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Guest Speakers in the Middle School Classroom | Posted in Next Generation Science Standards


I teach 7th grade life science from 8:40a-2:20p and have about 8 guest speakers a year.

I have found that most guest speakers are willing to stay all day and repeat themselves!! I usually provide them with water and lunch/snacks.

I have found that most guest speakers do not provide notes for students to take, so I ask for their PowerPoint before they come in order to create a student handout. My students are much more engaged when they have something to follow and take notes on.

Go for it! Guest speakers enrich the unit and experience!


Kimberly Tangaro

NSTA's Virtual Conference - Teaching Controversial Topics | Posted in Professional Development

Hi Mary,
I have had the opportunity to participate in several virtual conferences. The most amazing part of it is getting to hear firsthand from the experts on a topic. When I attended the solar eclipse one, I was blown away by all the great information that was shared. I was so well prepared to participate in the total eclipse in Carbondale this past August because of what I learned at the virtual conference.

I also attended the Climate Virtual Conference where they had atmospheric scientists and meteorologists from NOAA (who actually study climate change) share their expertise. Then we had experienced educators share how to present engaging lessons to our students. Your brain leaves the day's conference filled to the brim with fresh new ideas.

I love going to NSTA conferences like the one coming up in Atlanta, but it is a totally different experience. The virtual conferences are such a great value for the money. All those experts on one specific topic are gathered together for the day just for us!

I am especially interested in the March 3rd virtual conference because I am looking forward to learning some new strategies for teaching controversial topics in science, AND the other emphasis, according to the overview, is about having a better understanding of the nature of science.
Hope to see you there!

Carolyn Mohr

The Drake Equation | Posted in Earth and Space Science

The Drake equation is not directly used by scientists in their research. Rather it is often used when talking about life in the universe to non-scientists, such as in astrobiology courses, as James mentioned. One of the keynote addresses I sometimes deliver is on astrobiology, and I discuss the Drake equation quite a lot, as it relates to many fascinating topics regarding the development of life in the universe, where we would expect to find life, and how common we might expect life to be.

The purpose of the Drake equation is not to give a precise answer to that fundamental question -- How many technological civilizations are in our galaxy? -- but to form the basis of discussions by presenting various types of information that we would need to know, if we wanted to answer that question.

So basically the Drake equation is a statement that "stimulates intellectual curiosity about the universe around us, for helping us to understand that life as we know it is the end product of a natural, cosmic evolution, and for helping us realize how much we are a part of that universe." (

What the equation and the search for life has done is focus science on some of the issues concerning life in the universe, specifically the development of life starting with chemical processes, the development of multi-cellular life, and the development of intelligence.


Matthew Bobrowsky

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