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Dedicated to the art and science of inquiry-based learning.
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STEM Gaining Some STEAM Across the Country

STEM Gaining Some STEAM Across the Country | Curious Minds | Scoop.it

With greater focus on STEM firmly established as a national education imperative, there's some momentum building to factor in the arts in a meaningful way. The result: STEAM -- with the A standing for "arts" -- implying that the intersection between the arts and the sciences is the place where the rubber meets the road. From conferences like the "Bridging STEM to STEAM" forum hosted by the Rhode Island School of Design, to NSF-funded projects like Chicago's Art of Science Learning project, the STEAM concept seems to be gaining ground. "For me, it is about connecting—or reconnecting—the arts and sciences in ways that learning can happen at the intersection of the two," said Harvey Seifter, director of the Art of Science Learning. "We believe there is a powerful opportunity here to use the arts and arts-based learning to spark transformational change in science education."

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Boston Herald Series on Standout Boston Schools Reveals Secrets to Success

Boston Herald Series on Standout Boston Schools Reveals Secrets to Success | Curious Minds | Scoop.it

Today, the Boston Herald launches a five-part series on Boston public schools that exemplify education that works. The schools included in the series: TechBoston Academy, UP Academy, Orchard Gardens, and Joseph Lee Elementary School. According to today's blog post by the Herald's Jessica Heslam, the secrets to the success of these schools include longer school days and a longer school year, innovative teachers and administrators, and students groomed for college from a young age.

 

The first article in the series: Teens engineer future success at TechBoston.

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Rhode Island Science Educator Makes "Sesame Street" Debut

Rhode Island Science Educator Makes "Sesame Street" Debut | Curious Minds | Scoop.it

There's a new face on the street... "Sesame Street," that is. University of Rhode Island science educator Sara Sweetman -- an elementary science teacher in addition to her part-time professorship at URI -- has worked as a science advisor for the children's TV show since early 2010. She was asked to appear on the program to help with a series of science experiments, and appears onscreen with such famous characters and Elmo and Super Grover. "I respect the energy and passion the characters, producers and educators put in," she says. It was amazing to be part of it."

Earlier this year, Sesame Street announced that it would be integrating a new STEM curriculum into its programming. The curriculum focuses on STEM subjects through an inquiry-based approach to learning.

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Great Resource: Science360 Radio

Great Resource: Science360 Radio | Curious Minds | Scoop.it

Science360 Radio features continuous audio programming from contributors including NSF, Scientific American, Discovery, Nature, NPR, AAAS, and many more.  Get the app for iPhone or Android or listen on your computer.

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Meet a 13-year-old solar panel developer – What's Next - CNN.com Blogs

Meet a 13-year-old solar panel developer – What's Next - CNN.com Blogs | Curious Minds | Scoop.it

Long Island middle school student Aidan Dwyer had a thought while walking through the woods one day: Might the efficiency of solar panels improve if they were arranged like leaves at the ends of tree branches? He took the idea to the next level, creating a prototype of a tree-like solar panel array for a science fair.  "My design is like a tree," he said, "but instead of having leaves it has solar panels at the ends (of the branches)."  Aidan's work won him the Young Naturalist award from the American Museum of Natural History, and got him a speaking gig at the recent PopTech conference.

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Shortage of Workers with Technical Skills Hits Home

Shortage of Workers with Technical Skills Hits Home | Curious Minds | Scoop.it

Massachusetts businesses that rely on workers with specific technical skills are finding that potential employees are in short supply. A lack of machinists, for example, and a dearth of mechanical engineers, are making it difficult for manufacturers to staff up. Some have observed that occupations traditionally considered "beneath" young college graduates are now requiring intelligent workers with problem-solving skills and the ability to work with their hands. "Those used to be skills that were passed down from generation to generation,” said Mary E. FitzGerald, human resources manager for Saint-Gobain Corp.'s ceramics and high performance refractory operations in Worcester, MA. “You just can't find those skilled people anymore."

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Study Suggests Real Value in Students' Out-of-School Science Projects

Study Suggests Real Value in Students' Out-of-School Science Projects | Curious Minds | Scoop.it

A new study out of the University of Virginia suggests that participating in science fairs and other STEM-focused out-of-school activities influences students' course of study in college.  Recent news has lamented the lack of students pursuing STEM fields in college. The UVA study suggests a reason. Its lead author, Katherine Dabney notes, "Students may not be developing a strong interest in science and mathematics simply because they have not been exposed to these disciplines in such a manner that engages and encourages their interest."

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Tufts University Program Aims to Stem the Tide of Student Attrition from STEM Majors

Tufts University Program Aims to Stem the Tide of Student Attrition from STEM Majors | Curious Minds | Scoop.it

Tufts University has an innovative program in place to help ensure that incoming freshmen intent on engineering majors have every shot at success.  The school's Bridge to Engineering Success at Tufts (BEST) program equips students with a summer of courses and workshops to help ease the transisiton from high school into the rigors of Tufts' first-year engineering program.  With students switching from STEM majors into the humanities at an alarming rate, Tufts' solution is both timely and effective.

