Ed News: STEM Education Will Carry Our Children In Tomorrow’s Economy

News Roundup banner

This week in education news, Evans and Milgrom-Elcott pen op-ed about the importance of maintaining a strong focus on STEM education; Bill Nye believes science will help change the world; new report says most students do not graduate with the skills today’s business executives are looking for; and Achieve publishes new guide for districts to successfully implement the NGSS.

STEM Education Will Carry Our Children In Tomorrow’s Economy

NSTA’s David Evans and 100kin10’s Talia Milgrom-Elcott published an opinion piece in The Hill last week on the importance of maintaining a strong focus on STEM education through the implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act and the connections between STEM education, employment, and job growth. Click here to read the article featured in The Hill.

Bill Nye On His ‘Codebreaker’ Mom And How Science Teachers Can Change The World

“These are my people,” Bill Nye said ahead of his lecture to some of the 10,000 science educators who attended the National Science Teachers Association’s (NSTA) National Conference in Los Angeles. When Nye, the well-known 1990s television host of “Bill Nye the Science Guy,” vivaciously told the hall full of teachers about how science will help “change the world,” he was met with thunderous applause. But in fact, it’s this group — teachers on the front lines — who deserve the credit, Nye said. Click here to read the article featured on the PBS NewsHour website.

Continue reading …

Posted in Education News Roundup | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Response

Science teachers select #NSTA17 Top 10 Books

The buzz and excitement generated by thousands of science teachers learning and sharing their enthusiasm for science at the NSTA National Conference in Los Angeles last week was truly inspiring. From workshops to the exhibit hall and the NSTA Science Store, the newest and best in resources were on display for science educators to peruse and pack up to take back to their classrooms. The NSTA Science Store became a hub for teachers to meet authors, participate in activities, and browse the bookshelves. These top 10 books were teachers’ picks at the LA conference:

Book cover image of "Picture-Perfect STEM Lessons, K-2"Picture-Perfect STEM Lessons, K-2: Using Children’s Books to Inspire STEM Learning, by Emily Morgan and Karen Ansberry: A guide to integrating science with language arts through picture books that are kid-friendly and engaging. Lessons take students on explorations of books such as Iggy Peck, Architect; The Inventor’s Secret; and Trash to Treasure while they learn to build their own drums, invent a toy car, reduce plastic pollution, and more.

Notable Notebooks: Scientists and Their Writings, by Jessica Fries-Gaither: A trip through time to discover the Book cover image of "Notable Notebooks: Scientists and Their Writings"value of a special place to jot your thoughts, whether you’re a famous scientist or a student. This NSTA Kids book brings to life the many ways in which trailblazers from Galileo to Jane Goodall have used a science notebook—to sketch observations, imagine experiments, record data, or write down their thoughts. A 2017 Outstanding Science Trade Book for Students, K–12. Continue reading …

Posted in NSTA Press Books | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Responses

Sparking Discussions

Students in most of my classes actively participate. But in one freshman class, students are engaged in labs, but they just stare at me during class discussions. I ask open-ended questions a lot and make an effort to get students involved. How can I get these students more involved? – R., Iowa

Who knows what’s inside the mind of a ninth grader? Ask the students to write brief, confidential notes to you about what is holding them back from participating. Based on the responses, you could try several strategies.

  • Reassure students that you value their thinking and responses and that no question or response is “stupid.” Teasing or mocking is not allowed.
  • When a student responds, make eye contact and listen (a few nods and “okays” may encourage them).
  • For a shrug and “I dunno,” nod politely and say that you’ll come back to the student (and then do so).
  • After any response, give a pensive “Hmmm” and ask another student what he/she thinks, even if the original response is correct. This continues the conversation and thinking.
  • Show some excitement for an original or interesting response.
  • Wait-time before calling on a student gives students a chance to think. This is especially important if you call on a student who has not raised a hand.
  • Try a think-pair-share for discussion questions.

