Promoting Engaging, Authentic, and Meaningful Science Education


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  • 17 Aug 2019 9:31 AM | Julie Casey (Administrator)

    I. David Rosenstein has introduced the launch of a new blog titled Electrifying America. It can be found at  

    This site is his retirement hobby after working 40 years in the electric industry. It is free for anyone to use and he does not accept advertising dollars.  

    During his working years, he found that many well meaning people wanted to effect change in the electric industry such as advocating for lower rates or for reduced emissions. However, those efforts were often ineffective because the advocates did not fully understand the background of electric service and the electric industry. He created Electrifying America in the hopes of providing that background. 

    Each post in Electrifying America is a short description of a different aspect of electric service or the electric industry. Most of the posts include additional explanations through YouTube videos as well as links to more in depth material on the subject matter.

    As a teaching tool, he has included a page titled Electric Industry Tutorials. These tutorials assemble the posts into the following three modules: 

    Module 1 is titled “The History of the Electric Industry.” In that Module he has included the following posts: “The Electric Current War,” “What is an Electric Utility?”  “Determining Just and Reasonable Rates,” “Senator George Norris vs. Henry Ford – Prelude to Federal Hydropower,” “The Rural Electrification Act Brings Electricity to America’s Farms” and “Government Oversight After the 2003 Northeast Power Blackout.”

    Module 2 is titled “The Current Status of the Electric Industry.”  In that Module he has included the following posts: “The Watts, Volts, Amps and Ohms Post” “Who Controls the Electric Transmission Grid?” “Remote Central Station Generation Stations,” “The Nuclear Industry Headed in Two Directions,” “Electricity Sales in a Power Market,” “Protecting the Grid Against Cyber Attack” and “So You Want to Build a Wind Farm Project”.   

    Module 3 is titled “The Future of the Electric Industry.” In that Module he has included the following posts: “Distributed Generation – an Old Idea Reconsidered,” “Is the Utility Death Spiral for Real?” “Is a Carbon Tax the Answer to Climate Change?” “Could Increased Electric Usage be the Answer to Climate Change?” “What is a Smart Grid?” and “What is a Micro grid?”

    At the conclusion of each of these Modules he has included a series of Study Questions.

    While he hopes that this blog is useful for anyone seeking a better understanding of the electric industry, he believes that it should be especially useful for science teachers and their students. 

    He is already planning additional posts, however, he is hoping to receive feedback from readers that will suggest additional topics and help him make this even more useful.

  • 03 Aug 2019 1:10 PM | Julie Casey (Administrator)

  • 28 Jul 2019 1:17 PM | Julie Casey (Administrator)

    THE HUMAN ELEMENT, a new environmental documentary from the producers of RACING EXTINCTION, CHASING ICE, and THE COVE, follows renowned photographer James Balog as he meets everyday Americans on the front lines of climate change. 

    About the curriculum: The full film and accompanying lesson plans are available to educators free of charge and aligned to Next Generation Science Standards. The curriculum engages students and teachers in forward-looking dialogue and thoughtful discussions about climate change and its impacts on students' communities and daily lives. Through compelling scientific and visual evidence, students will learn how the Anthropocene—the current epoch of systemic human change in the environment—is affecting four foundational elements: earth, air, water, and fire.

    Who it's for: The curriculum balances art and science to mirror the film, and can be used in either humanities or science classes. Though it was initially built for middle and high schoolers, students of any age can benefit from seeing the film and participating in many of the assignments and discussions contained in the lesson plans. 

    How to get access to it: Click here to sign up for the curriculum. Once you submit your email, you will receive an automated email with six lesson plans as well as Vimeo links to the full film and shorter clips that you can screen to your students. If you have any questions, please contact THE HUMAN ELEMENT's impact coordinator, Caroline Beaton, at 

  • 28 Jul 2019 1:13 PM | Julie Casey (Administrator)

    “Just like peas and carrots” the saying goes. Basic ecology is all about relationships and simply what goes together. Everywhere you look one plant or animal is relying on another organism, and the more you examine a single plant or animal the more you realize it is connected to another, and then another...The very definition of ecology is the study of relations of living things to each other and to their environment. Some educators and students may think of the savannas of Africa or predators and prey in the Arctic when “ecology” comes to mind, but it can be studied in a scene as small as a raised flowerbed in a schoolyard and most certainly during a field experience to an actual prairie, Ozark woodland or glade.

    Ecologists refer to these relationships as symbiotic. A symbiotic relationship is where two species live together in an intimate association and one or both species benefit from the relationship. Symbiotic does not always mean a benefit for each species. Where they both benefit we call that mutualism. The second type of symbiotic relationship is where one living organism clearly benefits, but the other seems to experience no

    positive or negative effect. We call these types commensal or commensalism. The third is parasitism, where one organism has a benefit and the other is disadvantaged in some way.

    An established plot of selected milkweed species and other prairie forbs and grasses, as discussed in part one in the STOM newsletter, will lend itself to an array of studies and be geared for all ages or grade levels. Upper elementary students to high school students often examine such relationships, which go far beyond one species providing food for another. Relationships dealing with transport of seed, protection from sun or wind, watching for mutual predators, and providing suitable conditions so another may live or raise young are just a few examples.

    See if you can distinguish these three different symbiotic relationships that could be observed from a STOM Milkweed Connection Learning Station in a schoolyard.

