COMET • Vol. 11, No. 22 – 23 October 2010


(1) Program Standards for New Mathematics Instructional Credentials  

Source: California Commission on Teacher Credentialing – “PSD News” – 21 October 2010

At its September 30, 2010 meeting, the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing adopted standards for two specialist content areas: Teaching Reading and Mathematics… The standards for the Mathematics Instructional Certificate and the Mathematics Instructional Leadership Specialist are available at

[Except for the inclusion of Common Standards, this version of the standards is very similar to that presented in Agenda Item 2B at the September 30 meeting:  Also see for more information about this agenda item.]


(2) Input is Requested on the Minimum Number of Units for Foundational-Level General Science Subject Matter Programs

Source: California Commission on Teacher Credentialing – “PSD News” – 21 October 2010

The Single Subject Credential in Foundational-Level General Science (FLGS) is a relatively new credential (see The only path for demonstrating subject matter competency is through passing two of the California Subject Examinations for Teachers (CSET) Science subtests (118 and 119), as there are not yet any approved subject matter programs. A prerequisite to developing such programs is establishing a Precondition for the minimum number of units that a Foundational Science program must have. All science subject matter programs currently have a minimum of 45 semester units.

If you are a science educator, prepare science educators, or have an opinion on the minimum number of semester units that should comprise a FLGS program, the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing requests that you complete this survey by November 5, 2010:  It is expected that an agenda item will be presented to the Commission late in 2010 to adopt a Precondition for the minimum number of semester units that a FLGS program must contain.


(1) USA Science and Engineering Fair Held This Weekend on the National Mall in Washington, DC and Throughout the Nation


The 2-day USA Science and Engineering Festival kicked off this morning under blue skies on the National Mall in Washington, DC, and at 50 satellite locations throughout the United States. More than 850 corporations, trade associations, federal agencies, colleges and universities, and 300 K-12 schools are hosting one of the largest science and engineering festivals ever held in the United States. With over 1,500 interactive exhibits, 75 stage shows, and 50 satellite events in 25 states, the festival is poised to reach over a million people nationwide.

President Obama’s invitation to the Festival is available at  During this short address, the President says, “If you’re a parent, encourage your child to tinker and to experiment. If you’re a teacher, start a festival in your own community. If you’re a scientist or engineer, open your laboratory and mentor a young person. If you’re a young person, keep exploring, keep asking questions, keep having fun. The future of this country and the advancements of the next century are in your hands…”

The official USA Science and Engineering Fair Web site is  A few YouTube videos from the festival have been posted (e.g., and ). Festival promotional videos are available at and


(2) President Obama Hosts First White House Science Fair

Source: The White House
URL (Transcript):
URL (WHSF video):  Also see

Last Monday (October 18), President Obama hosted the White House Science Fair, celebrating the winners of a broad range of K-12 science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) competitions. This event fulfilled a commitment the President made at the launch of his Educate to Innovate campaign in November 2009, a campaign with the goal of stimulating the interest and achievement of American students in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics).  “We welcome championship sports teams to the White House to celebrate their victories.  I’ve had the Lakers here. I’ve had the Saints here, the Crimson Tide.  I thought we ought to do the same thing for the winners of science fair and robotic contests, and math competitions,” the President said to enthusiastic applause.

President Obama viewed exhibits of winning student projects, ranging from breakthrough basic research to new inventions. He praised the students “who’ve traveled here from every corner of this country to demonstrate their experiments and their inventions,” congratulating these students for their diligence, desire to tackle hard problems, and their drive to invent and discover. He also recognized Nobel laureates, Bill Nye “the science guy,” and Subra Suresh, who was sworn in that morning as the Director of the National Science Foundation.

The President also announced his personal appearance on the upcoming 8 December 2010 episode of Discovery Channel’s MythBusters, a popular television show which uses science to determine the truth behind urban legends. He teasingly lamented the fact that he didn’t get to blow up anything on the show.

The President discussed initiatives to help achieve his goals: “We’ve got new public-private partnerships that are working to offer additional training to more than 100,000 current teachers, and to prepare more than 10,000 new teachers in the next five years.  Businesses are working with non-profits to launch robotics competitions and other ways for kids to make things and learn things with their hands.  And more than 100 leaders from some of the nation’s top companies have launched a new organization called Change the Equation to help us move to the top in math and science education…

“The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, also known as DARPA — and I think those of you who are interested in science and technology know what an extraordinary role DARPA has played in all sorts of innovations that we now take for granted — DARPA is launching a campaign to inspire young people in science and engineering, to help create what DARPA Director Regina Dugan has called a ‘renaissance of wonder.’ So, for example, teams of students in a thousand schools will be able to use advanced 3-D printers [in 1000 high schools] to manufacture unmanned vehicles and mobile robots for competitions.

“In addition, leading CEOs are going to be part of a new online campaign to show young people the array of jobs that their companies offer scientists and engineers.  And they ought to know.  This is an interesting statistic, particularly at a time when young people are thinking about their careers:  The most common educational background of CEOs in the S&P 500 companies…is not business, it’s not finance, it’s not economics. It’s actually engineering… So I want all the young people out there to think about that.  Nothing can prepare you better for success than the education you’re receiving in math and science.”

Two related initiatives are the following:

(a) New “Cool Jobs” Viral Video Competition by Leading Fortune 500 CEOsChange the Equation, with a membership of over 100 CEOs including leading media companies, will launch a viral video contest where its companies will vie to create the best video for students on the rewarding jobs they can get if they excel in math and science.

