Expanding Horizons Through Informal Science Learning
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 April 2017 Expanding Horizons Through Informal Science Learning


In This Issue
· Connecting Formal, Nonformal, & Informal Science Learning
· Big Data, Small Devices
· Creating Lessons for the GSE

· Darkness in the Afternoon: Total Eclipse

· Viewing the Eclipse Safely
· End of Year Reflection
· 3D Learning Tools
· GSTA Recommends
· General
· Elementary
· Middle/High
Sponsored by:

Quick Links
GA Performance Stds
CCGPS Literacy Stds
Science GSE
A Framework for K-12 Science Education
3D Learning Tools
Coaching (Yourself) From 1D to 3D Learning

Among many valuable sessions at NSTA's national conference in Los Angeles, Holly Rosa and Hillary Paul Metcalf of Boston Public Schools provided an outstanding kickoff early Thursday morning. Their session, Coaching Teachers from 1D to 3D Learning, provided excellent guidance for educators who are working to support classroom teachers, but there were also some valuable points for those teachers in the trenches. A key takeaway from the presentation is that the transition to 3D learning takes a significant amount of time, 4+ years in Rosa and Metcalf's estimation. That transition is often challenging, but it is ultimately rewarding in terms of student learning. To help us all along on that journey, Rosa and Metcalf provided an excellent bank of resources. One highlight in the bank is a set of "I can" statements for the science and engineering practices that can help your students understand how they are expected to approach this dimension of the standards.
GSTA Recommends

Get Ready for the Eclipse

Check out these links as you plan ahead for the total solar eclipse on August 21st.

NSTA Journal Articles
NSTA Press Books
Meet Georgia's BioGENEius & Biotech Teacher of the Year

- via Georgia BioEd Institute

Tejas Athni is the 2017 Georgia BioGENEius

"Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is one of the most aggressive and deadly cancers found in the brain," says Athni. But this high school junior's research has identified a leaf extract that inhibits GBM cell growth. His work, set to be published in a medical journal later this year, could lead to a novel potential treatment option for this lethal disease. Athni will represent Georgia in competition with other student researchers from around the world at this summer's BIO International Convention. Read more...

Biotech Teacher of the Year

Marc Pedersen of Paulding County High School in Dallas, GA took home the gorgeous Double Helix Georgia Bio crystal trophy, a cash award, and a lifetime of glory and bragging rights as the 2017 Biotechnology Teacher of the Year. Pedersen is also GSTA’s incoming High School Representative. Read more...

NSTA Executive Director David Evans Responds to Heartland Institute's Climate Message to Teachers

Here is the text of an email addressed to all NSTA members.

According to the Washington Post, "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." The package also contained their propaganda on global warming.

We understand that the Heartland Institute is planning to send the material to teachers every week, until "every public-school science teacher in the nation has a copy."

First, scientists don't disagree about climate change or its causes.

Second, labeling propaganda as science does not make it so.

Third, science teachers are the critical bastion in the war against reason. And the special interests know it.

NSTA will support you as you resist this unprecedented attack. Just teach science in your classroom. We invite you to take advantage of the multiple resources below from NSTA and the scientific community about climate change.

  • NSTA resources on climate change are here.
  • Here are resources from the North American Association for Environmental Education.
  • Download National Wildlife Federation's resources and Climate Classroom lesson plans.
  • AAAS curriculum materials are here and here.
  • Resources from the National Center on Science Education are here.
  • The CLEAN Network provides a collection of 650, ready-to-use and rigorously reviewed resources for educators.
  • Read the Washington Post article here and the PBS article here.

As always, we appreciate the work you do and for standing with us at this critical time for science and science education.

Makerspace Safety

The International Technology and Engineering Educators Association (ITEEA) has just published an important safety article in their Journal Safety Spotlight column titled: Tools and Equipment in Nontraditional Spaces: Safety and Liability Issues. The article was written by safety compliance specialists Dr. Tyler Love (ITEEA) and Dr Ken Roy (NSTA). 

It addresses critical safety and liability issues for STEM teachers and administrators.  It is one you don't want to miss and need to be aware of to better protect yourself, your students and your school.

It can be accessed free of charge at the following ITEEA site

For Science Educators, The Stakes for Teaching the Next GenerationFeel Higher Than Ever

- via NSTA Express

Paul Reyna, now in his 28th year as a teacher, was among the many attendees of this year's national conference of the NSTA, the world's largest professional organization representing science educators of all grade levels. Reyna credits his family with his decision to become a science educator, but the Texan says that it's professional development, like the NSTA's conference, that has been key to his success. Read the article featured on PBS NewsHour.

Notes From the Editors

Share Your Great Ideas! Write for eObservations

Do you have a great lesson or idea to share with your colleagues? Help us make eObservations a valuable professional resource and gain recognition for your great work with students by submitting an article for publication. Each month, we feature articles of ~500-750 words that fit into one of the three series described below. In addition we invite classroom-oriented education research, or K-12 student scientific research. Articles should include 1-2 supporting images and one or more links to additional information or supporting files. Articles can be submitted to the editors via email.

