Science Connections

Information You Can Use

You Are A Difference Maker

When students walk through your door please remember that you are a difference maker! The small gestures you make to welcome students, and demonstrate an interest in their lives, will have an impact. There is tremendous power in a smile, learning student’s names, a handshake, or an encouraging word. In the coming year, you will have opportunities to build confidence where it hasn’t existed, develop connections that have never been present, and generate hope for students whose academic careers have been marred by hopelessness. All of these are truly super powers! You should all be proud of the profession you have chosen, the hard work you do on behalf of our students, and the determination with which you address challenges.

I leave you with this quote to reflect on: I’ve come to the frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element in the classroom. It’s my daily mood that makes the weather. As a teacher, I possess a tremendous power to make a child’s life miserable or joyous. I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration. I can humiliate or humor, hurt or heal. In all situations, it is my response that decides whether crisis will be escalated or de-escalated and a child humanized or de-humanized. ~ Haim Ginot

Thank you for all you do for the students in Richmond Public Schools, your efforts are noticed, and appreciated!!!!

Have an awesome school year,

Mrs. H. Easter

2015 Virginia Association of Science Teachers Annual Professional Development Institute

The Virginia Association of Science Teachers (VAST) will hold its annual statewide Professional Development Institute (PDI) on November 19-21, 2015, at the Westfield Marriott in Chantilly, Virginia. The VAST PDI supports the 2010 Science Standards of Learning by offering over 200 concurrent sessions, several field trips, and nationally known keynote speakers. Educators will be able to network with colleagues from all over the state, gain new ideas to enhance their content knowledge, and experience cutting-edge technology. Educators at every level of science will find many topics of interest with which to build their expertise.

For the first time this year, the VAST PDI will feature the Donna R. Sterling Institute, Uncovering Student Thinking in Science Through Formative Assessment. In this one day institute, participants will:

· learn how to use formative assessment probes to uncover and analyze student thinking about key science concepts;

· practice formative assessment strategies that inform teaching and deepen students’ understanding of science content; and

· apply techniques that weave assessment into the process of instruction and learning.

Registration and the PDI schedule of events can be found on the VAST Web site at The PDI also provides educators the opportunity to earn licensure renewal points, and they may choose the option of earning college credit.

Teacher Education and Licensure Regulations Review

The proposed regulations that govern: (a) the licensure of school personnel; and (b) review and approval of education programs in Virginia are available for your review and input through the Virginia Register of Regulations. The following information offer links to the two sets of proposed regulations as well as information about how you can provide comment.

· Licensure Regulations for School Personnel (adding 8VAC20-23-10 through 8VAC20-23-800)

Public Comment Deadline: November 6, 2015.

Public Hearing Information:

October 22, 2015 - 11 a.m. - 22nd Floor Conference Room; James Monroe Building, 101 North 14th Street, Richmond, VA 23219. The public hearing will begin immediately following adjournment of the Board of Education business meeting.

· Regulations Governing the Review and Approval of Education Programs in Virginia (adding 8VAC20-543-10 through 8VAC20-543-640)

Public Comment Deadline: October 31, 2015.

Public Hearing Information:

October 22, 2015 - 11 a.m. - James Monroe Building, 101 North 14th Street, 22nd Floor, Conference Room, Richmond, VA 23219. The public hearing will begin immediately following adjournment of the Board of Education business meeting.

NOVA, Making North America

Premiering Wednesday, November 4, 2015 at 9 p.m. on PBS

Hosted by renowned paleontologist Kirk Johnson, this spectacular road trip through a tumultuous deep past explores three fundamental questions: How was the continent built? How did life evolve here? And how has the continent shaped us? “Making North America” reveals the incredible story of a majestic continent.

· Episode 1: Origins (11/4)

· Episode 2: Life (11/11)

· Episode 3: Humans (11/18)

Cell Day 2015

Enrich your cell biology or biochemistry curriculum by having your classes join Cell Day 2015on Thursday, November 5, anytime between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Eastern time. During this free Web chat, your middle or high school students can get real-time answers to their questions about cell biology, biochemistry, and research careers from scientists at the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of General Medical Sciences. Last year, Cell Day scientists fielded questions like “How many cells are there in the body?” and “How do scientists study cells?” Find more information about the event and register at

You may also be interested in other free science education resources and materials, including:

· Classroom posters on cell biology, chemistry, genetics and science careers.

