The Biology Teachers Association of New Jersey

Our Mission is to Inspire and Empower Science Educators

February 2016- Weather is frightful but PD is delightful

PD Academy Workshops

Title: QFT in NGSS Classroom

Date: February 11, 2016

Time: 5:00pm-7:00pm

Location: Community Middle School Plainsboro, NJ


This workshop is designed to engage participants in an NGSS lesson that involves asking questions, designing investigations, and communicating results to explain phenomenon.

Workshops are free to BTANJ Members

You can purchase a yearlong membership for $25. With this option you will have access to all of our workshops for free and you will receive a refund of your deposit upon attending the workshop. Please click here to update your membership payment and information through our website. In addition, please leave a $10 REFUNDABLE deposit to reserve your spot- click here.

2. If you are not interested in becoming a member but would still like you to attend this workshop please pay the $10. This will be NON-REFUNABLE to cover the cost of food and supplies. In the future all workshops are available for non-members at a $10 cost.

Sign up form:

Spreading the Word on Disease, Education, and Community Health

People who are passionate about public health, epidemiology, and disease transmission (yes, there are people who love diseases) often dream of visiting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia. The CDC is the agency responsible for the protection and monitoring of health in the United States. As the nation’s public health leader, they respond to a variety of health crises (like the Ebola outbreak in Western Africa). This past summer I was fortunate enough to be accepted into the CDC Science Ambassador Program and live my dream of getting inside (a very small part of) the CDC.

The conference is a weeklong working “vacation” held at the CDC (July 18-22) each summer. As the need for student proficiency in public health and epidemiology grows, the CDC cultivates more opportunities within the Science Ambassador program. In 2015 the Centers for Disease Control accepted 32 middle and high school educators for participation, the largest group to date. The group of teachers in attendance varies greatly each year and includes (but is not limited to) science, math, nursing, and language arts. The purpose is to create students with a genuine interest in population and community health. Prepared students will be able to continue their education at the collegiate level and become the next generation of public health workers in the U.S., and worldwide.

The focus is to construct public health lesson plans for use in the classroom and have them published on the CDC lesson plan site (within the next school year). All authored lessons are written based on NGSS performance expectations and crosscutting concepts. This also provides an amazing opportunity to begin working within the NGSS framework. Utilizing epidemiology to introduce some of the standards provides an easy transition for educators, especially for those new to NGSS or science education. Unit planning and writing is completed between a team of educators and CDC scientists and subject matter experts. All teachers are expected to provide a rough draft and presentation on the topic before leaving Atlanta.

Program participants:

  • Must apply by April 15th (send resume, 1 letter of recommendation, and personal statement)
  • Tour selected CDC facilities
  • Attend public health and epidemiology lectures/presentations with EIS officers and students
  • Work in teams to develop science lesson plans based on public health topics such as health ethics, obesity, autism, environmental health
  • Enhance professional network of teachers and public health scientists across the United States
  • Present ideas for lesson plans to peers and obtain feedback
  • Use NGSS standards aligned to epidemiology to write performance assessments and/or unit plans that focus on public health topic areas
  • Learn about and meet E.I.S. (Epidemic Intelligence Service) officers and students

Even with the above opportunities, the CDC experts, E.I.S., and Ambassador program coordinators still found ways to surprise us and feed our own interests in epidemiology. We were invited to attend lectures and movie screenings at Emory University. We participated in a lecture given to E.I.S. students by the original HIV researchers that provided inspiration behind “And the Band Played On”. Science Ambassadors of 2015 were also invited to screen an unreleased documentary about the Ebola outbreak in Liberia, and received a special invitation to attend the screening of the film “Resistance”. The invite to the “Resistance” film night included a Q&A session with various experts on antibiotic resistance, and a meet and greet with the director. All of the precious experiences above only fueled the passion for us, and made researching and authoring unit plans much more effortless.

The role of CDC Science Ambassador continues long after the week is over. Changes and revisions are made throughout the month of August and September with expectations the lesson will be reviewed by editors in the months that follow. Afterwards, CDC Science Ambassadors are expected to share the mission of the program and its benefits with other educators throughout the state and nation. Ambassadors can reapply and return as program alumni to Atlanta and work on case study design, which is used by the CDC to train all Epidemic Intelligence Agents (EIS) for two years previous to deployment. For more information, and to apply for next summer visit:


Links to lesson plan page:

Social media tools/links:

If anyone has any questions on my experiences, or amazing time in beautiful Atlanta, please feel free (seriously!) to contact me, Rebecca Souza, at or at Perth Amboy High School: 732-376-6030.

