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October 22, 2015

Table of Contents

Discovery Education and 3M Announce 2015 Science Competition Winner
Accelerate Learning Publishes Guides to Working With the Next Generation Science Standards
Learn2Earn Releases Study Results on Whooo's Reading Online Platform
Britannica Escolar Improved for Spanish Study, Classroom Work
Muzzy Lane Software Introduces Muzzy Lane Author

Discovery Education and 3M Announce 2015 Science Competition Winner

Discovery Education and 3M have named 15 year-old Hannah Herbst from Boca Raton, Fla., the winner of the 2015Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge. Herbst created an energy probe prototype that seeks to offer a stable power source to developing countries by using untapped energy from ocean currents. This innovation was inspired by Herbst’s desire to help her 9-year-old pen pal living in Ethiopia who lacks a reliable source of power and electricity. Herbst’s scientific thinking reflected the competition’s goal of applying science to everyday life, creating a solution that will improve lives and strengthen communities around the globe.

Herbst, a ninth grader from Florida Atlantic University High School, competed alongside nine other middle school finalists yesterday during a live competition at the 3M Innovation Center in St. Paul, Minn. She was awarded the title of “America’s Top Young Scientist” as well as a $25,000 cash prize.

To download hi-res images and b-roll footage of the science competition, go to

During the past three months, Herbst and the other nine finalists had the exclusive opportunity to work directly with a 3M scientist to develop their personal inventions as part of a unique summer mentorship program. Herbst was paired with Jeffrey Emslander, a 3M corporate scientist whose research and patents have helped 3M reduce emissions to the environment and use less energy in the making of products. Each of the students collaborated with some of 3M’s top scientists, who provided guidance as they worked through the scientific method to advance their ideas from a theoretical concept into an actual prototype. Together, the mentors and finalists shared their passion for science, reviewed the scientific process and worked virtually through pre-assigned objectives, with resources and support provided by Discovery Education and 3M.

During the final competition hosted by Discovery Education’s Lance Rougeux, the finalists shared their completed inventions with a panel of judges, including Hakeem Oluseyi, astrophysicist and star of Science Channel’s Outrageous Acts of Science. In addition to presenting their prototypes, the ten finalists competed in two additional challenges: 1) combining multiple 3M technologies to yield new solutions; and 2) building a simple machine using science and engineering principles.

The remaining nine finalists also received a variety of prizes from Discovery Education and 3M. The second, third and fourth place winners each received a $1,000 prize and a student adventure trip to a destination such as Costa Rica. These extraordinary students are:

  • Raghav Ganesh from San Jose, Calif., an eighth grader at Cupertino Union School District’s Joaquin Miller Middle School, received second place for his innovation that helps monitor physiological and environmental factors that can trigger stress in those with Autistic Spectrum Disorder.

  • Amulya Garimella from Pittsburgh, Pa., a seventh grader at Fox Chapel Area School District’s Dorseyville Middle School, received third place for her distraction-monitoring prototype that alerts the user of distraction by measuring EEG brainwaves.

  • Iris Gupta from North Potomac, Md., a seventh grader at Montgomery County Public School’s Robert Frost Middle School, received fourth place for her innovation that seeks to stop allergies at the source through inhaling or injecting nanoparticles that block allergy-triggering particles.

The fifth through tenth place winners each received a $1,000 prize and a $500 gift card from Discovery Experiences, which offers first-hand, memorable adventures they see and learn about on Discovery's networks. These finalists, in alphabetical order, are:

  • Peter Finch from Harrisville, R.I., a home schooled eighth grader

  • Arthur Frigo III from Jupiter, Fla., an eighth grader at Turtle River Montessori School

  • Alec Lessing from New York, N.Y., a ninth grader at Collegiate School

  • Conner Pettit from Lonetree, Colo., a ninth grader at Regis Jesuit High School

  • Krishna Reddy from Wichita Falls, Texas, an eighth grader at Wichita Falls Independent School District’s Kirby Junior High School

  • Sanjana Shah from Cupertino, Calif., a ninth grader at Fremont Union High School District’s Monta Vista High School

Since its inception, the Young Scientist Challenge has awarded hundreds of thousands of dollars in student scholarships and prizes, paired students with world-renowned scientists to give them real-world insights and delivered much-needed science resources to millions of students, teachers and families across the country. Previous winners have met the President of the United States, addressed members of Congress, worked with the nation’s top scientists and been featured in Forbes magazine’s annual “30 Under 30” list.

For more information on the 2015 Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge and to learn more about this year’s finalists, go to

Source: Discovery Education,

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Accelerate Learning Publishes Guides to Working With the Next Generation Science Standards

Science curriculum company Accelerate Learning is helping schools to better understand the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and to quickly, easily and effectively transition to them. Instead of having students go to one class for chemistry, another for physics and so on, NGSS-aligned teaching uses disciplinary core ideas, science and engineering practices, and crosscutting concepts to encourage students to think of science as a process rather than a set of discrete facts.