It’s interesting how each class has its own dynamics and “personality,” as you’re experiencing. The challenge is finding effective strategies to unlock their participation. You have an interesting opportunity for action research.

More ideas:  The Big List of Class Discussion Strategies


Photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/rongyos/2686415336/

Posted in Ms. Mentor | Tagged | Leave a comment

When early childhood educators conference & talk about science education

rainbow above treesThe National Science Teachers Association’s annual conference brings educators from many places in the world together to build their science teaching skills, science content, reaffirm connections with colleagues and make new connections. Arriving in LA, the lights and action were a striking contrast to the vibrant rainbow began my week but this change in environment is one of the reasons to travel to A view of the Los Angeles cityscapean education conference. California big city delights included tall buildings whose faces changed with the time of day, public plantings so different from what I see at home, and architectural details recalling geometry and nature. I hope this conference recounting will inspire you to seek out NSTA experiences at conferences and resources online. Many, many conference session handouts are uploaded to the conference scheduler for you to access. Search for the sessions you attended or topics that interest you, click on the title and then scroll down to see and access uploaded files.

This is a long post but there is a cute dog picture at the end.

Group selfie in window reflectionAnyone want to estimate how many selfies and photos with colleagues were taken this week? Very loosely based on the number of photos on my phone, at least 10 times thousands of attendees. Meeting up with early childhood colleagues who teach young children or preservice teachers, or write about science education, re-opens conversations begun at previous conferences or online. Science educators are fun people!

3 teachers at the Elementary Extravaganza sessionWe also like to argue. One of the eight practices of science and engineering in the Next Generation Science Standards is Practice 7, Engaging in Argument from Evidence: “Argumentation is a process for reaching agreements about explanations and design solutions. In science, reasoning and argument based on evidence are essential in identifying the best explanation for a natural phenomenon. In engineering, reasoning and argument are needed to identify the best solution to a design problem.”  In his Planetary Society Lecture, “Everything All at Once,” Bill Nye, Science Guy and CEO of The Planetary Society, spoke about his career journey and our collective responsibility to consider how scientific agreement identifying the best explanation for changes in climate due to human action should inform our individual actions and national priorities. The vibe in the room showed that we science educators are ready to go out and help our students change the world! Continue reading …

Posted in Conferences, Early Years | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Responses

Enhanced E-books Student Editions, Part 3: Learn How to Order and Access Them

In our earlier posts, we shared the many topics available and how teachers are using the student editions. In this post, we’ll share how to order the student editions and how students, teachers, and administrators can access and use the e-books.

If you are not already familiar with NSTA’s Enhanced E-books, envision supplemental curricula that keep your students engaged and interested. Content that is not just in the form of a digital textbook, but a multi-dimensional learning experience. Science-based e-books carefully crafted to dive deep into content areas, letting you know your students are learning important concepts. A place where science comes to life with a simple click or tap.

NSTA Reader Platform

How do students, teachers, and administrators access these interactive, inquiry-based content modules? It all starts in the NSTA Reader Platform. From here, students can access their library of e-books.

Each Student Edition falls into at least one of three scientific disciplines: Earth and Space Science, Life Science, and Physical Science. And with more than 20 Student Editions currently available and more in the making, think of the possibilities for your classroom.

The Student Editions are brimming with interactive elements and cognitive learning tools strategically integrated for an optimal learning experience. Continue reading …

Posted in Enhanced eBooks | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

#NSTA17: The Importance of the Collaborative Community

This is an interesting and challenging time to be a science, engineering and/or STEM educator. Time, funding, support….all play into a complicated dance of priorities and resources. This is EXACTLY why the collaboration that happens at events like #NSTA is important to our students, teachers, administrators and the community at large. My biggest takeaway from NSTA is the collaboration it inspires is absolutely critical to increasing the scientific, engineering and technological literacy of our nation.

