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Winter 2023 Newsletter

Message from the President - Challenge Accepted

Greetings My Fellow Science Education Advocates!

“We are in a moment of crisis in the way science education is taught. If we don’t act now, we may not get another opportunity.” These words were spoken by renowned scientist and author Joseph Graves. He was the keynote speaker at NCSLA’s Fall DEI symposium. These words resonated with me and other science educators across North Carolina.

When I heard this message, I was thinking about the global threat to science education. I was unaware of the danger that was lurking in my own backyard. At the time of my writing this, we are facing a grave injustice to science education in North Carolina. The NC legislation has presented HB8. This bill would eliminate Earth/Environmental science as a  graduation requirement. Instead, students will have the option to complete computer science to fulfill the science credit. This proposed change is detrimental on numerous levels.

As science educators, we have been “holding the line” long enough. We must put an end to playing defense and start strategizing our offense. NCSLA  is taking action, and you will hear from us soon if you haven't already. Our advocacy committee and the NCSLA Board cannot do it alone. It will take every educator and every science organization to do their part to advocate for science education on the state and national levels. Contact your state and local officials and share your concerns about the future and importance of science education. As we know, HB8 is not the first and unfortunately will not be the last threat to science education.  No matter the outcome of HB8, we must never stop advocating. Together, WE will act. Together, WE will make the change. Together, WE are NCSLA!

Michelle Ellis
NCSLA  President 2022-23

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Beverly Lyons Awarded 2022 Herman and Emma Gatling Award for Outstanding Science Education Leadership

The NCSLA Awards Committee was pleased to announce Beverly Lyons as the 2022 winner of the Herman and Emma Gatling Award for Outstanding Science Education Leadership in North Carolina during the Fall Summit in November.

The recipient of the Gatling Award should be an educator who has gone above and beyond the requirements of the workplace and provided outstanding leadership and service to science education at the district, regional, and state levels and beyond. All of  the nominators agree that this definition definitively describes Beverly. She is the epitome of one who has gone above and beyond in giving service to science/STEM education in North Carolina!! Beverly has been involved in both NCSLA and NCSTA in multiple capacities for decades, serving as president of both organizations, and her smiling face has been seen providing service at the forefront and behind the scenes in her many roles. She was selected as part of the second NCSLA Fellows Cohort where she was an outstanding Fellow and has flourished as a leader ever since.

Beverly is an experienced and well-respected science educator who has worked in the greater Winston-Salem area for over 30 years. She is a graduate from Appalachian State University with a MA in Environmental Microbiology and taught at West Caldwell High School in Lenoir, NC and other Caldwell County schools as a biology teacher. She later taught AP Biology and AP Environmental Science at the Career Center High School in Winston-Salem. 

Throughout the years and multiple school assignments, Beverly was always an exceptional teacher and mentor to all. Whether with remedial students or gifted ones, her expectations were always high and her ability to connect with students always wonderful. When curriculum development needed to be done, Beverly was one of the first to sign up and once again delivered exceptional materials. Now in full retirement, there is no drop off in her energy levels or her willingness to help with any NCSLA needs. When COVID struck our community, preventing NCSLA to meet in person, Beverly led the charge by planning eight virtual seminars with the executive committee.  This past summer she assisted in delivering workshop materials for the PBL training in Burlington, arriving with a brace on her leg, but still loading her car with all materials!

Beverly has worked with district leaders, principals, teachers, and students to integrate all areas of the science curriculum.  She embodies John Dewey’s statement that “education is not preparation for life; education is life itself.” She is an outstanding science education colleague and leader and is a competent, generous volunteer for all things science. She is always willing to step in and chip in to get the work done.  Her positive attitude is genuine and contagious.

Beverly is passionate about science and encourages her students to learn deeply to understand science concepts.  Her goal is to graduate students who know that they can be life-long learners. She always aims above and beyond the requirements of her workplace and provides outstanding leadership and service to science education at the district, regional, and state level. Beverly exemplifies the high standards that Herman and Emma Gatling set for their work and in their lives.  According to Dr. Stan Hill, if there was ever an educator who left their mark on science education, it is Beverly Lyons.

