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June 2009

By: Cindy, Gloria, Joanne | June 26 2009 | Category: Science News

Tobacco Free Zone SignOn June 22, President Obama signed a bill that he hopes will help kids make the choice not to use tobacco, the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act. Do you have any idea how many people under age 18 will smoke a cigarette for the first time today? Three and a half thousand, and a third of them will become regular users! One goal of the new law is to reduce the number of young first-time users to 1,000.

The federal government will now be regulating the content, marketing, and sale of tobacco products. The law banishes Joe Camel and other youth-oriented advertising gimmicks and bans fruit-flavored tobacco products. You won’t be seeing colorful billboards of happy people holding cigarettes within 1,000 feet of playgrounds filled with grade-schoolers at recess. In fact, all tobacco advertising within 1,000 feet of schools is now illegal.
In response, we wouldn’t be surprised if more states started promoting tobacco education efforts like New Jersey’sExternal Web Site Policy. There, students at every grade level study the nature of tobacco and its physiological, psychological, sociological, and legal effects on themselves, their families, and society under the state’s Core Curriculum Content Standards and Comprehensive Health and Physical Education Curriculum Framework. To find out whether your state has tobacco education standards – and for lots of interesting facts about kids and smoking -- visit the Campaign for Tobacco-Free KidsExternal Web Site Policy.

If you’re looking for materials for students or teachers and families about the biology of nicotine, visit the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA). You’ll even find a high school curriculum guide there, The Brain: Understanding Neurobiology through the Study of Addiction that educators can order for free. High school students might want to check out an interesting article about the American Legacy Foundation’s successful “truth” anti-smoking campaignExternal Web Site Policy [in the June/July 2009 American Public Health Association’s newspaper] or a NIDA press release about research that shows that black and white adolescents metabolize nicotine differently.
By: Paul | June 19 2009 | Category: Issues in Education

With the new Secretary of Education Arne Duncan leading the way, the call for reform of the United States education system is resonating throughout the country. Teachers, unions, politicians, industry leaders, and interested citizens are voicing their ideas and concerns.
Last week, the Carnegie-Institute for Advanced Study Commission on Mathematics and Science EducationExternal Web Site Policyreleased its new report, The Opportunity Equation: Transforming Mathematics and Science Education for Citizenship and the Global EconomyExternal Web Site Policy. In the report, the Commission argues the need to embrace a new reality in which the world has dramatically shifted, and as a result, an equally dramatic shift is required in educational expectations and design. The Commission points out that, knowledge and skills from science, technology, engineering, and mathematics ­ (often referred to as the STEM fields) ­ are crucial to virtually every endeavor of individual and community life.  They reason that every American student should be STEM capable through a reformed education system.
Education reform is not a new concept, but the suggestion that math and science be placed at the center of a reformed education system is ground-breaking and encouraging news. Certainly it would be a unique strategy to have math and science laced throughout a school¹s curriculum and not restricted to one period every other day.
The Commission makes several recommendations and challenges to the nation include:
  • Establish common standards for the nation in mathematics and science standards that are fewer, higher and clearer ­ along with high-quality assessments
  • Improve math and science teaching
  • Redesign schools and systems to deliver excellent, equitable math and science learning
 This is a sizeable challenge. Do you think it is an achievable one?
By: Gina | June 12 2009 | Category: Science News, Tidbits for Teachers

I'm Gina, a research scientist working in the Office of Science Education. I believe that we are all scientists! I will be highlighting people we don't normally think of as "scientists" who have had a huge impact on science. Perhaps you can tell me about people you know who have used science to make life in the classroom or at home a bit easier. Stay tuned for my White House series on how U.S. presidents have contributed to the advancement of science in the own unique ways. I will try to keep you in-the-know about some of the newest scientific discoveries and what they might mean so that you can dazzle friends and neighbors with you science knowledge. You can use today's tidbit for that!

Eye looking through window blindsDNA evidence gathered from a crime scene may be great to convict a suspected criminal, but what if you don't have a suspect? Scientists in the Netherlands have taken a first step in solving that problem. They have developed a method to predict eye color based on DNA. Other scientists are working to develop more reliable methods for determining hair and skin color. Combining these new methods with other established methods for inferring a person’s geographical origin could provide law enforcement with a powerful tool to identify an unknown suspect.

The method has a number of other applications, notably, as a way to predict susceptibility to diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers, which are influenced by numerous genes.

Of course, a lot of work still needs to be done yet to turn this into reality. Web Site Policy

Liu, F. et al. Curr. Biol. 19, R192–R193 (2009).

By: Dave | June 10 2009 | Category: NIH Resources, Research & Technology, Tidbits for Teachers

Screen shot of interactive health tutorial on asthma at MedlinePlus.govWe often get requests from educators for videos and multimedia on specific health topics. Our buddies at the NIH National Library of Medicine have assembled a whole ton of online, interactive health tutorials on their MedlinePlus Website.

Topics range from acne, anthrax, and asthma to tuberculosis, varicose veins, and warts. They're organized as Diseases and Conditions, Tests and Diagnostic Procedures, Surgery and Treatment Procedures, and Prevention and Wellness.

There are over 100 tutorials posted!
By: Dave | June 4 2009 | Category: NIH Resources

I'm Dave, part of the staff of the Office of Science Education (or OSE as we call it). In general, we're a bunch of friendly people who care about the quality of science education in this country and around the world. We work to help educators and to inspire students to enjoy science and consider careers in science and related fields. We're also part of the federal government, the Department of Health and Human Services.

This blog will be THE source for the latest news from OSE. We'll tell you what we're thinking and what we're up to.

We have lots of cool programs for teachers and students from our free curriculum supplements to our career resources, including SciLife, LifeWorks, and SciMentorNet. We also sponsor programs for the general public, like Science in the Cinema.

Cover of Exploring Bioethics curriculum supplementMy job is to help educators make the most of the curriculum supplements. We're finishing up our latest title for high school, Exploring Bioethics. We hope to send this to the printers by the end of June, and will start taking orders shortly thereafter. We're also developing two new titles. One is on 'Inquiry and the Study of Rare Diseases' for middle school. The other is on 'Evolution and Medicine' for high school. Both sets of lessons will be field tested nationwide in early 2010.

Spend some time exploring the site. *Let us know* if you have any comments, suggestions, or questions.
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