The most striking aspect of NSTA17 for me this week was the absolute focus on and prioritization of collaboration, among all of us. As I listened to teachers present classroom lessons, or exhibitors promote their products, or agencies and non-profits share a dizzying array of excellent resources, I in turn watched educators of all varieties engage, question, learn and share. One of my favorite sessions was one on Engineering and Literacy featuring PictureStem, a National Science Foundation funded project led by Dr. Tamara Moore of Purdue and Dr. Kristina Tank of Iowa State University. Tamara presented a series of lessons for early elementary grades that combined literacy through the use of common trade fiction and non-fiction books with age appropriate engineering activities utilizing the science, math, ELA and social studies aspects of those books. The 70ish teachers at the session eagerly participated in the hands on activities, asking questions and adding suggestions as they went. At the end, Tamara showed them where they could download the no-cost curricula. In this room, with these educators, policy issues, funding challenges, class size concerns and everything else simply faded as they all collaborated to learn new and effective engineering activities to take to their students.

Later, I took part in an engineering themed session aimed at K-3 called “Farm to Kitchen”. Two educators from the San Diego area shared the work they’ve collaborated on to help their young students understand “What is our place on the planet and where do the resources we use come from?” The question is what drew me to the session—after all we are talking about young children and that’s a BIG question. Their enthusiasm was contagious, my team fun and the projects well designed. And when I left, I was confident that these results of their collaboration would now be implemented and improved upon and positively impact many more children.

Teachers are in the trenches—it’s not uncommon that the whole day can go by without time even to do more than give cursory attention to personal needs. Collaboration is something “everyone knows” is good, but honestly the time to do it is rare. That’s why conferences like NSTA are so critically important.  It’s a time to learn, share, get ideas, network and yes, to collaborate. NSTA supporting me to blog at this conference exemplifies the spirit of collaboration so critical to our nation. As an engineering educator, I look forward to finding more ways to work with my science education colleagues and experts. If you have ideas and are interested in collaborating, please contact me at Elizabeth.parry.consulting@gmail.com or @STEMninjaneer. Liz Parry

Author Liz Parry is a guest blogger for NSTA for the 2017 National Conference; follow Liz on Twitter @STEMninjaneer

More About the 2017 National Conference on Science Education 

Browse the program preview, or check out more sessions and other events with the LA Session Browser/Personal Scheduler. Follow all our conference tweets using #NSTA17, 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

2017 STEM Forum & Expo
Kissimmee/Orlando, July 12–14

2017 Area Conferences

Baltimore, October 5–7
Milwaukee, November 9–11
New Orleans, Nov. 30–Dec. 2

Posted in Conferences | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Giving a Hand to STEM

At Brookwood School in Manchester, Massachusetts, Rich Lehrer, the school’s innovation coordinator, discusses the phalanges of prosthetic hands. Photo by David Oxton

Rich Lehrer, innovation coordinator at the Brookwood School in Manchester, Massachusetts, wanted his eighth graders to work on real-life science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) projects that help solve community problems. So in 2013, when he saw a video about South African carpenter Richard Van As and American mechanical special effects artist Ivan Owen creating a 3D-printed prosthetic hand to replace the fingers Van As lost in an accident, Lehrer says he was “blown away by [the opportunity] to create a prosthetic hand for Max,” his son, who was born with symbrachydactyly, a condition that causes short or missing fingers. “It was an opportunity to involve my students in an authentic project-based learning (PBL) and design project,” he maintains.

With advice from Van As, who, with Owen, posted the design for their Robohand online, Lehrer worked with 12 students over seven months in a weekly half-hour club to build the hand.

In Houston, Texas, Nghia Le, physical science teacher at Booker T. Washington High School, says he was interested in 3D printing because “I wanted to have my engineering students do rapid prototyping.” He discovered e-NABLE, a worldwide nonprofit community of volunteers who create free 3D-printed hands and arms for those in need. e-NABLE offers open-source designs on its website (see http://enablingthefuture.org) and matches persons needing the prosthetics with schools and organizations that can do the 3D printing. Continue reading …

Posted in NSTA Reports | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Early Childhood STEM Institute

Guest blogger Cindy Hoisington is a Senior Curriculum/Instructional Design Associate with Education Development Center. Hoisington believes that authentic, cognitively challenging science experiences can be transformative for young children. She brings to her work more than 20 years of experience teaching young children, developing educational materials, and instructing and mentoring early childhood teachers in language, literacy, and science education. Welcome Cindy!


