Supporting Excellent Science Teaching for Georgia

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  September 2019 GSTA 2020 Conference Proposals 

In This Issue
· Submit a 2020 GSTA Conference Proposal
· GADOE Updates 
· Skype a Scientist
· First Green:  The STEM of Golf Course Management
· GSTA Recommends
· General
· Elementary
· Middle/High
Quick Links
Science GSE
A Framework for K-12 Science Education
GSTA Recommends

Click here to find the contact information for GSTA board members.

Assessment Resources 

by Tracy Matthews, Cobb County Schools

Do you hit a roadblock when you think about how to effectively assess our new science GSE standards? Because the standards are so performance-driven our assessments need to be so as well--meaning that multiple choice questions rarely cut it anymore. So how do you develop a performance task to assess student learning? Look no further than the Research and Practice Collaboratory. This organization developed two excellent documents with examples of assessment tasks/question stems for each Science and Engineering Practice and all seven Cross Cutting Concepts. They are easy to apply to any science content!

GSTA Phenomena Bank

Are you looking for phenomena to use as you teach the GSE? Be sure to check out the GSTA Phenomena Bank.

Please submit your ideas for phenomena too! Together, we are stronger! 

GSTA and NSTA Offer Joint Memberships

GSTA and NSTA are now offering joint memberships. You can join both GSTA and NSTA for one year for just $105, which is a savings of $15. Take advantage by visiting this special page on the NSTA site.
Notes From the Editor

Share Your Great Ideas! Write for eObservations

Have a great lesson or idea to share? Contribute to eObservations 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. We also 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 via email.

Implementing the Science 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.
Notes From the Editor

Submit a proposal for the 2020 Broadening Our Horizons GSTA Conference!

GSTA is now accepting proposals for the 2020 GSTA Conference that will be held February 13-14 at the Columbus Trade and Convention Center. 

Since the implementation of the GSE in 2017, Georgia teachers have continued to refine their understanding of what it means to integrate science content with science practices and crosscutting concepts. The focus of the 2020 GSTA conference is Broadening Our Horizons and will provide an opportunity for teachers to be immersed in experiences about 3-D teaching and learning, equity, assessment, and the integration of STEM and Literacy.  This year’s conference is designed to continue to broaden our horizons as we grow and refine our practices as educators. Conference sessions this year will focus on sharing best practices, resources, and ideas based on the following strands:


  • Broadening Our Understanding of STEM Integration - How can we intentionally integrate STEM aligned with the GSE?

  • Broadening Our Understanding of Science for ALL:  How attention to EQUITY can help us engage ALL students?

  • Broadening Our Understanding of the connections between Science and LITERACY

  • Broadening Our Understanding of 3-D ASSESSMENT:  How can we incorporate the three dimensions in our assessments?

Strand 1:  Broadening Our Understanding of STEM Integration - How can we intentionally integrate STEM aligned with the GSE?  

STEM has become a priority as we seek to provide today’s students with the real-world, innovative skills that they will need to be successful in tomorrow’s world. STEM instruction that builds on the foundation of core science ideas provides students with opportunities that equip them to make sense of the world in which they live, hone their critical thinking skills, and spark their sense of innovation. Sessions in this strand will allow participants to broaden their understanding of how to plan and teach collaboratively within these integrated learning environments. Sessions will focus on how STEM/STEAM can be integrated into lessons and activities that promote real-world problem-based learning that provide the student with a context for learning and achieving the goals of the Georgia Standards of Excellence in Science. 

Strand 2:  Broadening Our Understanding of Science for ALL:  How attention to EQUITY can help us engage ALL students? -

Just as science encompasses diverse fields of learning from astronomy to zoology, science educators are called upon to equitably meet the needs of and engage ALL learners. Research has identified the unique challenges of a number of underserved groups, including students from urban areas, rural areas, English language learners, students with low socioeconomic status, those with special needs, gifted and talented students, and students from diverse cultural backgrounds. Cultivating a culture of equity and inclusion for all students aligns with the vision put forth by A Framework for K–12 Science Education and  prepares students for future career opportunities in a global society. Sessions in this strand will broaden participants’ understanding of the unique needs of various types of learners and helps them reduce barriers to full participation in science.

Strand 3:  Broadening Our Understanding of 3-D ASSESSMENT:  How can we incorporate the three dimensions in our lessons and assessments? 

