STEM Education models and innovations with Gaming
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STEM Education models and innovations with Gaming
STEM (Science Technology Education & Mathematics) K-20  education models and innovations
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Report: Human drivers will disappear within a generation


   Implications

 

By 2024, SDC will account for 9.2% of global sales with the North American continent expected to take in 29% of that percentage.
Current technology is expected to advance as is dictated by Moore's law.
Under the Blueprint for Mobility (BFM), by 2050 "75 percent of the world's population is expected to live in cities, with 50 of those cities projected to have more than 10 million residents."

 

What is changing?

 

IHS Automotive has released a study claiming that autonomous cars will over-take our roadways and replace the human driver forever.
Full autonomous cars, without a human at the wheel or manipulating the pedals will be a reality by 2030; leading into the "bulk of automotive sales" being autonomous vehicles.
This is tantamount to 54 million self-driving cars (SDC) on the road within 2 decades.

 

http://www.shapingtomorrow.com/g/insights/204360

Gordon Dahlby's insight:

Just a prognostication: I believe it will be sooner than this if states and cities in the US don't mess it up.

 

Individual car ownership will begin to drop as people realize they 'own' an asset which depreciates and  sits idle over 95% of the time.

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Fareed Zakaria on Staying Competitive in the Knowledge Economy | Big Think @ GESF | Big Think

Fareed Zakaria on Staying Competitive in the Knowledge Economy  | Big Think @ GESF | Big Think | STEM Education models and innovations with Gaming | Scoop.it
As technology continues to shift, what will employees look for in their job candidates and how can education best prepare tomorrow’s workforce?
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Mirobot: An Affordable WiFi Robotics Kit

Mirobot: An Affordable WiFi Robotics Kit | STEM Education models and innovations with Gaming | Scoop.it
Mirobot is a very cool open source robotics kit that’s completely open source and very affordable. When I was contacted by Ben Pirt, the man behind this project, I was admittedly a little skeptica...
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holy Turtle robot, Batman! pen up, pen down
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Codecademy Now Home to 24 Million Programmers-in-Training

Codecademy Now Home to 24 Million Programmers-in-Training | STEM Education models and innovations with Gaming | Scoop.it
Students are rallying behind a pro–computer science initiative as a new way to learn basic programming online for free.
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This Map Shows That Nearly Half Of America Is Uninhabited

This Map Shows That Nearly Half Of America Is Uninhabited | STEM Education models and innovations with Gaming | Scoop.it
Click here to see the map >
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Interesting social science and science research and debate resource.
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Paraplegic walks tall with bionic backpack

Paraplegic walks tall with bionic backpack | STEM Education models and innovations with Gaming | Scoop.it
A bionic suit allowed paraplegic Radi Kaiuf to walk again via a battery-powered backpack computer.
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A chance to do good

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Mathematics Awareness Month 2014: Mathematics, Magic, and Mystery

Mathematics Awareness Month 2014: Mathematics, Magic, and Mystery | STEM Education models and innovations with Gaming | Scoop.it
Each year the Joint Policy Board for Mathematics (JPBM) sponsors Mathematics Awareness Month in April to recognize the importance of mathematics through a series of essays and an accompanying poster that highlight mathematical developments and applications in a particular area. This year’s theme is “Mathematics, Magic, and Mystery,” as chosen by the American Mathematical Society (AMS), the American...
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Is Math getting enough attention in the STEM pendulum?

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Amtrak Redoing Career Site, Analytics, Brand Message, and the Whole Candidate Experience - ERE.net

Amtrak Redoing Career Site, Analytics, Brand Message, and the Whole Candidate Experience - ERE.net | STEM Education models and innovations with Gaming | Scoop.it

The new site is based on the address careers.amtrak.com (orjobs.amtrak.com): that’ll be the portal, or home page, of Amtrak careers content. Amtrak’s Kerry Noone, previously with Sodexo, worked on the Amtrak career-site front end with both SuccessFactors and a third party implementation partner, Deloitte. A larger team at Amtrak worked on the back-end improvements.

Amtrak was already a SuccessFactors customer — and is becoming more so. Amtrak is adding HR technologies like performance management systems, as well as this new recruiting system, as well as workforce analytics — more on that in a minute.