The company has published two free guides, “Understanding the NGSS: A Brief on Structure and Purpose” and “Designing NGSS Scope and Sequences,” which are available at “Understanding the NGSS” is a five-page PDF that explains the nature of the NGSS, including the standards’ focus on inquiry and the use of performance expectations rather than multiple choice testing. The guide provides a list of key terminology to enable educators to understand what is being required of them.

Developed by Accelerate Learning’s pedagogical experts, “Designing NGSS Scope and Sequences” is a 15-page PDF that contains a series of scope documents that provide options for schools looking to implement the NGSS. From traditional four-year models to conceptual progression models, these options provide a framework for structuring classrooms and grade levels as they transition to using the NGSS.

Accelerate Learning’s STEMscopes NGSS preK-12 curriculum, developed in conjunction with Rice University, is based on a proprietary IDEA model — illuminate, do, expand, and assess — that empowers teachers to make sense of the disciplinary core idea. From hands-on, inquiry-based investigations to rigorous claim-evidence-reasoning assessments, STEMscopes NGSS takes the guesswork out of teaching the NGSS.

Source: Accelerate Learning, Inc.,

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Learn2Earn Releases Study Results on Whooo's Reading Online Platform

Learn2Earn has released results of its analysis of its Whooo’s Reading online platform. After a year of using the online platform, elementary students at all grade levels read books with significantly higher text complexity, as determined by Lexile measures, than at the start of that year. The data came from more than 2,700 students who used the platform during the 2014-15 school year.

The data was drawn from a sample of students in grades one through five who had used Whooo’s Reading consistently from October 2014 through March 2015. The increase in text complexity was particularly pronounced for students who began the school year reading books that were below-grade level difficulty. For example, the books read by struggling third grade readers increased in text complexity by a little over 300L on average while books chosen by normal to strong readers in that grade level only increased by an average of about 120L.

After students use Whooo’s Reading to log their fiction and nonfiction books, as well as minutes spent reading, teachers can preselect a prompt for students to have the option to answer a Common Core-aligned question. The platform adds a gamification element by awarding Wisdom Coins based on the amount of minutes logged and their answer to the comprehension question. Students then use those coins to “buy” virtual accessories from the platform’s Owl Store and customize the owl avatars (called Owlvatars) assigned to them on their initial registration. Teachers grade students’ answers, provide feedback either publicly or privately, and review the reading ability progress for both individual students and the class as a whole. Whooo’s Reading includes a social aspect that allows students to share book recommendations as well as comments each other’s book reviews.

Source: Learn2Earn,

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Britannica Escolar Improved for Spanish Study, Classroom Work

Britannica Digital Learning has announced a new and enhanced version of Britannica Escolar Online, its knowledge-building resource for accurate and age-appropriate educational content in Spanish. Created for grades K-8, its new features make it more valuable for native Spanish speakers, bilingual students and students learning Spanish.

New features include:

  • Two distinct levels of content—Primaria (elementary) and Secundaria (middle school), with relevant information for students at every grade and reading level.

  • Engaging homepages at each level with entry points to thousands of articles, images, videos, maps and tables, many of which are newly added.

  • Reino Animal (Animal Kingdom) and ¿Sabías que…? (Did You Know?), special features that pique students’ curiosity and desire to dig deeper.

  • Mi Britannica (My Britannica), a convenient place to save, organize and share information and media from research, exercises and projects.

The website includes a number of advanced design features that make it easy and rewarding to use. Responsive design provides access to the site anytime, anywhere on any device, including tablets, smartphones and laptops. Users can expand how and where they search for information easily, moving from one level with a single click to get results on the same topic at the other level. They can also search by subject and connect to their other Britannica resources from the Escolar homepage.

Also available from Britannica is Spanish Reference Center, which includes Britannica Escolar Online and additional resources suitable for high school and college. Information about these and other Britannica products is available at Schools, districts and staff can also shop and browse Britannica’s education products at

Source: Britannica Digital Learning,

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Muzzy Lane Software Introduces Muzzy Lane Author

Muzzy Lane Software has announced the release of Muzzy Lane Author, a growing suite of tools for authoring dynamic game-based content.

Using Muzzy Lane Author you can design and develop content in the morning, launch it in the afternoon, and update it as often as you wish, the announcement states. By making these tools available the company intends to enable a new wave of game-based learning.

Designed to be mobile first, Muzzy Lane Author puts the ability to create and maintain content directly into the hands of experts who know their subjects best. Games created with Muzzy Lane Author help assess whether students can apply what they’ve learned.

Targeted at course builders, online educators, and subject matter experts, Muzzy Lane Author will ship with an initial set of five activity types: Smart Chat, Insights, Vote, Align, and SlideShow. Several more activity types are under development.

By moving established products like the McGraw-Hill Practice series to its new game service, Muzzy Lane facilitates the authoring of new scenarios directly into these robust simulation environments.

Muzzy Lane is visiting schools over the coming months to demonstrate its new game service and authoring platform.

Source: Muzzy Lane,

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