Maine Science

Newsletter of the Maine Science Teachers Association
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May 2005

Dear MSTA Members,

President’s Letter

As many of you “wind down” for the end of school and graduation festivities, the MSTA will be “winding up” plans for the upcoming school year. As Maine’s statewide professional association of science educators, the MSTA board and committee members volunteer countless hours to support our membership. Reflecting back on this past year, the MSTA has accomplished several successes in recognizing, supporting, energizing, and networking teachers throughout Maine including: our first ever Iron Science Teacher competition; the Fall Science Conference at Gardiner High School, NCLB- Nothing Connects Learning Better; the Phil Marcoux Award; The Lou Lambert Award; MSTA Minigrants; Dine and Discuss nights at the Auburn Land Lab and the Challenger Learning Center; statewide survey of membership needs; three newsletters; the Boston Museum of Science October field trip for members and their families; science safety information; and MSTA representation at the CAGS functions during the NSTA National Convention. It has been a busy year! It is my responsibility as MSTA President to ensure that MSTA is fiscally sound and able to carry out its function. Our organization was dealt a financial blow due to the low attendance at our October statewide conference. The statewide conference is our major revenue generator for covering our Board operating expenses and members’ services. The survey sent to members this winter helped us understand why the attendance was so low. The major factor was the date: the traditional October inservice day, which is increasingly becoming a mandatory day when teachers are not released to attend other activities. As a result, combined with the feedback we received regarding the availability of professional development days and suggested dates and to avoid a conflict with the NSTA Regional in Hartford this fall, the Board decided to change the date of the 2005-06 conference to January and offer a two-day option.

This transition to a two-day option was informed by our survey. I also polled other state associations throughout the U.S. and over 80% of the responses I got back indicated other states have a 2 or 3 day conference. This format will provide longer sessions and more in-depth opportunities for professional development which was also a membership request indicated by the survey (results of the survey are posted on the MSTA web site at

This year’s conference will be held on the Friday and half-day Saturday, before the Martin Luther King holiday at the University of Maine- Farmington. January is the month that seems to avoid the most conflicts and is actually one of the winter months with the least snowfall, one of our concerns for moving the date to winter/early spring. Many thanks to our new Board member, Dr. Andrea Freed, professor of science education at UMF, who is helping us with the site arrangements and organization of the conference. You will hear more about the conference and several exciting opportunities planned over the two days in our Fall newsletter. As a result of the lost revenue, the Board had to make difficult decision to postpone minigrants and awards to make sure our budget will carry us through until the next conference. We will let members know when the minigrants and nominations for awards become Inside this issue: MSTA & Maine News .......................Pp 2-8 NSTA and Other National News.......Pp 9- 13 Professional Development...............Pp14-16 Teacher & Student Resources……..Pp17-18

available again. We are also cutting costs for our monthly board meetings and trying out an electronic newsletter to cut back on printing and postage costs. On the positive side, I am happy to announce a new opportunity for MSTA to be involved with our national organization, NSTA. I submitted a proposal to NSTA, through the MMSA, and listed MSTA as one of our partners, to be one of the seven states selected for NSTA’s National Science Foundation funded scale up of the eMSS Project- Electronic Mentoring for Student Success. This innovative online mentoring project matches middle and high school science teachers (practicing and retired) with new teachers in their first or second year of teaching and also provides online access to research scientists. I highly encourage MSTA members to apply to be science mentors. There is a 3 week online mentoring training given over the summer, and mentors receive a $1400 stipend. If you are a new teacher or if you know of new teachers being hired over the summer- please pass on the word about this exciting opportunity. New teachers receive a $500 stipend for their participation. Many new teachers in Maine are assigned a trained mentor, but these mentors are often in other content areas and do not know the specific content and pedagogy of science. One high school I know of assigned a business teacher to a physics teacher as a mentor- fine for

general skills but not a lot of help for becoming a knowledgeable teacher of science! This is a great opportunity for mentors to receive mentor training specific to science as well as an opportunity for new teachers to build a relationship with an experienced science teacher, and all benefit from being part of a “community of science teachers.” One of the greatest gifts you can give to our profession is supporting our new teachers. You can get more information about eMSS and fill out an online application by going to the web site at and clicking on the Maine button. As many of you may know, I recently published my first book, as part of an MMSA NSF-funded project, and am excited to be working with educators around the country who are using this new tool. I never fail to mention that this work was developed through the input and experiences of Maine’s extraordinary science teachers- I am so proud to be associated with you, to learn through your eyes and ears, and to combine our collective wisdom for the benefit of teachers and students everywhere. I hope everyone has a wonderful summer and comes back refreshed to start a new year. Until then,

