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New STEM Education Center for Worcester Polytech

New STEM Education Center for Worcester Polytech | Curious Minds | Scoop.it

Starting this fall, a new STEM Education Center at Worcester Polytechnic Institute will offer students the opportunity to pursue a four-year degree in a STEM discipline and initial teaching licensure simultaneously.  “If our teachers are not prepared to help students understand the type of careers they can have and the excitement of the work that can be done, we won’t have the workforce that can turn our economy around,” said Martha Cyr, executive director of the Center.  Practicing teachers will also be able to receive a master's degree and specialized professional development training in STEM fields.  Lt. Gov Tim Murray and National Science Foundation chief for teacher preparation Barbara Olds attended an inaugural event for the center on Monday.

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New Generation, New Power: The 2012 Taiwan International Science Fair : Tumblehome Learning

New Generation, New Power: The 2012 Taiwan International Science Fair : Tumblehome Learning | Curious Minds | Scoop.it

Barnas Monteith, chairman of the MSSEF board of directors and president of Tumblehome Learning, attended the week-long 2012 Taiwan International Science Fair (TISF) recently. A several-time science fair winner himself, Monteith was impressed by the quality of the student work he observed at TISF. "The projects at TISF were mind blowing, some clearly worth of patents, and certainly all would be competitive at the Intel International Science & Engineering Fair, perhaps even a select few may someday lead to Nobel prizes in the not-too-distant future," he wrote in a blog entry posted to the Tumblehome Learning site.

 

Barnas's article goes on to compare the challenges facing TISF with those confronted by science fairs in the U.S., including MSSEF. "Schools are faced with increased focus on tested curriculum, and accountability of teachers," he writes. "Not to mention, while schools in Taiwan spend considerably more time on science & engineering than U.S. schools, they also face a shortage of resources (related both to learning time and physical facilities), and often parents with means supplement their child’s education with after-school “bushiban” courses, and standardized testing prep 'cram' courses." He offers an interesting perspective on the state of science and inquiry learning beyond our borders. Read the full post for yourself!

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State Science & Engineering Fair Seeks Judges

State Science & Engineering Fair Seeks Judges | Curious Minds | Scoop.it

Thanks to Conor Powers-Smith of Falmouth Patch for helping spread the word about MSSEF's judge recruitment efforts! Hundreds of students spend many hours perfecting their projects. Volunteering as a judge is just a one-day commitment, but the experience lasts a lifetime. If you have a four-year college degree in a STEM subject and work in a related field, you're qualified to join the judge pool at the High School Fair on May 4th!  Registration is easy through MSSEF's online form at http://massscifair.com/judge-registration/.

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Study Takes Mystery Out of Hiring Women for STEM Jobs

Study Takes Mystery Out of Hiring Women for STEM Jobs | Curious Minds | Scoop.it

With women making up only 24 percent of the STEM workforce, there's a need to examine hiring practices.  A 50-page study by the Anita Borg Institute does just that, offering advice on hiring women to high-paying jobs in STEM.  The report includes practical tips like concealing job candidates' names during the screening phase, and including at least one female candidate among those considered for technical positions.  It looks at the practices of companies like IBM, which ranks high on friendliness to women.  "Everyone for years has been talking about, 'How do we get more women in technology jobs?' [This] report gives answers," says Jarri Barrett, vice president of marketing for the Anita Borg Institute.  "We're sharing with the world how to recruit more women."

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Cool Resource: FabFems

Cool Resource: FabFems | Curious Minds | Scoop.it

Funded by the Motorola Solutions Foundation and the National Science Foundation, FabFems is a "national atabase of women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) professions who are inspiring role models for young women." It aims to connect students with a network of female STEM professionals, with the goal of increasing career awareness and interest in STEM fields. As the FabFems Project website says, "When girls have approachable role models (women in STEM who see their work as rewarding, relevant, and enjoyable), their impression of what it means to be a STEM professional can change dramatically and they are more likely to pursue STEM courses and careers." Check it out!

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Geography, Environment Gaining Popularity with AP Test Takers

Geography, Environment Gaining Popularity with AP Test Takers | Curious Minds | Scoop.it

Geography and environmental science rank high among the AP courses to which students are flocking in greater numbers recently.  The newly released "AP Report to the Nation," issued by the College Board, indicates the growth trend in these science courses, as well as in languages including Chinese and Japanese.  See what other trends the report uncovered.

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Is the United States Making Progress in STEM Education?

