DPS Secondary Science News

December 14-18, 2015

This week...

As we approach the break, I'm heartened by the international acceptance of scientific evidence over political rhetoric as indicated by the signing of the climate change agreement in Paris last week. I'm also glad for the inclusion of environmental education in the recently passed Every Student Succeeds Act. This bill includes "language that, for the first time, supports opportunities to provide students with environmental education and hands-on, field-based learning experiences." Two big wins for environmental science!

I hope you have a wonderful holiday break! Take time to rest, relax, and be merry!

This week: I will be working with teachers at Githens, Southern, Hillside, Riverside, and Jordan.

Upcoming Events

  • January 12, 4-5:30 Secondary Science Chairs meeting, Riverside High School.
  • January 26, 8:30-4 8th Grade Hydrology Kit Unpacking
  • February 13, Region 3A Science and Engineering Fair, Hillside 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/.

  • 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.
  • The Secondary Science Resource Review is off to a great start! Thanks to Riverside for hosting our vendor fair! Look for details on preview sessions coming in January!
  • Want to help with Science Fair? The Region 3 Science and Engineering Fair is looking for a few good judges! We need YOUR help to judge elementary, junior and senior projects from Durham, Granville, Wake, Vance, Warren, Johnston, Wilson, Nash, Edgecombe, Halifax, Northampton, and Franklin counties. The Region 3A Science & Engineering Fair will be held Saturday, February 13, 2016 at Hillside High School in Durham and judges are needed from 8 am to 1 pm. If you are available to help out with this exciting event please visit sign up today!


DPS Science Teachers Share

From Branson Phillips at Githens Middle School

Something for everyone can be found at: http://newyorkscienceteacher.com/sci/

Summer Science for Teachers

Want to go to NASA Space Camp? Honeywell is sponsoring teachers for a free 5 day trip to Space Camp! Applications due January 4, 2016. Check out the details at https://educators.honeywell.com/application.

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 to be involved in research.

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!

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!

Finnish Connections, Collections, and Reflections
A Teacher Professional Development Program from North Carolina State University's College of Education

This program, sponsored by the Triangle Community Foundation's Borchardt Fund, prepares in-service teachers in Chatham, Durham, Orange, and Wake counties, to adopt technology-enabled strategies for: 1) connecting with other cultures through global collaborative projects, 2) crowd curating cultural media collections, and 3) reflecting on cultural understanding through written and multimodal works. Finnish culture serves as the focus for this work, with a cohort of fifteen teachers selected each of three years for a two-week immersion in Finland framed with advance inter-cultural classroom projects, coursework at NC State with Finnish guest speakers, and further on-site coursework in Helsinki, Finland, in between cultural excursions.

Summer Science for Students

The 2016 Environmental Science Summer Program at Duke is now accepting applications. Please share this opportunity with rising Sophomores and Juniors in the Triangle Area. Please share this link with students: sites.nicholas.duke.edu/essp

Two high school seniors have the opportunity of a lifetime - participation in the National Youth Science Camp (NYSC). Please encourage your students to consider applying for this program. The deadline is February 17, 2016.

The students receive a full scholarship to exchange ideas with scientists and other professionals from the academic and corporate worlds. The nearly month-long experience includes lectures and hands-on research projects presented by scientists from across the nation; overnight expeditions into a national forest; and a visit to Washington D.C. The selected delegates must not only demonstrate academic achievement in science, but also show potential for thoughtful scientific leadership.

The NYSC experience is offered at no cost to its participants so that selected delegates may attend regardless of their financial status. Educational and recreational programming, as well as meals, lodging, and round-trip air passage on scheduled airlines are provided free of charge.

Delegates arrive in Charleston, West Virginia, on June 15, 2016 and depart on July 10, 2016. The NYSC is held near Bartow in the eastern mountains of West Virginia, within the Monongahela National Forest. Application forms are available on the NYSC website http://apply.nysc.org. Applications must be submitted by February 17, 2016.


Lisa Rhoades at 919-991-5111 or lrhoades@bwfund.org

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 high school students to be involved in research.

Science Resources

Attention Teachers! We've extended the deadline for the Durham Soil and Water Conservation District contests to January 28, 2016. The Soil and Water Conservation District’s Deadline for the Annual Conservation Contests for Poster, Essay, Public Speaking, Slide Show and Computer Designed Poster has been extended to make sure that all Durham County students have an opportunity to participate. Find out more about the different contests at http://dconc.gov/home/showdocument?id=13179. Please contact us at 919-560-0558 to learn more about each contest and for official rules and registration forms.

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.

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

The DuPont Challenge, North America’s premier science essay competition, encourages students ages 13 and older to delve deep into your interests in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) and express yourself with creativity and purpose. Ours is a growing world that faces new challenges each day, and we want YOU to share your ideas for how science can help keep our global population supplied with food, safety, and clean energy.

Essays must be between 700 to 1,000 words in length, include a list of research sources, and fall under one of these four categories:

  • Together, we can feed the world.
  • Together, we can build a secure energy future.
  • Together, we can protect people and the environment.
  • Together, we can be innovative anywhere.

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.

From the Cornell Lab of Ornithology:

Prepare for the new year with fresh resources that help you and your students explore the world of inquiry. With our newly redesigned Investigating Evidence, you will have everything you need to bring the scientific process to life in your classroom. We are excited to see wonderful investigations students around the country will undertake.

Now aligned both to Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards, this free download will help you guide your students through exciting scientific investigations. By making observations, crafting and testing hypotheses, collecting and graphing data, students will draw meaningful conclusions and share their work through citizen science and student publications.

School Year PD for Science Teachers

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:


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 of Natural Sciences for an educator workshop! 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. 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 in the News


The deal, which required unanimous approval by delegates from around the world, will for the first time commit nearly every country to lowering greenhouse gas emissions.


An article in the journal Science reported a type of machine learning that outperformed human capabilities for a narrow range of vision-related tasks.


The technique used in conceiving the litter of seven puppies could help with genetic research and saving endangered species.