Secondary Science Newsletter

October, 2016

All Standards, All Students

The NGSS are intended to realize a new vision for science and engineering education in which, "students, over multiple years of school, actively engage in scientific and engineering practices and apply crosscutting concepts to deepen their understanding of the core ideas in these fields. By the end of the 12th grade, students should have gained sufficient knowledge of the practices, crosscutting concepts, and core ideas of science and engineering to engage in public discussions on science-related issues, to be critical consumers of scientific information related to their everyday lives, and to continue to learn about science throughout their lives. They should come to appreciate that science and the current scientific understanding of the world are the result of many hundreds of years of creative human endeavor. It is especially important to note that the above goals are for all students, not just those who pursue careers in science, engineering, or technology or those who continue on to higher education" (NRC, 2012).

Promoting Equity is one of six principles that guided the writing of the Framework and the development of the NGSS. "The goal of educational equity is one of the reasons to have rigorous standards that apply to all students. Not only should all students be expected to attain these standards, but also work is needed to ensure that all are provided with high-quality opportunities to engage in significant science and engineering learning" (NRC, 2012).

As Science Departments, Administrators, and Counselors work together to transition to our new NGSS Course sequences, we must keep in mind that our goal as science educators is to prepare all students for scientific literacy beyond the K-12 classroom and not just a select group.

National Research Council (2012). A Framework for K-12 Science Education. National Academies Press: Washington, D.C.

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The Units in our new NGSS Courses use phenomena and other real-world scenarios to provide the context for students to #figureout science content. Each unit's Culminating Event is a performance-based assessment designed to uncover students' content mastery along with their ability to use and apply the Science and Engineering Practices and the Crosscutting Concepts. The charts below summarize the unit titles and culminating events for the Middle School and High School NGSS Courses.

Field Test the NGSS Curricula!!

All NGSS Curriculum documents (at least what we have so far!) are accessible via the LMS in BCPSOne.

Middle School Teachers: The NGSS Grade 6 curriculum is available for field testing. We appreciate your feedback, which can be provided via the Grade 6 OneNote

High School Teachers: We need Earth Space, Environmental Science, and Astronomy teachers to field test Earth Systems Units, including Culminating Events and Learning Cycles. You can give us your feedback via the Earth Systems Field Test OneNote. We are particularly interested in your feedback on the Space (Exosphere) and Our Complex Crust (Geosphere) Units and encourage Earth Space Science teachers to implement these units earlier in the school year.

Integrated Physics and Chemistry (IPC) Culminating Events and Learning Cycles are also available for field-testing as are Culminating Events for Living Systems. Thanks for providing your feedback on IPC curriculum components through the IPC OneNote.

In the Living Systems OneNote, Biology teachers can get an overview of the Living Systems Units and their alignment to current "legacy" units. Seven different Culminating Events are ready for field testing.

Supporting the Transition to NGSS

The NGSS OneNote contains resources about the NGSS as well as lesson planning ideas to support our transition to NGSS science teaching and learning. For lesson development suggestions, click on the "Lesson Planning Resources" tab and then the "Transitioning to NGSS Resources" page within the NGSS OneNote.

For the most up-to-date NGSS news and resources, visit The NGSS Now Newsletter provides timely, practical information about supporting the shifts to NGSS. Also, be sure to join the National Science Teachers Association for great lesson ideas and NGSS updates.


Students as Citizen Scientists

Everyone loves to explore outdoors! Why not create a permanent record of the data and observations collected by students? There is a growing need to study natural systems in order to assess stability and health and to determine if human activities are affecting them. Schoolyards and local parks are perfect living laboratories to collect and analyze authentic environmental data. Questions that focus on air quality, water quality, biodiversity or forestry can serve as an engaging context for learning science content.

BCPS Outdoor Science staff have initiated a number of programs that can get students involved in studying natural systems, logging data and using it to find patterns and to conduct comparison studies. Outdoor Science Programs post data to the new BCPS Environmental Data hub enabling teachers to prepare students for programs and to add real data to lessons and assessments. Teachers are encouraged to use schoolyards and local parks to add data to the hub to increase our knowledge of natural systems and environmental issues in our communities.

The BCPS Outdoor Science Staff has worked with a number of organizations to develop data collection protocols and has loaner equipment that can be used to collect and analyze environmental data. If you are interested in getting your students involved in conducting fieldwork and adding to the BCPS Environmental Data Hub, contact an Outdoor Science Staff member and be on the lookout for upcoming workshops this Winter.