· Electronic and print booklets on cell biology, genetics, chemistry, biomedical scientists and more.

· A blog about cutting-edge research and the scientists who do it.

Science Resources

If you are in the process of planning professional development for science teachers or administrators, please consider using all or parts of the VDOE science resources. The resources from the science institutes were designed to be used as professional development for teams of teachers. Parts of these professional development modules could be used/modified to create school-level or division-level professional development.

· 2010 Institute – The focus of the institute was Scientific Inquiry and the Nature of Science. Presentations and supporting materials are provided.

· 2012 Institute – The focus of the institute was the development conceptual understanding through inquiry.

Additional science resources are available for you to consider sharing with science teachers and administrators.

· Virginia Science Activities, Models & Simulations (SAMS) – Activities, models and simulations correlated to the 2010 Science Standards of Learning and Curriculum Framework.

· Practices for Science Investigation Progression (PDF) – The Practices for Science Investigation Progression chart identifies the grade level at which specific science skills/practices are formally introduced and how they progress throughout the 2010 Science Standards of Learning.

· Virginia Animals and their Habitats – A model comprehensive, cross-curricular second-grade unit that addresses 40 grade-two Virginia Standards of Learning (SOL) in science, mathematics, English, and history and social science.

· Lessons From the Bay – Activities and projects for grades 3-6 related to protecting and restoring the Chesapeake Bay watershed

· The LENS Cornerstone Assessments are high school science performance-based assessments and were created as a result of a MSP Grant to ODU in partnership with local school divisions and partner institutions of higher education. The Cornerstone Assessments use knowledge and skills related to scientific investigation to inform instruction, inform student learning, and measure student progress over time (beginning-, middle-, and end- of the year). The Cornerstone Assessments are available for use if they meet the needs of your students.

NOVA Education

In conjunction with PBS LearningMedia, NOVA offers a wide range of educational videos — from the extensive cross-discipline collection on the NOVA Education site to the Making Stuff andMaking More Stuff series, which explore the connections between science and engineering. For an interactive experience, check out NOVA Labs which promotes research and education through community collaboration that strives to answer real-world questions. Launches

The National Academy of Engineering has launched a new Web site to support implementation of preK–12 engineering education in the United States. LinkEngineering aims to provide high-quality resources and build a professional community for three groups: educators working in preK–12 classrooms and out of school settings; those engaged in preservice teacher education and professional development; and school, district, and state administrators. The Web site responds to recent efforts to introduce preK–12 students to engineering concepts and practices. The LinkEngineering project was made possible by the generous support of Chevron.

EPA Has Climate Resources for Teachers, Students

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) offers a climate education Web site for students, teachers, and school administrators, including information and activities related to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
In one activity, for example, middle school and high school students estimate and conceptualize their schools' emissions and explore ways to mitigate them. Also, teachers can learn from climate experts and search a database of lesson plans, videos, books, and tools. See the EPA Web site at

Teacher Opportunities

Bio teach, October 22, 2015 – Save the date, more information coming soon!

As you may know, last May, the Virginia BIO Foundation collaborated with the Virginia Department of Education to host Bio Teach event as part of the Virginia Science Festival.

MY NASA DATA: The MY NASA DATA Team has added a set of lesson plans to the home page that contain all data files necessary for completion. This will allow for easier access to MY NASA DATA and the ability to practice using the satellite data. These lessons have been put into place for your convenience while the Live Access Server is temporarily down as it goes through necessary updates. Please check out the site and see how MY NASA DATA lessons can be used to address Virginia’s Science and Mathematics standards in your classroom.

Web site:

Students' Cloud Observations On-Line is now on Facebook! NASA scientists are very interested in learning how clouds affect our atmosphere. It is the clouds, in part, that affect the overall temperature and energy balance of the Earth. The more we know about clouds, the more we will know about our Earth as a system! And YOU can help! On top of being an active S'COOL Project participant, you can now "like" the Students' Cloud Observations On-Line Facebook Page and share your sky with the S'COOL community. Post a picture of your clouds with a caption describing what you see or a question you have! The S'COOL Team will also be posting participant highlights, conference activities, and interesting facts about clouds. Join the fun today, make the Students' Cloud Observations On-Line Facebook Page one of your favorites and add your first post!