I was thrilled to have the opportunity to present at the Early Childhood STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) Institute in Reno Nevada this week , an event sponsored by the Region 9 Head Start Association (covering the states of Arizona, California, Nevada, and Hawaii). This is Region 9’s sixth annual STEM institute and the theme was “Children as Inventors.” As a former Head Start (HS) teacher myself, it was wonderful to spend time with HS educators who fully appreciate the central role of exploration and play in children’s learning, an understanding that is fundamental to implementing rich, extended, and well-facilitated STEM experiences in classrooms. I presented on the topic of “Science and Language: A Natural Fit” and shared some of the work currently being done at Education Development Center Inc. (EDC) in Waltham MA. In our current project, Literacy and Academic Success for English Learners through Science (LASErS) , we build on a long stream of Early Childhood science work at EDC, and work with pre-K, K, and Grade 1 teachers in Hartford Connecticut to maximize science as a context for language and literacy development for ALL children. At my presentation, participants excitedly investigated mealworms (beetle larvae) and reflected on how this collaborative exploration promoted science thinking, language use, and the integration of challenging vocabulary. We viewed two videotaped science talks about ramps in preschool  classroom to observe high quality teacher facilitation in action. Participants noted the tremendous respect the videotaped teachers had for children’s thinking and ideas about living things in one video, and about balls on ramps in another.

Teachers sit together and look at mealworms.

Cindy Hoisington leading a hands-on exploration of mealworm body structure.

Participant observing and moving mealworms.

Workshop participate Jill Uhlenburg observing mealworm motion.









At this Institute I also had the opportunity to participate on a panel discussion on the topic of “the future of math and science in early education” with STEM experts from WestEd, the University of Nevada, and Pacific Clinics Head Start. The discussion centered on challenges teachers face in facilitating STEM experiences along with potential solutions including: how to find time and space for doing their own inquiry-based investigations; how to integrate STEM and literacy goals; and how to maintain play at the center of children’s STEM experiences. These are universal issues that are important to early childhood teachers.  Teachers at NSTA conferences express the same concerns. Continue reading …

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

Who Knew I <3 Zombies? Broadening Your Perspective at NSTA


Blog Header

The thing is, if you aren’t looking to broaden your knowledge and improve your practice, then stay away from the LA Convention Center and NSTA’s 2017 National Conference. I mean—stay away. Because when you walk into any door you are surrounded by a plethora of sessions, resources and exhibits. Oh, and did I mention the food trucks? Now that’s FULL service, NSTA!

Yesterday, I went to a variety of sessions that involved engineering in some way. One of my favorites—and one where I learned a lot—was led by Dr. Cary Sneider, a STEM expert and a lead on the development of the Framework for K-12 Science Education and the NGSS. The session was about Misconceptions about Engineering in the NGSS. In full disclosure, I consider(ed) myself somewhat of an expert on especially the engineering included in the NGSS. I led a review for ASEE (the American Society for Engineering Education) and have been using the standards in the bulk of my work as a P12 engineering education expert. So I’m not going to lie when I say I felt well, comfortable, about this session…maybe even a little smug.

Yeah, well that usually doesn’t work out the way. And it didn’t. Cary designed the session to have the audience members collaborate to complete some multiple-choice questions about engineering in the NGSS. He warned us that all the possible answers were at least somewhat right, and that we were to discuss them and choose what we thought was the best answer. Then we compared our results with another group, and finally, Cary reviewed the questions—and our answers—as a large group.

