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  • 15 Sep 2023 7:35 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Merriam-Webster dictionary defines vocation as a summons or strong inclination to a particular state or course of action.  Tom Ervin embodied education as a vocation.  His passion and personal contributions to a community will have impacts far-beyond the years he spent physically among those with whom he connected. 

    Teaching is not merely a profession; it's a vocation that shapes the future. We are architects of knowledge,  mentors, and the catalysts for change in society. Participating in professional organizations, such as NESTA and the Boy Scouts, Tom Ervin understood the impact that community can have on empowering others and fostering excellence in education. 

    I hope to lead our organization with the same dedication as Tom and will always remember him for his good humor, support and most of all those times when he would make the effort to remind us that each of our contributions (regardless of size) is what brings us together as a community.  It is this community that will motivate, rejuvenate and remind us all that we are not alone on our journey.

    I will miss my NESTA friend, but will carry his spirit onward in my actions.  NESTA will be remembering Tom Ervin in our upcoming Fall issue of The Earth Scientist.  If you have any memories you would like to have included, please share them with our editor Peg Steffen ( or simply send along to me and I will be happy to share.

    While we look back at a life well-served, I too look forward to a new school year with new opportunities.  If you would like to be more involved with the goals of NESTA (large or small), please reach out.  

    Feeling at peace and looking forward.

    Natalie Macke
    NESTA President

  • 15 Aug 2023 10:38 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    August is here and some are already back in the classroom or perhaps like me you are preparing activities to engage students that foster a sense of excitement and inquiry for your classes.  We each have the unique opportunity and challenge to set clear expectations and goals these first days.  But more importantly, we need to establish a sense of community in our classroom by developing connections and facilitating collaborations among a large number of diverse learners. 

    To efficiently learn about my students, I use a "Get to Know Me.." questionnaire as one of my first assignments.  I have learned to include three short open-ended questions.  The first simply is an optional question that allows students to share with me whatever they think I should know. It always amazes me, what they choose to share when provided a blank script.  The second, the students share a question that they would they like to have answered as a result of taking my class.  This sets the tone, that each learner arrives with their own understandings that I intend to acknowledge.  Lastly, and more specific to our discipline, prompts students to share any personal connection or sensitivity to a Natural Disaster or event.  The recent devastating and fatal fires in Hawaii certainly prompt a teachable moment about Earth systems, but I also need to prepare for the human connections and the emotional toll that these events incur.  While the beginning of the school year provides a unique opportunity to establish expectations and elicit excitement, I must also prepare for engaging the social-emotional needs of my students.  

    Earth systems learning always includes direct or indirect conversations about impacts to families and communities.  Fire, flood, earthquakes, tornados, hurricanes are all abrupt and devastating.  Many of our students are anticipating more of these events will occur as a result of Earth's warming climate.  I'm reminded about that from a number of my student's questions gathered from my "Get to Know Me.." form.  

    Some actions I will use to better understand the social/emotional connections of my students:

    1. Look to the professional resources available to me, such as the guidance department or child-study team.  Ask about my student roster and find out what services are available to support students emotional reactions to your classroom topics and discussions. 

    2. Reach out to parents ahead of time to share the topics I will be tackling in class and encourage them to ask their child at home about their reaction to the class topic and discussion. 

    3. Use formative assessment methods such as exit tickets and journals to not simply prompt for information, but instead inquire about personal reactions and/or affective empathy.  These can be used to engage students with important metacognitive tools.  

    While I truly look forward to the beginning of each year my heart hurts for the Hawaiian community. If you are interested in continuing this discussion, please reach out.  I'm happy to help you connect.   I wish you each of you the best start of new school year!   

    Onward to 2023-2024!
    Natalie Macke
    NESTA President

  • 15 Jul 2023 9:57 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Summer happenings are here.  It's time for lots of personal distractions peppered with well-intentioned work.  I hope everyone has use this relatively quiet month to reflect and restore.  In that spirit, this will be a short message to quickly share a few NESTA happenings to share. 

    1) Kudos to Peg Steffen for a full-throttle effort working on Spring and Summer editions of The Earth Scientist.   Both are NOAA-sponsored issues that will be coming to members mailboxes in the upcoming months.  