Is the United States Making Progress in STEM Education? | Curious Minds | Scoop.it

STEM is getting plenty of ink following the second White House Science Fair, which took place last week. Despite the refreshingly high profile that STEM education is enjoying at the present time, the data tells a story that leaves little room for celebration, suggests James M. Lindsay. While we're hearing about the importance of the U.S turning out more STEM majors, the numbers remain relatively modest.  The reasons for students' reluctance to turn in droves to the sciences are well-established.  Science is hard; there are easier paths to the goal of a good GPA.  Teacher quality in STEM fields can be weak.  Fields like finance, with its promise of a fat paycheck, lure mathematically talented students from the potential pool of students well-equipped for sci-tech fields.  Changing the trend "will cost a lot of money, something that cash-strapped local, state, and federal governments don’t have in abundance," Lindsay says. "But it is the kind of investment the United States will need to make if it wants to stay competitive."

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Celebrating the Complexities of Science

Celebrating the Complexities of Science | Curious Minds | Scoop.it

With student attrition from STEM majors to "easier" fields running at about 40 percent, concerns exist that we are losing some our best and brightest to fields with fewer barriers to entry. A fundamental change in the way we teach science, from the "math-science death march" formerly imposed on new science majors, to a more collaborative learning environment has the potential to mitigate the abominable attrition rate, but one fact remains: science is really hard.  An interesting article by Adam Frank on the NPR web site makes the case for celebrating the complexities of STEM subjects rather than attempting to sugarcoat them.  "To engage with the world in search of any kind of Truth is an expression of the search for excellence," he writes. "That, by its very nature, is desperately difficult. There will always be a price to be paid in time, sweat and tears."

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New Girl Scout Research Affirms Girls’ Interest in STEM

New Girl Scout Research Affirms Girls’ Interest in STEM | Curious Minds | Scoop.it

A new study from the Girl Scout Research Institute indicates that, while girls enjoy STEM subjects they don't necessarily consider related fields when they plan their careers.  The study, "Generation STEM: What Girls Say about Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math," shows that the vast majority of girls consider themselves "smart enough to have a career in STEM."  However their career ambitions in STEM fields seems to be hampered by their lack of information about available opportunities, with 60 percent of girls who are interested in STEM indicating that they don't know as much about STEM careers as they know about other fields.  "While we know that the majority of girls prefer a hands-on approach in STEM fields, we also know that girls are motivated to make the world a better place and to help people,” says Kamla Modi, PhD, research and outreach analyst, Girl Scout Research Institute. “Girls may not understand how STEM careers help people, or how their STEM interests can further their goals of helping people."

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William J. Bennett Speaks Out on the Importance of STEM Education

William J. Bennett Speaks Out on the Importance of STEM Education | Curious Minds | Scoop.it

Former Secretary of Education William Bennett is afraid that we're facing a national disaster if U.S. students continue to turn out sub-par performances in STEM subjects. In the aftermath of the second White House Science Fair, Bennett told CNN that we're on our way to a "disaster in the making."  Specifically, he points to the uncertain future of our GDP, job market, and national financial well-being if we fail to regain our edge as the most innovative country in the world.  Bennett does offer a five-part solution to the crisis, beginning with the suggestion that we "front-load STEM-related teaching." Other steps he says we need to take on the path to regaining our strength in innovation include improving teacher training in math, integrate math and sciences more effectively within school settings, use forms of math and scientific methods in teaching across the curriculum, and take advantage of the teacher trainining opportunities offered by nonprofits focused on STEM education.

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Fifth Grader Hannah Wyman Exhibits in White House Science Fair

Fifth Grader Hannah Wyman Exhibits in White House Science Fair | Curious Minds | Scoop.it

It's a big day for Hannah Wyman, a fifth grader at Saint Anna Catholic School in Leominster, MA. Hannah won the grand prize in her age group for the video game she created, called Toxic, for Microsoft's Kodu Cup. Today, Hannah is at the White House and Toxic is on display for none other than the President of the United States at the second White House Science Fair.