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A Call For Nominations

The National Association of Biology Teachers (NABT) is asking for nominations for the various awards available through the organization.

Nominate yourself or a colleague for one or more of the following NABT awards by filling out the online nomination form.

For example, each state, province and territory can recognize an Outstanding Biology Teacher (OBTA). Many states have OBTA directors that can be contacted directly. See the link below for the list of OBTA directors by state.

And the Kim Foglia Award that recognizes an AP Biology Teacher who displays a willingness to share materials and serve as a mentor to others. (Past winners include: Cheryl Hollinger, David Knuffke, Cindy Gay and Sydney Bergman)

There are other awards in specific subject areas, for new teachers, and to recognize service to NABT, and life science teaching,

Nominate yourself or a colleague for one or more of the following NABT awards by filling out the online nomination form.

The nominee will be sent all the information, application materials, and cover sheets he or she needs to complete to be considered for the award.

I am the OBTA coordinator for NABT and a contact person for the AP section of NABT about the Kim Foglia Award.

Any questions about the awards please feel free to contact me at or

Resources & Opportunities

Summer opportunity for current 10th/11th grade students to participate in a FREE week long leadership development program hosted at Villanova University and sponsored by Alex’s lemonade Stand Foundation. Current sophomores and juniors can apply for the ALSF Student Leadership Academy through the link.

The Leadership Academy is based on Alex Scott’s inspiring example of how one person can make a difference. This dynamic, motivating camp will teach participants valuable skills in an enjoyable setting. Our hope is that students will discover how to become responsible, influential members of their own communities.

This year, our overnight “camp” will be held at Villanova University from Monday, July 25th – Thursday, July 28th, 2016. Acceptance into the program includes all instructional materials, overnight double occupancy accommodations, daily meals, overnight supervision and transportation from Philadelphia airport/train station to campus if needed.

Applications are due by March 30, 2016. Only 60 students will be selected into the 2016 SLA cohort.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact ( or check out our frequently asked questions.

Gardening with Youth Conference Coming to Middlesex County

JANUARY 26, 2016
- - Middlesex County’s Office of Extension Services will present a new program that demonstrates how gardening can be used as an educational tool for young people.

“Digging Into Youth Gardens: A Conference for Educators and Community Leaders” will take place on Saturday, March 5 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at East Jersey Old Town Village, located at 1050 River Road, Piscataway. The conference fee will be $25 with early registration by Wednesday, March 2 and $30 for late registration.

Checks, made payable to Middlesex County treasurer can be mailed to or dropped off at the EARTH Center in Davidsons Mill Pond Park located at 42 Riva Ave., which is geographically located in South Brunswick.

The purpose of the conference is to assist schools, community youth groups, churches, YMCAs and other groups in starting and maintaining a youth garden. This conference is intended for those in the early stages of garden planning, as well as those looking for new ideas on the care of an established garden.

Faculty from the Rutgers Cooperative Extension, Master Gardeners and garden facilitators will offer presentations and workshops featuring their area of expertise, including soils and pest management.

Professional development credits will be available for those educators who attend the day’s entire program.

Some of the topics that will be presented at the conference include:

• Making your garden sustainable- getting support from administration, staff turnover, funding opportunities.

• Garden Basics- locating your garden, water considerations, soil testing, choosing plants for the school year.

• School-based curriculum to support gardening efforts.

• Activities to get kids interested in gardening.

• Composting.

A panel of experienced youth garden coordinators from Middlesex County will present success stories and invite inquiries and discussion.

To register, or for additional information, call the Middlesex County EARTH Center at 732-398-5273 or e-mail

Rutgers Cooperative Extension is an Equal Opportunity provider of programs and employment.

National Association of Science Teachers (NSTA) Conference

Thursday, March 31st, 8am to Sunday, April 3rd, 4pm

201 5th Avenue South

Nashville, TN

For more information click here.