STEMtastic Newsletter

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NC Department of Public Instruction

September 2019


Home of STEMtastic News


A Year To Celebrate!

2019 Envision SSoD Recognition
Model STEM School of Distinction

Congratulations Envision Science Academy

NC Model STEM School of Distinction


On September 5th, Envision Science Academy became the 30th NC public school to receive the prestigious STEM School of Distinction designation before the State Board of Education in Raleigh. Recognized as a Model School, Envision Science Academy of Wake Forest was acknowledged for their amazing STEM educational practices, benefiting their students and their community. NC DPI extends it's best wishes for continued success and achievement and encourages all schools with a STEM focus to reach out and network with this successful school. Visit their website at

You deserve to be the next NC STEM School of Distinction!


Many schools across our state facilitate quality STEM instruction; maximizing community partnerships and driving opportunities for students, developing the skills necessary for future success. NC DPI and the NC State Board of Education want to recognize each and every school that exemplifies the qualities associated with STEM success.


The STEM School Progress Rubric serves as an incredible tool for self-assessment and school improvement and is the key to achievement for STEM schools in North Carolina.


Schools who self-assess at the Prepared or Model level of achievement, based on the Rubric, are encouraged to complete an Intent to Apply with NC DPI. This intent does not obligate the school, but instead, allows the opportunity for receiving additional information and resources toward becoming recognized as one of North Carolina's finest in STEM education.


Interested schools should complete their Intent no later than October 11, 2019.  Please contact Howard Ginsburg at should you have further questions.

Toshiba Molecular Structure

Grants for Grades 6-12

Toshiba America Foundation


Toshiba America Foundation (TAF) grants fund the projects, ideas and materials teachers need to innovate in their Science, Technology, Engineering and Math classrooms. TAF is interested in funding innovative projects designed by teachers or small teams of teachers for use in their own schools and classroom.

Toshiba America Foundation believes science and mathematics are exciting fields in which all students can succeed with the proper tools and instruction.

An application form is required. TAF uses two application forms:

Grade K-5 applications are accepted once a year on October 1st.

Grade 6-12 applications for $5,000 or less are accepted on a rolling basis, throughout the calendar year. But the deadlines are 6/1, 9/1, 12/1, 3/1. Grant requests of more than $5,000 are reviewed twice a year. Applications for grants of more than $5,000 are due November 1st and May 1st each year.

Who or What's Your STEM Inspiration?

NC Science Olympiad, Burroughs Wellcome Fund and the SMT Center asks, “Who or What’s Your STEM Inspiration?”   Answer the question and be eligible to win a STEM prize pack.

If you work with students – be sure to share this email. It's as easy as 1, 2, 3!

  1. Snap a photo of your STEM inspiration.
  2. Share why your inspiration sparked a love of STEM for you.
  3. Post your entry using #WonderChallenge and #STEMInspiration

Congressional App Challenge

The Congressional App Challenge

The Congressional App Challenge is an annual initiative of the U.S. Congress to encourage student engagement in computer science and STEM.


Middle and high school students, working as individuals or in teams of up to four people, are invited to participate. No computer science expertise is required and nearly half of past participants said they were beginners when they began their projects. (The App Challenge website includes helpful links to sites focused on learning how to code.)


Registration is now open for students. See more detailed rules and guidelines on the App Challenge website.

Happy iSTEM Day!

September 18th - Creating awareness about integrated STEM and connecting the classroom to the real-world.


Looking for inspiration on how to celebrate?  How about some FOOTBALL?  As a sport, career and business industry, football is an excellent example of the use of STEM. Explore the path a defender must take in order to tackle a ball carrier, and how this distance - called the "angle of pursuit" - can be calculated by using the Pythagorean Theorem.


STEM Happens Network has partnered with NBC News Learn to put together a series of videos like this one and others with sample STEM lesson plans to inspire educators.


Bridging the Gap

2019 Bridging the Gap Conference

Bridging the Gap is an annual conference whose goal is to strengthen K-16 STEM education throughout North Carolina.


It brings together educators, business leaders, government officials and others who play a role in STEM education to share ideas and resources.


The conference is organized by the North Carolina Association for Biomedical Research.


Register to Attend the 2019 Bridging the Gap Conference


STEM Career Showcase for Students with Disabilities

STEM Career Showcase for Students with Disabilities

Tuesday, October 15, 10:00am-2:00pm

The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, in collaboration with SAS Institute, will host our annual STEM Career Showcase for Students with Disabilities on Tuesday, October 15 from 10:00 AM until 2:00 PM. 


This event is designed for 6th-12th grade students, functioning at or around grade level, to meet professionals with disabilities who have thriving careers in STEM fields.