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PISA 2012 Results

Selected Findings from PISA 2012

U.S. Performance in Mathematics Literacy

Percentages of top performing 15-year-old students (those scoring at level 5 or above) in mathematics literacy ranged from 55 percent in Shanghai-China to nearly 0 percent in Colombia and Argentina. In the United States, 9 percent of 15-year-old students scored at proficiency level 5 or above, which was lower than the OECD average of 13 percent. The U.S. percentage was lower than 27 education systems, higher than 22 education systems, and not measurably different than 13 education systems. The percentage of top performers in mathematics in the United States overall (9 percent) was higher than the state of Florida (6 percent), but lower than Massachusetts (19 percent) and Connecticut (16 percent) (figure M1a, table M1b).In mathematics literacy, the percentage of 15-year-old students performing below level 2, which is considered a baseline of proficiency by the OECD, ranged from 4 percent in Shanghai-China to 76 percent in Indonesia. In the United States, 26 percent of 15-year-old students scored below level 2, which was higher than the OECD average of 23 percent. The U.S. percentage was higher than 29 education systems, lower than 26 education systems, and not measurably different than 9 education systems. The percentage of low performers in mathematics in the United States overall (26 percent) was higher than the states of Connecticut (21 percent) and Massachusetts (18 percent), but not measurably different than Florida (30 percent) (figure M1a, table M1b).Average scores in mathematics literacy ranged from 613 in Shanghai-China to 368 in Peru. The U.S. average score was 481, which was lower than the OECD average of 494. The U.S. average was lower than 29 education systems, higher than 26 education systems, and not measurably different than 9 education systems. The U.S. average was lower than the states of Massachusetts (514) and Connecticut (506), but higher than Florida (467) (table M4).

U.S. Performance in Science Literacy

Percentages of top-performing 15-year-old students (those scoring at level 5 or above) in science literacy ranged from 27 percent in Shanghai-China and 23 percent in Singapore to nearly 0 percent in eight education systems. In the United States, 7 percent of 15-year-old students scored at proficiency level 5 or above, which was not measurably different from the OECD average of 8 percent. The U.S. percentage was lower than 167 education systems, higher than 27 education systems, and not measurably different than 165 education systems. The percentage of top performers in science in the United States overall (7 percent) was lower than the states of Massachusetts (14 percent) and Connecticut (13 percent), but not measurably different than Florida (5 percent) (figure S1a, table S1b).In science literacy, the percentage of 15-year-old students performing below level 2, which is considered a baseline of proficiency by the OECD, ranged from 3 percent in Shanghai-China and 5 percent in Estonia to 67 percent in Indonesia and 68 percent in Peru. In the United States, 18 percent of U.S. 15-year-old students scored below level 2, which was not measurably different from the OECD average of 18 percent. The U.S. percentage was higher than 21 education systems, lower than 29 education systems, and not measurably different than 14 education systems. The percentage of low performers in science in the United States overall (18 percent) was higher than the states of Connecticut (13 percent) and Massachusetts (11 percent), but not measurably different than Florida (21 percent) (figure S1a, table S1b).Average scores in science literacy ranged from 580 in Shanghai-China to 373 in Peru. The U.S. average score was 497, which was not measurably different from the OECD average of 501. The U.S. average was lower than 22 education systems, higher than 29 education systems, and not measurably different than 13 education systems. The U.S. average was lower than the states of Massachusetts (527) and Connecticut (521), but not measurably different than Florida (485) (table S2).

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U.S. Performance in Reading Literacy

Percentages of top performing 15-year-old students (those scoring at level 5 or above) in reading literacy ranged from 25 percent in Shanghai-China and 21 percent in Singapore to nearly 0 percent in 3 education systems. In the United States, 8 percent of U.S. 15-year-old students scored at proficiency level 5 or above, which was not measurably different from the OECD average of 8 percent. The U.S. percentage was lower than 14 education systems, higher than 33 education systems, and not measurably different than 12 education systems. The percentage of top performers in reading in the United States overall (8 percent) was higher than the state of Florida (6 percent), but lower than Massachusetts (16 percent) and Connecticut (15 percent)(figure R1a, table R1b).In reading literacy, the percentage of 15-year-old students performing below level 2, which is considered a baseline of proficiency by the OECD, ranged from 3 percent in Shanghai-China to 60 percent in Peru. In the United States, 17 percent of U.S. 15-year-old students scored below level 2, which was not measurably different from the OECD average of 18 percent. The U.S. percentage was higher than 14 education systems, lower than 33 education systems, and not measurably different than 17 education systems. The percentage of low performers in reading in the United States overall (17 percent) was higher than the state of Massachusetts (11 percent), but not measurably different than Connecticut (13 percent) and Florida (17 percent) (figure R1a, table R1b).Average scores in reading literacy ranged from 570 in Shanghai-China to 384 in Peru. The U.S. average score was 498, which was not measurably different from the OECD average of 496. The U.S. average was lower than 19 education systems, higher than 34 education systems, and not measurably different than 11 education systems. The U.S. average was lower than the U.S. states Massachusetts (527) and Connecticut (521), but not measurably different than Florida (492) (table R2).