Building Toward the GSE

This series is intended to build teachers' capacity for the new Science Georgia Standards of Excellence and to increase their understanding of the Framework for K-12 Science Education by highlighting model classroom lessons that support students in three-dimensional science learning. Articles should describe lessons that challenge students to integrate core ides, science & engineering practices, and crosscutting concepts to explain phenomena or solve problems.

Connecting Research & Best Practice

This series is intended to help teachers incorporate research-based best practices into their science and STEM classrooms. Articles should focus on curriculum, instructional, or assessment approaches that are demonstrated to support science learning within the context of Georgia's student assessment and teacher evaluation systems. Each article should provide relevant background information and practical guidance for classroom implementation.

Speaking Up for Science Education
This series offers a space for GSTA members to share their perspectives on key issues facing science education in our state and nation. We seek articles that inform and support members in acting as leaders and advocates for science education on the local, state, and national levels.
Have Something to Share with GSTA Members?

GSTA seeks to share announcements, information, and resources from not-for-profit or government-sponsored programs at no cost. We also offer paid advertising options for commercial interests that align with GSTA's goals. Please visit GSTA's Newsletter Information for details.

Sponsored by:Everything you need in one kit! Each FOSS module includes all the materials needed to complete the Engineering activities, along with step-by-step instructions to help you facilitate each investigation.
Speaking Up for Science Education

Connecting Formal, Nonformal, and Informal Science Learning

- Karen Garland, Elementary Representative

If you have kept up with the news, you are probably aware that many scientific issues from climate change to the possibility of life on Mars, have had increased media attention. Therefore, more than ever, it is vital that our educational system provides our future decision-makers with the knowledge and practices that will enable them to become scientifically literate citizens.  As explained by the National Science Education Standards, "Scientific literacy means that a person can ask, find, or determine answers to questions derived from curiosity about everyday experiences. It means that a person has the ability to describe, explain, and predict natural phenomena."

Collaboration is essential, since relying solely on the K-12 formal school system may not be enough. Nowadays, proficiency in science and STEM may be too complex for any single institution. Therefore, combining formal school experiences with informal and/or nonformal experiences is but one approach to helping build our students’ knowledge, so that they can explain and authentically apply what they have learned. Taking this approach, though, requires dismantling a widespread misconception that out-of-school educational experiences only support superficial science learning, rather than the learning of real science.

According to Falk and Dierking’s article in American Scientist, “The 95 Percent Solution,” less than five percent of a person’s life is spent inside a classroom. Therefore, most of a person’s science education comes from outside a formal environment. The authors conclude that the best way to increase a student’s understanding of science is in the remaining 95 percent of their lives. 

Museums, zoos, nature centers, aquariums, and planetariums are among the several thousand informal science institutions in the United States that are doing just this by regularly engaging students in observing, learning, and using knowledge and skills. Providing a richness of resources, authentic objects, collections, or phenomena unavailable in any classroom, informal science organizations across the country have developed exemplary partnerships with public schools—and have room for more.  

In fact, according to a survey by The Center for Informal Learning and Schools, it is estimated that informal science institutions serve more than 60 percent of U.S. schools, directly or indirectly impacting 9,000 districts, 2 million teachers, and 36 million students. Whether observing the flora and fauna at Elachee Nature Center or working with sea turtles at the Georgia Sea Turtle Center, to exploring the stars at Fernbank Science Center, informal settings can help learners care about and make meaning of abstract concepts otherwise usually encountered in books or onscreen. Such a tactile, visual, and kinesthetic portrayal of ideas may afford different kinds of engagement and even better understanding. This type of learning and teaching needs to be encouraged, as it has been shown to increase a student’s retention of facts when compared to rote memory (Novak and Gowin, 1984). 

There is a lot of learning that goes on in the world, and a lot of it is not even intentional — it just happens. While they cannot replace the structure that formal education provides, informal learning experiences can provide a break from the ordinary and give that “wow” moment. These environments have a lot to offer, and these collaborations can contribute towards: 

  • Increasing conceptual comprehension in science;
  • Improving student achievement;
  • Strengthening positive attitudes towards science;
  • Providing professional development and curriculum planning projects; and
  • Supporting integration of inquiry in the classroom.

For more information, visit www.eealliance.org, a clearinghouse of over 400 organizations in Georgia.


Sponsored by:
National Geographic Learning is Georgia's source for K-12 science instruction.
Connecting Research & Best Practice

Big Data, Small Devices

- Dr. Donna Governor, GSTA Past President, Assistant Professor of Science Education, University of North Georgia

Editors Note: We were very proud to see that Donna's NSTA Press book--Big Data, Small Devices--was one of the top 10 books selected by teachers at NSTA's Science Store during the national conference in LA.