    Commensalism, mutualism, or parasitism?

    1) A hackberry butterfly lapping the salty sweat on the forearm of an observing student.

    2) A tachinid fly laying eggs on a variety of caterpillar species.

    3) An American goldfinch dropping the milkweed seed, but

    using the fluff from the seed to line its nest.

    4) A hover fly (bee mimic) in the center of a yellow crownbeard flower. The flower is in a sense bartering nectar for pollen transport.

    Discussions about or observations of symbiotic relationships can truly engage students who are learning about ecology. Studying symbiotic relationships in turn can lead to more life science studies, collection of mathematical data, creative writing, and application of the fine arts.

    Recommended books for observing symbiotic relationships: Butterflies and Moths, Peterson First Guides by Opler. ISBN 0-


    Milkweed, Monarchs and More: A Field Guide to the Invertebrate Community in the Monarch Patch. By Rea, Oberhauser, and Quinn. ISBN 0-9657472-2-0

    Nature Smart: A Family Guide to Nature by Tekiela and Shanberg ISBN 1-885061-08-0

    Spiders and Their Kin, a Golden Guide. By Levi and Levi ISBN 1- 58238-156-9

    STOM member Jeff Cantrell has been teaching landscaping with native plants and how to utilize the naturescaped schoolyard for core curriculum, youth activities, and attracting wanted wildlife for more than 20 years. Educators with questions or

    needing recommendations are welcome to contact Jeff at

  • 14 Jun 2019 11:03 AM | Julie Casey (Administrator)

    Dear Middle School Science Teacher:

    My name is Barbara Nagle. I am a curriculum and assessment developer at the Lawrence Hall of Science at the University of California, Berkeley. I am planning to conduct a research study, which I invite you to take part in.


    We are doing this study to develop assessments to monitor students’ progress towards understanding the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). These assessments are intended for teachers to use at the end of a science unit and will be provided as open educational resources for broad use in a variety of educational settings.


    If you would like to take part in our study, you will be asked to assist with the research activities that will take place in your science classroom, where students will respond to drafts of the assessment items. This will require permission from your principal and/or district. Your participation in our study potentially involves engaging in two activities. The first activity is providing our research team with your written feedback about the assessment items used for testing in your classroom. Your written feedback will help us improve the assessment items for use in classroom practice. After completing the written feedback about the assessment items used for testing in your classroom, you may be invited to take part in a focus group activity. This activity is optional and your participation may depend on your availability. This focus group will meet for up to three 8-hour full-day sessions at the Lawrence Hall of Science in Berkeley, California or at a site convenient to your school district. You and the other group members will discuss the drafts of the assessment items and scoring rubrics, examine student work samples, and work with project staff to revise the items and scoring guides.


    There will be no direct benefit to you from participating in this study other than an opportunity to see some assessment items developed for NGSS. However, it is hoped that the information gained from the study will allow us to generate a set of high-quality assessment tools that will allow teachers and districts to monitor their students’ progress towards mastery of the Next Generation Science Standards. These tools will be available to you and others at the end of the project.

    Who can participate?

    To participate, you must be currently teaching the NGSS in your middle school science classroom at a public or private school. Additionally, your principal or district must agree that we can conduct research in your classroom.

    If you are interested in participating, please contact Sara Kolar at (510) 642-8719 or via email at


    Barbara Nagle

    Science Education for Public Understanding Program (SEPUP) 

    Lawrence Hall of Science

    University of California, Berkeley

    Phone: (510)642-3891

  • 28 Mar 2019 11:46 AM | Julie Casey (Administrator)

    Available in April, Mims House is pleased to announce the newest book by renowned children's book author, Darcy Pattison, Rosie the Ribeter: the Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County.  You may view a free pdf of Rosie the Ribeter by clicking here. If you would like to share this with other teachers or colleagues, please feel free to do so using this link for Rosie the Ribeter.

    Our hope is that your students will enjoy this historical book detailing the Calaveras County Jumping Frog Jubilee. To place your order, please contact Sue Foster at for more information on ordering Rosie the Ribeter.

    Rosie-250x250-72small cover.jpg

    Rosie the Ribeter: The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County

    Who holds the world record triple jump record – for bullfrogs?

    Rosie, the Ribeter.

    She set the record in May 1986 at 21 feet 5 ¾ inches.

    Her record has stood for over 30 years.

    This is her story.

    It all started with Mark Twain and his famous story, “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County.” After it was published, the 39th Agricultural District in Calaveras County, California started the Jumping Frog Jubilee, which has run since 1928.

    Over the years, the frogs have jumped farther.

    Why? Scientists say it’s because of the frog jockeys, the men and women who catch and jump the frogs.

    Read this extraordinary story of a partnership between a man and a frog.

  • 15 Jan 2019 1:41 PM | Clara Bennion (Administrator)

    Don't forget about Interface A and B in February! Find more info here.

  • 08 Jan 2019 7:29 PM | Clara Bennion (Administrator)

    Have you registered for the NSTA National Conference yet? If not, don't delay! Early bird registration ends on February 1st! You can register here.

    We are excited to learn and grow with you in St. Louis!

  • 06 Apr 2017 10:21 PM | Ryan Lacson
    We are excited to be helping the National Association of Biology Teachers prepare for their national professional development conference in St. Louis November 9-12!

    Visit the NABT website for more information.

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