Page Keeley, President

Electronic Mentoring for Student Success (eMSS)
The MMSA is pleased to announce that Maine is one of six states chosen to partner with the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA), The New Teacher Center at the University of California Santa Cruz, and Montana State University as part of an innovative national NSF-funded online mentoring project called eMSS- Electronic Mentoring for Student Success. This program matches new teachers in Maine (first or second year of teaching middle or high school science) with an experienced Maine science teacher mentor. Together, the mentoring takes place online and is focused on content and pedagogy. Scientists from the University of California and Montana State University also participate to provide content support when needed or share their research activities. Discussion areas are provided for

earth, space, life, and physical science and several modules are designed to explore different aspects of science teaching between mentors and mentees. The eMSS project has built a very impressive community of online science mentors and mentees, working together to improve teaching and learning. Maine will be accepting 20-25 mentees into the program for this fall. All mentees are paid a $500 stipend for participating online throughout the school year. There are also 2 optional opportunities to meet your mentor at a statewide event. The specific details regarding the program are on the web site at . If accepted into the Maine eMSS program, you will be matched with someone who is not from

your own school who teaches the same subject area as you and is interested in being your mentor. If you love science and are seeking support, want to learn how to be a successful science teacher, enjoy sharing great classroom ideas, want to meet other teachers around the state, and are comfortable interacting online (through threaded discussions, not chats), then consider applying to be part of the eMSS project. The Maine application for mentees is up

and ready at . Please share this information with any other new teachers you know. Mentees can apply on a rolling basis as they get hired and as long as we have enough mentors. The earlier you apply, the better your chances of us finding a mentor for you. Hope you will take advantage of this great opportunity to be part of an exciting science network of teachers in Maine!

Doing Science – My Experience with the Science Olympiad by Rosemarie Smith – Waterville Senior High School
I remember seeing a T-shirt at an NSTA convention when I first started teaching in the 80’s. It read “Science is a Verb” and, like most teachers, although I can’t remember the author I have remembered and used the motto throughout my career. Real science occurs in my classroom when my students think beyond the facts of the lesson or procedure of the lab and make their own connections. Better yet, science is really happening when they dare to go off on their own, change this factor or that, and make their own discovery. This happens sometimes in my classroom, when I don’t feel the pressure of finishing the curriculum, getting the students ready for an early May AP exam, or reaching all of my students with their myriad of interests and abilities. It happens all the time when my Science Olympiad team gathers and prepares for the next competition. I had been teaching for four years before coming to Waterville in 1987. In the fall of 1989 I showed an episode of “Discover, the World of Science” to my physics class. (As a new teacher I taught a little of everything back then.) One of my students, Jamie Lewis, was fascinated with a 15-minute segment about the Science Olympiad, a national organization just a few years old which sponsored one-day meets where schools competed in around 20 events covering all aspects of science. At least six of these were engineering events, and this television segment featured one of them, the ‘Scrambler” competition. In this competit ion, students had to design and build a vehicle which would transport an uncooked, unprotected egg on the front of it. The vehicle was powered by the fall of a 2-kg mass, and it had to stop before hitting a wall which might be placed anywhere from 8 to 12 meters from the start. Jamie was persistent. I simply had to see if Maine had a state meet and we had to build a scrambler. I was directed to Earl Coombs, a colleague from Winslow, and was invited to a planning meeting of the coaches who were going to compete in a spring meet at MCI, organized by Donna Young. Maine had held meets for the past few years, almost since the beginning of the organization, and I signed Waterville up to compete. We read the rules, built everything required with some care, studied a little, and looked forward to April with little understanding of what it was all about. The exception was Scrambler. Jamie excitedly took on the project, consulted various experts from other Waterville departments, and built a very competitive vehicle. He designed an adjustable braking mechanism with Ed Roy, a vocational teacher. This was the key to success in this event throughout the years, and we never changed the braking mechanism in all the years that Scrambler was part of the event list. At the April meet we took first place in Scrambler, a hint of the success that is possible when one becomes totally involved in a Science Olympiad event. We had a reasonable showing in a few other events and came in tenth out of 18 teams. But that first competition was enough to launch us into a partnership with the Science Olympiad which has enriched the lives of over 200 Waterville High School students over the


past 15 years, and has profoundly changed my teaching career. The emotional tie that I have shared with these students has been phenomenal, and I have formed many friendships that will last a lifetime. My Waterville team improved each year, winning an increasing number of medals and getting our first trophy for second place in 1993. In 1996, at Mt. Ararat in Topsham, we beat a dominate Oxford Hills team to win the state championship and we have never looked back. This year at Windham High School on March 18th , we won our tenth consecutive state championship. It is hard to put into words what all this has meant for the school community and for me personally. We have competed in the national meet each May, traveling to nearly every area of the country. The community has donated over $100,000 in these ten years, and this has been done in a matter of only six weeks each time. We have always been able to attend the National Meet due to the continued generosity of corporations, small businesses, and friends and relatives in this community. Donations are now coming in from former students who were on the team. Many of these students have pursued highly successful science careers. This year, the national meet is at the University of Illinois in Urbana, Illinois. We compete with the best, and we have improved every year. State winners are usually from enormous schools or private science magnet schools. Maine has been the sixth smallest school, determined by the number of students throughout the state who compete in the Science Olympiad, competing out of around 60 schools in the last few years. Still we have improved. Last year for the first time we were in the top half of the finishers, placing 27th out of 54 teams. We beat one of the California teams, both of the North Carolina teams (a science-rich state including the famous Research Triangle area around Duke) and many other much larger schools. We actually beat the national winner in several engineering events. We have won 3 national medals in 10 years, but improving each year is the way that we measure our success.