Eighteen education systems had higher average scores than the United States in all three subjects. The 18 education systems are: Australia, Canada, Chinese Taipei, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Hong Kong-China, Ireland, Japan, Liechtenstein, Macao-China, Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Republic of Korea, Shanghai-China, Singapore, and Switzerland. The U.S. states Massachusetts and Connecticut also had higher average scores than the United States in all three subjects (tables M4, S2, and R2).

U.S. Performance Over Time

The U.S. average mathematics, science, and reading literacy scores in 2012 were not measurably different from average scores in previous PISA assessment years with which comparisons can be made (2003, 2006 and 2009 for mathematics; 2006, and 2009 for science; and 2000, 2003, and 2009 for reading) (table T1).

U.S. Performance on Computer-Based Assessments

On the computer-based mathematics literacy assessment (administered in 32 education systems), average scores ranged from 566 in Singapore and 562 in Shanghai-China to 397 in Colombia. U.S. 15-year-old students had an average score of 498, which was not measurably different from the OECD average of 497. Twelve education systems had higher average scores, 8 had lower average scores, and 11 had average scores that were not measurably different than the United States (table CM2).On the computer-based reading literacy assessment (administered in 32 education systems), average scores ranged from 567 in Singapore to 396 in Colombia. U.S. 15-year-old students had an average score of 511, which was higher than the OECD average of 497. Seven education systems had higher average scores, 17 had lower average scores, and 7 had average scores that were not measurably different than the United States (table CR2).
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http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2014/2014024rev.pdf

Performance of U.S. 15-Year-Old Students in Mathematics, Science, and Reading Literacy in an International Context: First Look at PISA 2012

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Robotics Inspiring Students to Pursue STEM

Robotics Inspiring Students to Pursue STEM | STEM Education models and innovations with Gaming | Scoop.it

Imagine America as a place where the percentage of students involved in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) is higher than average.   Imagine America as a place where students are motivated to pursue STEM-related degrees and careers.  On December 3, 2013, Bill Chappell of NPRreported, “…only 50 percent [of] students agreed that they are interested in learning mathematics, slightly below the OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development ) average of 53 percent” (9).  However, there are several steps that we can take to encourage more students to pursue the STEM-related fields of study.  For example, we could encourage student to participate in extracurricular activities, such as robotics.  In recent years robotics programs have been used as a way to increase more students’ involvement in science and engineering.  These programs include:

·        Vex Robotics:Funded by the Robotic Education & Competition Foundation located in Texas, the foundation offers competitions worldwide for students with the goal of increasing the area of students that pursue STEM through allowing students to create a robot that competes in a game.

·        BEST (Boosting Engineering, Science, and Technology) Robotics:This program challenges students to create a robot using materials such as plywood, PVC, plastic and other electronics and miscellaneous materials. This program seeks students to be innovative and creative. BEST Robotics headquarters is in Texas and located in 18 different states.

·        FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition in Science and Technology): Founded by Dean Kaman, inventor of the Segway in 1992.  This program has been reported to have reached over 350,000 students worldwide, and also helps students find millions of dollars in scholarship money.

During my freshman year of high school I joined a robotics team and that experience enabled me to learn programming, project management and time management. Robotics is an important tool in motivating students to pursue technology skills, because it challenges students to engage in critical thinking, problem-solving, as well as teamwork. I believe that robotics is just one platform that could be used in getting more students involved in the area of STEM.

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Renewable energy science training for teachers with KidWind | District Administration Magazine

KidWind, the international leader of clean energy education, invites all educators interested in renewable energy education to apply for numerous scholarships for the WindSenator teacher training to be held in St. Paul, MN on June 23-27, 2014. These scholarships are sponsored by the Department of Energy, the XCEL Energy Windsource Program and EDP Renewables and will provide training to help teachers implement renewable energy science instruction into the classroom and be a resource for their communities. The deadline to apply for the WindSenators training is April 1, 2014. For more information about scholarships, eligibility and to apply, go tohttp://learn.kidwind.org/workshops_events/windsenators/2014/funding.