Students achieve a stronger understanding of science when disciplinary core ideas, science and engineering practices, and crosscutting concepts are woven together within student learning opportunities that explore real-world phenomena and allow students to solve authentic problems.  Sessions in this strand will broaden the participant’s understanding of how to develop lessons that include formative and/or summative assessments that integrate the three dimensions. This strand will help teachers, whether they are 3D novices or experts, expand their understanding of three-dimensional teaching, learning, and assessment. Sessions in this strand will target participants with a beginning, intermediate, or advanced level of familiarity with three-dimensional learning and assessment.

Strand 4:  Broadening Our Understanding of the connections between Science and LITERACY

A great number of personal and societal issues require citizens to draw upon a foundation of scientific knowledge, problem-solving, and the ability to design scientific solutions to obtain, evaluate, and communicate information in order to make informed decisions. Engaging ALL students in science, beginning in the early years, is the way to develop students’ skills in thinking creatively, expressing themselves, and investigating their world. As college- and career-ready students investigate natural phenomena, they should be able to communicate their argument-driven claims based on data-driven evidence. Science core ideas can be developed by using current technology and media to create, refine, and collaborate through reading, writing, listening, and speaking.  Sessions in this strand will broaden participant’s understanding of the connections between science and literacy, and to experience literacy strategies that encompass active student engagement.

Submission Details:

The 2020 annual conference will be held February 13-14, in Columbus.  Session proposals will be accepted through Friday, October 25, 2019.  Members or nonmembers may submit a maximum of 3 session proposals.  All presenters must register and pay for the conference, which includes one year of GSTA membership, upon acceptance of the session proposal.  If you are a current GSTA member, then please log into your account before submitting your proposal at

    Be sure to check out the DOE Science Resources!

    The Georgia DOE Science department has been hard at work putting together resources for Georgia Science Teachers. Be sure to check out the following:

    • Resources –, has been under some redevelopment and so all our resources have been landing in the SLDS-TRL-Essential Toolkit

      Don’t have access to the SLDS-TRL? No problem! Just look for the public access notification on and click. In SLDS-TRL, make sure you navigate all the way to the Essential Toolkit and then explore the various buckets for the following:

      • Curriculum maps, pacing guides and sample instructional segments

      • Color-coded standards to highlight “Obtain, evaluate and communicate”

      • Grab-and-Go Phenomenon Cards

      • Flowchart for Adapting a GPS Lesson to GSE

      • FAQ – our most commonly received questions about specific standards and our answers are being shared with all in the “Need to Know?” bucket of the Essential Toolkit

      • 10 Modules for Professional Learning Communities can still be found on

      • There is a NEW online course in the SLDS - PL section, “3D Science”. You can earn a badge for this introductory course about 3D science and the GSE. The course should take about 2 hours or less, and it is all online. It is appropriate for K-12 science educators and leaders. Please check it out!

    • Be sure to follow them on Twitter @GaDOEScience.

      Skype a Scientist matches scientists with classrooms around the world!

      by Dr. Kania Greer, GSTA College Representative & Coordinator, Institute for Interdisciplinary STEM Education at Georgia Southern University

      Skype a Scientist matches scientists with classrooms around the world! 

      We want to give students the opportunity to get to know a “real scientist”. 
      This program allows scientists to reach students from all over the world without having to leave the lab! 

      We have thousands of scientists ready to chat!  Teachers can choose the type of scientist that will fit their classroom. There are also tons of resources and more information in their web page at.

      If you would rather Skype a Scientist closer to home, contact Dr. Kania Greer, your GSTA College Representative at kagreer@georgiasouthern.eduand let’s see if we can find someone in your local area who may be interested.

      Elephants in Tennessee

      Believe it or not there an elephant sanctuary in Tennessee.  This sanctuary founded in 1995 to become a place of refuge and sanctuary for elephants formally held in captivity.  Their website www.elephants.comhas tons of resources on both Africa and Indian elephants and they are available to Skype into your classroom for FREE!  I had the opportunity to work with sanctuary recently and witnessed the distance learning for myself.  The students LOVED it and it was very interactive and informative.

      From their website:

      Increasing public knowledge is key to creating a world where elephants no longer live under the constant threat of poaching, habitat loss, conflict, or capture. For more than 20 years, The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee has provided an opportunity for elephants retired from performance and exhibition to live together in an expansive habitat that allows for a range of natural behaviors that contribute to their physical, social, psychological, and behavioral well-being.

      Utilizing photos, videos, and live-streaming EleCams in the elephant habitats, our educators will bring The Sanctuary to your classroom, library, club, or community group!

      Specific Learning Objectives have been created for each age group and presentation. All participants, regardless of age or program, will come away with basic knowledge of the following

      • The importance of elephants as a keystone species
      • The value and role of The Sanctuary in the context of captivity
      • Threats facing elephants and actions to improve the well-being of all elephants globally

      Programs are usually 45 minutes in length, but this is flexible depending on your group’s needs. Our team will cater lessons to any age level.