We now have our own space in the back of a former vocational workshop; the same room in which Ed Roy first helped Jamie design his braking mechanism for Scrambler. The room is filled with lots of textbooks and files of notes taken by countless members over the years. Like we did with the braking mechanism for Scrambler, we build each year from what we learned before. We use the knowledge gained by others before us as we design, cut, assemble, test and tear apart our projects. How long can our reign last? I have always said that we win because we put in the time it takes to be excellent in all the events. This can be hundreds of hours from September to March, preparing for our one state meet. We have followed Jamie’s lead that first year. But now we do it for every event. We will eventually lose to a team that does the same thing a little better than we do. Yet that will not be losing. The afternoon before the state meet this year, a few of the parents (many of them educators at Colby and other area schools) were standing around as the students worked. The catapult was hurling an object as a student checked a graph, the robot was being tested yet another time for speed and accuracy, and the names of fossils, trees, and chemical compounds were being tossed back and forth. One parent said “The energy in this room is incredible. This is what education is all about.” It is certainly what science is all about. When you are a member of the Science Olympiad team, doing science is what you do every time the team meets. For this science teacher, that makes these students winners before the state meet even begins. If you want to learn more about the Science Olympiad, please visit the national site at: If you would like information about the Science Olympiad in Maine, please direct your questions to the state director at this address:


Maine’s Challenger Center Chosen for Exciting Biomedical Research Project In order to support the human component of this "vision," biomedical scientists from many disciplines must answer dozens of "critical path" questions before firm commitments can be made. As part of this initiative, the Challenger Learning Center of Maine has recently been selected to participate in a special space biomedicine program for K-12 students. The program has been designed by the National Space Biomedical Research Institute (NSBRI) in partnership with the Colorado Consortium for Earth and Space Science Education (CCESSE) to promote the understanding that space biomedicine is one of the most critical, challenging, and exciting areas associated with human space exploration. The ten organizations selected for the first round of this grant are: Informal Education Organizations: Space Science Institute (Boulder CO, with national audience) Denver Museum of Nature and Science (Denver CO) Fernbank Science Center (Atlanta, GA) Challenger Learning Centers of: Colorado Alaska San Antonio, Texas Northwest Indiana, c/o Purdue University Calumet Tallahassee, Florida Maine New Jersey (Buhler) With this program, students and teachers will be able to experience space biomedical research for themselves at Maine’s Challenger Learning Center. Classroom teachers will know more about the challenges of human space exploration and the critical role space biomedicine plays in a decision to go back to the Moon and on to Mars. In addition, teachers will gain a broader

understanding of the disciplinary science of human physiology and be able to teach the subject better, using unique space-related examples. Students will gain a better appreciation of the basic principles of human anatomy and physiology and how those principles are applied to the human exploration of space. By making this addition to the Challenger Center curriculum, the simulation experience for students at the Center becomes that much closer to reality With the guidance and supervision of the Challenger Learning Center Flight Director on board the "spacecraft," Challenger Learning Center students will actually experience some of the (angular acceleration) sensations and vestibular illusions astronauts experience in space. Students will be learning about nervous system adaptations and conducting neurovestibular experiments like those conducted in space using a rotating Barany chair. The student Mission Control crew will work with the student Space Station/spacecraft Medical Mission Specialist crew to conduct rotating chair experiments similar to those administered on the STS-40 Spacelab Life Science Laboratory-1 and STS-90 Neurolab missions. The Barany chair will be installed in the space station of the Challenger Center this August and ready for students at the start of the new school year.

“We feel that incorporating a unit on spaceflight-induced changes to the human nervous system (which includes information on vestibular illusions, sleep, circadian rhythms, spatial orientation, and visuo-motor performance) into the Challe nger Learning Center curriculum will greatly enhance the Learning Center's in-service, classroom, and mission activities,” said Robin Kennedy, Lead Flight Director at the CLC of Maine. She continued, “The teacher professional development workshops we’ll be offering will provide teachers with a broad overview of human physiological adaptations to space flight with special emphasis on the nervous system and neurovestibular adaptations. It’s often hard to find good material on the nervous system that really grabs students’ attentions. This material is both exciting to them and real!” In the workshops to be offered this fall and the following spring, teachers will construct a

working model semicircular canal, phase shifting eyeglasses, and receive sufficient handson instruction to ensure their proper utilization in the classroom. A CD will be produced and distributed to each teacher trained to use the curriculum. It will contain a slide presentation for their use, as well as video clips and still photos of astronauts using a Barany chair onorbit and a complete video performed by Brigadier General (retired) Orwyn Sampson, NASA consultant and previously the Head of the Department of Biology at the USAF Academy. The first teacher workshop will be held on Thursday, August 18, 2005. Cost of the workshop will be $20. Interested teachers should contact the Center to reserve their space. Once the remaining workshop dates are set, they will be posted on the calendar on the Challenger Center’s website at For more information, call the Challenger Center at 990-2900.