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Seventh Grade Science Fair Project Results Shared with American Academy of Pediatricians

Seventh Grade Science Fair Project Results Shared with American Academy of Pediatricians | Curious Minds | Scoop.it

How's this for an influential science fair project: Last year, Ohio seventh graders Casey Gittelman and Eleanor Bishop investigated how well children and adults could distinguish candy from medicine. This past October, Gittelman traveled to the American Academy of Pediatrics national conference, held in Boston, to present the results. In a nutshell, they found that one in four of the children, and one in five of the teachers had difficulty distinguishing between pills and candy, with SweetTARTS mistaken for Mylanta, and SweeTARTS for Tums, among others. In addition, the girls looked at how people stored their medications. “Only about 10 percent said they stored their medicines appropriately,” said Gittelman. “If people did keep medicines locked up, it would prevent a lot of unintentional ingestions.”

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Worcester Polytechnic Institute to Open STEM Education Center

Worcester Polytechnic Institute to Open STEM Education Center | Curious Minds | Scoop.it

As a reponse to the shortage of teachers qualified to teach STEM subjects, Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) in Worcester, MA has plans to create a center dedicated to STEM education.  “The STEM Education Center at WPI will engage and empower K-12 STEM educators and help them to do the critically important job of fostering the next generation of scientists and engineers who will help solve some of the greatest challenges facing our world,” said Dr. Martha Cyr, who will be the center's executive director. “Our nation and our world are relying on these teachers and their students, and WPI is dedicated to helping them succeed.”  The center will focus on three primary areas: Certification and Degree Programs, Professional Development Workshops, and Integration of Research on Teaching and Learning. 

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How Robust is the STEM Pipeline?

How Robust is the STEM Pipeline? | Curious Minds | Scoop.it

National Science Teacher Association (NSTA) Executive Director Francis Eberle weighs in on the NSTA blog about the health of the STEM pipeline, pointing out that STEM literacy doesn't end at the high school level: "How we can keep more students engaged in STEM both in high school and especially when they get to college?"

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Why Science Majors Change Their Minds

Why Science Majors Change Their Minds | Curious Minds | Scoop.it

After the inspiring experience of their high school science classes, college students pursuing STEM disciplines seem to be discovering a sober truth in college: This stuff is hard.

 

According to studies, approximately 40% of college students starting out in STEM disciplines schange majors or fail to get any degree. As UCLA professor Mitchell J. Chang says, "We’re losing an alarming proportion of our nation’s science talent once the students get to college; it's not just a K-12 preparation issue."

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Gender Gap in STEM Disciplines Persists

Gender Gap in STEM Disciplines Persists | Curious Minds | Scoop.it

While 5.8 out of 10 recent college graduates with biology degrees are women, there's a greater gender gap in two of the other largest STEM fields: Engineering and computer science.

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Female STEM Faculty Members Benefit from Mentors

Female STEM Faculty Members Benefit from Mentors | Curious Minds | Scoop.it

Students aren't the only ones that can reap the benefits of mentoring. For female college faculty members in the sciences, having a mentor can help mitigate the feelings of marginalization that can go hand-in-hand with teaching in a typically male-dominated field. This according the the Collaborative on Academic Careers in Higher Education (COACHE) project at Harvard. COACHE's Cathy Trower says, "Mentoring is crucial for STEM women because without it, they might not be privy to the good old boys’ club or behind-the-scenes conversations that are crucial to fitting in the department and to getting tenure."

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NASA's Aspire 2 Inspire Looks to Motivate Middle School Girls to Pursue STEM Careers

NASA's Aspire 2 Inspire Looks to Motivate Middle School Girls to Pursue STEM Careers | Curious Minds | Scoop.it

NASA's new Aspire 2 Inspire section of its Women@NASA website targets young women with a campaign to inform and inspire them about careers in STEM fields. "We have an opportunity to reach out to the next generation and inspire today's girls to pursue science and technology careers," said Rebecca Keiser, associate director for agency-level policy integration and representative to the White House Council on Women and Girls. "Expanding opportunities in these fields will give our country perspectives and expertise that will help us out-innovate, out-educate and out-build the world. It's key to our future."  Check it out!

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Stats Show More and More Women Earning Science Degrees

Stats Show More and More Women Earning Science Degrees | Curious Minds | Scoop.it

The National Center for Education Statistics says that the number of science degrees awarded to women has been rising, slowly but surely.  From 2003 to 2009, undergrad degrees in physical science earned by women increased 22.1%, while doctoral physical science degrees awarded to women rose nearly 54% over the same time period. “The bottom line is that everyone is going to be goal-oriented, everyone wants to get to the top, and the reality of it is that only a special few are going to get where they want to be,” said University of Arizona sophomore biology major Sara Pousti. “It’s based on your abilities, not your gender.”

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Nationally, Massachusetts Schools Shine, but Achievement Gap Persists

Nationally, Massachusetts Schools Shine, but Achievement Gap Persists | Curious Minds | Scoop.it

While Massachusetts students came out on top in 4th and 8th grade math and reading as measured by the recently-released National Assessment of Educational Progress exam (aka "the nation's report card"), there's work to be done to address a persistent gap in achievement between white and minority students.  Governor Patrick and state Secretary of Education Paul Reville have some plans in the works that aim to do just that.

