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The Science of Awe
School ed. - anti-idling
Mercer County to introduce new nature center
New Jersey Adopts Next Generation Science Standards
Environmentalist with passion for education leads N.J. State Board of Education
San Juan Teacher Receives Presidential Award for Environmental Education Teacher is Only 1 of 17 Recognized Nationwide
Bronx Science Teacher Who Constructed a Green Roof and Tarrytown Teen Who Used Wasted Apples as a Fuel Source Win Presidential Recognition
DEP ENVIRONMENTAL STEWARDSHIP PROGRAM GROWS TO 1,000 PARTICIPANTS
State BOE Elects President and VP for 2014-15 Academic Year
Christie Administration Announces Re-adoption of Curriculum Standards
Wetlands: Earth’s Kidneys
Education and Compliance Sweeps on Barnegat Bay this Summer
Support for Healthy Meals Standards Continues to Grow
Obama Administration Announces Additional Support to Help Communities Boost Local Food Economies
EPA Connect: Our Clean Power Plan Will Spur Innovation and Strengthen the Economy
Bringing EPA Research—and Confidence—to the Classroom
Christie Administration Announces More Than $17 Million in Clean Communities Grants for Municipalities and Counties
Yearly Survey Shows Better Results for Pollinators, but Losses Remain Significant
Upper Township Middle School commended for its commitment to sustainability......
USGBC/USDoED via HSN article on 2014 GREEN SCHOOL Award Winners!
N. DOVER ELEMENTARY SCHOOL WINS RAIN BARREL CHALLENGE
Statement from Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Updated 2012 Census of Agriculture Data
Schools, Children’s Health and the Environment
EPA Honors Work of Exceptional New Jersey Environmental Leaders
Museums Step Up as Resource for New Science Standards
|The Science of Awe
|School ed. - anti-idling
|Mercer County to introduce new nature center
|New Jersey Adopts Next Generation Science Standards
The State Board of Education voted to adopt the Next Generation Science Standards on July 9, 2014. There will be a two year implementation period. Science curriculum for grades 6-12 will need to be revised by September 2016 and the K-5 science curriculum by September 2017. Due to the incorporation of science practices in our standards in 2009, New Jersey science educators are better positioned than most. We are better positioned, but we have significant work to do in order to make the shifts necessary for our students to meet the demands of the NGSS. In an effort the provide as much assistance as possible, the Office of STEM has a significant catalog of resources that have been selected to help districts, schools and teachers make the transition.
The Science Curriculum and Instruction Webpage (http://www.state.nj.us/education/aps/cccs/science/) were updated on July 10. The page will includes implementation resources, model high school science curriculum, assessment resources, Frameworks and NGSS professional development resources, links to national and state level professional science education organizations, resources for meaningful integration of CCSS and NGSS, curriculum development resources, special education and ELL resources, curriculum materials rubric, and the list goes on.
The priority for the 2014-2015 academic year should be for all science educators to become experts on the Frameworks for K-12 Science Education (NRC, 2012). Period. Curriculum, instruction, assessment systems, everything in our world of teaching and learning science goes back to the Frameworks. The importance of taking the time to become an expert on the Frameworks cannot be overstated. Educators need a deep conceptual understanding of the research and thinking that underlie the NGSS. Without this, teachers will not be able to effectively meet the needs of their students.
The Office of STEM will offer technical assistance to district level administrators in the fall of 2014. In the spring of 2015, the technical assistance will focus on school level administrators. Summer and all of 2015 will be devoted to teachers. By this time, teachers will have become experts on the Frameworks and will be ready to focus on true curriculum revision and classroom-based assessment. Our intention is to videotape each of the offering and make the archive available to those that cannot attend.
While we have a two year transition period, we do not have time to waste. It took the National Academies a year and a half to write the Frameworks and the Lead States almost two years to write the NGSS. It takes time to make sense of their contents. Readers will see a lot of language that looks familiar in the books. Be careful not the skim read those sections. You will find that much of the jargon that we use has new or updated aspects that will be missed if not read and meaningfully discussed with colleagues.