The event is free, but pre-registration is required:

Register as an individual here.

Register as a group here.

Name the Next NASA Rover

NASA invites U.S. students to submit essays to name NASA's next Mars 2020 rover. K-12 students will have until November 1 to submit their rover name and a short essay (maximum 150 words) to explain the reasons for their selected name.

Name the Next NASA Rover



Please join the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction this fall for an exciting opportunity to connect with practitioners from across North Carolina as we explore Personalized Learning and what it can mean for your district or charter school. Each of the regional events will be held from 9:30 A.M. to 3:00 P.M.

During this time, teams of educators will be guided through:

  • An understanding of the working definition of personalized learning (what it can be and what it is not),
  • An alignment of current efforts and approaches in your district or charter school, and
  • Discussion and planning for next steps for personalized learning implementation through strategic plans and continuous improvement plans.

Each public school unit is asked to send a team of 2-3 staff to participate, so please consider those individuals who are influencers or key decision-makers in your district or charter school. Suggested participants may include those from Academic/Curriculum, Digital Learning or Technology, and a school-level leader.

Registration is open and can be accessed at Please have each participant complete registration.

  • Below are the meeting dates and locations, but you may choose the date and location that best fits with your schedule or travel needs.
  • Space is limited, so be sure to register your team as soon as possible.
  • Once each meeting location is at capacity, a waitlist will be created for each location.

Please contact Emma Braaten with questions or for additional information at





October 2


WCPS Professional Development & Family Engagement Center - 415 S. Virginia St.
Goldsboro, NC 27530

October 3


BTW Educational Resource Center - 66 Booker T Washington Road,
Clarkton, NC 28433

October 9


Beaufort County EdTech Center - 820 Bridge St.
Washington, NC 27889

October 10

North Central

Franklin County School - 53 West River Road 
Louisburg, NC 27549

October 17


Buncombe County Schools Central Office - 175 Bingham Road,
Asheville, NC 28806



Cell Biology and Cancer

Cell Biology and Cancer

Monday, November 4, 2019
Duke University
Durham, N.C.

Rx for Science Literacy is partnering with Duke University to present Cell Biology and Cancer, a one-day workshop on Monday, November 4, from 8 a.m. - 4 p.m. at Duke University in Durham, N.C.

This workshop is based on a curriculum that addresses the development and impact of cancer and the research that has guided public health policies and medical interventions that are helping prevent, treat and cure the disease. It also focuses on the relationship between biomedical research and the improvement of personal and public health.

The workshop features an electronic-only version of the NIH Cell Biology and Cancer supplemental curriculum.


Register Now

NC Water Education Pen Pals

Sign up today!   

The office of Water Education Programs, within the NC Division of Water Resources, is offering a free pen pal program for 3-5th grade classes across the state. 

  • Do you want to offer your students a chance to connect with another classroom and correspond with handwritten letters? 
  • Do you want to intertwine science curriculum standards with English/language arts? 
  • Do you want a fun, simple way to engage your students in meaningful written communication?

Perfect as a literacy center!

More info:

  • NC Water Education Pen Pals is a new program offered to any classroom in the state.   We strongly encourage North Eastern and Western NC classrooms to apply!
  • Your classroom will be paired with another classroom in a different region of the state.
  • Each paired class will be expected to write at least 3 letters over the course of the 2019-2020 school year. 
  • The topic of each letter can be about some aspect of water resources: erosion, human impact, conservation, observations of watersheds, and many more!
  • The teacher will receive an email with their paired class in mid-September with questions for students to answer in these letters.   

Ready to sign up?  Click here!


This is a pilot year for this program, so I encourage teachers to apply and try something new to support their curriculum standards!  Please forward this to any educators who may not receive this: the more the merrier. For more information, contact Lauren at 919-707-9009 or

Greetings from the North Carolina Science Festival!


NC Science Festival



We’re happy to announce that applications for our elementary and middle school initiatives are available now!

Elementary schools – Support from the Duke Energy Foundation allows us to produce the STEM activities and materials that will be sent at no cost to 150+ schools across the state. They are a great way to bring families together to explore the amazing world of science! Click here for more information on the Duke Energy Science Night program. 


Middle schools – Support from Novozymes allows us to match dozens of STEM professionals with classrooms around the state in order to facilitate classroom visits that will educate and inspire the next generation of potential scientists! Click here for more information on the Novozymes SciMatch program.


The deadline to apply is September 30, 2019


Of course, these are just part of the events comprising the NC Science Festival, a month-long celebration of science that occurs every April. For more information about the Festival, visit


If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us by email at or phone at 919-962-3274.

NC DPI STEM Consultant

Howard Ginsburg

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