Opinion-Editorial Science and Technology and the Local Assessment System – Tom Keller
This article contains my opinions and is not the position of the Maine Department of Education. It is based on my experiences contributing to the construction of the Local Assessment System (LAS) and working with science curriculums across the State. The article was written on my own time. Since the passage of Learning Results legislation in 1998, the Department of Education, in collaboration with Maine educators and technical experts, has worked to design and define a Local Assessment System to inform instruction, monitor programs, and certify achievement. This has all been accomplished while aligning curriculums to standards, vertically aligning curriculums, creating instruction aligned with standards, learning about individualized instruction, incorporating reading across the curriculum and the myriad of other initiatives that have already consumed existing time and money. In the last several weeks, announcements from the Governor and Commissioner of Education suggest that significant changes to the LAS are imminent.

The basics of the local assessment system are that assessments must that truly measure the content and skills (also known as ‘valid’), are numerous enough to adequately represent the discipline (also known as ‘sufficiency’), and must report consistent, credible information (also known as reliability). In science, the system currently requires that at least twenty performance indicators over thirteen content standards must be selected and assessed. That is twenty indicators across each four year grade span K-4, 5-8, and 9-12. Local educational agency select the performance indicators (although a state prepared Balance of Representation can be used to provide guidance) and the assessments are selected, adapted, or created locally as well. The system must include a variety of assessments types since the indicators include a range of cognitive demands and a range of skills and knowledge. (The current “gold standard” for assessment is “multiple, up to date measures including those that measure higher order thinking skills”.)

The twenty selected indicators at each grade span can be addressed through twenty separate assessments, or through as few as the 8-12 as specified in the local assessment system guide at the whole grade span. The “47 per grade level” or “135 per grade span” planned by some local educational agencies far exceed expectations and would seem to exceed common sense. Frankly, I can’t imagine that any school administers this number of standards -based assessments and wonder if these numbers refer to the total number of tests, quizzes, and other assessments given in

course of day to day classroom assessment. The current LAS requirements dictate that there be at least one assessment per content standard and at least five per cluster at each grade span. This distribution contributes to sufficiency. When one crunches the numbers, however, it emerges that all a student needs to do to meet standards in science and technology is to meet assessment requirements (a ‘3’) on only 4 of the 13 content standards, as shown in the example below.

Life science cluster

Standard B C A 3,3,3 2 2 3,3 2,2 2 3,3,3 2 2 3,3 2 2 2 Cluster score meets as Cluster partially Cluster score meets Cluster score meets as 65% meets as 55% as 65% 60% Student meets by achieving 62.5% for all possible points for the content area A student can meet standards in mathematics by meeting assessment requirements on only 3 of the 11 content standards. This was before the advent of Learning Results Credit and, according to the State House News Service, “watered down standards”. How watered down can we go when we are already down to 4 of 13 for science and technology and 3 of 11 for mathematics? The requirement of one assessment per content standard and at least five per cluster ensures that all students have opportunity to learn in the major domains of life, physical, and earth and space science and the nature and implications of science and technology. This represents a tremendous step away from the traditions of physics only for the college bound and earth and space science for the non-college bound students. It offers equity of opportunity for all students in Maine to learn in all areas of science. There are lots of misconceptions about the required number of assessments. The multiple measures - 8-12 assessments if more than one performance indicators is assessed in the task, or up to 20 if each is individually assessed, embody the core of the system. A truly local system focusing on selected the indicators,

Physical science cluster E H I

Earth and space science cluster D F G

Nature and Implications of science cluster J K L M

implementing specifically aligned curriculum and instruction, administering assessments selected adapted or created by teachers and scheduled in concert with instruction and student readiness should minimize the need for replacement assessments. Most importantly, these assessments provide data, information necessary for improving classroom instruction, monitoring programs, and certifying student achievement. Good trustworthy data can’t be obtained from a very limited number of assessments. The science program should address all four clusters, so the assessments must provide sufficiently rich data to inform and reflect each subdiscipline. Teaching and learning feedback also requires a breadth of assessments to provide sufficient data to inform improvements. And then there is the reliability of a decision regarding certifying student achievement. Our current LAS represents the thinking and expertise of many people over many years of discussion and decision making. I would greatly regret reducing the parameters of the local assessment system before we know how well it works. Fewer assessments can only mean less information, less reliability, less credibility, and less utility.

The MMSA Science Team is interested in developing a database of school contacts for MMSA information. We are interested in identifying one person from every school in Maine who would be willing to distribute information on MMSA science opportunities to colleagues in their school. Rather than mail announcements, conference flyers and registrations, etc. just to administrators from each school, we are looking for an effective way to get information out to individual teachers without having to send an individual mailing to every teacher. A science leader from each school who would be willing to receive a packet of information to distribute to their colleagues is an effective and efficient way to get information out to all teachers of science. If you would be willing to be an MMSA Science contact for your school, please complete the following and send to Brianne Van den Bossche at Thank you so much for your willingness to be a contact person. We hope this network will facilitate getting information out to teachers in a timely and effective way. The MMSA Science Team

