DPS Secondary Science News

December 7-11, 2015

This week...

Hope this morning finds you well.

PRISM grants are due TODAY at 4:00 p.m.!

A quick reminder to make sure your school is represented at the upcoming Science Resource Fair on the early release day December 9, 1:30-5:30 in the Riverside High School Media Center. This will be our first look at the materials that are available for adoption in the 2016-17 school year and it is important that all schools are represented. Every science teacher is ENCOURAGED to attend so you can have input in the selection process. There will be snacks and it's likely the publishers will have some giveaways as well.

I've gifted a "free" afternoon to the science chairs by canceling this week's science chair meeting. Our next meeting will be January 12, 2016.

This week: I will be at Githens, Southern, Lucas, Riverside, Brogden and Hillside. I will be working with the Science Resource Review Fair on Wednesday, with the Science Resource Review Team on Thursday, and with the IFs on Friday. Oh, and I'll be doing something called a shark tank with my partner in crime, Dacia, this evening...

Upcoming Events

  • December 8, 4-5 High School Science Chairs meeting, Early College High CANCELLED
  • December 9, 1:30-5:30 Secondary Science Resource Fair @ Riverside High School. We will be reviewing materials for possible adoption in 2016-17.
  • December 10, 4-5 Science Resource Review Team 1st Meeting @ SDC.
  • January 12, 4-5:30 Secondary Science Chairs meeting, Riverside High School.

Quick News

  • Test specification documents for the 2015-16 NC Final Exams of Science and Math are out and can be found at http://www.ncpublicschools.org/accountability/common-exams/specifications/.

  • Kenan fellowships for 2016-17 are posted and the application is live! The Kenan Fellows Program is proud to feature internship opportunities for teachers on our website. You can view these fellowship offerings and access the application from our web site, www.kenanfellows.org. We've had a number of science teachers benefit from this wonderful professional growth opportunity!

  • GIZMOS! Explore Learning is offering an opportunity to our District secondary math and science teachers. Their online simulation tool, Gizmos, allows teachers to create inquiry-based lessons in the areas of mathematics, physical science, and life science that engage students in data collection and analysis. The project involves teams of between 2-4 same subject teachers at a school in 2 half-day professional development sessions and provide the Gizmos resource to participating teachers and their students during the pilot period (January, 2016-December, 2016). Please complete this Google form to indicate your team's interest in participating in this project.
  • FREE classroom presentations! BioNetwork (from the NC Community Colleges) brings all supplies, equipment, and lessons to you! Did I mention free? And, they can stay all day, working with all your classes. Learn more and schedule at: http://www.ncbionetwork.org/educator-resources.
  • Want to help review science resources for adoption in 2015-16? Each school needs one representative who will be serving on the Science Resource Review Committee. We still need representatives from: Lakewood Montessori, Lowe's Grove, Shepard, and Lakeview. Chairs, you can respond to me directly or in the Google Doc.
  • NC Science Olympiad is holding an invitational showcase for Division B and C teams on January 9, 2016 at the Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh. Cost is $20 per team. This is a good opportunity for practice. If the fee is prohibitive, it can be waived. Register here.
  • Looking for current science news articles your students can read? Check out: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1RtCxUaEYbHZiMmLof8NDlx54QHdC1tInQgjOLbp_CBA
  • Making purchases? Check out the discounts: https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzMODhERQCTzX3pPTzZQTFNma3c

DPS Science Teachers Share

From the Jordan High School PTA President:

The American Society of Human Genetics has many activities and resources for both high school students and teachers on our K-12 website. Programs which might be particularly helpful for teachers are the DNA Day Essay Contest, Teen Genes Video Challenge, and Lesson Plan Database. The essay contest is our most popular contest and gives students an opportunity to win up to $1,000 for themselves and a $1,000 equipment grant for their teacher! All of the lesson plans in our database are hands-on actvitities which have been classroom-tested and follow the BSCS’s 5E instructional model. Thee recently added DNA forensics lesson plan has been receiving great reviews at the annual ASHG High School Workshop and a related session at NABT 2015.

There are also links at the bottom of the Teen Genes and DNA Day contest websites which allow you and your colleagues to sign-up for emails and be notified about our contests and K-12 initiatives, if that’s something you’re interested in. They’re also working on updating our genetics education resources page which lists different curricula, websites, and books.