Finally, science teachers are in a unique position. We currently do not have high stakes testing in science. Yes, we assess in grades 4, 8, and at the end of Biology but those scores are not part of the NCLB accountability system. We have the luxury of being able to focus our efforts on what we value - great teaching and learning. We have the luxury of being able to try innovative approaches without consequences for kids or teachers. When teachers and administrators set their SGOs for 2014-2015, they should incorporate a discussion about trying out ideas that they are learning from the Frameworks.
Michael Heinz, Science Coordinator
Office of STEM
NJ Department of Education
|Environmentalist with passion for education leads N.J. State Board of Education
|San Juan Teacher Receives Presidential Award for Environmental Education Teacher is Only 1 of 17 Recognized Nationwide
(New York, N.Y. - August 12, 2014) Darelis Flores, an elementary school teacher at The School of San Juan in San Juan, Puerto Rico, was honored today at a White House ceremony for winning the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Presidential Innovation Award for Environmental Educators which recognizes outstanding academic approaches to environmental education.
Ms. Flores has over a dozen years of teaching experience and currently heads the Eco School program, which educates students from pre-kindergarten through eighth grade. The School of San Juan practices constructivist philosophy, integrating Science, Social Studies, Mathematics, Spanish, and English. Ms. Flores' passion resulted in a number of innovative programs at her school including frequent recycling workshops, a "Litter Less" campaign, a cell phone recycling event, a school musical about environmentalism, and a beach cleanup.
"Exceptional educators like Ms. Flores are educating the next generation on key environmental issues in Puerto Rico," said Judith A. Enck, EPA Regional Administrator. "The young people who have been lucky enough to call Ms. Flores their teacher will be better caretakers of the environment - which benefits us all."
The Presidential Innovation Award for Environmental Educators is awarded to kindergarten through grade 12 teachers who use innovative approaches to environmental education and use the environment as a context for learning for their students. Up to two teachers from each of EPA's 10 regions, from different states, are selected each year.
For more information about these award programs, please visit: http://www2.epa.gov/education/presidential-innovation-award-environmental-educators
Follow EPA Region 2 on Twitter at http://twitter.com/eparegion2 and visit our Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/eparegion2
|Bronx Science Teacher Who Constructed a Green Roof and Tarrytown Teen Who Used Wasted Apples as a Fuel Source Win Presidential Recognition
(New York, N.Y. - August 14, 2014) Nathaniel Wight, a science teacher at Bronx Design & Construction Academy in the South Bronx, New York, and Luke Colley, a high school senior from Tarrytown, New York both won top presidential honors for their dedication to environmental protection. Nathaniel and Luke were honored at a White House ceremony as winners of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Presidential Innovation Award for Environmental Education and the President's Environmental Youth Awards, respectively.
"Exceptional educators like Mr. Wright are educating the next generation on key environmental issues," said Judith A. Enck, EPA Regional Administrator. "Thanks to his efforts, our young people will be better caretakers of the environment - which benefits us all."
"Mr. Colley's innovative problem solving is an inspiration to all of us," said Ms. Enck. "Protecting our environment and creating sustainable solutions is a job worth doing for every generation."
Mr. Wight was honored with a Presidential Innovation Award for Environmental Educators for his work to build a green roof vegetable garden-the first of its kind in a New York City public school- with the help of a grant from the City Gardens Club of New York and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Students who study construction at the academy built all the devices and structures used on the green roof, including its solar panel canopy. Students in the science club set up sensors to collect data such as air temperature, relative humidity and solar insolation. They then analyzed the data to learn about the roof's environmental effects as well as its impact on the garden's vegetation. Located in a community that does not have easy access to healthy food options, the students' green roof project has also transformed their understanding of food and their community's access to it.
Luke Colley, a senior at Sleepy Hollow High School, was awarded the President's Environmental Youth Award for his project, Using Apples as a Locally Sustainable Fuel Source in New York State, which examined the economic and scientific feasibility of apple-based ethanol production. One of the inspirations for his project was Brazil's sugarcane ethanol fuel, which was designated by the US EPA as an advanced biofuel in 2010. By surveying New York apple orchards, Mr. Colley determined that apples, one of the most abundant crops in the state, are an economically viable raw material for developing ethanol. He collected waste apples from a local apple orchard, and then fermented and distilled them into ethanol, subsequently finding that apples can be a scientifically feasible source of ethanol as an alternative to traditional petroleum. Mr. Colley not only found that production costs for apple-based ethanol could be lower than the current cost of petroleum, but that such a solution would be more environmentally sustainable relying on local apple crops.