MMSA SCIENCE CONTACT PERSON Name: ____________________________________ Name of School: _______________________________ Union, SAD, CSD, or School District: ____________________________ County your school is located in: ________________________________ School Mailing Address with zip code __________________________________ __________________________________ __________________________________ __________________________________ Your Email address: __________________________________ Please complete the following that apply (to your SCHOOL, not district): # of K-2 teachers in your school that teach science: _____________ # of 3-5 teachers in your school that teach science: _____________ # of 6-8 teachers in your school that teach science: _____________ Total # of high school teachers of science: ______________ High School Science breakdown (count the same person more than once if he/she teachers more than one subject area): ______ Earth Science ______ Biology ______ Chemistry ____ Physics ____ Physical Science ____ Astronomy

____ Integrated Science ____ Other: (specify) _________________

National Debut of Curriculum Topic Study (CTS)
Curriculum Topic Study: Bridging the Gap Between Standards and Practice by Page Keeley made its national debut at the NSTA Convention in Dallas, Texas in March. Keeley’s book, co-published by Corwin Press and NSTA, has been described as “the missing link” between science standards, teacher practice and improved student achievement. The book details the CTS process, its versatility, and includes 147 CTS guides listing relevant readings from a core set of professional science education resources. During the convention, Keeley was the featured at two “meet the author” events - one held at the NSTA convention bookstore and the other at the Corwin Press booth. These sessions allowed convention attendees to meet Page, learn about the CTS process, tools, and strategies, and get their own copies of the CTS book signed. NSTA also organized a national symposium to introduce people to the book. Congratulations Page!

Eastern Regional NSTA Convention “Connections for Student Achievement” Hartford, Connecticut October 20-22, 2005

Make plans early to attend the National Science Teachers’ Association Eastern Regional Convention being held this fall in Hartford, CT October 20-22, 2005. Dr. Henry C. Lee, one of the most interesting and knowledgeable international experts in contemporary crime scene investigations will be a keynote speaker at this year’s convention. Featured conference strands are Managing Transitions: Effective Teaching Strategies and Assessment, Coasta l and Wetland Environments, Next-Generation Technology: Will We Be Prepared?, and Science + Technology = Achievement. Check the NSTA website and the MSTA fall newsletter for more details and information about special functions at the convention for Maine teachers!


NSTA District II Report By Dave White It’s hard to believe that the 04-05 school year is almost over. On the other hand, the fall conference in Gardiner seems like a very long time ago. I want to thank MSTA for the opportunity to provide you with this brief NSTA District II update. On April 14th , many of your colleagues from the New England states came together at Middlesex Community College in MA to review and give feedback on a draft of the new Science Framework for the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). With the National Science Education Standards and the AAAS Benchmarks as primary resources, the new NAEP Framework will represent an interface of the two national standards documents for the purpose of nation wide assessment. District II (Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont) were well represented at this important meeting. The new framework will be completed by the fall, 2005 with the next administration of the NAEP Science Assessment scheduled for 2009. The 2005 NSTA/CAGS National Congress on Science Education will be held on August 3rd through August 6th at the Millennium Hotel in Minneapolis, MN. For more information go to Finally, hold the dates of October 20th through October 22nd for the NSTA Regional Convention in Hartford, CT. Code=2005HAR Over the next several months, the affiliate chapters from our three District II states will explore opportunities to bring teachers from northern New England together for collaboration, networking, and fun in Hartford. Have a wonderful and well deserved summer break!

White House Honors America’s Outstanding Science and Mathematics Teachers
The White House recently rolled out the red carpet to honor the recipients of the 2004 Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST). Considered the nation’s highest honor for science and math educators, this year’s awards went to 95 elementary teachers. Awardees received a $10,000 gift from the National Science Foundation and an all expense-paid trip to Washington D.C. for a week-long celebration of events and professional development activities. “This award recognizes the contributions that teachers make to America’s legacy of progress by encouraging young people to study and understand math and science,” wrote President George W. Bush in a letter to all awardees. “With a strong foundation in these critical subjects, today’s students will be able to better compete and succeed in the 21st century workforce.” Maine’s 2004 Outstanding K-6 Science Teacher is Bob Chaplin of the Conners Emerson School in Bar Harbor. Knowing kids thrive in an outdoor environment, Chaplin and his community built an outdoor laboratory. "My kids love the outdoor lab and being able to work outside. Each of my students has a plot of open land behind our building. I assign them each a couple of things to monitor in their plot, such as seasonal changes, length of a shadow cast, and the tilt of the earth," he said. "They must use the scientific method to do touch, sight, smell, sound, and once a month they record the data, put it into a spreadsheet, graph it, make predictions and draw conclusions." Having them able to connect their thoughts together with something in their hands, Chaplin says, makes it a lot easier for them to take a problem and solve it.


The Outstanding K-6 mathematics teacher in Maine for 2004 is Mrs. Elva Lovejoy of the Mary Hurd School in North Berwick. Mrs. Lovejoy likes to incorporate hands-on activities into every lesson. "I like to do activities with the kids where they have a lot of interaction," she said. "When students can explain something to another peer, it not only helps the struggling student but also helps to solidify their understanding. This interaction gives students another way to look at something. Sharing strategies is crucial."

Bob Chaplin – Maine’s Outstanding K-6 Science Teacher for 2004 Bob states, "As long as students know what is expected of them, they will rise to meet any challenge. I keep the bar high for all my students. I want everybody to be working to their fullest potential at all times, and they never disappoint me. Everyone has a different style, and everyone has gifts."