I was teamed up with a teacher from Mountain View, CA named Megan. Together we learned our first lesson: these seemingly clear statements had fuzzy answers. Yes, multiple choices could fit as an answer, or this part of (a) and that part of (c) were it. Megan and I discussed each one, and finally made choices. So when we compared our answers with the other team, color us surprised when the case they made for a different answer made sense. ARGH! Take it to the next level in the whole group discussion and clearly, much of the audience had struggled with the squishiness (yes, that’s a technical term). It was actually a bit disconcerting, as I know began to question myself.

Discoveries and Solutions Improve with Diverse Thinking

Near the end, Cary asked a brave lone dissenter why he’d chosen an answer. It was, after all, obvious he was wrong…..right? His reasoning, however, struck a chord. And all of a sudden, my perspective broadened. You could see from his face that Cary had the same reaction, and noted he’d simply never thought about it that way. He modeled, in exactly the right way, how to truly consider a different view and see it for the possibilities it presented.

Here’s the thing….in today’s education system being “right” is prized above all else, especially on tests in ELA and Math. As do scientists, engineers rely on data and evidence and as much as possible, try to minimize “squishiness.” But discoveries and solutions improve with diverse thinking. One of my favorite statements is a broader perspective on a solution team brings better solutions. Diversity, in all ways, matters. But perspectives tend to get fixed when answers are “right” or “wrong” , or when things “have always been that way” or when the way you’ve decided “it” is turns out to well, maybe not be just that way. It’s a little perplexing to have your perspective shift. But if you allow yourself to put that aside for just a moment it’s also invigorating, and squishy. And when you do all of this, and then model for others that it’s okay for the “expert” to still be learning—well, that’s perfect.

Author Liz Parry is a guest blogger for NSTA for the 2017 National Conference; follow Liz on Twitter @STEMninjaneer.

More About the 2017 National Conference on Science Education

Browse the program preview, or check out more sessions and other events with the LA Session Browser/Personal Scheduler. Follow all our conference tweets using #NSTA17, 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

2017 STEM Forum & Expo
Kissimmee/Orlando, July 12–14

2017 Area Conferences

Baltimore, October 5–7
Milwaukee, November 9–11
New Orleans, Nov. 30–Dec. 2

Follow NSTA

Facebook icon Twitter icon LinkedIn icon Pinterest icon G+ icon YouTube icon Instagram icon
Posted in Conferences | Leave a comment

Ed News: Sanitized Science

News Roundup banner

This week in education news, climate change skeptic group seeks to influence 200,000 teachers; some California schools are trading the blacktop for greentop; New Mexico schools continue to teach outdated science while new standards sit on the shelf; engineering is getting more attention in classrooms; and President Trump leaves science jobs vacant, troubling critics.

Climate Change Skeptic Group Seeks to Influence 200,000 Teachers

Twenty-five thousand science teachers opened their mailboxes this month and found a package from the Heartland Institute, a libertarian think tank that rejects the scientific consensus on climate change. It contained the organization’s book “Why Scientists Disagree About Global Warming,” as well as a DVD rejecting the human role in climate change and arguing instead that rising temperatures have been caused primarily by natural phenomena. Click here to read the article featured on PBS.org.

Some Schools Trading The Blacktop For Greentop As An Innovative Way To Teach Science

Some students in California don’t have to take field trips to parks or national forests for environmental education – they just open their classroom door. To supplement their science and environmental curricula, hundreds of schools across the state have busted up their asphalt play yards and replaced them with wood chips, trees, flowers, shrubs and vegetables. The new gardens help teachers implement California’s new science standards, which emphasize hands-on learning, and crossover between scientific disciplines. Click here to read the article featured in EdSource.

What Would Trump’s Proposed Cut To Teacher Funding Mean For Schools?

President Trump has proposed getting rid of the Title II program, which aims to help districts and states pay for teacher and principal development, reduce class-size, craft new evaluation systems, and more. The program, which is officially called the Supporting Effective Instruction State Grant program, or Title II, Part A, is the third largest in the U.S. Department of Education’s budget that goes to K-12 education. Eliminating it would be a really big deal, state, district, and school officials say. Click here to read the article featured in Education Week.

Continue reading …

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