In The News

Just Announced! Rodger Bybee To Speak At SLI

Posted: May 22, 2018

One of the most recent speakers to join us at the Summer Leadership Institute is NSELA member Rodger Bybee, one of the grandfathers of science education, the father of the 5E's method, and one of the authors of the Next Generation Science Standards. Rodger will speak about his new book, "STEM Education Now More Than Ever". His book is described as being "as thought-provoking as it is constructive".

In his book Rodger looks at the impact of STEM in the history of the US, and includes practical recommendations, one of which involves the importance of strong leadership from teachers and the STEM education community—leadership Bybee believes we need now more than ever.

Register now for the Summer Leadership Institute to see Rodger and the other great presenters!


"A Safety Minute" by Dr. Ken Roy - NSELA Safety Compliance Officer

Posted: May 22, 2018

Lithium battery dangers and how you can help prevent them! 

Many physics and STEM labs use lithium batteries. Unfortunately their potential danger is unknown until a fire occurs. Schools need to make sure they know how to properly use, store and dispose of them before a serious safety incident occurs. Check out the following recommendations on how to deal with them at:

For additional safety information, follow Dr. Ken on Twitter @drroysafersci. Also follow Dr. Ken on Instagram at Drkensafetyjob1.


A Caterpillar Outwits Corn Defenses By Gorging On Fattening ‘Junk’ Food

Posted: May 22, 2018

Here’s the story of a caterpillar that foils gruesome violence orchestrated by corn.

No, that’s not backward. Plants often look helpless to a human, but they fight with smells and other invisible chemistry. A growing body of evidence, for example, shows that plants under attack can waft out scents that attract help, such as tiny wasps that deal a lingering death to leaf-chewing caterpillars.

A dream for future farming is to boost such crop powers. Yet a tale, published May 16 in Science Advances, of how Spodoptera littoralis caterpillars can escape a trap set for them by maize plants shows how complex a task that could be.

These attackers are “greenish, brownish, ugly caterpillars,” says Ted Turlings of the University of Neuchâtel in Switzerland, who makes no secret of where his allegiance lies. The caterpillars damage maize, cotton and a variety of other crops in the Middle East, Africa and elsewhere. But maize fights back, of course. As the caterpillars crunch into a leaf, substances in their spit trigger a burst of furious plant chemistry, which causes the release of certain scents.

The first wave of odors from damaged plants, the cut-grass smell, comes just from ripped tissues spilling their innards. Then within hours, maize sends out new scents that can advertise the kind of pests attacking it. “You can actually smell it yourself,” Turlings says. Or at least his trained nose can.

These telltale plant substances help female Microplitis rufiventris wasps track down a suitable species of fresh caterpillar flesh. The females cruise for caterpillars as sites for injecting an egg. “Out of that egg comes a little larva, and it starts eating the insides of the caterpillar — not a very pleasant thing,” Turlings says. Caterpillars continue feeding for several days but then just passively stay alive longer as a source of fresh baby food.

What Turlings and his colleagues have found, however, is that what the caterpillar eats makes a difference. Wasps were more interested in caterpillars grazing on maize that researchers genetically engineered not to produce a plant defense compound called indole. In contrast, wasps weren’t very likely to inject eggs if this caterpillar species had been feeding on normal maize leaves.


Undamaged maize leaves don’t give off much in the way of smells (top graph, each peak represents an airborne compound). When caterpillars first bite into a maize leaf, though, a wave of leafy green volatiles rise (middle graph). In a matter of hours, the leaf synthesizes other volatiles, including a compound called indole, that together offer more specific clues to the kind of attacker (bottom graph). These releases lure such caterpillar enemies as a female parasitoid wasp.

Indole’s “mothball-like odor [is] terrible in high dosages,” Turlings says. Caterpillars didn’t like it much either — except when female wasps were zinging around them. Then the caterpillars fed willingly enough, a test showed. “It’s almost like self-medicating,” he says.

There’s a cost to the caterpillars’ choice to consume indole-rich foliage. “They grow fatter but not healthier,” Turlings says. More die prematurely. On the plus side, wasp eggs don’t flourish as well inside these caterpillars if a wasp does try to use them as zombified baby food. The odor of pure indole could attract the wasps, but caterpillars bulked up on indole-rich leaves did not, the researchers found in lab tests. This caterpillar’s feeding evolution had found a loophole in maize’s defense strategy.

Just about every plant tested so far synthesizes special compounds that can lure in some kinds of natural enemies of pests, Turlings says. Yet he’d never run across a caterpillar with this bad-food strategy of avoiding the wasps.

Caterpillars evolving a work-around defense against a widespread plant defense don’t shock chemical ecologist James Tumlinson of Penn State University. In these ornate biological systems of deceit and manipulation, “pretty much anything you can think of is possible,” he says. “Once we get over our surprise, it nearly always makes evolutionary sense.”

Click here to view original article.


3 Science Leaders Renewed To NSELA Last Week

Posted: May 22, 2018

3 science leaders have renewed to NSELA last week.

They are: 


• Malcolm Cheney - Retired; Windsor, Connecticut
• Barbara Foots - Houston, Texas
• Brianna Greco - Norris Middle School; Fort Calhoun, Nebraska

Please welcome them back!

Members, you can connect to all NSELA members through the NSELA Member Directory. You must be signed in to access. Not yet a member? Join today!


"A Safety Minute" by Dr. Ken Roy - NSELA Safety Compliance Officer

Posted: May 8, 2018

Safety Minute by Dr. Ken Roy, NSELA Safety Compliance Officer:

Chemistry safety experts warn schools to stop unsafe science demonstrations The science experiment that caused a flash fire, injuring 17 children and a teacher at Merrol Hyde Magnet School on Wednesday was not a surprise to chemical safety experts across the country. They have been warning schools about unsafe lab demonstrations for years.

Training and supervision are critical by school administrators and supervisors, given the shared liability. Science leadership need to review their school and board of education safety policies and make sure they are being implemented. What is in writing must be followed in the classroom/lab trenches! See article at follow link: Chemistry safety experts and government agencies warn schools to stop unsafe science demonstrations

For additional safety information, follow Dr. Ken on Twitter @drroysafersci.

<< first < Prev 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 Next > last >>

Page 52 of 68