    2) I sat in at this year's National Congress on Science Education.  This yearly event brings science education organizations together in working groups to make recommendations to NSTA that provide a focus of needs that have been identified by those of us "on the front-lines" (so to speak).  The overall arching theme of the resolutions identified key needs addressing diversity, equity and inclusion in the classroom.  The resolutions specifically acknowledged the following needs: (NOTE: all of the below stated are my wording/language and not the official language of the resolutions, but simply reflective of some of the ideas and focus statements)

    - Guidance with Implementation of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) in the science classroom that includes equitable grading practices.. 

    - Develop a clear and all-encompassing definition of DEI to foster "science education for all" and exemplars that showcase research based DEI strategies that equip all science teachers to support each student.

    - Professional development and assets to address the topic of neurodivergent learners and for groups such as NESTA to share information and PD opportunities about this topic.

    - Specific supports for groups like NESTA to build and support the professional community. 

    - Language, training and tools to support state associations and continued work on advocacy for hiring practices to ensure a diverse science teaching workforce.

    - Policy to address the critical need for all elementary students to have equitable access to high-quality science learning experiences in grades preK-5.

    N. Macke
    President (2022-2024)

  • 15 Jun 2023 8:30 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The end of another school year is finally upon us.  These past weeks have been a flurry of final assessments, student support, senior goodbyes and of course, classroom organization.    But, I'm so happy to finally be granted the mental freedom to look ahead to next year, both in terms of NESTA ongoings and continuing my professional growth.  To that end, I'll briefly share some of my summer goals with all of you and encourage each of you to reach out to continue the conversation, work collaboratively or simply cheer me on :). 

    1) My professional read this summer is Ambitious Science Teaching by Mark Windschitl, Jessica Thompson, and Melissa Braaten.  

    2) My NESTA collaboration goal is to reach to other organizations to discover how professional educational organizations can best support each other and our communities.

    3) My NESTA improvement goal is to lead a working/reframing of the Windows to the Universe website.  It's time for a visual refresh and to review and improve the content as well as its' accessibility as a resource in today's classrooms.

    4) My classroom preparation goal is to perform a complete overhaul of my Chemistry classroom curriculum.  With the support of my supervisor, I will be taking the ideas (perhaps framework) from OpenSciEd chemistry curriculum but putting my ESS expertise spin on it.  As I rummage through ideas I'll happily share out in our Facebook PLC which is collaborative space only for our members.  So, I'm happy to journal my ideas and experiences there for all of you to share your thoughts.  

    There is certainly more..  but those are my BIG FOUR goals.    Hope you all have a productive, restful and re-invigorating summer filled with family, friends, time to explore and grow. 

    Wishing you all the best!

    Natalie Macke
    NESTA President (2022-2024)

  • 15 May 2023 6:27 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    May flowers surely follow April showers...   This is undoubtedly a universal sign for teachers to start thinking about how the lessons learned from the past can be best used to forge a bright and productive future for their classrooms.    So, if you are like me, you find it particularly difficult to wrap up the learning from this past year in your classroom as you start to be consumed by imagining the possibility of a better classroom for next year's students.  So while reality begs to keep me grounded, this Blog entry I will indulge my sensibilities to follow the fancy of my imagination to paint a future.

    How should I focus efforts of NESTA to effect change in both my classroom as well as other classrooms to support ESS education?

    This past year I've learned that volunteer work at NESTA is not too much different than what I've learned to anticipate from my own classroom in terms of ups and downs.  But regardless of the peaks and troughs, we can count on a do-over.  So this is what NESTA summer projects look like :

    1. Window to Universe is due for an overhaul of sorts.  Time for a visual refresh and content - update.  Members are encouraged to share their insights with our team.
    2. Our NESTA website needs a bit of  refining of sorts to better address specific audiences.  This summer we will be focusing on sharing information to help student-teachers and new teachers effectively implement 3-D Learning in their classrooms.  
    3. Just when you think you have teaching down to "science"of sorts...  looks like we have to "think again".  So my Chemistry classroom is getting a makeover of sort to incorporate more ideas presented in "OpenSciEd".  Time to consider how storylines can best be used in a manner to support student investigation and learning.  Access our Facebook PLC if you want to join in on the journey.
    4. My colleague Missy Holzer and I (Natalie Macke) will  be working on a storyline for NJ/NY educators to  use NJ's unique mining history to engage students in authentic investigations about Earth's natural resources.    We'll share our work at the GeoSTEM Academy , August 15, 2023 during a NESTA co-sponsored workshop at Sterling Hill Mining Museum.    I hope you will join us!

