Science and Technology's Semi-Regular Department Newsletter

January 22, 2016



Jonathan Lerner is taking over the AP Biology and Bio I courses from Dawn Kanaszka as a result of her move to South Carolina. Jon comes to us from an AP Bio leave replacement position this past fall at Wayne Valley High School. In speaking with Jon's cooperating teacher, she expressed how grateful she was to Jonathan for doing an exceptional job with her students in her absence.

Hi Jon, welcome to Madison. What path brought you to teaching? I've always loved science and am an extremely curious person by nature. In high school I thought I wanted to go into physics but discovered chemistry and biology are a better fit for me. As for the teaching part, I really enjoy sharing the knowledge I've gained, and I want to foster and inspire a love of science and scientific thinking.

Got any hobbies? What do you like to do? Currently, when I'm not teaching I'm preparing material for teaching, but when I have free time I enjoy kayaking, making paper models, origami, and bike riding.

Coming in mid-year can be tough. What are your goals? Currently my goals mainly center around getting myself settled, but one thing I'd very much like to do is begin making educational YouTube videos again. Eventually, I intend to have a library of content to reinforce content for students. I would love to collaborate with other teachers and plan on reaching out as soon as I have an established routine.


On January 15th, Karen DeTrolio's Forensic Science classes participated in a field trip to the Morris County Crime Lab where they were hosted by Madison alum Detective Phil Mangifridda. Students were given insider access to the facility, with tours of the Communications Center, Emergency Management Operations Center, Forensics Labs, and Emergency Response Vehicles. Students got to meet and ask questions from the professionals in charge of these areas, providing a fantastic overall picture of what a career in the field entails. Students were also treated to a demonstration of the Sheriff's K-9 unit.

Karen did a great job putting this trip together - it was an excellent experience for our students! And thank you to Mark and Sue for chaperoning!


Madison is committing to expanding our technology education programs in the name of STEM. We have made mention of this before, but I want to make sure you are in the know about how it is moving along.

What is this going to look like for courses? You know about adding Jason to the teaching staff at MJS - he is going to take the lead on technology cycle courses in the future. What will that look like exactly? We are still working that part out since it depends on many factors. At MHS we are in the middle of curriculum review for our technology classes. In the past few years we have added Engineering Design and Programming - so know we will be focusing on refinement of our existing courses.

I've heard we might be building STEM spaces? The district is working with an architect to identify how we can improve our facilities that also provides more opportunities in STEM. At MJS the project is focused on the Library/Computer Lab to create a better library space and dedicated technology classroom. At MHS the plan is to add square footage for the benefit of technology and perhaps the performing arts program as well. There are no finalized plans or blueprints yet, and we are meeting with the architect several times over the next few weeks to get a design prepared.

I will keep everyone updated as information becomes available on these exciting projects. If you have any specific questions feel free to see me and ask.


In the mid 1800's Urbain Le Verrier became interested in the motion of Uranus. Based on his calculations he predicted that there must be another large planet in our solar system providing a gravitational tug. In 1930 Tombaugh blinked, and Pluto's history began but it didn't quite have the mass Urbain predicted.

This week Pluto-killer Mike Brown and his colleague Konstantin Batygin announced evidence of an unseen Neptune size planet that is 200 AU away from the Sun, at the closest with an orbital period of about 15,000 years!

Read the article from Science here.


2015 was again record setting, breaking 2014's mark of being the globe's warmest year since the recordkeeping era began in 1880. Looking for the relation of NGSS Earth Science to your courses? You don't have to look hard to see how this phenomenon will find its way into Biology, Chemistry, and Physics!

NY Times article is here.


Please continue work on QSAC work and have it wrapped by 1/25. Wayne and the building principals have done their initial walk-throughs. Please address any issues they have brought up and let me know what other issues you may have (needing signage, etc).

Other QSAC information (documents from the DOE) are in our shared folder here.

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So far we have had 4 people sign up the the NGSS Institute - if you are interested please let me know so you can join them for this valuable workshop!

Wil van der Veen, director of the Science Education Institute at RVCC, has announced this year's summer institute program dates. This is the program that Monica, Dawn, Carole, Kevin, and myself attended last summer. I can say that it was by far the best NGSS professional development I've come across to date, and I think the others would agree it was well worth the time investment.

This year they are running institutes by grade bands. The institute for Secondary ed teachers will run from July 25-29. The institute for Elementary will be August 8-12.

The Secondary Ed Flyer is at:

I will be registering participants starting February 1. E-Mail me if you are interested in attending - the sooner the better. I plan on sending everyone who is interested - it is a better experience in a big group!

A common question I have gotten is: can I go to the one day workshops offered during the school year? The response from Wil is that the one day workshops are not equivalent to what they do at the summer institute (even if you go to several). Also, it is more cost prohibitive, so preference will be given to those who plan to go to the institute.


Most of you are signed up for Mike Heinz's Model Curriculum workshops. As we work on curriculum over the summer it will be important that everyone has heard the same message from the state about implementing NGSS - right, wrong, or indifferent.

You can find the information on these workshops here:

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