KidWind’s mission is to equip educators with the knowledge necessary to bring the science behind renewable energy to the classroom and prepare students to become participants in a future focused on renewable energy. According to the United States Department of Energy, to be the world’s leader in renewable energy, the country needs to inform the public, create support for renewable energy and educate a workforce to “design, build, operate, maintain, and advance wind power equipment and technology.”

The KidWind WindSenators Network is a team of more than 100 teacher trainers and outreach coordinators in 31 states and four countries trained by KidWind to be renewable energy ambassadors for their schools, community, state and region. WindSenators are qualified to conduct teacher trainings, give valuable input toward the development of new renewable energy curriculum and materials and facilitate KidWind Challenge Events. The five-day training program provides hands-on instruction on wind energy science and technology through innovative curricula, tours and guest speakers.

“Having the most qualified ambassadors is important to any cause,” said Michael Arquin, founder of KidWind. “Through these expertly-trained WindSenators, KidWind is spreading awareness about the benefits and challenges of wind energy not only in the classroom, but also in their communities.”

These teacher training scholarships are part of the new Future of Renewables Initiative (FORI).

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Will the Yellowstone super volcano erupt in our lifetime? -NSF

Will the Yellowstone super volcano erupt in our lifetime? -NSF | STEM Education models and innovations with Gaming | Scoop.it

As with many things in nature, it helps to understand the past when trying to predict the future.

Ilya Bindeman, an associate professor of geological sciences at the University of Oregon, believes this is true of the Yellowstone supervolcano and the likelihood that it will produce an apocalyptic eruption as it has three times over the last the last 2 million years.

"Yellowstone is one of the biggest supervolcanos in the world," he says. "Sometimes it erupts quietly with lava flow, but once or twice every million years, it erupts very violently, forming large calderas," which are very large craters measuring tens of kilometers in diameter.

If it happens again, and he says most scientists think that it will, he predicts such an eruption will obliterate the surroundings within a radius of hundreds of kilometers, and cover the rest of the United States and Canada with multiple inches of ash. This, effectively, would shut down agriculture and cause global climate cooling for as long as a decade, or more, he says. A volcanic event of such magnitude "hasn't happened in modern civilization," he says.

However, the National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded scientist doesn't think it's going to happen anytime soon--at least not for another 1 million to 2 million years.

"Our research of the pattern of such volcanism in two older, 'complete' caldera clusters in the wake of Yellowstone allows a prognosis that Yellowstone is on a dying cycle, rather than on a ramping up cycle," he says.

By this, he is referring to an ongoing cycle that occurs within the so-called Yellowstone "hot spot," an upwelling plume of hot mantle beneath the Earth's surface, when magma chambers, which are large underground pools of liquid rock, reuse rocks, eject lava, melt again and prompt large eruptions many thousands of years later.

It is a complicated process that also involves the position of the North American plate, which is moving at the rate of two to four centimeters a year, and its relationship to the hot spot, as well as the continuing interaction of the Earth's crust with basalt, a common volcanic rock derived from the mantle.

 

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Kennedy High's 'go-to' tech student builds app for district - Newsday

Kennedy High's 'go-to' tech student builds app for district - Newsday | STEM Education models and innovations with Gaming | Scoop.it
Plainview-Old Bethpage educators turned to a tech-apt pupil -- a senior at John F. Kennedy
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Can We Learn to See How Artists See? | Picture This | Big Think

Can We Learn to See How Artists See? | Picture This | Big Think | STEM Education models and innovations with Gaming | Scoop.it
We all dream of mastering a skill like a pro—to skate like an Olympian, sing like an Idol, or go to the hoop “like Mike.” What if we could learn to see how an artist sees? “It’s so important to move through the world with this kind of wonder,” artist Bo Bartlett says of putting on an artist’s eyes ...
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Hydrologists Find Mississippi River’s Buffering System for Nitrates is Overwhelmed | News

Hydrologists Find Mississippi River’s Buffering System for Nitrates is Overwhelmed | News | STEM Education models and innovations with Gaming | Scoop.it
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Stanford Becomes the First Major University to Divest From Coal

Stanford Becomes the First Major University to Divest From Coal | STEM Education models and innovations with Gaming | Scoop.it
Stanford University announced that it will not make direct investments in coal mining companies.
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“Stanford has a responsibility as a global citizen to promote sustainability for our planet, and we work intensively to do so through our research, our educational programs and our campus operations,” said Stanford President John Hennessy. “The university’s review has concluded that coal is one of the most carbon-intensive methods of energy generation and that other sources can be readily substituted for it. Moving away from coal in the investment context is a small, but constructive, step while work continues, at Stanford and elsewhere, to develop broadly viable sustainable energy solutions for the future.”

