children. Honored as a Finalist in the category Professional Resources– Subject Areas is NSTA Press book Book cover of NSTA Press book "Uncovering Student Ideas in Earth and Environmental Science"Uncovering Student Ideas in Earth and Environmental Science: 32 New Formative Assessment Probes, by Page Keeley and Laura Tucker.  Formative assessment probes give teachers an easy way to uncover ideas and misconceptions students have about a particular topic. Armed with this information, teachers can structure learning experiences that guide students to deeper understanding. This book offers assessment tools about key areas of Earth and environmental science such as water cycle, weather, climate, weathering and erosion, pollution, and human impact. Included are field-tested teacher materials that provide science background and link to national standards. This volume is the latest addition to Keeley’s 10-volume Uncovering Student Ideas in Science series.


Cover of journal issue of The Science Teacher-Summer 2016The Science Teacher, NSTA’s journal for high school teachers, is Winner of the Magazines: Editorial–Departments and Sections REVERE Award for the “Focus on Physics” column. A new column launched in 2016, “Focus on Physics” uses cartoonish drawings and clearly written text to help teachers build an understanding of physical principles among their students. The Science Teacher sought out Paul G. Hewitt, author of a popular physics textbook, to write and illustrate this column.

Each year the REVERE Awards honor the best in education resources and draws attention to the rich array of high-quality teaching materials developed across the educational publishing community. Congratulations to the authors and to the NSTA Press Books, NSTA eBooks+, and NSTA Journals editorial, design, and production teams on these seven Winner and Finalist honors in the 2017 REVERE Awards. For the full list of the 2017 Winners and Finalists, visit the REVERE Awards pages.

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Ed News: Girls Draw Even With Boys In High School STEM Classes

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This week in education news, girls now make up about half the enrollment in high school STEM classes; new proposed California bill would exempt teachers from paying state income taxes; U.S. Education Secretary releases new ESSA guidelines; results of the Illinois’ state science test delayed more than a year; and the Trump Administration proposes a $9 billion cut to the U.S. Department of Education.

Girls Draw Even With Boys In High School STEM Classes, But Still Lag In College And Careers

Thanks to long-standing efforts by teachers, administrators and nonprofits, girls now make up about half the enrollment in high-school science and math classes. But progress lags beyond the walls of high schools. The percentage of women majoring in STEM fields at California State University, for example, has remained a steady 37 percent since 2007, even though women make up 55 percent of all undergraduates. Click here to read the article featured in EdSource.

California Bill Would Exempt Veteran Teachers From State Income Taxes

Two California state senators think the solution to the state’s teacher shortages can be found in its tax code. Senate Bill 807 would exempt teachers with more than five years of experience from paying state income taxes for the next ten years. That would essentially give every veteran teacher a 4 percent to 6 percent raise overnight. Click here to read the article featured in Education Week.

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Ideas and inspiration from NSTA’s March 2017 K-12 journals

Regardless of what grade level you teach, you the resources in this month’s journals can help make this summer’s eclipse a memorable occasion for your students. Not all students will be back to school on August 21, so this spring is a good time to spark their interest and provide resources.

Each issue includes the 2016 Outstanding Science Trade Books for Students K–12.

The Science Teacher — Eclipse

“Planetary science is well worth revisiting in our high schools, if only to give students better understanding and appreciation of the majestic Sun-Earth-Moon system we experience every day,” according the TST editor. Especially since many for many high school students, there most recent exposure to Earth and Space Science may have been in middle school (or earlier). This summer’s eclipse is a good context to revisit and expand their experiences.

The lessons described in the articles include connections with the NGSS.

For more on the content that provides a context for projects and strategies described in this issue, see the SciLinks topics Climate Change, Eclipses, Food Crops, Life on Other Planets, Moon Phases, Planets, Sustainable Agriculture, Sunspots, Torricelli.

Continue for Science Scope and Science and Children.

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Focus on Physics: Teaching Physics as the Rules of Nature

We all know that to enjoy a game, you must know the rules of the game. Likewise, to appreciate—and even comprehend—your environment, you must understand the rules of nature. Physics is the study of these rules, which show how everything in nature is beautifully interconnected. Physics taught as the rules of nature can be among the most relevant courses in any school, as educationally mainstream as English and history.