Registration for Secondary Spring Outdoor Science programming will take place in early December. In addition to our canoe-based ecology and freshwater ecosystem studies, we will be piloting a new Grade 6 program. Details will be in the weekly bulletin in the next few weeks.

Visit the Outdoor Science Intranet Site for additional information about out Outdoor Science Programs, Green School Resources, Edible Gardening Protocols, and much more!


Michelle Craig is in her 18th year of teaching and 3rd year as the Science Department Chair at the George Washington Carver Center for the Arts. This school year she is teaching Honors and GT Biology as well as Forensic Science. This is the first year that Carver has offered Forensics. The class featured includes 10th-12th graders.

Office of Science (OoS). Please give us a brief description the lesson.

Michelle (MC): I took a Blood Typing lesson I had done in the past with Anatomy & Physiology and Biology and reworked it to make sense in Forensics.

  • The Drill question, "What do you know about blood typing?" allowed for assessing students' prior knowledge.
  • The discussion of the drill lead to some other questions: What does it mean that O- is the universal donor?; What happens if you mix the wrong blood types?; What do the + and – mean?; and others.
  • Students could use the website provided to gather background information and practice blood typing techniques virtually or they could use other websites to fact find.

  • Ultimately, they were give four samples of blood (3 suspects, 1 victim) along with the other crime scene evidence collected so they could create a report for the CSI team with their findings. Some students were concerned about creating procedures to follow, so they completed the virtual lab first, while others jumped right into the actual lab after gathering enough background information.

  • By the end of the lesson, questions asked at the beginning of class were answered by the students!

OoS: What about shifting to the NGSS approach to teaching and learning excites you?

MC: I love having the students work to figure things out. Seeing the light bulbs go off is one exciting part of this job. When students take ownership of learning and get to answer their own questions they have a purpose for learning. Students that have a purpose for learning are more likely to be engaged in the lesson. Excitement and purpose for learning make every day better in the classroom for the students and for me as their teacher.

OoS: What is the biggest challenge that our students face with this approach to learning?

MC: Taking on the responsibility of learning is a challenge for students. Asking them to think like a scientist, unfortunately, is not what they are accustomed to doing in a science classroom. While they initially resist the hard work involved in figuring it out, they ultimately realize learning this way is much more fun than just doing worksheets every day. Getting to ask questions themselves and find answers themselves is empowering. Giving the students that opportunity, which I believe makes them a better student and future citizen, is why I continue to teach.

OoS: What advice do you have for your colleagues as we transition to NGSS?

MC: LET GO! Know that students can handle the expectation of asking and then answering tough questions for themselves. Let them be the center of the classroom and you be the guide on the side to facilitate their learning. Be prepared to go with them and not make them go with you! They are the reason we are here. We all fell in love with science at some point in our past and decided to share that love with students in the classroom. Several years ago, I had forgotten why I became a science teacher, as I gave out worksheets and told students what they needed to know. I saw they needed a change as did I. Figuring things out makes life better for them and for me in the classroom. While I know ultimately where students need to be at the end of a learning cycle, I don’t mind taking unexpected twists and turns to get there. Have a road map in mind, but be prepared for pit stops and detours along the way as the students find their path to learning.

Michelle's lesson is a great example of how transitioning to NGSS does not mean "reinventing the wheel." Check out this resource from The Teaching Channel to learn more.

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Want to be the next featured teacher? Send us an email, tag us on Twitter, or call the Office of Science.


How are teachers responsible for supporting safety in the science classroom, as outlined in the BCPS Chemical Hygiene Plan?
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The NSTA Learning Center has a smorgasbord of Professional Learning resources, many of which are free to non-members. Particularly useful in setting Professional Learning Goals is the Professional Development Indexer, which helps diagnose your needs in specific content areas and provides suggestions of NSTA e-PD resources and opportunities you may want to consider. Use your NSTA login to access the PD Indexer or create a FREE (non-membership) account.
Grading and Reporting

Have a question about Grading and Reporting? Post it here! The word document in the upper left corner of the padlet contains answers to the most frequently asked questions related to Grading and Reporting in Science.



The Department of Energy is embarking on its Annual National Middle School Science Bowl. The Patriots Technology Training Center will, again, host the Maryland Regional Middle School Science Bowl for students in grades 6-8, ages 11-15. The National Science Bowl seeks to encourage middle school students to expand their knowledge of math and science, expose students to careers relevant to DOE’s mission and raise the visibility of academic achievement in the sciences through a nationally prestigious academic event. The event will be a tournament-style academic competition with questions from a moderator.