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Productive Struggle in My Classroom | LFA: Join The Conversation - Public School Insights

Productive Struggle in My Classroom | LFA: Join The Conversation - Public School Insights | STEM Education models and innovations with Gaming | Scoop.it

Productive struggle. These are the two words that come to mind when thinking of my experiences with the Common Core in my classroom. And I am not just thinking of the students. If you are anything like me, your desks are straightened between periods, your stapler and tape dispenser have a home (and they are lined -up) and your students know that you don’t “do chaos.”  So, for me learning to let go of the reins and embrace the organized chaos that accompanies inquiry-based and problem-solving type learning was a struggle. Seeing what happened when I let the students inquire, speak to each other and bounce ideas around, and “steal” from other groups, I realized that my productive struggle had been worth it.

As far as the students go, their version of productive struggle was much different than mine. After all, if being social and chaotic was the goal for middle schoolers, my job would be much easier.  The students’ struggle came from the assignment of rigorous tasks and complex readings; and in understanding how to transfer what they learned in a given lesson to other tasks and even assessments. I can remember spending almost a full period on one short paragraph while reading about endothermic and exothermic reactions in science class. We spent time highlighting, underlining, making connections to things we already knew, asking questions in the margins, defining words and more. The room might as well have smelled of smoke— these kids were thinking, brains-on-fire style! They were struggling…PRODUCTIVELY! I was hooked, and unbelievably, so were they. I heard several kids exclaim, “Ohhhhhhh, I get it.”

- See more at: http://www.learningfirst.org/productive-struggle-my-classroom#sthash.kghzu2c7.dpuf

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Making water flow: An interview with Matt Damon and Gary White | McKinsey & Company

Making water flow: An interview with Matt Damon and Gary White | McKinsey & Company | STEM Education models and innovations with Gaming | Scoop.it
What does it take to get clean water to those who need it? According to the cofounders of Water.org, actor Matt Damon and Gary White, less than you may think—and the payback is tremendous. A McKinsey & Company article.
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Mathematics Awareness Month 2014: Mathematics, Magic, and Myster

Activity Calendar

Here you see 30 images, each representing a daily topic associated with this year's theme of Mathematics, Magic, and Mystery. Click on today’s topic or any of the previous ones to see that day’s video and activity.

Mathematics, Magic, and Mystery Revealed!

Visit each day in April as we reveal a new topic for that day. Prior days will remain on view, but the future will retain its mystery. You can either bookmark this page or follow on Twitter to link to each new activity. 
Follow @MathAware

Each topic is introduced with a short video where you can witness a mysterious or magical effect. Each page also includes activities for engaging with the underlying mathematical ideas at a variety of levels, with challenge questions, written explanations, and references. We hope you enjoy these activities, share them with friends and family, and return often to experience your personal "Aha!" moments. 

Contributors to the calendar include professional mathematicians and magicians of the highest caliber. Mathematics departments at the secondary and college levels will find a month full of interesting activities to use in their programs.

Mathematics Awareness Month 2014: Mathematics, Magic, and Mystery

From magic squares and Möbius bands to magical card tricks and illusions, mysterious phenomena with elegant “Aha!” explanations have permeated mathematics for centuries. Such brain-teasing challenges promote creative and rational thinking, attract a wide range of people to the subject, and often inspire serious mathematical research.

The theme of Mathematics Awareness Month 2014 echoes the title of a 1956 book by renowned math popularizer Martin Gardner, whose extensive writings introduced the public to hexaflexagons, polyominoes, John Conway’s “Game of Life,” Penrose tiles, the Mandelbrot set, and much more. For more than half a century Gardner inspired enthusiasts of all ages to engage deeply with mathematics, and many of his readers chose to pursue it as a career. The year 2014 marks the centennial of Gardner’s birth.

 
Gordon Dahlby's insight:

http://www.mathaware.org/index.html

 

 

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Mobile, Tablet, and Laptop: Coding Responsive Design by Mark Lassoff : Learning Solutions Magazine

Mobile, Tablet, and Laptop: Coding Responsive Design by Mark  Lassoff : Learning Solutions Magazine | STEM Education models and innovations with Gaming | Scoop.it

The explosion of mobile options has led to almost limitless choices when it comes to screen size, resolution, and screen quality. For those designing mobile learning experiences and mobile performance support, screen design used to be easy—iPhone or iPad. However, as of this writing Android, not iOS, is the top operating system and there are now over 30 possible combinations of screen size and resolution.

