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Illinois School Curbs Potty Breaks

restroom signTruancy and absences can erode student learning. But bathroom breaks? Borrowing a page from “Urinetown,” that saucy staple of high school musical comedy, Evergreen Park High School in Illinois has instituted a new policy limiting students to three bathroom passes per semester in an effort to curb excessive trips that take away from valuable class time.

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Activity: Atomic Candy

m&ms1In this activity, students in grades 5 – 11 will use M&Ms to learn about radioactivity, the rate at which an isotope decays, and the concept of half-life. They will count and record the number of decayed “atoms” and graph the results.

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Atlanta Educators Fired for Cheating

CheatingA Georgia state commission voted to revoke the licenses of eight Atlanta Public Schools teachers and three administrators, imposing the first sanctions in one of the nation’s largest test cheating scandals. The decision stems from a state investigation, released in July, that revealed high numbers of wrong-to-right erasures in nearly half of the district’s 100 schools dating as far back as 2001.

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Fellowship: NASA Endeavor Project

Endeavor Fellow Netosh Jones with Education Secretary Arne DuncanThe NASA Endeavor Science Teaching Certificate Project awards one-year fellowships each year to over 40 current and prospective teachers. Endeavor Fellows receive award-winning STEM Professional Development, taking graduate courses in an innovative, LIVE (online) format from the comfort of their home or school.

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New Science Standards Get B+

science is funThe National Research Council’s framework for common state science standards, released in July, won perfect marks for “content and rigor” in a new report by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute. However, the Washington, D.C.-based think tank bestowed a B+ on the “impressive document” because its strong content is “immersed in much else that could distract, confuse, and disrupt” the priorities of a high quality STEM education for all children.

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Feature: Food-Safety Engineering

food safety techsRecent headlines about tainted cantaloupe are grim reminders that food is not always as safe as it looks or tastes. Despite a host of high-tech efforts, E. coli and other food-borne illnesses kill thousands of Americans each year. Now, researchers in the emerging field of food-safety engineering are developing ways to protect what we eat, from farm to table. Call it the Food Safety-Engineering Network.

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YouTube Launches Space Contest

space stationMove aside, cute kitties and other viral video hits. A new NASA contest could turn science into the next YouTube sensation. Space Lab, the competition announced by YouTube and computer manufacturer Lenovo on Monday, offers students the chance to make video pitches for experiments to perform in the International Space Station’s zero-gravity environment.

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Lesson: Guilt-Free Chocolate

Making ChocolateIn this hands-on activity designed to teach chemical-engineering principles to freshman engineering students at Rowan University, teams of high school students will melt chocolate and coat commercially available cookies, then perform several measurements and calculations. They then will write a lab report that includes nutritional labeling and recommendations for improving the chocolate-coating process.

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Resources: Programs from the Navy

ONR logoThe Office of Naval Research provides several different outreach programs for students at different grade levels. The programs, which include competitions and afterschool engagement, range in size and mission.

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