Elva Lovejoy – Maine’s Outstanding K6 Mathematics Teacher for 2004 Elva remarks, "As educators we must instill the love of learning in children from a young age, because it will truly affect how they view school and who they will become in the future."


Asian Tsunami Seen from Space
by Patrick L. Barry When JPL research scientist Michael Garay first heard the news that a tsunami had struck southern Asia, he felt the same shock and sadness over the tremendous loss of human life that most people certainly felt. Later, though, he began to wonder: were these waves big enough to see from space? So he decided to check. At JPL, Garay analyzes data from MISR-the Multi-angle Imaging SpectroRadiometer instrument aboard NASA's Terra satellite. He scoured MISR images from the day of the tsunami, looking for signs of the waves near the coasts of India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, and Thailand. Looking at an image of the southern tip of Sri Lanka taken by one of MISR's angled cameras; he spotted the distinct shape of waves made visible by the glint of reflected sunlight. They look a bit like normal waves, except for their scale: These waves were more than a kilometer wide! Most satellites have cameras that point straight down. From that angle, waves are hard to see. But MISR is unique in having nine cameras, each viewing Earth at a different angle. "We could see the waves because MISR's forwardlooking camera caught the reflected sunlight just right," Garay explains. In another set of images, MISR's cameras caught the white foam of tsunami waves breaking off the coast of India. By looking at various angles as the Terra satellite passed over the area, MISR's cameras snapped seven shots of the breaking waves, each about a minute apart. This gave scientists a unique time-lapse view of the motion of the waves, providing valuable data such as the location, speed, and direction of the breaking waves. Realizing the importance of the find, Garay contacted Vasily Titov at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory in Seattle, Washington. Titov is a tsunami expert who had made a computer simulation of the Asian tsunami.

"Because the Indian Ocean doesn't have a tsunami warning system, hardly any scientific measurements of the tsunami's propagation exist, making it hard for Dr. Titov to check his simulations against reality," Garay explains. "Our images provide some important data points to help make his simulations more accurate. By predicting where a tsunami will hit hardest, those simulations may someday help authorities issue more effective warnings next time a tsunami strikes." Find out more about MISR and see the latest images at Kids can read their own version of the MISR tsunami story at . This article was provided by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, under a contract with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

This December 26, 2004, MISR image of the southern tip of Sri Lanka was taken several hours after the first tsunami wave hit the island. It was taken with MISR's 46° forward-looking camera. A larger version of this image can be downloaded from unami.jpg

Seeing in the Dark with Spitzer by Patrick Barry and Tony Phillips Have you ever gotten up in the middle of the night, walked to the bathroom and, in the darkness, tripped over your dog? A tip from the world of high-tech espionage: next time use night-vision goggles. Night vision goggles detect heat in the form of infrared radiation-a "color" normally invisible to the human eye. Wearing a pair you can see sleeping dogs, or anything that's warm, in complete darkness. This same trick works in the darkness of space. Much of the exciting action in the cosmos is too dark for ordinary telescopes to see. For example, stars are born in the heart of dark interstellar clouds. While the stars themselves are bright, their birth-clouds are dense, practically impenetrable. The workings of star birth are thus hidden. That's why NASA launched the Spitzer Space Telescope into orbit in 2003. Like a giant set of infrared goggles, Spitzer allows scientists to peer into the darkness of space and see, for example, stars and planets being born. Dogs or dog stars: infrared radiation reveals both. There is one problem, though, for astronomers. "Infrared telescopes on the ground can't see very well," explains Michelle Thaller, an astronomer at the California Institute of Technology. "Earth's atmosphere blocks most infrared light from above. It was important to put Spitzer into space where it can get a clear view of the cosmos." The clear view provided by Spitzer recently allowed scientists to make a remarkable discovery: They found planets coalescing out of a disk of gas and dust that was circling-not a star-but a "failed star" not much bigger than a planet! Planets orbiting a giant planet? The celestial body at the center of this planetary system, called OTS 44, is only about 15 times the mass of Jupiter. Technically, it's considered a "brown dwarf," a kind of star that doesn't have enough mass to trigger nuclear fusion and shine. Scientists had seen planetary systems forming around brown dwarfs before, but never around one so small and planet-like. Spitzer promises to continue making extraordinary discoveries like this one. Think of it as being like a Hubble Space Telescope for looking at invisible, infrared light. Like Hubble, Spitzer offers a view of the cosmos that's leaps and bounds beyond anything that came before. Spitzer was designed to operate for at least two and a half years, but probably will last for five years or more. For more about Spitzer and to see the latest images, go to Kids and grown-ups will enjoy browsing common sights in infrared and visible light at the interactive infrared photo album on The Space Place, ion.shtml. This article was provided by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, under a contract with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.