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Teach For America Gets $1M Grant for STEM Teacher Recruitment

Lincoln Financial Foundation has awarded Teach for America a $1 grant over three years to expand efforts to recruit teachers of STEM subjects.  Teach For America is the national corps of recent college graduates who commit to teach for two years in urban and rural public schools and become lifelong leaders in expanding educational opportunity.  "We're grateful to Lincoln Financial for their support of Teach For America corps members and alumni who are working alongside so many others to end the disparities that exist in math and science education," said Wendy Kopp, founder and chief executive officer of Teach For America. "We are seeing an incredible moment of opportunity to enlist more top graduates with STEM degrees to bring their passion and commitment to our nation's urban and rural classrooms. Lincoln's partnership will help Teach For America seize this moment and inspire the next generation of leaders in math and science." 

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Scenes from a High School Science Fair: North Attleboro, MA

Scenes from a High School Science Fair: North Attleboro, MA | Curious Minds | Scoop.it

From a homemade, working hovercraft to an examination of the impact of weather on mood, the projects on display at the North Attleboro High School Science Fair on Wednesday represented admirable hard work and creativity. This year saw 47 entrants in the school's fair, more than double the number of students that participated last year. The students whose projects rank in the top 18 at the school will go on to the regional competition, and the top winners there will have a shot at the state science fair at MIT, scheduled for May 3-5.  Good luck!

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STEM Shortage a Threat to National Security?

STEM Shortage a Threat to National Security? | Curious Minds | Scoop.it

A new report by the National Academy of Sciences casts the shortage of talent in STEM fields in a new and unsettling light.  The military -- and therefore our national security -- could be hurt by a lack of personnel adequately trained in science and engineering. "We're in the bullets, bombs, and guns business, but that's just a piece of what the big mission is," said Laura Adolfie, who heads STEM Development at the Department of Defense's office of the assistant secretary of defense for research and engineering. "We have scientists and engineers across the gamut. We have social scientists that perform important human performance research, technicians, welders, lab workers."  An already small pool of workers well equipped to do these jobs shrinks even further when you factor in the citizenship requirement for jobs with the military; many STEM graduates in America are foreign-born, and therefore not eligible to apply for military positions.  Among the strategies under consideration for working around the shortage of ideally credentialed and trained employees in STEM disciplines: loosening qualifications.  "There is scope within the current DoD system of controls for reducing the number of positions requiring clearances, depending on security threats," the report says.

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Are Science Standards Taught as if They Were Bricks?

Are Science Standards Taught as if They Were Bricks? | Curious Minds | Scoop.it

Noted education reformer John Dewey believed in active learning that should not be limited by process. We cannot give ideas directly to students as if they were "bricks" and expect them to engage with them in a way that is lasting and educationally meaningful. In an interesting article in "The Art of Teaching Science," Jack Hassard, Professor Emeritus of Science Education at Georgia State University, explores Dewey's thoughts on learning as an interactive "informal" process in light of today's science standards.  One of the conclusions he reaches is, "To create science standards that reflect a consensus among researchers in cognitive science, they must be written in such a way the content aims are combined with the skill or processes needed to help students have a chance at meaningful learning." Good stuff. 

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Cultivating the Next Generation of Science and Engineering Leaders

Cultivating the Next Generation of Science and Engineering Leaders | Curious Minds | Scoop.it

Speaking at Northeastern University's CEO Breakfast Forum yesterday, Raytheon Chairman and CEO William H. Swanson emphasized the critical need to inspire a new generation of STEM leaders.  "Virtually every business is technology dependent today, so we all have a stake in replenishing the STEM pipeline," he said. "Businesses certainly see the benefits of a stronger STEM pipeline with a highly skilled workforce driving innovative new products, systems and solutions."

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NASA, ALA Team Up to Offer Astro4Girls Pilot

NASA, ALA Team Up to Offer Astro4Girls Pilot | Curious Minds | Scoop.it

Regardless of whether it comes in like a lion or a lamb, March will usher in National Women's History Month.  Astro4Girls, a project collaboration NASA and the American Library Association will leverage the theme into the STEM sphere.  Focusing on middle-school-age girls, Astro4Girls will include activities like astrophotography, telescope-building, creating active galaxies, and learning about female astronomers.  The project will take place at nine public libraries around the country, with the hope of expansion into more libraries in future years.

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Check out the New MIT STEM Pals Newsletter

Check out the New MIT STEM Pals Newsletter | Curious Minds | Scoop.it

Featuring news, ideas, and opinions submitted by people who recognize the significance of the challenges facing STEM today, MIT STEM Pals is new, information-packed newletter. The February issue features six articles including "Highlights of Issues Discussed at the MIT STEM Meeting," from Megan Rokop (pictured), "An Update on the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST)," from Elizabeth Murray, and "The Challenge of Implementing a Reporting of Current Events in a High School Chemistry Class," from Reen Gibb. Read the newsletter here, and then subscribe!

