833 Elementary Science Scoop

Fall 2015

How Might We Help Grow Teacher Expertise in Science in 833?

The team of elementary science teacher leaders are investigating how we can help grow teacher expertise in science.

AES * Stephanie Larson (grade 5)
BES * Sarah Sorenson (grade 3)
CGE * Cathy O'Brien (grade 3)
CVE * Reid Tschumperlin (grade 5)
GCE * Christine Bromen (grade 4)
HES * Ann Ross (grade 4)
LRE * Lee McNiesh (grade 3)
MES * Ginger Garry (grade 2)
NES * Kathy Lamoureaux (grade 5)
NFSI * Amanda Nilles (grade 2)
PHE * Sue Elchert (grade 4)
PES * Mandy Mach (science specialist)
RRE * Kelly Wetschka (grade 1)
ROE * Maribeth Swalve (grade 3)
WES * Alana Hansen (grade 5)
TLS * Jamie Holtz

Elementary MCA Science Achievement Up Slightly in 2015

  • In the area of science proficiency, overall District 833 proficiency levels improved slightly by 0.1%, from about 68.5% to 68.6%. This is compared to a 0.4% decrease at a state level, from 53.4% to 53%.
  • District elementary science proficiency rates were at 74.3% compared to state rates at 59.1%, middle school rates were at 57.8% compared to state rates at 45.3%, and high school rates were at 73.5% compared to state rates at 54.6%. Thus, District 833 continues to exceed state proficiency rates by a wide margin at all levels in science.

For more information please visit http://www.sowashco.org/academics/research-evaluation-and-assessment/results-and-evaluation/2015-minnesota-comprehensive.

U of M Hosting Physics Force Shows in January

The Physics Force will be performing a series of educational and entertaining shows Jan. 11-15, 2016 at the University of Minnesota Northrop Auditorium, 84 Church St. SE, Minneapolis. The Physics Force is a K-12 outreach program through the University of Minnesota. Our program's greatest success is generating an interest in science in K-12 students. We go above and beyond to educate and entertain. Physics Force does things on a grand scale to bring excitement and wonder to the thousands of students who attend our shows every year. Last year we performed for more than 25,000 students and teachers.

Physics Force Winter Show schedule:

 Monday, Jan. 11, 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.

 Tuesday, Jan. 12, 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.

 Wednesday, Jan. 13, 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.

 Thursday, Jan. 14, 10 a.m., 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. (public show)

 Friday, Jan. 15, 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.

The shows are free, but reservations are required. Click here for reservations.

There are physical science standards related to force and motion in grades 2, 4 and 5 so this local field trip opportunity would align with learning expectations.

Do You Know What You Don't Know (in Science)?

The Leading Edge

By Christine Royce | Published: October 1, 2015

The recent report by the Pew Research Center was titled “A Look at What the Public Knows and Does Not Know About Science” and according to their website found “….. that most Americans can answer basic questions about several scientific terms and concepts, such as the layers of the Earth and the elements needed to make nuclear energy. But other science-related terms and applications, such as what property of a sound wave determines loudness and the effect of higher altitudes on cooking time, are not as well understood.

There is no doubt that American’s or at least American students have been compared to international counterparts on a variety of different assessments throughout the ages. However, this particular study is a bit different in that it takes twelve questions – one per science topic and utilizes it to measure the public’s knowledge about science in general.

As noted in this month’s edition of the Leaders Letter, popular news media outlets picked up this story as well and Live Science summarized the findings in a short and to the point story. A counter point to this study appeared in Science News where it states that the study was “heavy on trivia and light on concepts” and is worth reading for a balanced view on this now trending on social media report on American’s understanding of science.

So, a better question is, do you know what you do not know? Or better yet…. do you know what your students do not know or have misconceptions about?

There are a variety of resources that help teachers tackle common (or not so common) misconceptions in science and some of these include:

Some groups even help you develop your own assessment to test student’s misconceptions:

As an educator or those who work with professional development opportunities, it may be worthwhile to actually test your own conceptual knowledge or build that into an actual PD event utilizing the professional development indexer which is part of the NSTA Learning Center. The Professional Development Indexer helps you diagnose your needs in specific science content areas and provide suggestions of NSTA e-PD resources and opportunities you may want to consider as you plan your professional development (PD). The Indexer does not assign a grade or present a score to the questions you answer, but saves a list of recommended resources for later review.

So how do you address what you don’t know or work to address what student misconceptions are?


Nominations and applications for the 2016 Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST) are now being accepted. The Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching are the nation’s highest honors for teachers of mathematics and science. Teachers in grades K-6 with at least five years of teaching experience are eligible for the 2016 award. Teachers applying for the 2016 PAEMST award must be nominated and self-nominations are accepted. Nominations can be submitted on-line through the PAEMST website at www.paemst.org. Contact Sue Wygant at susan.wygant@state.mn.us or 651-582-8581 if you have any questions. Applications must be postmarked by May 1, 2016, so an early nomination will provide the applicant with sufficient time to complete and submit a high quality application.

Up to 5 state finalists will be chosen by a State Selection Committee. The Minnesota Council of Teachers of Mathematics honors each of the state finalists with a paid two-year membership in MCTM and a complimentary registration for the Minnesota Spring Mathematics Conference. One of the three state finalists will be selected by a National Selection Committee as The Presidential Award winner for Minnesota. The state Presidential Award winner is announced by the White House. The state Presidential Award winner will receive a $10,000 cash award from the National Science Foundation and will be invited to Washington, DC for a week of recognition.

Please consider nominating an outstanding mathematics teacher in grades K-6 for this prestigious honor.

MnSTA Science Teaching Award (Apply before January 9)

Do you believe that classroom teachers should be rewarded for excellence?

Do you want our best teachers to represent our profession to the public?

Do you know exemplary science teachers in your school or district?

Do you or someone that you know want to be recognized for science teaching strategies and gain $1000 for a classroom project? This award for MnSTA members recognizes teachers in two categories, elementary and secondary. The application calls for a narrative about your teaching philosophy and style, a resume and a description of the project you propose for the funds. Awardees are recognized at the MnSTA Conference in February. The application deadline is January 9. Click here for information, nominations, and the applications.
Bailey School Forest Reservation Calendar for 2015-16

Please send an email to Jamie Holtz if you are interested in going to Bailey School Forest.