The Herman and Emma Gatling Award is named in honor of the late Herman and Emma Gatling.  As science educators and leaders, they worked tirelessly in Durham City Schools during challenging times to promote excellence in science education for all children.  Victor and Brian Gatling helped present the award to the 2022 recipient.  

This Award is supported by Carolina Biological Supply Company, represented by Atiya Merchant. Each year, Carolina Biological provides $1,000 to the winner and NCSLA appreciates their generous support.

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Meet the Board

Marie Hopper - Informal Science Committee Chair

Marie Hopper is President of FIRST North Carolina, a statewide nonprofit dedicated to inspiring the next generation of engineers, innovators, and STEM leaders.  She began her FIRST journey as a FIRST LEGO League (FLL) coach in 2001 and discovered a way to extend her teaching career outside of the classroom.  Over the course of nine years, she coached 27 FLL teams, 3 FIRST LEGO League Jr. (FLL Jr.) teams, a FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) team and a FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) team. She thought she was retired from FIRST when her son graduated high school but the coaching community had other ideas!  She became the Regional Director for North Carolina in 2009 and helped orchestrate the first-ever FRC Regional Tournament in North Carolina in 2010.  FIRST North Carolina was founded in 2012 to advance the mission of FIRST even further in North Carolina. Marie is passionate about the mission of FIRST North Carolina - ensuring that every student in the state of North Carolina has access to a high-quality FIRST program.

Brian Maccarelli - Director

Brian graduated from James Madison University, in Virginia, with a Bachelors of Science degree in Integrated Science and technology with a focus on energy. Shortly after, he began his journey in the education world by working at an outdoor education center called Sound to Sea in Pine Knoll Shores North Carolina. There he taught students on a field trip about barrier island ecology. It is there that he fell in love with teaching. After a couple of years teaching outdoor education, Brian began teaching middle school science in Pitt county schools. After teaching there for a semester, Brian accepted an 8th grade science teaching job with Chatham County Schools. After a few years there, He moved to western North Carolina and accepted an 8th grade science position with Buncombe County Schools. After 7 years as a classroom teacher, Brian accepted the position as K-12 Science Curriculum Specialist. In January 2023, after 8 years in that position, Brian left public education and accepted a position with Blue Ridge Power, a commercial solar company. His new position as the Learning and Development Specialist provides him with an opportunity to continue working with adult learning but with a different emphasis.

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Informal Science Update

Informal science opportunities abound this spring in North Carolina! Be sure to check out the many activities that are happening in April as part of the North Carolina Science Festival. This month-long celebration of science includes exciting, educational and fun hands-on science events. This year’s theme is STEAM! There will be Star Parties, Gravity Games, and STEAM murals. Search for events that are taking place all across the state.

Also happening in March and April are the FIRST Robotics Competitions tournaments. Come cheer on 75 high school robotics teams from all across the state as they compete to earn a spot to advance to the State Championship and then onto Houston for the FIRST Championships. Details on events here.

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Science Leadership Fellows’ February Retreat

Jessica Parker
NCSLA Fellows 2022-2024

The NCSLA Fellows Cohort met in early February of 2023 in Durham where they once again lived up to the “work hard, play hard” mantra.  As a fellow, these weekends mean excellent professional discourse, insight from other leaders in our state, and time to celebrate the work we do in our classrooms and in advocacy of science education.  

We began our work and play by celebrating our very own (newly graduated) Dr. Jennifer Readfern, our PAEMST Finalist Adam Haas, and mom to be, Emmaleigh Carpenter, as well as welcoming new Fellows Committee Members, Candice Chambers and Christina Sudzina-Schut.  Friday night began with a recap of our personality inventory results with special emphasis on the psychogeometry assessments from our September meeting.  We reflected on how the personality assessments had helped us in leadership roles since our last meeting.  Every fellow was able to cite better understanding of themselves or others we encounter in our professional roles, and support each other with dilemmas or questions that remained. 