The regional competition is limited to 20 schools. Teams will be selected on a first-come basis. We expect the slots to fill quickly. On-line registration will open October 3rd, 12 noon, EST. To register, go to: Registration deadline is December 15, 2016. Directions for coaches will be on the coach pages on the NSB web site… The registration fee is $75/per team (limited two teams per school). Each team will be notified of approval and the registration fee must be received by December 31, 2016. Payment can be mailed to: Patriots Technology Training Center, Attn: Gloria Shivers, 5800 Martin Luther King, Jr. Highway, Seat Pleasant, MD 20743.


The American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG) is happy to announce that the submission website for the Teen Genes Video Challenge is now open! Are you looking for a fun opportunity for your students to “show us what their genes can do”? Then encourage them to submit a video. It's easy!

The ASHG is asking students to choose any current application of genetics (such as ancestry testing, genetic testing for disease risk, production of biofuels, etc.) and explain how it works in a 3-5 minute video. This application should be realistic and in current use, not science fiction, and does not need to be limited to human genetics.

This contest is open to students ages 14-18 worldwide and we encourage them to work with their friends to create something together. Teacher involvement is not mandatory and students will be responsible for submitting entries themselves. We only ask that you share this opportunity with your colleagues and students, especially those interested in the arts or technology.

All entries must be submitted by November 13, 2016, at 11:59 pm U.S. Eastern Time.

If you or your students have any questions, please contact


The 62nd Baltimore Science Fair (BSF) will be held on March 25th and 26th, 2017 at Towson University. Please visit for important details including the Rules booklet and International Science & Engineering Fair (ISEF) forms.

The on-line application process begins January 1st, 2017 and will be open until March 10th. The on-line application form is only intended for students chosen to represent your school. The maximum number of high school exhibits is 10 per school. For middle schools, the limit is 6 exhibits per school.

If you have any questions, please email

Explore the October, 2016 NGSS Now Newsletter

Check out this resource and complete the Learning Check to earn a prize! Hint: a link to the NGSS Now Newsletter is available in the NGSS News section of this newsletter :-)


Nature for Teachers Workshop

Wednesday, Nov. 2nd, 4:30-6pm

300 Oella Avenue

Catonsville, MD

The next Nature for Teachers workshop is titled Coyotes and Bears of Maryland: Fact and Fiction and will be held on Wednesday, November 2, 2016, from 4:30 to 6 p.m., at the Benjamin Banneker Historical Park and Museum. Learn the basic biology, physiology, and ecology of coyotes and bears plus look at the biology behind the coy-wolf hybrid recently making news in the northeastern United States. The human impact on the range of both large mammals, their diet, as well as the effect on other local wildlife and livestock will be discussed.

All teachers are invited to join this informally guided outdoor experience with experts in the field to learn more about the natural world. The Nature for Teachers workshop experiences vary from year to year, but always provide the opportunity to visit interesting environmentally-related areas of Baltimore County and Baltimore City.

Interested teachers must register for the workshop by Monday, October 31, 2016, by logging into BCPS One at, selecting the Professional Learning tile, and then selecting the Registration System tile. The workshop is titled Nature for Teachers – Coyotes and Bears of Maryland: Fact and Fiction and can be found in the Workshops-Registration catalog. Attendance is optional, therefore, a stipend will not be provided.

Questions regarding this information should be directed to the following individual(s): Tom Melito, Outdoor Science Resource Teacher 443-809-9611

Make.IT.Work Conference

Saturday, Nov. 5th, 9:30am-3pm

1100 Mace Avenue

Essex, MD

Join Digital Harbor Foundation, Maryland State Department of Education, and Baltimore County Public Schools on November 5th, 2016 at Eastern Technical High School for the Make. IT. Work. Conference. This innovative conference is dedicated to Making, Instructional Technology, and Workforce Readiness in the Education realm.

Attendees are eligible for 1 CPD credit from MSDE.

Maryland Loaner Lab Training

Tuesday, Nov. 8th, 10am-1pm

701 East Pratt Street

Baltimore, MD

The Maryland Loaner Lab Training qualifies teachers to borrow from the Maryland Loaner Lab. For more information and to register, go to

The registration deadline for this training is November 1st.