The Presidential Innovation Award for Environmental Educators is awarded to teachers who use innovative approaches in environmental education and use the environment as a context for learning. Up to two teachers from each of EPA's 10 regions, from different states, are selected each year. This year's honorable mentions included Maggie Favretti of Scarsdale High School in Scarsdale, New York, and Ellyce Cavanaugh of Springhurst Elementary School in Dobbs Ferry, New York.
The PEYA program promotes awareness of our nation's natural resources and encourages positive community involvement. Since 1971, the President of the United States has joined with EPA to recognize young people across the U.S. for protecting our nation's air, water, land, and ecology. It is one of the most important ways EPA and the Administration demonstrate commitment to environmental stewardship efforts created and conducted by students.
For more information about these award programs, please visit: http://www2.epa.gov/education/presidential-innovation-award-environmental-educators
Follow EPA Region 2 on Twitter at http://twitter.com/eparegion2 and visit our Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/eparegion2
|DEP ENVIRONMENTAL STEWARDSHIP PROGRAM GROWS TO 1,000 PARTICIPANTS
|State BOE Elects President and VP for 2014-15 Academic Year
|Christie Administration Announces Re-adoption of Curriculum Standards
|Wetlands: Earth’s Kidneys
|Education and Compliance Sweeps on Barnegat Bay this Summer
The NJ Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), with assistance from local law enforcement and Division of Fish and Wildlife Conservation Officers, is resuming intensive education and compliance sweeps this summer to promote greener and safer boating practices on Barnegat Bay this summer. They will patrol the bay throughout the summer and distribute green boating literature during informal stops on Barnegat Bay. Boaters also will get maps showing the 16 most ecologically sensitive areas of the 660-square-mile watershed.
For more detailed information see the DEP news release at http://www.nj.gov/dep/newsrel/2014/14_0064.htm .
|Support for Healthy Meals Standards Continues to Grow
|Obama Administration Announces Additional Support to Help Communities Boost Local Food Economies
|EPA Connect: Our Clean Power Plan Will Spur Innovation and Strengthen the Economy
|Bringing EPA Research—and Confidence—to the Classroom
|Christie Administration Announces More Than $17 Million in Clean Communities Grants for Municipalities and Counties
|Yearly Survey Shows Better Results for Pollinators, but Losses Remain Significant
|Upper Township Middle School commended for its commitment to sustainability......
|USGBC/USDoED via HSN article on 2014 GREEN SCHOOL Award Winners!
|N. DOVER ELEMENTARY SCHOOL WINS RAIN BARREL CHALLENGE
NORTH DOVER ELEMENTARY SCHOOL TAKES THE RAIN BARREL CHALLENGE BY STORM
The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is pleased to announce that the North Dover Elementary School in Toms River is the winner of this year's Barnegat Bay Blitz Rain Barrel Challenge.
The fifth grade class that designed the winning rain barrel, along with faculty, parents and North Dover Elementary School Principal Colleen McGrath, attended the April 25 Barnegat Bay Blitz event at Cattus Island County Park in Toms River to display their barrel and help kick off the Blitz. They received accolades and a certificate of recognition from DEP Commissioner Bob Martin, and earned enthusiastic applause from dozens of cleanup volunteers, Barnegat Bay Blitz sponsors and partners, media, government officials, employees and other rain barrel contestants.
Thirty-five schools and organizations located in the Barnegat Bay watershed designed rain barrels to compete in the Rain Barrel Challenge. The rain barrel entered by North Dover Elementary School garnered the most online votes and won the top prize, which is a school-wide Barnegat Bay Water Festival, to be coordinated by the DEP and several partners and held at the school later this spring. In addition, all of the schools and groups that participated in the Barnegat Bay Rain Barrel Challenge will be honored at the New Jersey Clean Communities Kids Day event that will be held in late May.