Real-Time data is the heartbeat and pulse of our planet.  Every earthquake, every storm, every wildfire is reported immediately through various government and research websites.  Data from ongoing monitoring of streams, air quality, land use, waves and even flights are recorded and made available online as well.  All this information – reported as it happens – is Real-Time data.  What makes all this data special for teachers, is that it can be used by students in authentic investigations, as it happens.

Activities constructed using Real-Time data are inherently 3-Dimensional Learning at its best.  The data allows students to better understand the practices of science as they participate in Real-Time explorations.  Every investigation involves analyzing and interpreting data as well as planning and carrying out investigations; but many also involve using models, computational thinking and argument from evidence.  Cross cutting concepts are explored as students identify patterns, find examples of stability and change, and investigate cause and effect.  

So, where do you find Real-Time data? Just about everywhere!  Agencies like NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, USGS (United States Geologic Survey), NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration), EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), USNO (United States Naval Observatory), NPS (National Parks Service) and USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) all keep Real-Time data.  So does the CIA (Central Intelligence Agency), U.S. Census Bureau, Bureau of Land Management, and the United Nations.  Data is not only recorded in Real-Time, but archived for decades.  Of course, students can access the data directly on each agency’s website, but there is a much more user-friendly way to access data; student devices such as smartphones and tablets.

Because Real-Time data is provided free, courtesy of each government agency, app developers will often utilize data in apps.  Some apps do have a cost associated, but any data you want can probably be found on a free app.  What this means is that students can conduct authentic, Real-Time investigations using their smartphones or devices.  Data can be explored as it happens with apps such as “Flight Tracker” or “River Data Lite.” Or, archived data can be utilized to look for patterns of change over time, using apps like “Weather History Explorer” or “Sunrise Sunset.”  Many apps, including “Journey North” and “Project Noah” are specially designed for citizen science investigations.  

NSTA Press has a newly released book, Big Data, Small Devices: Investigating the Natural World Using Real-Time Data, which presents more information about how to use Real-Time data in the classroom. As the lead author of this book, I’ve developed and used these activities at multiple grade levels, from third grade through high school.  This book not only provides dozens of activities to use with your students, but includes information about how to find and access data, technology tricks and tips, and how to talk about different types of data with your students.

It seems like our students are increasingly coming to school plugged into their devices.  So, why not turn their smart phones and tablets into tools for authentic and meaningful investigations?

Building Toward the GSE

Creating Lessons for the GSE...Don't Reinvent the Wheel!

- Stephanie Miles, District 5 Director
Sponsored by: Why read about a case study when you can experience one? www.cogenteducation.com

Although we haven’t wrapped up this year, and testing is looming right around the corner, we also have to think ahead to the changes to our standards next year. I have heard people say the standards aren’t changing much. And maybe they are right. We are still teaching most of the same material. Some material gets moved to a different grade, some gets omitted, some even gets added. But, if you look at the wording of the new GSE, you can see where much of the change lies. 

Are you ready?

There are lots of analogies in education…”reinventing wheels” and  “deep pockets” to name a few. I’m terrible about trying to reinvent the wheel, forever changing my lessons around, trying to get a perfect fit. I’ve been around awhile, 22 years now, so I’ve got lots of ideas, or deep pockets, about interesting activities. Still, I consider myself a work in progress.

I want to focus on how we can find perfect lessons for the new GSE without reinventing the wheel. 

The GSE calls for a shift in how we teach, and what we expect students to do. We are asked to start with a phenomena, something to hook the students into wanting to learn more. Think about the labs you do in a classroom. At the end of the lab are the “extensions.” You know, the cool applications of the science that we never have time to do. Problems to solve, technology to create. 

For example, during our DNA technology unit, my students watched this video  about fake fish to introduce DNA barcoding. Then students investigated DNA barcoding, and then solved a problem about fake fish in our lunchroom. 

If you are wondering how to even approach changing your lesson to fit GSE, may I suggest you follow the 5E model?  A common misconception is the idea that you have to do all 5 “E’s” in one day. But, this can take 1-5 days to complete, depending on your lessons. Sometimes, you can fit all 5 in one day, but usually they take several days, possibly the entire unit, to complete the cycle. 

The American Chemical Society has a great website filled with 5E lessons, videos, images, and teacher resources for the the middle and high school physical science teacher. Don’t let the name fool you! Many of their activities will work for both middle and high school. If I still taught physical science, you can bet your little red apple this is what I would use as a main resource. I especially love the reptile egg challenge. Your next park ranger might be sitting in your classroom, just waiting to be inspired!

One thing I love about the new standards is the focus on human impacts. I ask my students whether they could change just one behavior that would make a difference in the world. For me, it started with plastic straws. I try to never use them. NASA has a great website, Climate Kids, that poses the question Paper or Plastic? to get students thinking about the choices we make, and even giving them a design challenge to make their own shopping bag. 