New Teacher Induction Workshop

Wednesday, Nov. 9th, 4-6pm

1212 Cowpens Avenue

Towson, MD

1st and 2nd year middle and high school science teachers are invited to attend this planning and networking session. Attendees will be paid a stipend of $30.26 per hour. Interested participants must register for the workshop by logging into BCPS One at , selecting the Professional Learning tile, and then selecting the Registration System tile. Look for Offering 20458. Contact Julie at if you have any questions.

Middle School STEM Fair

Saturday, Nov. 12th, 8am

10401 Greenside Drive

Cockeysville, MD

We are looking forward to our upcoming Middle School STEM Fair! The format will be similar to previous years with the addition of some fun activities for families to enjoy. For those who may be new to STEM fair, teams of five students participate in fun Science/STEM challenges and earn lots of medal bling! More information about the specific events and logistics of the day will be forthcoming. In the meantime, you can start thinking about our theme - water!

If you are participating, please use the link below to register your team:


Please contact Amy Hughes at if you have any questions about the event or have difficulty registering your team.

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Northrup Grumman Foundation Teachers Academy - Applications due Nov. 11th

Friday, Nov. 11th, 11:45pm

Blended professional learning including paid expenses to the 2017 National Conference on Science Education in Los Angeles, CA

The main goal of the Northrop Grumman Foundation Teachers Academy is to elevate STEM education in middle school grades (5–8) within school districts located in Northrop Grumman communities. The Academy focuses on stimulating student interest in engineering curriculum and careers by offering effective blended professional learning for teachers.

Interested Middle School science teachers should visit for more information and for the application link.

Maryland Ornithological Society Summer Workshop Scholarships - Applications due Nov. 15th

Sunday, June 18th 2017 at 8am to Friday, June 30th 2017 at 5pm

Hog Island, Maine or Washington College, Maryland

The Maryland Ornithological Society (MOS) is accepting applications from Maryland teachers, youth leaders, park rangers and nature center staff for scholarships to attend week-long ecology and ornithology workshops on Audubon’s beautiful Hog Island in Maine or on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. Each award covers the cost of tuition, room and board for an intensive course of field study and instruction covering ornithology, ecology, conservation and natural history.

MOS will award multiple scholarships each summer. Travel expenses are the responsibility of the recipient. For additional information check the MOS website links (below) or contact the Scholarship Chairs. Five Maine workshops and one in Maryland are offered for 2017. These may be subject to change.

June 4 - 9, Joy of Birding, ME

June 18 - 23, Field Ornithology, ME

July 9 - 14, Raptor Rapture, ME

July 16 – 21, Sharing Nature, an Educators’ Week, ME

June 25 – 30 Maryland Birds & Habitats Washington College, MD

For more information about the scholarships and the application process, please visit

Dig Into Mining Virtual Field Trip

Tuesday, Dec. 13th, 11am-2pm

Your classroom or school!

Tune-in live on December 13 as Discovery Education takes middle school students on a behind-the-scenes look into the copper industry. See how companies like Freeport-McMoran provide crucial, natural resources such as copper, and how copper plays a role in our daily lives. Students will also meet industry professionals, including Geologists, Mining Engineers, Metallurgists and Reclamation & Environmental Managers as we discuss different careers and STEM applications found in each phase of copper recovery and answer student questions live!

Dig into Mining will showcase a different phase within the mining process at the top of each hour, from 11AM ET to 2PM ET. This flexible format will allow classrooms to tune-in at a particular hour throughout the day. Prepare for the live event on December 13 by using DE virtual labs and digital interactives, like the Dig a Little Deeper Virtual Lab and From Ore to More Virtual Lab.

Save the Date! National Association of Science Teachers Regional Conference

Thursday, Oct. 5th 2017 at 8am to Saturday, Oct. 7th 2017 at 4pm

1 West Pratt Street

Baltimore, MD


Submit a Presentation Proposal! NSTA Baltimore 2017 Session Submission

We're doing fantastic stuff in BCPS and should share it with our non-BCPS science colleagues! Proposals are due January 17, 2017.

If you are interested in volunteering at this event, please email Julie Damico at

Save the Date! MAEOE Conference

Thursday, Feb. 2nd 2017 at 8am to Sunday, Feb. 5th 2017 at 3pm

903 Dulaney Valley Road

Towson, MD

The Maryland Association for Environmental and Outdoor Educatorion will be holding its 32nd Annual Conference in our own backyard!

For more information and to register, please visit

ICYMI - September's Secondary Science Newsletter

In case you missed it . . . Click above to access September's Secondary Science Newsletter