NASA Rocketry Workshop for Pre -service and High School Teachers
The Maine Space Grant Consortium is pleased to announce an opportunity for Pre-service teachers and high school teachers in Maine, to participate in a High Power Rocketry Workshop conducted at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida! Date: August 8-14, 2005 Where: NASA Kennedy Space Center, Florida Eligibility: Pre-service teachers who expect to teach at the 7th grade level and above and high school teachers from Maine Participants Costs included if selected for award (at no cost to participants): Airfare, hotel, transportation between the hotel and Kennedy Space Center, and workshop materials Application deadline: June 1, 2005 - send to Jana Hall at the Maine Space Grant Consortium For more information on the workshop and to download an application form, please go to our website at or contact Jana Hall (below) for more information Jana Hall, Controller and Coordinator of Education Activities Maine Space Grant Consortium 87 Winthrop St., Suite 200 Augusta, ME 04330 207-622-4688 - voice 207-622-4548 - fax

Safety in the Maine Science Classroom
The laws and regulations that control what can and cannot be done in Maine science classrooms are not in one easy place. The Maine Science Teachers Association (MSTA) along with Tom Keller at he Department of Education is working to find and organize the information in a useful format for the science teachers in Maine. Currently, Tom is making contact with the various departments at the state level to acquire the current regulations. This summer the information will be translated and organized into a user friendly format. The information will be available on the MSTA website as a teacher reference and possibly in print form. Your help is needed. We are looking for a small group of people who are willing to put in some time to organize this information during the summer. The workload will depend on how many people are willing to volunteer some time. We would probably work in the Augusta area with the date(s) and times to depend on who is doing the work. The goal is to have it completed by August 1st . If you are interested in helping with this project this summer, please contact Mary Whitten at or at 778-4983 (home). Make sure to provide me with your name and contact information.


Challenger Learning Center of Maine Spring and Summer Programs.
Editor’s Note: This article was submitted at the end of April. Because we were delayed in publishing the Newsletter, some of the activities noted have already taken place. We decided to print the article as submitted so that you will be aware of the many sessions and activities offered by the Center. The Challenger Center is looking for a few teachers who would like to be on the Education Committee. The work involves helping make sure the CLC curriculum fits best into the Maine Learning Results. We would especially like some input from teachers in Southern Maine. We meet once a month and it can be done by conference phone. Call Robin Kennedy at 9902900. May 5th is national Space Day. It is jointly sponsored by NASA and Lockheed Martin Corporation. The Challenger Center Flight Directors are off to Bailyville for a fun day of space activities. The Center will have missions going on and all the students will have the opportunity to send their names into space with the Student Signatures in Space. Program. The space shuttle will carry them up to space on the next mission. More information about Space Day can be found online at or call Robin Kennedy at 207-990-2900. May 12th the center will join the girls at the Expanding Your Horizons Conference in Orono at the University of Maine. They will learn all about how astronaut use and reuse water in space. As NASA prepares for the Return To Flight of space shuttle on May 15th , the Challenger Center offers Missions as well. The following dates are open to families to experience working on a crew to “Rendezvous with a Comet”, May 14th at 1:00 pm, June 30 at 6:00 pm, July 28 at 6:00 pm and August 11 at 6:00 pm. Call the Center for pricing. A special Teacher Mission is being offered by MSTA on July 27th from 2:00 pm –5:00 pm and a dinner to follow. (More information later.) If you are going to the Middle Level Institute, you will have another opportunity to fly a mission. Look for sign up information at registration. Come see our display and have your class participate in activities at the Southern Maine Children’s Water Festival on May 20th . Contact Lynne Richard Environmental Education Coordinator – 774-5961 ext 3324 for more information. The summer is a great time to visit the NASA Educational Resources Center, here at the Challenger Learning Center on 30 Venture Way, Bangor, Maine. Check out our website for more details We have terrific free materials. So bring your blank video tapes and cd’s to make copies. Just call before you come. We have monthly Mission Training sessions for teachers. So “Book your mission early. “


Auburn Land Lab Dine & Discuss
MSTA’s First Dine and Discuss was held on March 15th at the Auburn Land Lab. Jim Chandler and Cameron Parker hosted a small group of interested educators and gave them a tour of the facilities. Over dinner they shared how the Land Lab evolved and how the Auburn School District supports the student and teacher activities at their site. For more information on the Auburn Land Lab please go to their website As a result of the first Dine and Discuss, Anita Smith from China Middle School offered to host the next session.

China School Forest Dine & Discuss
The Dine and Discuss at the China School Forest will be held on June 2, 2005. To sign up, please contact Anita Smith at the China Middle School by May 31, 2005. There will be a $5.00 fee to help pay for dinner. You can call Anita at (207) 445-2065 or email her at

Lake Studies Dine & Discuss
including pH, conductivity, oxygen, and temperature on either East Pond or Great Pond in Belgrade. Other activities will include GPS navigation, plankton tows, secchi disk analysis, and a look at sediment cores. The lake study dine and discuss will take place July 27, 3:00 P.M. to 5:30 P.M., rain or shine (the laboratory boat is covered). Participation is limited to eight persons. The cost, $6.00, covers food. For more information or to register, contact Jim Cook at or call 8725814.