I hope these examples leave you wanting more! Here is a website full of lessons and ideas. 

Sponsored by:
3-Dimensional Learning - IT'S ABOUT TIME - iat.com
Connecting Research & Best Practice

Darkness in the Afternoon: The Total Solar Eclipse of August 21, 2017

- Dr. Maurice Snook, Retired Scientist & Amateur Astronomer

Why is it so important for my school?

Barely two weeks into the 2017-18 school year, on Monday, Aug. 21, 2017, one of the most spectacular natural phenomena will occur, a Total Solar Eclipse.  The last one in Georgia was in 1984 (not quite total).  This event will be so important for Georgia that plans for the eclipse need to be formulated by your school administration now.  The reason is that many students will be dismissed exactly when the eclipse will be at its maximum.  Around 2:38 PM on the afternoon of Aug. 21, 2017 the sun will be more than 90% covered by the moon!  It will appear like deep twilight and the students will wonder what is going on and will look up and see an extremely thin crescent sun high in the afternoon sky.  The brightness of the sun will be so reduced that students will look at it and not realize the danger of staring at the thin crescent sun.  

Several options for schools are available, all with prior classroom discussions about what will occur: (1) make this a day off, an Eclipse Holiday; (2) dismiss the students at noon before the eclipse begins around 1:07 PM; (3) hold the students an extra 45 min until the eclipse has progressed far enough past maximum that the sun's brightness will prevent them from being able to look at the sun (as is normal); (4) use this as a great learning experience about the wonders of natural phenomena that will not occur again until 2024.  At the very least, elementary school students should not be dismissed around 2:30-2:45 PM time period without prior instructions as to what is occurring (assuming the sun is visible).

All cities in Georgia will experience a very deep partial eclipse: Athens, 99% of the sun covered; Atlanta, 97%; Albany, 90%; Augusta, 99.4%; Columbus, 92%; Macon, 95%; Savannah, 97%; Valdosta 89%.  Photo 1 shows what a 90% partial eclipse will look like and most of North Georgia will see an even slimmer crescent.

A select number of Northeast Georgia cities will experience TOTALITY where the umbral shadow of the moon, only about 70 miles wide, will pass over them.  The umbral shadow, racing at over 1,000 mph, will first make landfall on the Oregon coast below Astoria, Oregon, and then crossing Idaho, Colorado, Nebraska, Missouri, southern Illinois, Tennessee, extreme northeast Georgia and southwestern North Carolina and South Carolina.  Cities in Northeast Georgia that will experience totality include: Blairsville, Hiawassee, Helen, Tellulah Falls, Toccoa, Clayton, Dillard, Lavonia and Hartwell.  Viewing totality is a most awe inspiring event.  It will become dark like that of a full moon for several minutes.  Even if cloudy it will seem like night has fallen.  Along the very southern edge of the umbral shadow of the moon and totality last less than a minute.  At Clayton or Dillard, nearer the center line, almost 2-1/2 minutes of totality can be observed.  Within the eclipse totality tract one will see the famous 'Diamond Ring Effect' and Bailey's Beads (sunlight streaming through the mountains and valleys along the edge of the moon).  Brilliant crimson red solar prominences, shooting thousands of miles out from the sun's edge, will appear as well as the million degree, pearly white streaming solar corona (see Photo 2).  

Safety is important during the eclipse and students should wear special viewing glasses. It is essential that teachers supporting the viewing of the eclipse determine the appropriate safety regulations. 

Where to Begin 

The first place to look for information is the NASA website on the eclipse. This website has information about the eclipse, events, activities, and safety. It is a ‘must review’ for any teacher who is promoting the eclipse. Once you are familiar with the different areas in the website, determine what you will see your local area. You can do this by reviewing the maps in the NASA website, or by looking at the NASA website with Google in the address. This website contains an interactive map of the entire U.S. which can zoom to any place to view specific circumstances of the eclipse there.  The times given are Greenwich Mean Time (GMT).  Subtract 4 hours from the GMT to get ESDT in 24 hour time.  Thus, 17:07 GMT = 13:07 ESDT = 1:07 PM.  Below are the times associated with the eclipse in Clayton, Georgia from the NASA website with Google:

  • Eclipse Begins:  1:07 PMTotality Begins: 2:35:49 PM (at Clayton, GA)
  • Totality Begins: 2:35:49 PM (at Clayton, GA)
  • Totality Ends:    2:38:23 PM (2 min 34 sec)
  • Eclipse Ends      4: 01 PM
Connecting Research & Best Practice

Viewing the Eclipse Safely

- Dr. Maurice Snook, Retired Scientist & Amateur Astronomer

 Sponsored by:Science Carbonless Lab Notebooks - BARBAKAM.COM

The Aug. 21, 2017 Total Solar Eclipse can be viewed safely with just a few precautions.  Students should be instructed and allowed to experience this spectacular natural phenomena and not be locked in the classroom like some school districts did in 1984.  Watching the eclipse on television is not setting the proper example of learning about our natural world firsthand.  All of Georgia will see at least 90% of the sun covered at about 2:38 PM on Monday, Aug. 21 while those north of Macon will see from 95% to complete totality.  The eclipse will begin around 1:07 PM with maximum coverage of the sun at 2:38 PM.  The eclipse ends shortly after 4:00 PM.  Students must be provided safety instruction if they are being dismissed at this time.  If they are at home that day, parents need to know how to safely observe the eclipse.  Two methods can provide safe viewing of the partial phases if done properly: Projection Systems and Eclipse Glasses.