Fifth grade teacher Rosa Fisher and art teacher Shelby Hand worked together with Ms. Fisher's nineteen fifth-graders to design the North Dover Elementary School's rain barrel. The group began by discussing and researching the theme for this year's challenge - Barnegat Bay's harvestable food sources and recreational resources. According to Ms. Fisher, "The students used reference books, texts and online sources to make their drawings as realistic as possible. They chose to focus on shoreline and woodland wildlife that live in Toms River and at Island Beach State Park, which is located near Toms River."
Hands-on lessons and written essays about the water cycle, marine ecology, water conservation and the online voting process helped to enhance the students' curriculum this spring in science, language arts, mathematics and social studies. After their ecological designs were painted on the barrel, the class added raindrops with individual student's initials in each drop to signify how humans are part of the water cycle.
The students also created a bulletin board in the hallway that provided directions for voting in the Rain Barrel Challenge. According to Ms. Fisher and Ms. Hand, the overall rain barrel experience compelled the class to work together, use their artistic talents and research abilities, practice patience and determination, and solicit support from other faculty, students, families and friends.
Many of the rain barrels that competed in this year's Barnegat Bay Blitz Rain Barrel Challenge will be showcased at public venues throughout the Barnegat Bay watershed this summer, to be seen by residents, summer tourists and daily visitors. When North Dover Elementary School's winning barrel is finally retired from touring it will be put to work at one of North Dover's gardens.
Rain barrels are generally 55-gallon barrels that are placed under the downspouts of gutters to collect rainwater that can carry pollution. In addition to reducing the amount of runoff that is carried into waterways, the collected water can effectively be reused to irrigate gardens and clean garden tools. The use of rain barrels is just one method of reducing pollutants that can be carried into Barnegat Bay from waterways throughout the Barnegat Bay watershed.
To view this year's rain barrels and learn more about the Barnegat Bay Blitz Rain Barrel Challenge, please visit: www.nj.gov/dep/barnegatbay/rbc.htm.
Public education is a key component of Governor Chris Christie's Comprehensive Barnegat Bay Plan for restoring the ecological health of Barnegat Bay from decades of decline. The Barnegat Bay Blitz, a popular watershed-wide trash and debris cleanup effort that raises awareness of the ecological stresses of the bay, is one of the hallmarks of the plan. To learn more about the Barnegat Bay Blitz go to: www.nj.gov/dep/barnegatbay/bbblitz.htm.
|Statement from Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Updated 2012 Census of Agriculture Data
|Schools, Children’s Health and the Environment
|EPA Honors Work of Exceptional New Jersey Environmental Leaders
Contact: Mary Mears (212) 637-3673, email@example.com
(New York, N.Y. – April 23, 2014) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today honored four individuals and organizations from across New Jersey with Environmental Quality Awards for their achievements in protecting public health and the environment. EPA Regional Administrator Judith A. Enck presented the awards at a ceremony at EPA’s offices in Manhattan. Michelle DePass, former Assistant Administrator of the EPA Office of International and Tribal Affairs and currently Dean of the Milano School of International Affairs, Management and Urban Policy at the New School for Public Engagement in New York City, delivered the keynote address.
“Today we celebrate the exemplary work of people who work tirelessly to protect the environment and give their time and energy to create a cleaner and healthier future for us all,” said EPA Regional Administrator Judith A. Enck. “Their extraordinary contributions serve as an inspiration to all who strive for a more sustainable environmental future.”
The EPA presents Environmental Quality Awards annually during Earth Week to individuals, businesses, government agencies, environmental and community-based organizations and members of the media in EPA Region 2, which covers New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and eight federally-recognized Indian Nations. The awards recognize significant contributions to improving the environment and public health in the previous calendar year. For information about the Environmental Quality Awards in EPA Region 2, visit http://www.epa.gov/region02/eqa/.
The Environmental Quality Award winners from New Jersey (in alphabetical order) are:
New Jersey Tree Foundation
Jessica Franzini is Program Director for the New Jersey Tree Foundation's Urban Airshed Reforestation Program. She directs the foundation’s tree planting program and facilitates the Camden Tree Keepers Workshop series. Since 2002, the program has planted over 4,000 trees and removed 65,000 sq. ft. of impervious cover, helping to ease the strain on stormwater management. She is also a member of the Camden Stormwater Management and Resource Training Team, a group that has installed 20 rain gardens in Camden, capturing approximately two million gallons of rainwater annually.