Mathematical need not mean computational
Physics has the reputation of being overly mathematical, intimidating many students who are otherwise attracted to science. My teaching experience tells me that it’s not mathematics per se but rather computation that intimidates students. That’s an important distinction. Every serious physics course is mathematical, containing equations. But it also can be noncomputational. By postponing problem solving until a follow-up course, an introductory, noncomputational physics course can be enjoyed by math whizzes and math weaklings alike.

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Science 2.0: Help Students Become Global Collaborators

One day Jared was teaching about the boiling points of common liquids. The year was 1999, and students had to take his word for it when he said those points would vary slightly in the mountains of Nepal versus coastal Miami. Imagine if those students could have investigated the phenomenon collaboratively with peers across the globe. Nowadays, they can.

Meeting the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) standards makes it possible for students to become global collaborators. The Global Collaborator standard articulates that students should:

  • use digital tools to connect with learners from various backgrounds and cultures;
  • use collaborative technologies to work with others, including peers, experts, or community members, to examine issues and problems from multiple viewpoints;
  • contribute constructively to project teams, assuming various roles and responsibilities to work effectively toward a common goal; and
  • explore local and global issues and work with others to investigate solutions (ISTE 2016).

Global perspectives
Two strategies can help foster a global approach in our science classrooms. First, students must have a basic understanding of the perspectives of others and the research work of scientists across the globe.

Google can enable this strategy, but standard search results are specific to the student’s own country. To search another nation, find its country code (a part of URLs), to identify the country of origin. NASA offers a comprehensive list. Then, to find search results for a specific country, follow the search terms with “site:.countrycode.” So, the search “Human impact on climate change,” for instance, becomes “Human impact on climate change site:.cn” to bring up results from China. The search results will be much different from those in our own region.

Global classrooms
After students begin to understand the perspectives of others, the second strategy is to have them conduct science inquiry with global communities, where they work together, share results, compare-contrast data, and evaluate their findings.

Find relevant resources within the citizen science movement. National Geographic has a web page dedicated to citizen science projects that will help students connect with others. The Teaching Resources section of that page offers activities, lessons, and educator guides to walk your class through their first citizen science exploration.

Wikipedia has a fantastic list of citizen science projects created by a global community of contributors. Virtually anyone can join the projects within their own classroom. Citizen seismology, to give one example, helps students understand the tectonic movement of our Earth and allows scientists to better predict earthquakes and provide warnings to communities in the most affected areas.

The website www.scistarter.com is famous for a project that involved adding sensors to packages shipped across the globe just to see what types of environmental conditions and abuse those shipments experience going from point A to point B. Students can search the site for projects that pique their interest. To search for a project via a more kid-friendly interface, go to www.pbskids.org/scigirls/citizen-science. Or, students can propose a project of their own to the larger scientific community at http://bit.ly/2jsBrLy.

When students explore and learn with others from around the world, they become global collaborators, developing the skills that may help us solve the most challenging scientific problems of the coming decades.

Ben Smith (ben@edtechinnovators.com) is an educational technology program specialist, and Jared Mader (jared@edtechinnovators.com) is the director of educational technology, for the Lincoln Intermediate Unit in New Oxford, Pennsylvania. They conduct teacher workshops on technology in the classroom nationwide.

International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE). 2016. The 2016 ISTE standards for students. Arlington, VA: ISTE. http://bit.ly/ISTE-standards.

Editor’s Note

This article was originally published in the March 2017 issue of The Science Teacher journal from the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA).

Get Involved With NSTA!

Join NSTA today and receive The Science Teacher,
the peer-reviewed journal just for high school teachers; to write for the journal, see our Author GuidelinesCall for Papers, and annotated sample manuscript; connect on the high school level science teaching list (members can sign up on the list server); or consider joining your peers at future NSTA conferences.

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Videographing with The PocketLab: Experimental Imagination Unplugged

Imagine a little white box of about 30 cubic centimeters or a third of the size of a deck of cards. And only 23 grams. Now imagine that that little box can effortlessly and wirelessly measure and share data about motion, acceleration, angular velocity, magnetic fields, pressure, altitude, and temperature all streaming on demand to your phone, tablet, or computer.


