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The Science Teacher issues for the year 2017 are currently being displayed

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December 2017

Since the introduction of the first iPhone just 10 years ago, smartphones have become nearly ubiquitous in modern life. The majority of Americans—95%, according to a 2017 Pew poll—now own a cellphone, and 77% own smartphones, a percentage that has more than doubled in just six years. The benefits of allowing students to use smartphones in the classroom are many. This issue addresses digital resources in education more broadly, from apps that support scientific practices to creating science websites to analyzing seismic data obtained online. These examples are just the beginning. The challenge is to reimagine our classrooms and instructional practices to take advantage of the powerful digital technology that is reshaping our world.

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November 2017

Forensic science is both an important part of our criminal justice system and also an avenue for engaging students in the practices of science. This issue includes creative ideas for incorporating forensic science in science teaching. Caitlin Ament and Theodore Graham describe an activity using forensic anthropology, while Jason Harron and his coauthors describe an investigation involving the emerging field of digital forensics. In the Idea Bank section, Bud and Patricia Bertino describe how to document a crime scene with smartphone apps. Forensics activities involve careful observation, logical reasoning, and evidence-based argumentation—important skills for our students to develop. Why not include them in your teaching?

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October 2017

Climate change is real, and it is caused by humans. Amid a litany of disheartening data, however, some potentially hopeful news can be found. It feels like we might be getting a glimpse of a different world—a world where newly competitive costs are pushing wind and solar energy to center stage, where electric cars are becoming more popular, and where the future will rely on green energy instead of carbon-based fuels. Climate change is one of the great moral imperatives of our time. Science teachers must provide students with accurate knowledge that can inspire them to take action on a personal, community, and global level.

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September 2017

In a world increasingly dependent on social media for news and information, Orwellian “alternative facts” and “fake news” proliferate while evidence-based reasoning seems under assault. Cable news and social media now allow us to view only the information and views that confirm our own biases, often accepted without evidence and with great confidence. Science teachers are in a unique position to reaffirm the priority of facts and evidence-based reasoning. Scientific thinking requires us to question everything, to treat all conclusions as tentative, and to set aside interpretations that aren’t supported by multiple lines of reliable evidence. It is imperative that our students develop these habits of mind.

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July 2017

Less than a decade ago, a National Research Council report concluded that “Engineering education is a relatively new school subject in U.S. K–12 education… and its spread into classrooms has been fairly modest.” Nowadays, engineering is everywhere. At the recent NSTA national conference in Los Angeles, dozens of sessions were devoted to engineering design, the Maker Movement, do-it-yourself student projects, and technology education. We have both the Maker Movement and the Next Generation Science Standards to thank for intensifying interest in engineering and design. Engineering is the “E” that can integrate the other STEM subjects— science, technology, and mathematics. It encourages creative problem solving and critical thinking while developing technological literacy. Why not join in?

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April 2017

This issue marks our 22nd consecutive annual spring issue devoted to the theme “Science for All.” It serves as an umbrella for ideas and strategies to narrow the persistent academic achievement gaps associated with ethnicity, socioeconomic status, gender, physical disabilities, limited English-language proficiency, and learning differences. Science educators know the challenges and rewards of teaching in diverse classrooms. Students from different cultures and ethnicities bring a diversity of perspectives, experiences, and cultural heritage to our classes that enriches the classroom experience for all learners. In our science classes we need to do everything in our power to provide all students the opportunity to become successful learners.

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March 2017

On August 21, millions of people across the continental United States will be able to experience one of the most rare and wondrous of nature’s celestial events: a total eclipse of the Sun. This issue devotes three feature articles to eclipses and related phenomenon, looking at the subject from different angles. Planetary science is well worth revisiting in our high school classes, if only to give students better understanding and appreciation of the majestic Sun-Earth-Moon system we experience every day. The dramatic cover photo this month offers one view of that system. It shows the Moon moving between NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) and the Sun, giving the observatory a view of a partial solar eclipse from space.

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February 2017

Evolution by natural selection is perhaps the single most profound insight into reality humans have ever achieved—the key to understanding both the wondrous diversity of life and also how all living things interrelate. Evolution is so well established by a preponderance of empirical evidence that there is no longer any room for scientific debate or controversy. Evolutionary theory is supported by virtually all scientists and scientific organizations. State and national standards require the teaching of evolution. The Next Generation Science Standards include evolution as a core idea in the life sciences and take a firm stand that students must learn about evolution. Evolution explains Earth’s spectacular tree of life—endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful (such as the blue-footed booby on this month’s cover)—that connects all life forms to each other, from closest siblings to distant cousins. There is grandeur in this view of life.

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January 2017

Today’s students are dazzlingly fluent digital natives. They text, blog, Snapchat, Instagram, and Facebook. They use search engines; they ask their smartphones for answers to questions that, in a different era, might have required a trip to the library. But a recent study of middle school, high school, and college students found that many students—over 80% in some cases—couldn’t tell the difference between an advertisement and a news story, distinguish between a real and fake news source, identify bias in a tweet, or determine if a website could be trusted. It is imperative that students learn to think critically and engage in argument based on reliable evidence. What better place for them to learn this than in science class? This issue offers tips and techniques for engaging students in reading critically—including classic science books such as those on this month’s cover—and writing clearly.

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