Projection Systems

There are two types of projection systems for the partial eclipse phases; pinhole ‘camera’ or pinhole mirror projection.  The straight projection method is a simple pinhole ‘camera’.  A ‘pinhole’ (no larger than a pencil lead in diameter) is punched into aluminum foil that is taped over a hole in the top of a shoe box.  A piece of white paper is placed at the bottom opposite the pinhole.  When aimed at the sun, a small, somewhat dim image of the sun will appear on the paper.  About 10-15 min after the eclipse begins, the projected sun image will show a definite notch where the moon is taking a ‘bite’ out of the sun.  As the eclipse progresses, the bite will enlarge and the sun will look like a fat crescent which becomes progressively thinner and thinner.  During the eclipse, crisscrossed tree leaves and branches form pinhole cameras and will project thousands of images of crescent suns on the ground and building walls.

A much larger image of the eclipsed sun can be made by projecting the sun’s image onto a piece of white paper with binoculars (see Picture 1).  One must NOT look through the binoculars at the sun!

The other projection system is a pinhole mirror projector.  A black piece of paper with a hole punched in it is placed over a mirror.  This will safely project an image of the eclipse sun onto a darkened classroom wall.  Students will detect the movement of the image across the wall in just a few minutes.  This dramatically demonstrates the earth’s rotation.  Below are the directions and pictures of students (Pictures 2-5) using the pinhole mirror projector. 

Make a Pinhole Mirror Projector for the Solar Eclipse for $1.50


  • Compact mirror from Dollar Tree  $1.00
  • Play-Doh from Walmart                 $0.50
  • Black construction paper
  • Paper punch
  • Tape
  • Wooden block


  • Cut a circle from the black construction paper to fit the mirror.  Use the regular mirror only.  If the compact has a magnifying mirror you can easily bend the compact backwards and break off the magnifying mirror.
  • Punch a hole in the black paper circle with the paper punch.  Make the punch as far in as possible.
  • Tape the black circle on the mirror.  Blacken the rim of the compact mirror with a marker pen to reduce reflections.  You now have a Pinhole Mirror Projector.
  • Set your Pinhole Mirror Projector into some Play-Doh on a wooden block.
  • Place the Projector in sunlight and angle it to shine the reflected image of the sun onto a wall at least 20 feet away.  The darker the room, the better.
  • Observe how the image of the sun moves across the wall in just several minutes demonstrating the earth’s rotation.
  • During the solar eclipse the Pinhole Mirror Projector will allow safe viewing of the partial phases of the eclipse.

Solar Eclipse Glasses

Solar Eclipse Glasses are a great way to view the partial phases of the eclipse.  They can be purchased from a number of commercial companies among them are “Rainbow Sympathy” (10-24 $1.95 each; 1000+ $0.45 each) and “Thousand Oaks Optical” (25 for $35; 1,000 $470).  Bought in quantity they can be resold at public venues to foster eclipse safety and raise money.  Solar Eclipse Glasses can be used at any time to view the sun and sometimes see large sunspots (usually during sunspot maximum).

Student Projects

Students can access the NASA website and zoom in on the interactive eclipse map to see the circumstances of the eclipse for their location and for their friends or relatives who may not live here.  For example, what will people living in Washington, D.C. or San Francisco see?  Also, use a light bulb, small ball and globe to demonstrate how eclipses occur including solar and lunar and the differences between the two.  Older classes might explain the difference between a total and annular solar eclipse.  During the eclipse one can measure the temperature changes at regular intervals and plot them on a graph.  What effects did the eclipse have on animal life (birds, chickens, frogs, cows, you)?