Science in the Community

Looking for some great PD this summer? BioNetwork is offering several sessions (Biotechnology, Marine and Environmental Science, Forensics, Middle School Biotechnology) for teachers at low/no cost. You get materials to take back to school as well. Housing reimbursement is available for some sessions. Find the details at: http://www.ncbionetwork.org/educational-resources/professional-development. Register soon-- these classes fill quickly!

GREAT RESOURCE! The Exploratorium Teacher Institute is excited to announce a new website showcasing more than 150 new, refreshed, revamped, and complimentary science activities (affectionately called Science Snacks)—with more to come every semester. The site is easy to search and navigate, and it contains helpful photos, videos, and step-by-step instructions for individual Snacks.

For more than 30 years, the Teacher Institute (TI) has been the professional home for middle- and high-school science and math teachers in the Bay Area and beyond. The TI’s staff is composed of PhD scientists and veteran science educators who have developed more than 1,000 classroom activities that encourage teachers and students to build and explore tabletop versions of Exploratorium exhibits and other hands-on investigations of science. These activities are designed to demonstrate unusual or unexpected phenomena, spark curiosity, generate questions, and serve as the starting points for deeper classroom explorations.

Science Snacks open a world of discovery to anyone with a passion for noticing and engaging with the phenomena that surround us every day. Browse a few themed collections of activities—then build and share these fun, educational exercises with your students or colleagues.

Link to website: http://www.exploratorium.edu/snacks

Applications for summer 2016 are now available on the NCC Summer Research Experience program website: https://dcri.org/education-training/ncc-research/NCC-research#to-apply. This is a GREAT PAID opportunity for secondary science teachers and high school students to be involved in research.

Looking for literacy credits? Sanford will be offering a free MOOC on this topic for all teachers of science from January 6 – April 30. The course takes about 20 hours (all self-paced) and aims to explore what it means to teach literacy in science and emerges from work we have done for an IES funded project. Further details are available from:


Announcing the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP) Twelfth Flight Opportunity - SSEP Mission 10 to the International Space Station, Starting February 22, 2016

Summary: opportunity for a school district, even an individual large school, to engage typically 300 (grade 5-12) students in real microgravity experiment design (design of experiments for a 'weightless' environment) with one experiment in each participating district selected to fly to the International Space Station (ISS). SSEP provides STEM Project-Based Learning through immersion in an authentic research experience.

Inquiry Deadline: December 11, 2015

Contact: Dr. Jeff Goldstein, 301-395-0770, jeffgoldstein@ncesse.org

[LINK TO ANNOUNCEMENT: http://ssep.ncesse.org/2015/10/new-flight-opportunity-for-school-districts-announcing-student-spaceflight-experiments-program-ssep-mission-10-to-the-international-space-station-starting-february-2016/

Would you like for your students to be able to image something at the nanoscale? The Research Triangle Nanotechnology Network (RTNN) is here to help!

The RTNN is an NSF-funded collaboration between NCSU, Duke, and UNC. A major focus of the RTNN is to bring nanotechnology awareness and experiences into middle schools and high schools. Through the RTNN, we will be able to offer you FREE access to equipment such as scanning electron microscopes (SEMs) that can image objects at the nanoscale.

There are numerous ways to interact with us for FREE:

  • Monster Under the Bed: Send a sample to us (e.g. dust from under your bed – there will be mite monsters), and we will image the sample in the SEM in a real time Skype link with your class.
  • Seat Belts Everyone! Field Trip: Visit our RTNN labs and observe our equipment in action. Maybe your class collects a few bugs, rocks, or plants they are interested in looking at.
  • School Days: Use scotch tape to collect samples from around your school by sticking it to surfaces and seeing what it collects.

Send your samples to us in advance. On the day of your virtual skype or in-person visit, a student Staff member at one of our universities will connect with your class via Skype or in person. They will talk with your class about the equipment being used, what it’s typically used for, and then will image the sample(s) that your class sent to us. Your students will see the equipment, how the imaging SEM system works, get to see their samples up close, and start making discoveries of their own.

If you’re interested in bringing this technology into your classroom, contact us at rtnanonetwork@ncsu.edu.

Science in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Below are all and winter educator workshops in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. All day-long workshops are free; multiple day workshops with lodging are at a greatly reduced rate through generous grant donations received by Friends of the Smokies. All workshops are eligible for CEU and EEC Criteria II and III credits.

