Mathematics Predicts Our Climate May Be Headed for a Tipping Point

What would a two-degree increase in Earth’s average temperature mean for our climate? According to the mathematics of chaotic billiard motion, this small change could have massive effects. In his TED-Ed video, Dr. Victor J. Donnay explains how rising temperatures could lead to more extreme, less predictable weather, as well as less hospitable conditions for humans. Continue reading.


EBOLA AND THE ACADEMY: Thoughts, Suggestions, and Resources-Part II

Given the ongoing coverage of Ebola in the news, and the struggle to control it in West Africa, we continue our reporting on the virus, which we began in the previous eNews issue. Below is a resource recommended by Katayoun Chamany outlining Ebola treatment drugs and the strengths of brincidofovir, as well as an examination of recent research partially funded by the National Science Foundation on successful Ebola interventions. Continue reading.


October Regional Conferences Spotlight Quantitative Literacy, Big Data, and the Challenge of Developing “STEM Enabled” Graduates Across Disciplines

In the last three years educational researchers have broadened their focus from a concentration on STEM knowledge and understanding to the broader challenge of measuring “engagement and practice,” according to the National Science Foundation’s Dr. Richard Duschl, speaking at a meeting at Rutgers University on October 13, sponsored by the SENCER Center for Innovation MidAtlantic. Click here to read more about the conference.


Call for Papers on Innovative Uses of Technology and New Media

The peer-reviewed journal Science Education and Civic Engagement: An International Journal is soliciting articles addressing innovative uses of technology and new media that advance both civic engagement and science learning in both formal and informal contexts. Research articles, project reports, policy analyses, and teaching and learning strategies are all welcome, and international perspectives and applications are especially encouraged. Deadline for inclusion in Winter 2015 issue is November 3. For additional information contact Eliza Reilly, co-editor in chief of the publication, at Submission guidelines can be found here.


Connecting the Dots: Science, Education, and Human Rights

If you ask people on the street “What are human rights?” you’re likely to get more than a few “I don’t know” responses. During our recent Washington Symposium, Jessica Wyndham, the associate director of the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s Scientific Responsibility, Human Rights & Law Program, delivered a plenary address that helped attendees understand human rights, the laws protecting them, and how they are impacted by science and education. Jessica’s talk focused on Article 15 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which grants the right to benefit from scientific progress. The International Covenant has been broadly accepted. Continue reading.


Engaging Mathematics Can Help Close a Gap in Informal Education

A blog post on the CAISE (Center for Advancement of Informal Science Education) website identified a gap in informal education, namely a lack of museum projects that address social issues grounded in math. Museums are increasingly making efforts to address social issues through their programs and exhibits. When they do so, these efforts are generally successful. Developing mathematics-based museum programs could therefore serve as a solution to the relatively low numeracy of U.S. citizens—a social issue in itself considering that many of today’s pressing problems require numerical literacy to be understood and solved. Continue reading.


EBOLA AND THE ACADEMY: Thought, Suggestions, and Resources

If you haven’t done so already, then I hope you will soon.

Ebola and all that it reveals about us-as individuals, as social beings, as moral and political actors, as inhabitants of several ecosystems and one big global ecosystem, and as the beneficiaries and stewards of scientific, medical, and public health advances-is just too significant an event to be ignored by conscientious citizens here in the US or by thoughtful people everywhere.


Beyond that, just as HIV was in the late 1980s, and has been ever since, Ebola is this fall’s “multidisciplinary trouble,” to employ June Osborn’s trenchant description of that public health problem and her prescient predictions about the likely contours of its “solution.” Continue reading.


"Thinking like a scientist is one of the best paths to democratization"- 2014 Award Honoree Representative Rush Holt Addresses Sciece and Citizenship at NCSCE's Capitol Hill Poster Session

On Tuesday, September 30th, members of the NCSCE community gathered in the Cannon Caucus room on Capitol Hill in Washington to view and celebrate the work of this year's poster session presenters, and honor this year's William E. Bennett awardees. Representative Rush Holt of the 12th District of New Jersey was presented with a special Bennett award for Extraordinary Contributions to Citizen Science for his extensive public service and his actions in keeping science at the forefront of civic discourse. Continue reading.