(b) Autodesk’s Expanded Commitment to Make Tools of Invention Broadly Available to Students: Autodesk, a leader in 3D design, engineering, and entertainment software, is expanding their long-standing commitment to help young people develop a passion for design and engineering by providing access to software, curricular resources, and student programs. Autodesk will deliver new software that makes it possible for students to create, design, and visualize just about anything, and share those designs.


Related Articles:

(a) MATHCOUNTS Participates in White House Science Fair With President Obama


(b) Obama: Science Contest Winners Inspiring



(3) Developing Effective Fractions Instruction–New Practice Guide from the What Works Clearinghouse

Source: What Works Clearinghouse, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education
URL (Guide):

The What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) was established by the Institute of Education Sciences at the U.S. Department of Education in 2002 in an attempt to provide the public with information on the scientific evidence for educational practices and materials.  Among other services, the site offers practice guides, peer-reviewed documents that present summaries of research in particular areas along with practical recommendations for educators. The newest practice guide offered by the WWC is “Developing Effective Fractions Instruction for Kindergarten Through 8th Grade.”

This practice guide presents five recommendations intended to help educators improve students’ understanding of fractions. Recommendations include strategies to develop young children’s understanding of early fraction concepts and ideas for helping older children understand the meaning of fractions and the computations involved. The guide also highlights ways to build on students’ existing strategies to solve problems involving ratios, rates, and proportions.

The guide is available for download from


(4) “Education Secretary Arne Duncan Announces $27 Million for Three Ready-to-Learn Television Program Grants”

Source: U.S. Department of Education – 14 October 2010

On Thursday, October 14, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced three awards totaling $27 million for projects to improve educational opportunities for young learners through innovative technology. Grants will be used to develop and deliver high-quality, age-appropriate, educational content to increase the early literacy and mathematics skills of young children age two through eight years old. The current cycle of awards will provide early learning content through the well-planned and coordinated use of multiple media platforms, commonly known as transmedia storytelling.

“It is critical that we focus our educational improvement efforts on the earliest learners and those most at risk of educational failure, including our children living in poverty,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “We know that children of all ages are engaged when given the opportunity to learn with new technologies. These grants will surround young children with a variety of innovative media to equip them with early literacy and numeracy skills to prepare them for success in school.”

The five-year grants were awarded to three public telecommunications entities that will offer services across the nation. In addition to programming content, the grantees will provide outreach materials and resources to families, child care providers, preschool and early elementary teachers and others whose work addresses early learning.

According to Jacqueline Jones, senior advisor to the Secretary for Early Learning, “These projects represent a critical investment in moving the Department’s early learning agenda forward and ultimately improving outcomes for young learners. We are particularly excited that through accessible media and technologies, these projects will encourage families, caregivers and teachers to interact with and engage young learners in both formal and informal settings.”

Window to the World Communications (WTTW) will partner with W!ldbrain, an entertainment and animation company, to deliver a multiple-platform, media-based, mathematics curriculum for children that will provide corresponding support materials and digital resources for families, caregivers and teachers. The project will allow children to use multiple entry points to a virtual world of mathematics principles through cell phones, computers, handheld video game systems, television, books and trading cards.

The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) and the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) will deliver transmedia content in literacy and numeracy that is aligned with rigorous academic frameworks and research. Through a multi-level partnership, CPB will develop video, interactive online games (3D-rendered collaborative challenges and immersive games), mobile applications (augmented reality games) and interactive white board applications.

The Hispanic Information and Telecommunications Network (HITN) will partner with Callaway Arts and Entertainment to develop and evaluate three transmedia properties that will cross multiple platforms using the inherent benefits of each to engage early learners. One such property, Learning Apps Media Partnership (LAMP), focuses on English Language Learners and immerses them in literacy and mathematics curricula that draw on real-life situations and encourage the expression of diverse perspectives where children freely use their native language or dialect.

For more information on the grantees, visit


(5) Mole Day Celebrated on October 23


[ ] Celebrated annually on October 23 from 6:02 a.m. to 6:02 p.m., Mole Day commemorates Avogadro’s Number (6.02 x 10^23), which is a basic measuring unit in chemistry. Mole Day was created as a way to foster interest in chemistry. Schools throughout the United States and around the world celebrate Mole Day with various activities related to chemistry and/or moles.

For a given molecule, one mole is a mass (in grams) whose number is equal to the atomic mass of the molecule. For example, the water molecule has an atomic mass of 18, therefore one mole of water weighs 18 grams. An atom of neon has an atomic mass of 20; therefore one mole of neon weighs 20 grams. In general, one mole of any substance contains Avogadro’s Number of molecules or atoms of that substance. This relationship was first discovered by Amedeo Avogadro (1776-1858), and he received credit for this after his death.

[] In the early 1980’s an article appeared in The Science Teacher about a high school chemistry teacher and her rational for the idea of celebrating the day. With this small article, the seed was planted for establishing a national organization. On May 15, 1991, the National Mole Day Foundation (NMDF) was born. News releases were sent to the regional and national news media, especially the chemical science news media, announcing the formation of the Foundation.

The purpose of the National Mole Day Foundation [NMDF] was and continues to be to get all persons, especially students, enthused about chemistry. To do that we would systematically collect ideas from many people, mostly high school chemistry teachers who celebrate Mole Day, assemble those ideas into idea newsletters, and then distribute them to those who become members of the Foundation… [For more information on the NMDF, visit the above Web sites.]