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MathMovesU Engages Mass. Girl Scouts in Science Projects

MathMovesU Engages Mass. Girl Scouts in Science Projects | Curious Minds | Scoop.it

The Girl Scouts of Massachusetts partnered with Raytheon to engage 300 middle school students in math and science through interactive learning programs.

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More Time in Science Class = Greater Science Proficiency

More Time in Science Class = Greater Science Proficiency | Curious Minds | Scoop.it

It stands to reason that the more time a student spends learning a subject the better that student will perform on tests of that subject. A recently-released report from the National Center on Time & Learning erases any doubt about it, where science is concerned. Five case studies look at public schools, including Fall River, Mass's Katthew J. Kuss Middle School, where the school day was extended by 100 minutes per day beginning in the '06-'07 school year. Science benefited from the lengthened school day, and so did the students' performance on the science portion of the MCAS. Supported with funding from the Noyce Foundation, the report, "The Power of More Time to Deepen Inquiry and Engagement," lists "key successful practices" identified across the five case-study schools. It concludes, "Without fundamentally restructuring the school calendar—particularly at the elementary and middle school levels—to add more learning time and prioritizing science during that time, most American students will simply not spend enough time to become either proficient in, or excited about, science."

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New Open-Source Community and Registry from Depts of Education and Defense

New Open-Source Community and Registry from Depts of Education and Defense | Curious Minds | Scoop.it

The U.S. Departments of Education and Defense announced the launch of “Learning Registry,” an open-source community and technology designed to improve the quality and availability of learning resources in education. Rather than creating an alternative destination to existing websites, Learning Registry is a communication system that allows existing educational portals and online systems to publish, consume, and share important information about learning resources with each other and the public, while respecting the privacy of individual users.Basic data about resources—grade level, subject area, and author—can be shared through Learning Registry, as well as more complex data such as curricular standards alignment information.

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Marlborough, MA Students Get a Head Start on Science

Marlborough, MA Students Get a Head Start on Science | Curious Minds | Scoop.it

Marlborough High School's early-college program, called STEM, integrates project-based learning and problem-solving for real-world applications across all subjects. Marlborough is the first of six school districts in Massachusetts to implement the STEM program. As part of it, juniors and seniors can take up to 16 college credits at Framingham State University.

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Boston's TILT Program Secures I3 Funding

Boston's TILT Program Secures I3 Funding | Curious Minds | Scoop.it

Among the 23 grantees that secured funding through the second round of the US Department of Education's i3 Development Grant program: the Turnaround Using Increased Learning Time (TILT) program of the Boston Public Schools. With i3 funding in the amount of $2,863,415.00, the program will, "... catalyze school turnaround and the rapid acceleration of achievement for 1000 students per year; further refine and develop alternative resource allocation and staffing strategies in order to sustain the expanded day at little or no additional cost after the i3 funding expires; and disseminate effective strategies for significantly increasing learning time to support large-scale replication."

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Nigerian School's Bio-Digester Takes First in International Science Fair

Nigerian School's Bio-Digester Takes First in International Science Fair | Curious Minds | Scoop.it

A Nigerian School, Madonna Model Secondary School, emerged victorious from the recent International Science Fair competition in Brazil.

 

Thirty-five countries competed in the competition. The winning project was a bio-digester, designed for decomposing organic household waste and extracting gas for cooking. "We have been trying to get the project registered at the National Office for Technology Acquisition and Promotion and to see the possibility of having the bio-digester in many homes, said Desmond Achoakawa, coordinator for the the Society for the Promotion of Science and Technology. "This will reduce the dependence on kerosene and cooking gas, as the bio-digester provides an alternative for cooking at a very minimal cost since the required raw material is waste products."

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Six-Year High School Prepares Students of Color for Work in STEM - Black Ente... - StumbleUpon

Six-Year High School Prepares Students of Color for Work in STEM - Black Ente... - StumbleUpon | Curious Minds | Scoop.it

A partnership of the Department of Education, the City University of New York, and IBM, P-TECH is an innovative high school with a mission.  The six-year (grades 9-14) school offers students core subjects with a special focus on STEM.  Graduates receive a high school diploma as well as an Associate's degree in Applied Science.  Underwritten by IBM, the school opened in September with 104 students and anticipates an enrollment of 400-450 by 2014. "We want to get underrepresented students and populations to go into science, technology, engineering or math industries," said P-TECH principal Rashid Ferrod Davis.  "We have to work with those who need strengthening so that they have a shot at middle-income lifestyles via these industries.

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Closing the Girl Gap in Science

Closing the Girl Gap in Science | Curious Minds | Scoop.it

Interesting New York Times article on women pursuing STEM fields as undergraduates quotes MIT dean of admissions Stuart Schmill: "The real issue is women are falling out of STEM fields all along the pipeline, starting in middle school and high school.  To increase gender balance, it’s all a matter of getting the right story out about science and engineering to young women, that it’s not about sitting at a desk doing math all day."

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