What You Need to Know About the Evidence on Evidence

No one understands the importance of evidence more than scientists, but how well do scientists understand evidence itself? Three presenters during Sunday’s program at the 2014 Washington Symposium addressed the complexities and applications of evidence in cultural, political, and educational contexts. Click here to read more about presentations from Dan Kahan of Yale Law School, Andrew Gelman of Columbia University, and Mary Nucci of Rutgers University.


Bridging the Gap Between Informal and Formal Education to Maximize STEM Learning

Whether characterized as service learning or civic engagement, a common concept arose throughout September 29th’s Washington Symposium presentations--the importance and benefits of taking science and learning beyond the walls of the classroom. Informal education is learner-driven, and acknowledges that learning takes place at all times and in any context. Understanding that learning can, and does, take place everywhere, Washington Symposium presenters discussed how taking learning outside of the classroom, and bringing real world issues in, impacts student learning gains. Click here to read more about presentations.


What’s Happening in SENCER-ISE: Cornell Student Researches Early Childhood Learning

How and when we learn is not determined by a class schedule. With most of our lives spent outside of a classroom, more attention should be paid to the learning that takes place in the “real world.” Kelly Yang, a senior majoring in human development and minoring in biological sciences at Cornell University, is doing just that. Kelly has been a research assistant in Cornell’s Early Childhood Cognition Lab (ECC Lab), directed by Dr. Tamar Kushnir, since her freshman year.Continue reading.


Distinguished Leaders in Informal Education Join SENCER-ISE Project as Senior Advisors

The National Center for Science and Civic Engagement is pleased to welcome two experts in the informal science education (ISE) field, Ms. Marsha Semmel and Dr. David Ucko, as senior advisors to the SENCER-ISE initiative. Like the late Alan Friedman who opened the doors for the SENCER community to engage with the ISE community, David (who prefers to be called “Dave”) and Marsha are nationally respected for their contributions to, and leadership in, the ISE community. Both are accomplished practitioners and strategic thinkers whose expertise will benefit a progressive, cutting edge project like SENCER-ISE. Click here to read more.


2014 Capitol Hill Poster Session Abstracts Now Available Online

The abstracts for the invited poster presentations at the 2014 NCSCE Washington Symposium are now available online. Twenty-four posters from 21 institutions from across the country are represented.  Following the session on Capitol Hill, authors will be submitting PDFs of their posters for inclusion on the NCSCE and SENCER websites. We will announce their publication in a future e-newsletter. Among this diverse collection of posters are three that we will briefly highlight here.


Engaging Mathematics Website Gets Upgrade

The website for the Engaging Mathematics initiative recently received an upgrade. The site moved to a new host, making the load speed much faster. The site is now also mobile friendly. Please visit the enhanced site and let us know what you think. We welcome your feedback. Direct all comments to Christine DeCarlo, the Engaging Mathematics program assistant, at You can also connect with the Engaging Mathematics initiative on Twitter at @MathEngaging.


SENCER Leadership Fellow Flora Lichtman Co-Creates Animated Documentary Called ‘Seeing the Invisible’

Science journalist and SENCER Leadership Fellow Flora Lichtman has co-created an animated documentary with Sharon Shattuck, an animator and filmmaker, called “Seeing the Invisible.” Continue reading.


SCI-New England to Host Fall Meeting on Big Data and Democratizing STEM Skills

On October 18, the New England SENCER Center for Innovation will host a regional meeting at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts in North Adams, Massachusetts. Continue reading.

SCI-MidAtlantic to Host Two Regional Conferences This Fall

SCI-MidAtlantic will host two fall meetings--"SENCER and Engaging Mathematics" on October 18 at LaGuardia Community College, and "SENCER and Teaching with Technology" on November 15 at Barnard College. Continue reading.