      This program meets ISTE Standard 7d: Students explore local and global issues and use collaborative technologies to work with others to investigate solutions.

      Participation is free of charge.

      Please visit Skype-in-the-Classroom
      to see available dates in 2019.

      The STEM of Golf Course Management:  GCSAA's "First Green"Experience 

      by Robert Hodgdon, Bryan County Schools

      Most people understand that a great deal of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics is involved in the design and construction of a golf course, but what about managing and maintaining one? Students from Richmond Hill Middle School recently joined Ford Plantation Golf Course and Grounds Maintenance Director, Nelson Caron and other employees from the course in piloting “First Green,” an innovative environmental education outreach program that uses golf courses for hands-on STEM learning.  First Green was created in 1997 for the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA) and is the only environmental outreach program in North America that uses golf courses as a STEM learning lab.

      First Green exposes students to career pathways in agronomy and horticulture that most people are not aware of. This was the inaugural First Green field trip in Georgia. GCSAA Southeast Region Field Staff Representative Ron Wright and Georgia GCSAA executive director Tenia Workman were both on hand to observe the pilot of the project in Georgia. The thirty-six middle school students were members of teacher and ecological studies coordinator Robert Hodgdon’s ecological studies program. Students divided into groups and rotated through a number of different learning stations that were taught by Ford Plantation Golf Course staff, each of whom had degrees in agronomy or horticulture.

      Students learned about turf grass anatomy and genetics, soil compositions, soil and water conservation, the advanced technology used to run the complex watering system at Ford Plantation, how to measure green speed using a stimpmeter, the design of the blades on the mowing equipment, and more. Each station provided students with opportunities for hands-on engagement. After the First Green sessions, Ford Plantation naturalist Brittany Dodge did a presentation on the area’s fauna. Students had the opportunity to touch a juvenile alligator which was then tagged and released. After lunch in the clubhouse, students were given the opportunity to practice some putting skills on the practice green and drive over 1,000 golf balls on the driving range. For most students, this was their first experience at golf beyond the “putt-putt” level. First Green focuses on middle and high school students and is free to participating schools.

      Representatives from the GCSAA hope to present at the 2019 Georgia STEM Forum and possibly the 2018-2019 GSTA Annual Conference.


        GSTA Awards and Mini-Grant Applications 

        Have a great idea for your classroom? Know a great science teacher or administrator? Then take advantage of one of GSTA's awards or mini-grants. GSTA believes it is important to recognize and reward excellence in science teaching. Therefore, we offer the following awards, scholarships, and mini-grants.

        • Teachers of the Year
        • Teachers of Promise
        • Administrator of the Year
        • $750 Mini-Grants
        • Conference Grant
        • ScienceQuest Teacher Scholarships
        • Science Adventure Student Scholarship
        • Dallas Stewart Award

        You can find out more and apply at GSTA Awards. Submissions are due by November 30, 2019

        The National Science Teaching Association (NSTA) also offer awards for science teachers and students. Submissions are due by noon on December 18, 2019 - find out more at:

        6th Annual STEM/STEAM Forum: Making Connections, Innovating,and Sharing STEM/STEAM Pedagogy

        ]The Georgia STEM/STEAM Forum is a platform for STEM/STEAM educators and administrators from all around the state to share their best practices. The Forum will be held October 20-22, 2019, at The Classic Center in Athens. Register Online:

        Be sure to check out the list of STEM events at:

        Georgia Elementary Science Olympiad

        Georgia Elementary Science Olympiad has a NEW website and 5 Georgia specific Elementary Science Olympiad (ESO) unique events. Learn more:

        Zoo Atlanta's 2019-2020 Professional Learning

        Are you looking for a fun opportunity to gain access to resources and teaching tools that you can utilize in your classroom and beyond? Zoo Atlanta is excited to share with you the 2019-2020 Professional Learning Workshops. Join us at the Zoo for hands-on activities exploring STEM and ways to incorporate the Zoo in your classroom curriculum. 

        Find out more about these sessions, the Zoomobile, Cases for Conservation, Educator Appreciation Days, and more at: 

        The Fall Educator Extravaganza will be held on October 5. The new Savanna habitat will be open. You can find out more at

        The Smithsonian "Exploring Human Origins: What Does it Mean to Be Human?" exhibit will be hosted at Columbia Seminary at 701 S. Columbia Drive, Decatur, 30030 beginning September 13 until December 13. They will be a hosting a workshop on evolution for middle and high school teachers on September 14 from 9:00 am - noon. Teachers can register at:

        American Meteorological Society (AMS) is committed to providing educators with accurate and engaging resources that enhance teachers' knowledge of Earth system science while also earning graduate credit. In alignment with grant funding and values, AMS incorporates a special AMS/NOAA initiative into their professional development workshops to promotes minority participation in science. Specifically,

        Project Atmosphere provides educators with comprehensive training and studies in atmospheric sciences.