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The Value of Learning by Doing

The Value of Learning by Doing | Curious Minds | Scoop.it

In this month's issue of The Scientist, Sarah L. Simmons, director of the Freshman Research Initiative in the College of Natural Sciences at the University of Texas at Austin, makes a compelling case for the multiple benefits of providing opportunities for students to perform hands-on research early in their academic careers. "Imagine the impact on the arts if we required every aspiring instrumentalist to complete 12 years of theory and careful study of the masters before being allowed to pick up an instrument and play," she writes.  Likewise, how are we to expect the practice of exposing eager young minds to years of lecture-format science courses to generate the enthusiasm required to propel them further along the STEM path?  Early, authentic research experiences, such as those that students acquire through participation in science fairs, can be hugely valuable in transforming "science-curious" students into science majors.

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Three Key Takeaways from the President's Education Budget Proposal

Three Key Takeaways from the President's Education Budget Proposal | Curious Minds | Scoop.it

The budget proposal released Monday features a request for $69.8 billion for education, which represents an increase of $1.7 billion over the past year. Rikesh Nana provides a nice summary of three of the education budget's key points in this blog post on The Quick & the Ed. 

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Obama Seeks More Education Funds in FY13 Budget

Obama Seeks More Education Funds in FY13 Budget | Curious Minds | Scoop.it

President Obama hopes to increase education spending 2.5 percent for fiscal year 2013, to $69.8 billion up from the current budget of $68.1 billion.  Of particular relevance to science, technology, engineering, and math, he is looking for $8 million to fund a new initiative to train teachers in STEM programs.  The program would enable students to earn teaching and STEM degrees simultaneously, feeding the qualified STEM teacher pipeline. Read more for details on the president's budget proposal.

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Briefing on STEM Education in the 2013 Budget

Briefing on STEM Education in the 2013 Budget | Curious Minds | Scoop.it

The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) will hold a briefing on the research, development, and STEM education portions of the President's FY 2013 Budget on Monday, February 13, 2012 beginning at 1:30pm, EST.  Speakers will include John P. Holdren, Director, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, Subra Suresh, Director, National Science Foundation, and Patrick Gallagher, Director, National Institute of Standards and Technology.  Live web streaming of the event can be accessed at http://www.aaas.org/go/ostp.

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White House Science Fair Puts Student Innovation on the National Stage

White House Science Fair Puts Student Innovation on the National Stage | Curious Minds | Scoop.it

More than 100 students attended the second White House Science Fair yesterday, showcasing award-winning projects from around the country. In his remarks, President Obama announced several proposals conceived to help reach the goal of preparing 100,000 teachers with math and science skills over the next decade. Among them: $80 million in the president's upcoming budget earmarked for STEM teacher preparation via a competition by the DOE; a $22 million investment from the non-profit and private sector through a coalition called "100Kin10"; a STEM focus in the Race to the Top competition.

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How Well Does Your School District Nurture Creativity?

How Well Does Your School District Nurture Creativity? | Curious Minds | Scoop.it

Some states, including Massachusetts, seem to be taking this question seriously. Along with states including California and Oklahoma, Massachusetts has a commission in place to examine the potential for an index measuring the extent to which schools foster innovation and creativity.  The goal would be to move toward a more balanced curriculum through a system that would "rate every public school on teaching, encouraging, and fostering creativity in students" and be based "in part on the creative opportunities in each school."  According to Massachusetts commission member Jonathan Rappaport of Arts/Learning in Natick, "Our charge is to figure out what the index should be and how it would be implemented.  The effort, referred to as  the Creative Challenge Index, would exist to "measure inputs, to show what opportunities kids have in their school day," Rappaport said.

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My View: Technology and engineering, the forgotten part of STEM education – Schools of Thought - CNN.com Blogs

My View: Technology and engineering, the forgotten part of STEM education – Schools of Thought - CNN.com Blogs | Curious Minds | Scoop.it

Virginia technology and engineering education teacher Matt Walton speaks out on CNN.com about the often overlooked middle two letters of STEM. "As a country we need to focus on improving in all areas of science, technology, engineering and math education if we are to succeed in creating and competing for the jobs that will be prevalent in the decades to come," he says. "However, it’s vital to our nation and to our students not to overlook the “T and E” in STEM."   

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