    Thank you all for embracing my imaginations for tomorrow's classroom!  


    Natalie Macke

    President of NESTA

  • 15 Apr 2023 9:19 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Spring is in the air and that feeling of renewal is refreshing.  It was so nice to meet some of our members in person as NSTA, Atlanta this past March and have the opportunity to share what NESTA has to offer with others through our presence at the NOAA booth as well as during various workshop events.  

    The work of NESTA leadership continues and summer planning has officially begun.   We are excited to focus our attention and energy this summer to upgrade our Windows to the Universe website.  Please be on the look-out for a user survey so our upgrades can focus on the needs of paid members.  We are dedicated to continue the legacy of Window to the Universe to be a supportive and engaging tool for classroom use.  

    Exciting news from our recent NESTA  leadership elections.  We are happy that Chris Campbell (Region IV Director) and DeEtta Andersen (Region VI Director) will continue in their positions for another two years.  We're happy to also welcome back Dr. Mike Jabot in his new position as Region II Director.  Lastly, we have two new Directors at Large who bring a wealth of knowledge and connections to help NESTA increase outreach efforts and support our new initiative to engage educators through their classrooms with offerings through our NESTA Data Network.  Congratulations to Angie Rizzi and Diane Ripollone.  Angie Rizzi currently serves as the My NASA Data Task Lead which is coordinated out of the NASA Langley Research Center Science Directorate Earth Sciences group.  Diane, a mentor for the American Meteorological Society Education Program teaches science at Cardinal Gibbons High School in North Carolina.  We are so fortunate that these two amazing educators are willing to join the rest of us teacher volunteers working at NESTA to help make connections and offer opportunities that support Earth System Science and Space Science to K-16 educators and their classrooms. 

    NESTA will enjoy our new Spring beginnings and continue to work to ensure that quality Earth and Space Science Education if available for all generations.  Thank you to all that support these efforts through donating their time and resources.  You make a difference.

    Natalie Macke
    NESTA President

  • 05 Mar 2023 10:50 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Just finished... but work in progress..  
    Check out our website dedicated to promoting NESTA member and NESTA affiliates/partner work at NSTA, Atlanta later this month!  All members are encouraged to let us know how they are participating.  Just send an email..

  • 19 Feb 2023 11:18 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    NESTA is really proud to of our journal, The Earth Scientist (TES).  Shout-out to our current editor, Peg Steffen who has curated, organized and published outstanding and informative issues these past years.  By happen-stance I started poking around our website and found that access to TES was a bit confusing and needed some updating to preserve our member benefit as well as highlight our sponsored issues.  Check out our updates and I encourage you to spend time with our past issues.    I hope to find a member or members to work with that will do exactly that so we can highlight some articles that are "oldies, but goodies" to share with the public!  If you are interested in librarian sort of position, let me know.

    Natalie Macke
    NESTA President

  • 17 Feb 2023 12:30 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    So as we inch closer to our big splash at the National Science Teachers Association Meeting, we are in full throttle mode preparing resources to share along with PD events and our Friends of Earth Science Reception.  Will you be at NSTA, Atlanta in March?  If so, let me know if you have a presentation you would like us to highlight or resource you are interested in sharing at the event.   Busy weekend coming up!

    NESTA President, Natalie Macke

  • 05 Feb 2023 12:43 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Our Community Project Working Group has powered on to prepare our first Community Data Exploration Project!   We hope that we can engage teachers and classrooms while supporting teachers offering opportunities for authentic scientific investigation.     Registration for our first project will start in March!  Stay tuned..   


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