Dr. Maurice E. Snook - Dr. Snook has been an enthusiastic amateur astronomer for over 60 years, 43 of those years in the Athens area.  During this time he has founded two astronomy clubs and served as president of three clubs; taught astronomy in Clarke County Talented and Gifted (TAG) program, (1980); organized numerous astronomy exhibits, talks and observing sessions at area schools, festivals, and state parks; lectured on solar eclipse safety at local schools (1984); published a weekly Halley's Comet column for Athens-Banner Herald (1985-6) and assisted Sandy Creek Nature Center Park coordinate quarterly Star Watches every year since 1980.  Dr. Snook taught an astronomy course for the University of Georgia's Continuing Educational Programs for over 5 years.  He has traveled the world to observe 5 total solar eclipses and 3 annular eclipses.  His solar eclipse photo, taken in Africa in 1973, appeared in the World Book Encyclopedia (1974-2009) and others have been included in several textbooks and periodicals.  He has been awarded a Presidential Volunteer Service Award and recently received the Georgia State Recreation & Parks State Volunteer of the Year Award for his work with Sandy Creek Nature Center and Park.  Dr. Snook earned a B.S. in Chemistry from Drexel University, Philadelphia in 1967 and a Ph.D. in organic chemistry from The Pennsylvania State University (1971).  Although retired from the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, U.S. National Poultry Research Center, Russell Research Center, Athens, he continues to collaborate at the Center and present his chemistry demonstrations to elementary schools throughout the Northeast Georgia area.

Speaking Up for Science Education

End of the Year Reflection

- Bob Kuhn, High School Representative

You have worked hard all year and perhaps are tired at this point. We have a tendency to seek closure to the year, relax over the summer and anticipate starting fresh the next year. One thing that can make your next year a bit less stressful is keeping a journal. The other is writing a reflection about the past year. 

Journaling through the year can be as simple as keeping a composition book at your desk and writing down what worked and what didn’t each day. Maybe you tried something new. Maybe you had some advice about how to tweak a lab from a colleague. Maybe something did not work as well as you planned. At the end of the school year I find it valuable to go back through the journal and see how my year went and what points I can take from it for the next year. I also keep a running list of lab materials I need or would like to have as well as labs I found out about and would like to try. Many people get creative and publish a blog or an Instagram/Twitter teach 180. Still others keep an open document or Evernote account. For me, a cheap portable composition book is all I need. 

Reflecting back on the year was something I resisted for many years until I tried it on a lark. I was really surprised how much I remembered and was able to evaluate how the kids learned, how I taught and my ups and downs. I also give my students a Google form survey to complete and this helps me reflect on some of their comments as well. I normally try new teaching strategies or pedagogy each year and it is also nice to look back at what worked and what did not or how I would modify for the upcoming year. Lastly, I try and write a few predictive paragraphs about my goals for the next year and I read these again in May. 

Looking back is a great way to plan ahead. 

Sponsored by:
CPO Science - supporting the new GA Standards of Excellence!

Expand Your Horizons Through Informal Learning This Summer

Many things go into being a great science teacher, but chief among those is a love for the process of science, an unceasing curiosity about how the world works, and a deep and ever-growing understanding of scientific knowledge. Leaving your classroom for the summer offers the perfect opportunity to feed each of these traits, and exploring informal learning opportunities around the state can help you discover new horizons for your students. These opportunities can come in many forms, from a local science cafe to a museum to a state park. The following resources will help you begin to expand your horizons this summer.

  • Science Cafes in Georgia - Science cafes are informal science education events that occur in cafes, taverns, and other meeting spaces with the goal of helping science enthusiasts stay up-to-date on compelling science topics. Speakers typically include researchers or professional scientists who provide a practical look into their work.
  • Science Centers & Museums - The Association of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC) provides a searchable database of their member institutions, but there aremany more science centers and museums across the state than are listed on the ASTC site.
  • Agritourism - Agriculture is an important state industry and can provide meaningful phenomena to connect student learning to the real world.  Georgia's agritourism sites offer learning and entertainment that ranges from picking strawberries in South Georgia to sampling the fermentation products at SweetWater Brewing Company in Atlanta.
  • Nature Watching at Georgia State Parks - Georgia's state parks offer a wide range of activities, but one that is full of science is nature watching.  The link provides a map of all state parks that offer nature trails or a nature center.
  • Connected Science Learning - This online journal from NSTA and ASTC will help you connect informal science learning experiences back to the classroom.
  • Hosting the Informal Learning - If you're ready to move beyond being a participant and host some informal learning yourself, then you'll find this link helpful. The National Informal STEM Education Network provides a database of projects and activities that you can use to engage informal learners.
Science on My Mind - 2018 NSTA National Conference is Coming to Atlanta, March 15-18

Save the Date
NSTA's 2018 National Conference will be in Atlanta, March 15-18. The conference is being planned collaboratively by NSTA and a local planning committee with strong GSTA representation. The result will be a combination of nationally prominent presenters, thousands of science teachers from across the country, and programming that is directly relevant to Georgia science teachers. The conference theme will be Science on My Mind, and the meeting will feature the following strands.
  • Focusing On Evidence of 3D Learning
  • Imagining Science as the Foundation for STEM
  • Reflecting On Access for All Students
  • Comprehending the Role of Literacy in Science
Mark these dates on your calendar and begin talking to your school or district about the value of this incredible professional learning opportunity. If you have never attended an NSTA conference, you can learn more here.
Sponsored by:
STEMscopes Georgia - Contact <a href= 

Position Announcement, Coastal Plains RESA: Science Consultant - Contracted Position