On Saturday morning the esteemed Brian Maccarelli facilitated us through an analysis of the revised Essential Standards that are currently being drafted and evaluated as NC seeks to update its K-12 Science Curriculum.  This session was valuable to everyone in the Fellows Cohort as we seek to define our roles in providing high quality science instruction and preparing students for assessments that may be impacted in the coming years.  Our session with Brian was followed by an interactive workshop on Strategic Communication led by Dr. Darlene Ryan.  We practiced various listening techniques, analyzed meeting agendas and their specific applications, and immersed in other strategies to help make communication from leadership roles more effective and beneficial for the causes we represent. 

The fellows departed Durham with our minds full of information and about maximizing our roles as leaders and advocates of science education in NC and ready to pull for one of the only shades of blue that mattered that evening!  (Go Heels)

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Michael C. Jackson Distinguished Service Award

NCSLA Annually gives a Michael C. Jackson Distinguished Service Award to the person who has performed a great service to science education in North Carolina. The award is sponsored by ExploreLearning and is presented at the Spring Meeting.

To nominate someone, whether a NCSLA member or not, for this award, complete the application form, and submit it no later than March 29. Please consider nominating anyone who has been a tremendous help to your or your area or to science education in North Carolina. We encourage you to keep your nominations confidential. Nominations that are not awarded will be held over for consideration in subsequent years.

Completed nomination packets should include the following:

1. Completed nomination form.

2. Letters of recommendation or support.

3. Short resume' or vita of the nominee. (optional)

The Distinguished Service Award was renamed in 2008 in honor of Michael C. Jackson, a founder of NCSLA. Learn more...

For further information, contact Ann McClung, NCSLA Awards Committee Chair

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Mountains to the Sea

DNA Day 2023

Would you like a scientist from one of NC’s leading research institutions to talk with your high school science classroom?

Each year, NC DNA Day sends scientists to classrooms across NC. During the visit, the scientist will teach an interactive and engaging module on an aspect of genetics and biotechnology. In addition, the ambassador will talk with your students about his or her own research and about exciting careers in biotechnology!  

Sign up to have a scientist speak with your high school classroom and present an engaging module covering a topic related to genetics and genomics! 

This year's topics include these exciting, hand-on lessons:

  • The Science of Vaping
  • Personalized Medicine (Pharmacogenomics)
  • Forensics

Supporting the Implementation of Modeling Instruction in Rural Schools

See the website for more information and to access the application.

Audience: High School Science Teachers

Description: The Science House in the College of Sciences and the STEM Education Department in the College of Education are excited to offer this new professional development opportunity to high school science teachers in western North Carolina.

Supporting the Implementation of Modeling Instruction in Rural Schools (SIMIRS) is a National Science Foundation (NSF) Discovery Research PreK-12 (DRK-12) project (Project Number 2101590). This program focuses on Modeling Instruction in High School Biology and High School Chemistry while producing new educational research in the area of Pedagogical Content Knowledge (PCK).

2023-2024 Modeling Courses:

Modeling Biology & Modeling Chemistry will both take place at the dates and locations described below. The information below applies to both courses.

Who is eligible to apply? North Carolina High School Biology and High School Chemistry Teachers. You must anticipate teaching Biology or Chemistry in the 2023-24 academic year. High School Physical Science teachers are eligible to apply and will be considered for the Chemistry course, though Chemistry teachers will have priority.

Participating Districts: The following districts and schools provided a letter of collaboration and are grant partners. Teachers from these partners will have priority registration, however, all North Carolina teachers are eligible to apply.