Student Opportunites

Richmond Public Schools Annual STEM FAIR


Metro Richmond STEM FAIR MARCH 19, 2015 at Clover Hill High School

Virginia Junior Academy of Sciences

It is time for students to begin thinking about science research projects and preparing for the 2016 Virginia Junior Academy of Science (VJAS) Research Symposium, which will be held on May 17-19, 2016, at University of Mary Washington (UMW). VJAS, a state chapter of the American Academy of Science, is dedicated to the advancement of science by discovering and encouraging scientific aptitude among Virginia’s middle and high school students. Students who present at the Research Symposium have an opportunity for publishing their science research and receive awards and scholarships.The deadline for submitting papers for this year’s symposium is February 24, 2016. Visit the VJAS Web site for more information.

Virginia Space Grant Consortium Student Programs

The Virginia Space Grant Consortium (VSGC) is pleased to announce exciting and freeSTEM opportunities for 2015-2016 high school sophomores through the Virginia Space Coast Scholars (VSCS) program; juniors through the Virginia Aerospace Science and Technology Scholars (VASTS) program; and juniors or seniors through the Virginia Earth System Science Scholars (VESSS) program. Application deadline for all programs:Sunday November 8, 2015.

Grant Opportunities

The Lorrie Otto Seeds for Education Grant Program

The Lorrie Otto Seeds for Education Grant Program offers grants for plants and seeds, and in-kind donations from Nursery Partners that can help stretch those dollars. They can help you locate experts and information specific to your area – anywhere in the US. Schools, nature centers, and other non‐profit and not‐for‐profit places of learning that focus on educating elementary through high school students are eligible to apply. $500.00

Toolbox for Education Grants from Lowe's Charitable and Educational Foundation . Giving on a national basis in areas of company operations; giving on a national basis for the Outdoor Classroom Grant Program and Lowe's Toolbox for Education to support parks and playgrounds and organizations involved with K-12 education, environmental beautification, environmental education, home safety, and community development. Deadline :February 13 and October 15

N-Vision a Brighter Future Grant from Westinghouse Electric Company . Schools and teachers who want their students to learn more about STEM through a hands-on project should apply for this grant. The kinds of projects that will be considered are any creative hands-on project dealing with STEM. Grants may be used to compensate experts who come to work with students, but not to pay teachers or staff. Funds may also be used to purchase equipment or to provide field trip transportation, but not when these are ends alone. Equipment and trips should be just one component of a well-planned project, integrated with other curriculum materials and activities.

Dynamics of Coupled Natural and Human Systems from National Science Foundation . The Dynamics of Coupled Natural and Human Systems competition promotes quantitative, interdisciplinary analyses of relevant human and natural system processes and complex interactions among human and natural systems at diverse scales.

Partners in Science Program from M. J. Murdock Charitable Trust . Partners In Science awards are made to colleges and universities and to other qualified research institutions to enable high school science teachers to participate in full-time research for 8-10 weeks during the summer.

Shell Science Lab Challenge from National Science Teachers Association and Shell Oil Company . The challenge invites middle and high school science teachers (grades 6-12) in the United States and Canada (with special attention to urban and underrepresented groups) to illustrate replicable approaches to science lab instruction utilizing limited school and laboratory resources. Entries will be judged on the basis of a number of criteria, including demonstrated science inquiry and innovation in the classroom with limited laboratory equipment, materials, and resources; demonstrated impact and engagement with students and the school community; and demonstrated need for support to improve science laboratory experiences.

Grant for Educators from Herb Society of America. The Herb Society of America's mission is to promote the knowledge, use and delight of herbs through educational programs, research, and sharing the experience of its members with the community. The Grant for Educators challenges individuals, groups or small businesses to develop and deliver learning experiences to the public.

Solve for Tomorrow Contest from Samsung . The contest aims to engage and create enthusiasm for STEM subjects by asking teachers and their students to answer the challenge, "Show how STEM can be applied to help your local community." Winning schools will be awarded more than $2 million in technology from Samsung. Public school teachers in grades 6 - 12 can apply