In this tutorial I’ll address coding for multiple screen sizes using a technique known as responsive design. Responsive design is a combination of HTML and CSS used to plan for changes in the visual appearance of a document due to screen size limitations.

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2012 PISA Results - Trends in Student Science Performance: International Trends in Average Scores

Table T3. Average scores and changes in average scores of 15-year-old students on PISA science literacy scale, by education system: 2006, 2009, and 2012

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Speed Traders Play Defense Against Michael Lewis’s Flash Boys

Speed Traders Play Defense Against Michael Lewis’s Flash Boys | STEM Education models and innovations with Gaming | Scoop.it
The author’s 60 Minutes interview on Sunday highlighted the book’s unequivocal attack on high-frequency trading
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You might think this is all about money.  It is also very much about STEM and about ethics.  The "spool" of fiber optic cable to increase the time and 'level' the access time is an interesting non-traditional problem solving exercise.  

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Robots rock at STEM conference

Robots rock at STEM conference | STEM Education models and innovations with Gaming | Scoop.it

Educators and entrepreneurs came together Friday to talk about how to create schools and communities focused on STEM — science, technology, engineering and math. One answer: robotics. Students showed off robots built from scratch over the past few months and will compete in the First Tech Challenge in Iowa City. The robots were part of the third annual Iowa Statewide STEM Conference at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines. Speakers included Mary Andringa, CEO of equipment maker Vermeer; Ben Milne, founder and CEO of mobile payments system Dwolla; and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds.

  Jordan, West Des Moines senior, is also interviewd.  Video on the site. 
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Education Design Showcase Project

Education Design Showcase Project | STEM Education models and innovations with Gaming | Scoop.it

Science and engineering jobs are growing exponentially faster than other occupations. Students who participate in STEM education environments will obtain 21st century learning skills which will come as a benefit when competing for employment and setting career paths in the future. STEM education encourages students to ask questions and engage in activities with their teachers and peers to create a more productive learning environment.

The Booker T. Washington STEM Academy is a 60,300 sf K-5, 3-strand magnet elementary school accommodating 425 students. The design of the building forms a living laboratory for the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) magnet school curriculum and provides spaces throughout the school, specifically in the STEM lab, academic communities and outdoor-learning areas for hands-on learning experiences that focus on problem-solving projects and learner-centered education. The design of the school environment encourages students to ask questions and engage in activities with their teachers and peers to create a more productive learning environment. The design integrates the building and the STEM curriculum through the use of collaborative project-based learning configurations, flexibility, graphics and visible sustainable strategies.

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How a laser beam could quadruple the speed of the Internet

How a laser beam could quadruple the speed of the Internet | STEM Education models and innovations with Gaming | Scoop.it
New research by a Caltech professor could speed up the Internet backbone, which routes content to ISPs.

 

We've heard a lot about how Netflix wants to improve download speeds for viewers by partnering with Comcast and other Internet providers. The central issue is about how to carry large video streams efficiently from one part of the Internet to another. But someday, the technology behind that infrastructure could make those pipes much, much bigger, helping to alleviate those concerns.

Researchers from the California Institute of Technology say they've come up with a new kind of laser that's capable of quadrupling the bandwidth on today's fastest fiber optic networks. These networks make up what's known as the Internet "backbone," the behind-the-scenes network that delivers content to ISPs like Verizon — who in turn make that content available to you.

What do lasers have to do with the Internet? In today's most advanced networks, which rely on fiber optic technology, data is transmitted as light rather than electrical signals. On traditional copper-wire networks, those signals don't travel as fast and tend to degrade more easily over long distances. So light offers an inherent advantage.

Gordon Dahlby's insight:

Today's best backbone technology is capable of staggering bandwidth — in some cases up to 400 Gbps. For perspective, that's more than 40,000 times the speed of the average American's home connection. (Take that comparison with a grain of salt: Most Americans will never need the capacity of a backbone connection. Even the fastest consumer plans top out at 1 Gbps these days.)

But the new laser technology, developed in part by National Medal of Science-winner Amnon Yariv, promises to quadruple bandwidth in the existing Internet backbone, if not more.

"Our first run lasers, fabricated at Caltech, are capable of of a 4x increase in the number of bytes-per-second carried by each channel," Yariv, whose research waspublished recently in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, said in an e-mail. "This number will increase with our continuing work, but even at this level, the economic advantages are very big."

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