Alleghany , Asheville City, Avery, Buncombe, Caldwell , Catawba , Cherokee, Cleveland, Davie, Graham, Haywood, Henderson, Highland School of Technology (Gaston County), Iredell-Statesville , Jackson, Macon, McDowell, Mount Airy City, Mountain Heritage High (Yancey County), Newton-Conover, Rowan-Salisbury, Rutherford, Surry County, Watauga High School, Wilkes, Yadkin.

Synthetic Biology Teacher Workshop

See the website for more information and to access the application.

Audience: High School Biology Teachers

Where: Thomas Hall, NC State University’s Central Campus, Raleigh, NC

This five-day-long workshop is for current high school biology teachers or pre-service science education majors (juniors or seniors) who plan to teach high school biology. This professional development opportunity will provide hands-on training in basic recombinant DNA technology and synthetic biology.

Iterative Design to Engage All (IDEA) Learners: Incorporating the science of PFAS into life science instruction

A long-duration teacher professional development program for grades 9-12 life science teachers 

Per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are synthetic chemicals that pollute NC’s water and air and impact human health. Join other STEM educators and meet environmental health scientists at the IDEA Learners Fellows summer Institute in Chapel Hill, NC and receive innovative, teacher-developed, classroom-ready lessons that invite students to Investigate the human health effects of PFAS exposure. These standards-aligned, inclusive activities promote student engagement with local data & maps and feature biomedical research careers.

Participating teachers will be expected to:

  • Attend the Summer Professional Development Institute (June 21-23, 2023 in Chapel Hill)Pilot at least one lesson during 2023-2024 academic year
  • Attend quarterly virtual Action Sessions
  • Participate in ongoing research & evaluation activities
  • Have access to working internet with audio capabilities to participate in virtual sessions

Who is eligible to apply:

The UNC-Chapel Hill Center for Environmental Health & Susceptibility and Institute for the Environment’s Center for Public Engagement with Science invite grades 9-12 life science teachers to apply for this professional development program. Priority will be given to applicants who teach in economically disadvantaged communities and communities impacted by PFAS contamination. In 2020, the NC PFAS Testing Network identified municipalities in the following counties where raw drinking water supplies exceeded DEQ's limit of 10 ppt for PFAS: Alamance, Bladen, Beaufort, Brunswick, Cabarrus, Catawba, Chatham, Cumberland, Forsyth, Granville, Guilford, Harnett, Iredell, Johnston, Lenoir, Lee, New Hanover, Orange, Pender, Robeson, Stokes, Transylvania, Union, Wake.

Program Overview and to Application

Applications due by 11:59pm on Sunday March 19, 2023.  For additional information, please contact Dana Haine at dhaine@unc.edu

Research Experience for Teachers

The Research Triangle Nanotechnology Network (RTNN) is now accepting applications from middle and high school teachers as well as community college educators for its summer RET program: Atomic Scale Design and Engineering. Up to nine teachers will be selected to participate in research in nanoscale science and engineering labs at NC State, Duke, or UNC-Chapel Hill. Participants will also design and share curricular materials to use in the classroom.

The 2023 program lasts for 5 weeks, June 14 – July 18, with follow up during the academic year. Teachers will receive a $5,000 stipend for their work as an RET with additional funding available for curricular materials and travel for lesson plan/curriculum dissemination. The program is for US citizens only and teachers must participate for the entire period of the program. Note: Housing is not provided.

“I loved the experience! The lessons we explored were very engaging and inspired me to rethink how I will design some of my lessons for my class.” (Participant from summer 2022)

Applications will be reviewed as they are received. It is recommended that all materials be submitted by March 17, 2023. Applications will be considered until all positions are filled.

To learn more and apply, please visit the RTNN RET Website at https://www.rtnn.ncsu.edu/ret/

Questions? Please Contact: Dr. Maude Cuchiara (maude_cuchiara@ncsu.edu) or Dr. Gail Jones (mgjones3@ncsu.edu).

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NCSLA provides opportunities for science educators to exchange ideas and information, promote the cause of quality science instruction, and influence the creation of policies and legislation.

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