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CONTENTS:
Want a New Year's Resolution You're Sure to Stick With?
The Science of Awe
School ed. - anti-idling
Mercer County to introduce new nature center
New Jersey Adopts Next Generation Science Standards
Want a New Year's Resolution You're Sure to Stick With?             (Posted: 11-25-14)

Sign up for Rutgers Environmental Steward training

Are you looking for a New Year’s resolution that you’re likely to stick with, once you embark on the journey? How about a way to give something back to your community in a way that’s meaningful and guaranteed to get you out and about?

Consider joining the 2015 class of the Rutgers Environmental Stewards program, which helps non-scientists to become citizen-scientists. Classes begin the first week in January in Atlantic, Warren, and Somerset counties, and typically run through May.

An innovative partnership between Rutgers Cooperative Extension and the Duke Farms Foundation, the Rutgers Environmental Stewards program teaches participants about land and water stewardship, best management practices, environmental public advocacy, and leadership.

The curriculum is designed to introduce non-scientists to the science underlying key environmental issues in the New Jersey. Academics are joined by colleagues from government and the non-profit sector to share understanding and insights with the students.

“Students don’t only receive facts, but also are introduced to a network of expert individuals and organizations who can be of service to them in the future as they wrestle with solving local environmental problems,” said Bruce Barbour, agricultural and resource management agent with Rutgers Cooperative Extension, the program’s originator.

“This can be among the most meaningful six months in your life,” adds Barbour, who has led the program for years and well worth the $250 fee.

In order to serve the entire state, training is offered in regional locations and recruitment has begun in earnest for the Class of 2015. Questions about registration or schedules should be directed to the coordinator of the region in which you expect to attend classes.


Warren/North

Training Location: RCE of Warren County, 165 Rt 519 South, Belvidere, NJ 07823
Normal Class Time: Tuesdays, January to May, 2015; 9:30 to 12:30 pm. Cost: $250
Contact: Milly Rice, marnavy@hotmail.com , Ag and Resource Mgmt. Secretary, (908) 475-6505

Warren application form

Passaic

Training Location:Preakness Healthcare Center, 305 Oldham Rd., Wayne, NJ 07470
Normal Class Time:Tuesday nights, 6:30 PM to 9:30 PM. Cost: $250
Contact: Jo-Ann Pituch, pituch@njaes.rutgers.edu,Cooperative Extension of Passaic County, 1310 Route 23 North, Wayne, NJ 07470. (973)-305-5740

Downloadable Passaic Application Form
Online Passaic Application Form

Central/Duke Farms

Training Location: Duke Farms, Hillsborough, NJ
Normal Class Time: Thursdays, January to May, 2015; 6:30 pm to 9:30 pm. Cost: $250
Contact: Deb Thomas, dthomas@dukefarms.org , Duke Farms Foundation, 80 Route 206, Hillsborough, New Jersey 08844 908-722-3700 x 4

Duke application form

Central/Middlesex County

Training Location: Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Middlesex County, Davidson Mill Pond Park, 42 Riva Ave., North Brunswick, NJ 08902 (please note we are geographically located in South Brunswick)
Normal Class Times:  Wednesday evenings, 6:30pm- 9:30pm starting January 7- May 2015. Cost: $250
Contact: Meredith Jacob, meredith.jacob@co.middlesex.nj.us, Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Middlesex County, 42 Riva Ave., North Brunswick, NJ 08902. (732) 398-5275

Downloadable Middlesex Application Form
On-line Middlesex application form

Coastal Region

Training Location: Atlantic County Utility Authority, 6700 Delilah Road, Egg Harbor Twp NJ
Normal Class Time: Wednesdays, 9:30 am to 12:30 pm. Cost: $250
Contact: Amy Menzel, amenzel@acua.com , PO Box 996 Pleasantville, NJ 08232, 609.272.6950 ext 6934

ACUA application form

More information including application forms and the current schedule for lectures can be found on the web at envirostewards.rutgers.edu .

The Science of Awe             (Posted: 10-22-14)

Click HERE.

School ed. - anti-idling             (Posted: 10-1-14)

Click HERE.

Mercer County to introduce new nature center             (Posted: 10-1-14)

Click HERE.

New Jersey Adopts Next Generation Science Standards             (Posted: 9-9-14)

The State Board of Education voted to adopt the Next Generation Science Standards on July 9, 2014. There will be a two year implementation period. Science curriculum for grades 6-12 will need to be revised by September 2016 and the K-5 science curriculum by September 2017. Due to the incorporation of science practices in our standards in 2009, New Jersey science educators are better positioned than most. We are better positioned, but we have significant work to do in order to make the shifts necessary for our students to meet the demands of the NGSS. In an effort the provide as much assistance as possible, the Office of STEM has a significant catalog of resources that have been selected to help districts, schools and teachers make the transition.

The Science Curriculum and Instruction Webpage (http://www.state.nj.us/education/aps/cccs/science/) were updated on July 10. The page will includes implementation resources, model high school science curriculum, assessment resources, Frameworks and NGSS professional development resources, links to national and state level professional science education organizations, resources for meaningful integration of CCSS and NGSS, curriculum development resources, special education and ELL resources, curriculum materials rubric, and the list goes on.

The priority for the 2014-2015 academic year should be for all science educators to become experts on the Frameworks for K-12 Science Education (NRC, 2012). Period. Curriculum, instruction, assessment systems, everything in our world of teaching and learning science goes back to the Frameworks. The importance of taking the time to become an expert on the Frameworks cannot be overstated. Educators need a deep conceptual understanding of the research and thinking that underlie the NGSS. Without this, teachers will not be able to effectively meet the needs of their students.

The Office of STEM will offer technical assistance to district level administrators in the fall of 2014. In the spring of 2015, the technical assistance will focus on school level administrators. Summer and all of 2015 will be devoted to teachers. By this time, teachers will have become experts on the Frameworks and will be ready to focus on true curriculum revision and classroom-based assessment. Our intention is to videotape each of the offering and make the archive available to those that cannot attend.

While we have a two year transition period, we do not have time to waste. It took the National Academies a year and a half to write the Frameworks and the Lead States almost two years to write the NGSS. It takes time to make sense of their contents. Readers will see a lot of language that looks familiar in the books. Be careful not the skim read those sections. You will find that much of the jargon that we use has new or updated aspects that will be missed if not read and meaningfully discussed with colleagues.

Finally, science teachers are in a unique position. We currently do not have high stakes testing in science. Yes, we assess in grades 4, 8, and at the end of Biology but those scores are not part of the NCLB accountability system. We have the luxury of being able to focus our efforts on what we value - great teaching and learning. We have the luxury of being able to try innovative approaches without consequences for kids or teachers. When teachers and administrators set their SGOs for 2014-2015, they should incorporate a discussion about trying out ideas that they are learning from the Frameworks.

Michael Heinz, Science Coordinator
Office of STEM
NJ Department of Education

Archived PRESS-RELEASES are available upon request throught the webmaster.