Salamanders and Storms: Climate Change in the Smokies

February 19-21, 2016 at Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont

Every year we learn more about how climate change is impacting the Smokies and the Southern Appalachian Mountains. We bring in area experts to discuss this complex issue and will showcase several hands-on activities you can use in the classroom. Meals and lodging included. Register through Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont at http://www.gsmit.org/climatechange.html. Ten spaces are available at a reduced educator rate of $50.

Spring in the Smoky Mountains

April 29 -May 1, 2016 at the Appalachian Highlands Science Learning Center

Great Smoky Mountains National Park is world-renowned for its diversity of wildflowers and salamanders. Explore cove forests and stream-side habitats for salamanders as well as the blooms of spring. To register, visithttp://www.naturalsciences.org/education/for-educators/educator-workshops/spring-treks. Cost: $75* (includes lodging at Lake Junaluska, some meals and transportation from Raleigh).

Susan Sachs

Education Coordinator, Appalachian Highlands Science Learning Center

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

PO Box 357

Lake Junaluska, NC 28745

(828) 926-6251


Renew your passion for teaching while gaining information, ideas, and insights to take back to your classroom by joining the Museum for an educator workshop!

Educator Treks...

These professional development workshops provide opportunities for educators to increase their content knowledge, gain ideas to use in the classroom, and network with other educators. Participants receive a certificate for CEUs and credit for North Carolina's Environmental Education Certification Program.

To register for Educator Treks, please fill out and mail a registration form and deposit. The registration form can be found on this website!


Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge, Plymouth, NC

Friday, January 8 (depart Raleigh at 3:45 p.m.) - Saturday, January 9, 2016

Fee: $90 (includes transportation, lodging, breakfast and lunch)

CEUs: 12 contact hours

Experience one of the greatest wildlife spectacles in North Carolina - thousands of tundra swans, snow geese, and other waterfowl over-wintering in an area rich in wildlife such as black bears, bobcats, and red wolves. Learn winter bird identification, tips on preserving tracks and signs, and ideas for incorporating wild creatures into your teaching.


NC Museum of Natural Sciences, Raleigh, NC

Thursday, January 28, 2016

6 - 8 pm

Fee: $10

CEUs: 2 contact hours

You need to know what your students are understanding and retaining, but grading daily homework is a chore and you feel exhausted thinking about yet another poster project or in-class presentation. What to do? Join us to discover tons of fun strategies for assessing learning, swap ideas for what works, and test out a few activities. From 1-minute check-ins to semester-long group projects, we have ideas for blending assessment with team-building, self-reflection, and group learning.


Offered as an outing for educators and the general public

Off the coast of Hatteras, NC

Friday, February 5 (depart Raleigh at 3:30 p.m.) - Saturday, February 6, 2016

Fee: $280 (includes transportation, lodging, and all day boat charter)

North Carolina has a huge variety of birds that visit the waters off our coast. Join Museum educators and ornithologists as we travel offshore toward the Gulf Stream and we learn about and observe some of our amazing pelagic birds. Winter is also a great time to spot migrating marine mammals, and we hope to encounter these as well!

Due to the unpredictability of winter weather and seas, please reserve Sunday, February 7 on your calendar as well! If the weather looks bad, we may hold the trip Saturday to Sunday (instead of Friday to Saturday). We will let you know as soon as possible if we need to shift the trip.

Science Grants

PRISM Grants from BWF are open again. Money for science doesn’t get much easier than this! This award provides up to $3,000 for one year to cover the cost of equipment, materials, and supplies. An additional $1,500 may be requested for professional development related to the implementation of new equipment or use of materials in the classroom. For additional details, visit http://www.bwfund.org/grant-programs/science-education/promoting-innovation-science-and-mathematics.

Science in the News


Researchers said they have developed a technique for creating a substance they are calling Q-carbon, which could have uses in medicine and industry. This is from research at NC State University!


The emission pledges that countries have signaled they will make in Paris will inevitably fall short. What would a truly ambitious plan to tackle climate change look like?


The call for a moratorium by China, Britain and the United States comes after the invention of a new technique that eases editing of the human genome.


A new study found genetic differences in men’s sperm after they underwent gastric bypass surgery.