Up to eight MSTA members are invited to spend an afternoon with Dr. Whitney King, professor of chemistry at Colby College, studying lake water chemistry. Participants will have the opportunity to study a water column profile

Dine and Discuss at Challenger Center in Bangor
A special Teacher Mission is being offered by MSTA on July 27th from 2:00 pm –5:00 pm and a dinner to follow. More information the Challenger Center Dine and Discuss can be found online at or call Robin Kennedy at 207-990-2900.

Concept Cartoons In A K-8 Pre-Service Classroom Andrea B. Freed, Ph.D. University of Maine at Farmington Department of Early Childhood and Elementary Education
In the fall semester of 2004, I introduced Concept Cartoons, (Naylor and Keogh, 2000) to my Teaching Science To Children: K-8 students. By provoking discussion among students, Concept Cartoons are designed to stimulate scientific thinking. The cartoon-style drawings show different characters arguing about common, everyday situations. Students are challenged to answer the question, “What do you think?” and there is not necessarily a single “right answer”. Naylor and Keogh (1999) believe that the process of answering the question is helpful for learners of all ages to realize that scientific problems may not have a single correct answer. Even some of the simple situations that are depicted in the Concept Cartoons may have a number of possible complicating factors when they are examined more closely. “This helps to reinforce a view of science as tentative. Beliefs are justified by available evidence but can be modified if additional evidence emerges.” The visual representations of scientific ideas, presented in dialogue form, offer alternative viewpoints about a situation. Although the most scientifically acceptable viewpoint is one of the alternatives, complicating factors may lead students to conclude that it depends upon certain factors. Naylor and Keogh provide a list of reasons that teachers and teacher educators use the Concept Cartoons in a variety of ways and in a wide range of settings. The most common reasons include: • • • • • • making learners’ ideas explicit challenging and developing the learners’ ideas illustrating alternative viewpoints providing a stimulus for discussion helping learners to ask their own questions providing starting points for investigation • • • • • • • • promoting involvement and enhancing motivation applying scientific ideas in everyday situations as a means of differentiation promoting language and literacy learning as extension or consolidation activities as a summary of a topic or revision outside lesson time (homework, science club activity promoting public access to science (parent’s open day)

Concept Cartoons can be a powerful way to uncover possible student misconceptions while stimulating discussion at the beginning of unit, or to assess student understanding during the unit before concluding their study of a topic. I introduced Concept Cartoons to the pre-service teachers in my elementary science methods class by showing them the cartoon about magnets (Naylor and Keogh (2000), Ch 11 Forces and Motion, pg 121). The possible answers provided included: • • • • The big magnet is the strongest because it can store most magnetism The horseshoe magnet is the strongest because it attracts at both ends You can’t tell which is the strongest magnet without testing them The circular magnet is the strongest because it attract in every direction

Students were provided with a variety of magnets, measuring devices and metallic items. They were encouraged to choose what they wanted to use to design an experiment and were asked to consider: Who do you think has the best answer? How would you design an experiment to prove/disprove your hypothesis? What variables will you consider? What will you measure? How will you record your data?

Based on conclusions, which character do you think was right? Students were also asked to consider the independent and dependent variables, control, multiple variables, investigative question, hypothesis, and how many trials they would do. Each group of 4 students designed their own experiment and tried to determine which of the possible answers best fit with their outcomes. The results of our own classroom experience were varied. These results informed me of students’ understanding and provided a starting point for our subsequent study of magnetism. Keogh and Naylor have also written Starting Points for Science (1997), which focuses on primary grade levels. The two books, Starting Points for Science and Concept Cartoons in Science Education, offer opportunities for primary through adult learners as they support scientific thinking and discussion among

students. I will continue to use Concept Cartoons with my pre-service teachers and hope that they will then utilize them as a unique approach to teaching, learning and assessment in science. Keogh, B. & Naylor, S. (2000). Concept Cartoons in Science Education. Cheshire, UK: Millgate House Publishers. Naylor, S. & Keogh, B. (2002) Starting Points For Science. Cheshire, UK: Millgate House Publishers. Website: The site offers examples of Concept Cartoons in science as well as ideas for helping students evaluate existing cartoons and generate their own.

Fall Semester 2005 – Earth System Science – AMS online course The American Meteorological Society (AMS), Education Division, is again offering its online course, "Water in the Earth System". The 12week Fall 2005 semester runs from Sept. 5th to Dec. 3rd. Successful completion of the course and participation in the three general meetings will result in 3 graduate credits at no cost to participants. The Sat. morning meetings are expected to be on 9/3, 10/8, and 12/3 in the Gardiner area. Course credits, text, and materials are supported by grants from theNOAA,U.S.Navy, NSF and SUNY at Brockport (NY). Weekly contact and mentoring is provided by a Local Implementation Team (LIT) member. AMS Education is particularly seeking grades 512 teachers who have not participated in an AMS course. Additional information and application are available at: On the WES course home page, click on the flashing link "Welcome to WES" in the upper right corner. On the WES Overview page, click on "Apply to the Program", then "Download the Application", and print the 2 page form. Please send the completed and supervisor signed application to: Lucky Greenleaf, 1047 E. Waldo Rd., Belfast,ME 04915 Apply early and have course confirmation before the summer break for your certification or professional development needs. For questions or specific information, email: luckyg@midmaine.