Hackensack Riverkeeper runs Eco-Programs all year that have proven highly successful in attracting thousands of people to the Hackensack River. During 2013, the Hackensack Riverkeeper’s Eco-Programs provided nearly 7,000 people with a mixture of environmental education and recreational opportunities on the river and empowered them to become active participants in preservation through widely attended volunteer river cleanup events. The Eco-Cruise program, which invites visitors to tour the Passaic and Hackensack Rivers and Newark Bay, alone attracted 3,470 people this past year.
Ironbound Community Corporation
Since 1969, the Ironbound Community Corporation (ICC) has worked to create a healthy and sustainable environment in one of Newark’s culturally rich neighborhoods. The ICC offers environmental justice tours, monitors air quality in New Jersey’s largest city and organizes an active community to speak out for environmental protection. An integral member of the Passaic River Superfund site Community Advisory Group, the ICC is committed to improving public health and monitoring environmental quality in the Ironbound community.
Captain Alek Modjeski
American Littoral Society
When Hurricane Sandy hit Bradley Beach in New Jersey, the storm surge deposited tons of beach sand on a gravel lot and nearby Fletcher Lake. It was clear to coastal ecologist Captain Al Modjeski that restoring the lot to its natural state and planting native trees and vegetation would act as a buffer between the next storm surge and the lake. Al helped round up multiple agencies, NGOs and volunteers to return the gravel lot to its natural state and last September more than 100 people chipped in time and energy to install the Bradley Beach Maritime Forest.
Follow EPA Region 2 on Twitter at http://twitter.com/eparegion2 and Facebook at http://facebook.com/eparegion2.
|Museums Step Up as Resource for New Science Standards
As a small but growing number of states adopt the Next Generation Science Standards, science museums and centers are positioning themselves as a key resource for helping teachers adapt to the vision for instruction reflected in the new guidelines.
Some educators say that professional-development sessions held at museums-unlike those at conference centers, universities, or districts-give teachers immediate access to the kinds of hands-on activities that the common science standards call for. In addition, such institutions often bring a wealth of expertise on both content and pedagogy, employing a mix of scientists and professional educators.
A new study bolsters the claim that teachers should look to science centers for effective training, finding that a museum-based professional-development program at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago led to gains in both teacher content knowledge and student achievement.
However, some educators caution that museums need to be purposeful in creating professional-development curricula and exhibits that align with the common science standards-adopted by 11 states and the District of Columbia so far-rather than assuming what they're already doing fits the bill.
Anthony "Bud" Rock, the CEO of the Association of Science-Technology Centers, a nonprofit group representing about 600 science centers internationally, said the U.S. institutions are putting "a special emphasis now on how to provide techniques for the Next Generation Science Standards and the common core, and more broadly on interdisciplinary approaches to science education. We're very attuned to the evolving landscape for teachers right now when it comes to science education in the classroom."
Just last week, the Connecticut Science Center in Hartford was scheduled to gather more than a dozen leaders from science centers across the country for a workshop on how to better align their work with schools' needs, with particular attention to the new science standards.
Hank Gruner, a vice president at the Connecticut Science Center, said that although museum-based professional development is not a novel idea, schools are newly interested in preparing teachers for inquiry-based learning, prevalent in both the Next Generation Science Standards and the Common Core State Standards, which cover literacy and math.
"I do think you're going to see more centers starting to look at professional development now that there will be more of a need for it," he said. "Our feeling is there are opportunities here."
The Next Generation Science Standards, completed in April 2013, were developed by 26 "lead state partners" in collaboration with national organizations. In some states, science centers and other informal STEM learning institutions were among the most vocal proponents of the science standards, which focus not just on mastering scientific facts, but also engaging young people in scientific practices, such as doing investigations, building models, and analyzing data.
"Science centers excel by definition" in that type of learning, said Mr. Rock of the Association of Science-Technology Centers.