        The Maury Project develops a foundation or oceanography and understanding hydrological processes.

        DataStreme Program offers three specialties: DataStreme Atmosphere, DataStreme Ocean, and DataStreme Earth's Climate System. These online courses teach Earth system science fundamentals through real-world information that is widely applicable across various curriculums.

        2020 Earth Expeditions

        Miami University’s Project Dragonfly is accepting applications for Earth Expeditions graduate courses that offer extraordinary experiences in 16 countries throughout the world.

        Earth Expeditions can build toward the Global Field Program (GFP), a master's degree that combines summer field courses worldwide with web learning communities so that students can complete the GFP master's part-time from anywhere in the United States or abroad.

        Project Dragonfly also offers the Advanced Inquiry Program (AIP) master's degree that combines web instruction from Miami University with experiential learning and field study through several AIP Master Institutions in the U.S. Applications for Miami's cohorts are being accepted now with place-based experiences provided at zoos in Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Denver, New York, San Diego, Seattle, and our newest affiliate learning institution, St. Louis.

        Graduate tuition for all programs is greatly reduced because of support from Miami University.

        GEEO Teacher Travel Programs

        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 3000 teachers abroad on adventurous travel programs. With GEEO educators can earn professional development and graduate credit while seeing the world. GEEO's trips are 5 to 23 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 $350 for each program and then the final payment is due 60 days before departure. From now until September 30th many of the programs are on sale for 5% off the normal price. 

        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 2020:​ Iceland, Morocco, Egypt, Qatar and Oman, Galápagos Islands, Chile and Argentina, W-Trek, Colombia, Spain, Jordan, Ethiopia, Bhutan, Portugal, Camino de Santiago, Japan, Paris to Rome, Central Europe, Vietnam and Cambodia, Multi-Stan, Peru, Southern Africa, Maldives, Bolivia, Balkans, Budapest to Bulgaria, Bangkok to Hanoi, Armenia and Georgia, Ireland, Greece, Baltics, New Zealand, and India and Nepal. 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 GEEO can be reached 7 days a week, toll-free at 1-877-600-0105 between 9 AM-9 PM EST.

        Elementary Highlights

        Triple Early Childhood Workshop with Projects WET, WILD, & Learning Tree

        Join Georgia's Projects Learning Tree, WET, & WILD in an exploration of three early childhood curricula that targets ages 3-9. Participants will receive three curriculum guides and instruction on how to incorporate 49 classroom tested activities and lesson plans into your classroom or learning environment.

        The sessions will occur on December 7 at the Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center. You can register at

        Toshiba America Foundation offers grants up to $1,000 to K-5 teachers. Applications are due on October 1st each year. Grants For Grades K - 5


        Toshiba America Foundation offers grants for Problem Based Learning projects for 6-12 teachers for both more and less than $5000. Check out their website for application dates and to see previous recipients. 

        Georgia Science Olympiad 2020 Invitationals and dates are posted at

        West Georgia STEM Competition

        The West Georgia STEM Competition for area middle and high school students and teachers will be held on Saturday, November 16th. Registration must be completed by October 4th for early bird and October 18th for regular.  Find at more at

         STEP-Up Physics Project

        Did you know that encouragement from high school teachers is the primary reason undergraduate women in physics chose that degree? That’s right! And what’s more, if half of the high school physics teachers in the United States successfully encourage a single woman to pursue a physics career, the percentage of women in undergraduate physics will jump from 20% to 50%. The STEP UP project is here to help you do just that. Together, we can ensure that women play an equal role in the future of physics.

        STEP UP provides two free, self-contained lessons that are backed by research and shown to increase interest in physics, especially among young women. Think of the great gains that physics will make when powered by the full might of the future generations! Register to join our community or download these lessons and other pedagogical tools by visiting

        The Smithsonian "Exploring Human Origins: What Does it Mean to Be Human?" exhibit will be hosted at Columbia Seminary at 701 S. Columbia Drive, Decatur, 30030 beginning September 13 until December 13. They will be a hosting a workshop on evolution for middle and high school teachers on September 14 from 9:00 am - noon. Teachers can register at:


        eObservations September Editor: Dr. Donna Barrett-Williams
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