REPORTS TO: Executive Director and Professional Learning Coordinator

TERMS OF EMPLOYMENT:  50-day contract for FY18 School Year

SALARY: Commensurate with experience

POSITION ANNOUNCEMENT: Opens April 13, 2017; Closes May 4, 2017

JOB SUMMARY: Responsible for supporting understanding, development, and implementation of three-dimensional learning in science classrooms in Coastal Plains RESA districts. Consultant will provide professional learning opportunities at RESA with additional support at schools/districts. Job Description

Application and job announcement can be found on the CPRESA page 

Gray's Reef Live Exploration

GPB Education will be live streaming from the University of Georgia's Marine Education Center and Aquarium on Skidaway Island on May 10th at 10:00 a.m. Students will experience a virtual tour of Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary and the UGA Aquarium. They will learn how Gray's Reef was formed, how the seafloor serves as a habitat, and how they can help protect the reef from major threats. Experienced divers and marine biology experts will be available to answer students’ questions. Teachers and students can use #GraysReefLive on Twitter to participate in the conversation. The live exploration will be available on demand after May 10th with supplemental classroom resources for grades K-12! Teachers can learn more and sign up here.


Computational Thinking Across the Curriculum: Four of the skills used to solve computer science problems can be applied in other classes as well.

- via Edutopia

As defined by Jeannette Wing, computational thinking is “a way of solving problems, designing systems, and understanding human behavior by drawing on the concepts of computer science.” To the students at my school, it’s an approach to tackling challenging questions and ambiguous puzzles. We explicitly integrate computational thinking into all of our classes, allowing students to draw parallels between what they’re learning and how they’re approaching problems across all disciplines. Read the full article.

Interested in Evolution PD? Please Complete This Survey

You are invited to participate in a research study to gauge interest in professional development for teaching evolution, unity and diversity of life in ways that are culturally responsive and provide teacher and student support. A link to the survey is provided at the bottom of this page. This survey will ask questions about your teaching experience, comfort levels with certain topics, content knowledge, and ideas about the nature of science and acceptance of evolution. The survey takes about 15 minutes for most to complete and the responses are anonymous. No personally identifying information is collected for the study, only some general location information (county) to look at locations where need/interest are greatest. Participation in this study is voluntary and will have no impact on your relationship with our institution, your district, or other entities. Click here to access the survey.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at (978) 254-7431 or  aglaze@georgiasouthern.edu

Travel the world affordably, earn professional development credit, and bring global understanding into your classroom! 

Founded in 2007, Global Exploration for Educators Organization (GEEO) is a 501c3 non-profit organization that has sent over 1600 teachers abroad on adventurous travel programs. With GEEO educators can earn professional development credits and optional graduate credit while seeing the world. GEEO's trips are 7 to 21 days in length and are designed and discounted to be interesting and affordable for teachers. In addition to amazing tour leaders, many of the programs are accompanied by university faculty that are experts on the destination. The deposit is $250 for each program and then the final payment is due 60 days before departure. 

GEEO also provides teachers educational materials and the structure to help them bring their experiences into the classroom. The trips are open to all nationalities of K-12 and university educators, administrators, retired educators, as well as educators’ guests.

GEEO is offering the following travel programs for 2017: Bali/Lombok, Bangkok to Hanoi, Costa Rica, Eastern Europe, The Galapagos Islands, Greece, Iceland, India/Nepal, Bhutan, Ireland, Armenia/Georgia, Multi-Stan, Morocco, Myanmar (Burma), Peruvian Amazon, Peruvian Andes, Southern Africa, Vietnam/Cambodia, and the Balkans. The registration deadline is June 1st, but space is limited and many programs will be full well before the deadline. 

Detailed information about each trip, including itineraries, costs, travel dates, and more can be found at www.geeo.org. GEEO can be reached 7 days a week, toll-free at 1-877-600-0105 between 9 AM-9 PM EST.

Fostering Outdoor Observation Skills

"Fostering Outdoor Observation Skills" is a free downloadable PDF, developed by the Pacific Education Institute.  As a project of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies’ North American Conservation Education Strategy, the lessons and activities are intended to be used with Project WILD, Project Learning Tree and Project WET lessons that engage students in outdoor learning from reading and using maps to recording and interpreting qualitative and quantitative data.   

Healthy Soils Are Full of Life!

The National Association of Conservation Districts stewardship theme for 2017 is "Healthy Soils Are Full of Life!" Materials available for free download include an educators guide, coloring pages, and other resources.
The interactive Educators Guide is full of great resources to use in the classroom or other educational programs. It contains activities, science standards that complement the student booklets, literature connections, links to additional outreach materials, and more.


STEM VOICE: Submit your 60 second video, win up to $700 in cash prizes!