Each of the lead states convened a broad-based team of stakeholders to review drafts of the standards, and many of those included representatives from science centers.
In Illinois, where the common science standards were adopted earlier this year, the Museum of Science and Industry provides free professional-development courses, led by scientists, university professors, and K-12 educators, for about 200 teachers a year in physical, life, earth, and environmental sciences.
The standards dovetail nicely with what the museum has been doing, said Nicole Kowrach, the museum's director of teaching and learning. "Asking questions, designing and carrying out investigations, that's the kind of learning and way of thinking we've encouraged," she said.
The new study of Chicago's science museum found that its course about energy was successful in improving teacher knowledge and student learning. For the study, 85 teachers in grades 4-8 who applied to participate in the program were randomly assigned to either take the course or be part of the control group and receive no training. On a post-test about energy, the mean score was a statistically significant 8 percent higher for teachers who took the six-session course than for those who did not.
Also, the participants' students were assessed, and those whose teachers had the professional development performed better by a statistically significant amount on an assessment of student understanding and on a separate test of their application of that knowledge.
William H. Schmidt, a professor and the co-director of the Education Policy Center at Michigan State University, who led the study, said the random assignment-a feature not present in most research on professional development-allows for causal inference, meaning the professional development explains the difference in test scores.
It's significant that museums "have the real world inside their buildings," Mr. Schmidt said. "And the results came to show that, in this particular case, that worked."
Ms. Kowrach agreed that having hands-on activities and exhibits on-site is a boon for teacher training. "If you're doing professional development in a school or university," she said, "you can't walk outside the classroom and have a giant inclined plane and start experimenting with potential and kinetic energy."
Teachers who receive professional development at the museum walk away with a bin full of tools and activities for their classrooms.
Ronald Hale, a 5th grade teacher at Chicago's Hayt Elementary School who has both taken and led professional development at the Chicago museum, said the take-home resources are key to teacher buy-in and classroom implementation. When instructing other teachers, "the number-one question you get is, 'Can we have this?' They want it in their bin," Mr. Hale said. "It's like when Oprah gives out keys to cars. They get so excited."
'A Safe Place for Teachers'
Another reason science museums can be an attractive professional-development option is that they exist outside the K-12 bureaucracy.
"We're a safe place for teachers," said Ms. Kowrach. "Schools have the pressures of testing and teacher assessment, and we're not part of a school district, the state, or a university where [teachers are] trying to complete a degree."
"We are neutral, we don't have any baggage associated with us," said Mr. Gruner of the Connecticut Science Center, which offers everything from one-day workshops to three-year professional-development programs for schools.
That outsider status also makes science museums potentially more nimble than many formal learning environments. The Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago is "years ahead of the district," said Mr. Hale, in staying up to date with teaching practices. For instance, although Illinois only formally adopted the Next Generation Science Standards in February, the museum has been incorporating the ideas behind the standards into professional development for several years, he said.
Some other science centers ramping up their teacher offerings pegged to the new science standards are in states that have not adopted them, such as Connecticut, where the regional conference for science centers took place.
The American Museum of Natural History, in New York City, is developing tools to help teachers create lessons and assessments on the standards, said James B. Short, the director of the museum's Gottesman Center for Science Teaching and Learning.
New York was a partner state in developing the standards, but has not yet adopted them. "Even if New York doesn't adopt, we're finding these tools help teachers think better and think more deeply about instruction," Mr. Short said.
The Exploratorium in San Francisco, which has been offering teacher programs for 30 years, is making a concerted effort to ensure that all of its professional development and related activities are aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards. (California adopted the standards last September.)
"Even though our bread and butter has always been hands-on activities and inquiry-based [learning], I hesitate to just do what I see happening a lot--to put the Next Generation Science Standards sticker on what we're already doing," said Julie Yu, the director of the museum's teacher institute. "We're trying to be thoughtful on what this means and what teachers need."
Ms. Yu said the Exploratorium is sifting through its more than 1,000 STEM activities to create a portfolio of only those that are a good fit. She urged other science centers to do the same. "We felt the [new science standards embody] what we do, but we all need to take a step back and make sure that we're honestly doing it," she said.
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