SSI 2014 Sessions, Posters, Photographs Now Online

Thanks to the generosity of SSI 2014 presenters, we are able to share PDFs of many of the presentations from plenary sessions, concurrent sessions, work sessions, workshops, and invited posters. We will also add audio recordings of several of our plenary sessions to the site over the next week.

To access PDFs of session presentations, please click here.

To access PDFs of invited posters, please click here.

Please also continue to visit these pages over the next few weeks, as presentations and posters will be continuously added as we receive them from presenters. If you presented at the Institute and are willing to share resources from your talk, please email documents to Kyle at We also invite you to visit this page to peruse photographs of SSI 2014 participants, plenary presenters, and poster presenters. If you have any photographs you would like to share, please send to NCSCE staff via email, or we welcome you to share them via Twitter with @NCSCE, @SENCERnet, @sencerise, or @MathEngaging.


Summer 2014 Journal Issue Addresses Interdisciplinary Collaborations, Service-Learning, Informal Science Education, and Civic Engagement in Asia

In the Summer 2014 issue of Science Education and Civic Engagement: An International Journal, you will find articles elucidating four very different approaches of the impact, both locally and internationally, of science education on civic life. In a strong example of the scholarship of teaching and learning, Elizabeth Olcese, Gerald Kobylski, and Charles Elliott of the United States Military Academy and Joseph Shannon of South Seattle College have documented their systematic and research-based approach to developing a valid assessment rubric for West Point's Interdisciplinary Core Program. Their article "Meeting the Challenge of Interdisciplinary Assessment" notes that preparing students to address increasingly complex civic and societal challenges will demand a STEM-rich education that places greater emphasis on interdisciplinary courses and curricula. However, the problem of defining, and then measuring "interdisciplinarity" has acted as a brake on the development of programs and courses that give students essential experience in integrating and synthesizing knowledge from multiple disciplines. The detailed report of their process and their account of the results of their initial implementation are valuable contributions to a larger conversation, both about efforts to increase the civic impact of STEM learning, and the strategies used to assess those innovations. Click here to read about other articles in this issue of the Journal.

Newest SENCER Backgrounders Address Synthetic Biology and Supporting Undergraduate Leadership

SENCER Backgrounders are intended to provide intelligent, general readers with high quality syntheses of some of the complex, capacious civic issues that SENCER courses sometimes use to teach basic science. The idea is not to explain the science, but to connect some of what is known, and as yet unknown scientifically, with some of what is at stake civically. A second goal is to identify where scientific knowledge sheds light in such a way as to make civic choices more optimal. At the 2014 SENCER Summer Institute, we announced the addition of two new backgrounders to the series. Click here to read more about the Backgrounder and access the full text.

2014 SENCER Models Now Available Online 

The three courses that have been selected as the SENCER 2014 models exemplify a number of exciting developments emerging in the curricula of participating institutions, including increasingly complex multi-disciplinary inquiry, the application of SENCER strategies to upper-division courses, and the extension of the SENCER approach to courses in non-STEM disciplines. Our first course in a social science, Economics, comes from the University of Hawai’i-Manoa. The Economics of Climate Change is an upper-division elective for majors that also fulfills the requirements in Social Sciences and Ethics for non-majors. Pollinators, from the University of Southern Connecticut, is a general education science course in the Honors College that addresses Colony Collapse Disorder as a case study in systems analysis and sustainability, demanding a highly integrated multi-disciplinary approach. Our third course is an introductory-level, general education course called simply The Chicken. This wide-ranging investigation of the many dimensions of the ubiquitous bird blends social and cultural analysis with substantial STEM content, including ontogeny, virology and epidemiology, genetics and evolution, avian behavior, probability and statistics, and nutrition. Click here for abstracts and full descriptions.

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Connect with SENCER for daily updates, news from around the STEM world, and conversations on twitter @sencernet and on facebook here! We welcome your input and any info you’re interested in sharing on our pages.