The STEM Voice™ Video Competition is nation-wide opportunity for kids in grades 5-12 to artistically explore the importance of STEM. The competition is managed by the Coalition of State Bioscience Institutes, CSBI

The STEM Voice™ competition encourages you to be creative and use video to show how much you love STEM. Act it out, create an animation, sing it but, make sure it is appropriate for all ages.


  • Must be in grades 5-12 and under 18 years of age
  • Middle School contest is students in grades 5-8; High School contest is for students in grades 9-12
  • Entries accepted in both individual and group categories
  • Resident of United States or their territories
  • Cannot be related to employees of STEM Voice™ Video Competition


  • Regional individual winners in age division - $250 cash
  • Regional group winners in each age division - $450 cash to your club/school
  • Regional winners eligible for National Grand Prize. See website for details.

View 2016 videos: Coalition of State BioScience Institutes YouTube Channel


  • May 22, 2017 DEADLINE for Submission of Videos
  • June 9, 2017 Regional winners announced
  • June 30, 2017 National winners announced

Questions? Contact your regional STEM Voice™ contest coordinator, jcolvin@mdbiofoundation.org">Jennifer Colvin. Download the Flyer Here

ChemEd X Virtual Conference: Chemistry Instruction for the Next Generation

ChemEd X and the Journal of Chemical Education have collaborated to offer a virtual conference like most have never see before. There are several sessions, each with a JCE article chosen for its link to student-centered learning. The authors have uploaded supplementary material in different forms (text, Power Point, video, etc.) to augment their JCE article. Each session will allow for two days that attendees can access the authors original article along with the augmented material offered. Then, over the next three days, the session will be open for conversation. Attendees can offer comments or ask questions. Read a recent blog post about the conference.

The ChemEd X Conference: Chemistry Instruction for the Next Generation 

Earn professional development hours or university credit with Population Education this July!

Population Education is excited to announce that registration is open for our acceleratedSummer 2017 online professional development course for science and social studies educators (grades 6-12). The course runs from July 3rd-July 28th, 2017, and is perfect for educators who'd like to earn graduate credit or PD hours while school is not in session. Discover student-centered learning strategies that use contemporary issues and real-world data to examine the social and environmental impacts of human population growth. For more information and to register, visit the website.

Science 2.0: Communicating Science Creatively

- via NSTA Blog

Ben Smith and Jared Mader wrap up their series focused on the International Society for Technology in Education standards with a look at how students can use technology to communicate science creatively and effectively. View video and read the full blog here.

Applications Now Open
The eCYBERMISSION Mini-Grant is intended to support teachers/program leaders as they implement eCYBERMISSION with their teams. Educators (formal and informal) of students in grades 6-9 are encouraged to apply. Special consideration is given to Title 1 schools and to those with underserved/ under-represented populations.

Mini-Grant applications must be received by Wednesday, October 11, 2017.

Florida Regional AP Biology Teacher Academy Offered in June

The NABT / BSCS AP Biology Teacher Academy is an expansion of the popular BSCS / NABT AP Biology Leadership Academy, a program that develops and supports a new generation of leaders in biology education who truly understand the AP Biology Curriculum Framework. Courses are open to all educators, not just those teaching AP. The Florida Academy will be held June 25-30 at Saint Stephen's Episcopal School in
Bradenton, FL. Read more and register here.

Summer 2017 - Modeling Workshops

More than 60 summer Modeling Workshops™ in high school physics, chemistry, physical science, biology, and middle school science will be offered, in many states. Most are two or three weeks long.

  1. CEUs; optional graduate credit. Stipends at grant-funded sites.
  2. Modeling Instruction is research-informed, interactive engagement pedagogy.
  3. Ask your school administration to help pay. Mention the research on NGSS readiness: Modelers are better prepared to transition to NGSS than other teachers, research shows.

Website:  http://modelinginstruction.org

Workshop descriptions: http://www.phystec.org/pd/?set=Modeling


Modeling Instruction is designated as an Exemplary K-12 science program and a Promising Educational Technology program by the U.S. Department of Education.

Modeling Workshops are peer-led. Content is reorganized around basic models to increase its structural coherence. Participants are supplied with a complete set of course materials and work through activities alternately in roles of student or teacher, as they practice techniques of guided inquiry and cooperative learning. Models and theories are the purpose and the outcomes of scientific practices. They are tools for engineering design and problem solving. Thus, modeling guides all other practices.

Each MODELING WORKSHOP has these features:

  • Aligned with National Science Education Standards
  • Focuses on all 8 scientific practices of NRC Framework for K-12 Science Education.
  • Addresses multiple learning styles.
  • Addresses student naive conceptions.
  • Collaboration, creativity, communication, and critical thinking.
  • Systems, models, modeling.
  • Coherent curriculum framework, but not a curriculum; thus flexible.
  • Compatible with Socratic methods, project-based instruction, PBL, etc.
  • Science & math literacy.
  • Authentic assessments.
  • High-tech and low-tech options for labs.


eObservations Co-editors: Dr. Amy Peacock and Dr. Jeremy Peacock
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