The battery-powered PocketLab shares information with a Bluetooth-connected tablet or phone. The PocketLab App makes connection easy, and then the simplified interface that makes visualizing data enjoyable. But that’s not the best part. What really drops jaws is when the PockeLab combines efforts with the smartphone or tablet’s camera. When the two work together creating an augmented reality perspective that has a graphical overlay on what the camera sees. What that means is that you can both see the data as it is collected at the same time you see what is creating the data. 

The Nevada Ready 21 program zeroed in on the PocketLab for their statewide tech integration that used the Chromebooks as its tech hub. According to the NR21 website, “PocketLab® is a science lab that connects to the CTL NL6 Chromebook and fits in a pocket. PocketLab allows students to explore the world and build science experiments using integrated sensors including: Accelerometer; Gyroscope; Magnetometer: Pressure and Temperature. PocketLab has many of the same features as lab equipment that costs thousands of dollars but is simple to use, deploy and manage and is included with the CTL NL6 Education Chromebook as part of CTL’s solution for NR21.” Continue reading …

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Setting personal and professional priorities

I teach fifth and sixth grade science, and I’m finding it hard to balance teaching, grad school, and family responsibilities. Are there any secrets for this? —E., Washington

Everyone’s situation varies, so unfortunately there are no universal secrets. It may help to prioritize activities into essential, nice-if–you-can-get-to-it, and back burner.

Your family and your health are essentials. However, teachers realize that some family celebrations have to be rescheduled for the weekends, and “vacations” are often spent at informal science sites for personalized professional development. Teachers often attend their kids’ sporting events with papers to grade or reading to do. Some housework and hobbies may have to go on the back burner for now, but please make time for exercise and non-academic interests to maintain your mental health.

Many teachers use time before or after school to prepare lab activities, contact parents, or evaluate student work, freeing up evenings and weekends for other responsibilities. When I was in your situation, these were on my backburner:

  • Afterschool coaching, club advising, or tutoring (instead, connect with students by attending events as your schedule allows)
  • Elaborate bulletin boards (post student work or ask teams of students to create a display)
  • Grading every assignment
  • Using a complicated, time-consuming reward system

For your graduate work, a study group can help by sharing resources. Schedule specific times for homework. Online courses allow you to control the timeframe. Take readings to school for when you have extra time (as if teachers ever do, but you never know). Limit yourself to one course per semester, and skip a semester if you’re overwhelmed.

Your degree has an end date! At that point, you can reprioritize some of the personal or professional things that were on the back burner.


Photo: https://www.flickr.com/photos/cgc/7080721/

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Legislative Update: Senate Appropriations Committee Hearing March 15 to Focus on STEM Education

Senate Appropriations Committee Hearing March 15 to Focus on STEM Education

The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, HHS, and Education will hold a hearing next Wednesday, March 15th, on federal STEM education programs. NSTA member (and NSELA Board member) Larry Plank, STEM Director for the Hillsborough School District in Florida, will be testifying before the committee. Other panelists include Caroline King of Washington STEM. The hearing presents a unique opportunity to highlight STEM education programs and funding before key lawmakers. Read more about the hearing (and watch it live) here.

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Ed News: New Research Supports Women In STEM

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This week in education news, new research by the National Women’s Business Council supports women in STEM; David Berliner explains what is really happening in America’s public schools; Louisiana will phase new science standards into classroom by the 2018-19 school year; and parents are the key to getting high school students interested in STEM, according to a new study from the University of Virginia.

On the Commercialization Path: New Research Supports Women In STEM

While women make up more than half of all college students and now surpass men in attaining undergraduate degrees, the National Women’s Business Council’s new report, On the Commercialization Path: Entrepreneurship and Intellectual Property Outputs among Women in STEM, reveals that women are underrepresented among students pursuing science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education. Click here to read the article featured in The Hill.

What The Numbers Really Tell Us About America’s Public Schools

David Berliner discusses what is really happening in America’s public schools today as opposed to what the media and politicians say is happening. Click here to read the post featured on The Washington Post’s Answer Sheet blog.

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