Frequently Asked Questions
What is Science Matters?
NSTA’s newest initiative, Science Matters, is a major public awareness and engagement campaign designed to rekindle a national sense of urgency and action among schools and families about the importance of science education and science literacy. Science Matters builds on the success of the Building a Presence for Science program, first launched in 1997 as an e-networking initiative to assist teachers of science with professional development opportunities. The Building a Presence for Science network—now the Science Matters network—reaches readers in 34 states and the District of Columbia.
The Science Matters network is a vehicle for information dissemination and communication. Through the electronic network, teachers of science become aware of professional development opportunities, science resource materials, and funding programs within their area, region, state, and/or at the national level. They will also receive important information, helpful articles and materials to pass on to parents that focus on quality learning experiences in the sciences —starting at an early age—and why science education is critical to science literacy and our future workforce.
What is the general structure of the Science Matters network within a state?
A state Science Matters network is directed by a State Coordinator who is generally selected with the support of the state science teachers association. This State Coordinator works with regional contacts known as Super Key Leaders (SKL) and Key Leaders (KL) to identify a Point of Contact (PoC) for science in every school. The Science Matters network in each state is self-managed.
What is a Point of Contact?
The Point of Contact (PoC) is a classroom teacher or building-level person who is an advocate for science education. The PoC is the front line of the Science Matters network. The role of a PoC is to receive and disseminate information to their colleagues.
What is a Key Leader?
The Key Leader (KL) is a person who has the role of working with multiple PoCs within a specific school system or geographic region in the state. One of the responsibilities for a KL is to identify PoCs for the schools within their region. Another could involve training the PoC in using the network.
What is a Super Key Leader?
The Super Key Leader (SKL) is a person who has the role of working with multiple Key Leaders. Not all states need or have Super Key Leaders. The SKL helps to identify KL and PoC. The SKL can generate messages within their region for dissemination to that region or across the state.
What is a State Coordinator?
The State Coordinator (SC) is responsible for the administration of the state Science Matters network. The SC identifies and works with Key Leaders and Super Key Leaders to establish the state Science Matters program. The SC is often responsible for generating and sending messages for professional development throughout the state or in a defined region. The SC works with agencies, foundations, and various programs to identify state partners. The SC may seek grants and funding opportunities to support the delivery of face-to-face professional development workshops for members of the Science Matters network. The SC communicates with NSTA and other SC.
What can be expected with my membership in Science Matters?
As a member, you will be part of a system of communication that can quickly disseminate information on events, resources, opportunities, and funding of interest to teachers of science. Many state coordinators provide regular electronic newsletters. Also, each member of NSTA Science Matters receives a monthly e-newsletter. The national e-newsletter contains information that relates to science teaching, professional development and grant opportunities currently available to teachers, and helpful resources available for parents.
Does it cost to be a member of the Science Matters community?
There is no cost associated with being part of the NSTA Science Matters community. Also, membership in NSTA or with its state chapters or affiliates is not required.
My state is not connected to the Science Matters community. How does a state become a member of the Science Matters electronic community?
To join the Science Matters community, start with your state science chapter or NSTA affiliate. Discuss with them your interest in the Science Matters network and what you are willing and able to do to assist in bringing your state into the Science Matters community. After that, establish a working group from the interested parties and stakeholders in the science education family in your state. Then, contact Science Matters State Coordinators in other states to hear how the network works for their science community. At this point, someone from the state team should contact the NSTA liaison at (703-312-9390) for the procedure to officially become part of the Science Matters community and to be entered into the electronic database. Following this discussion and what you have learned from your discussions with other members, create a plan with a state steering committee to bring in as many state partners as desired.
If through fact finding, it is decided start-up money is needed, how can money be obtained to support the new Science Matters initiative in my state?
There is no money available through NSTA to support a state chapter of Science Matters. There are as many ideas of how to obtain money as there are State Coordinators. NSTA can help steer you to the State Coordinators to have them assist with your need.
What are the opportunities for a state to join Science Matters?
Through Science Matters your state can develop a network that connects directly to a teacher within each school building. Plus your state can align itself with an organization that has a national focus on science education such as NSTA. This extensive network will better help your state network and achieve your individual state goals.
What is the advantage for a teacher to join Science Matters?
As a teacher, you are electronically connected to all teachers within your state’s individual network. As a member, you are in the forefront of working to provide quality science education for the students within your school system.
What are some typical activities that various Science Matters groups in states do?
Some activities might include: electronic newsletter exchanges, message boards, sharing and/or providing professional development opportunities, and obtaining resources for state functions. For example: The PoC has an active role in their building. A conversation about science can begin with the exchange of information that has been disseminated to them from the state or national level.
For information, please contact Wendy Binder at: