For the past year a group of 10 East Boston High School (EBHS) students with the guidance of two EBHS teachers have been learning science and helping their community. The students have been reading and creating science non-fiction stories for elementary students at Umana Academy in East Boston. They have also been mentoring 6th graders leading and environmental initiative at Umana.
During all of this, the students were also fundraising for their biggest service learning project – a trip to Arizona to volunteer at the Navajo Nation reservation. The students completed their trip last week and chronicled their activities on a group blog. During the trip, they were able to visit a charter school that is entirely off the grid, learn about sheep farming, work on the sheep farm, help clean up trash, cook traditional Navajo food, and explore the Grand Canyon. Experiential learning at its best!
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) have organized Synergy: An Experiment in Art and Science Collaboration. This has culminated in an exhibit at Boston’s Museum of Science. The exhibit matched artists with scientists at WHOI to showcase the experiential side of science. Synergy hopes to demonstrate the creative and analytical side of both science and art. The exhibit will be on display through May. Check it out!
~ Shannon Morey
The editors of Science News selected their top 25 science stories of 2012 based in part on which kept them up at night. Among the stories that made the cut: The evolution of bionic people from fantasy to near-reality; a study that calls into question the protective effects of “good” cholesterol; and June’s once-in-a-lifetime journey of Venus across the surface of the sun. Check out the whole list on Science News!
Scientific American and ScienceDebate.org (which refers to itself as “an independent citizens’ initiative asking candidates for office to discuss the top science questions facing America) posed 14 questions about science and education to President Obama and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. Their responses will be analyzed and graded in the November issue of Scientific American, available next month.
In the meantime, you can read what the candidates had to say on such subjects as education, climate change, biosecurity, and innovation on Scientific American online.
Are the candidates qualified to respond to such questions? “Obama and Romney spend a lot of time talking about the economy, yet neither is an economist…. They should be able to discuss science and how it impacts people and society, even though neither is a scientist, said Science Debate co-founder Shawn Otto. “They should be able to talk about education, even though neither holds a teaching license.”
See on www.scientificamerican.com
Researchers at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, and the agency’s Marshall Space Flight Center have earned a prestigious honor — the Hands-On Project Experience (HOPE) Training Opportunity award — that promotes achievement among America’s newest ranks of space scientists and engineers. The project, “High Energy Replicated Optics to Explore the Sun” (HEROES), is a scientific balloon built with the capability of soaring to an altitude of about 25 miles. At that distance into the Earth’s stratosphere, HEROES will study solar flares with its x-ray telescope when the sun is shining, and then look at the stars at night. “HEROES will provide the most sensitive hard X-ray observations of the sun captured to date, and will pave the way for this technology to be used on a future satellite mission,” said Steven Christe of the Goddard Center. NASA’s HOPE awards allow NASA scientists with limited flight-project experience to run with a mission from concept to launch and then through post-flight analysis.
See on www.spacedaily.com
The bad news: In a sampling of 122,000 8th graders from more than 7,000 schools across the country, fewer than one-third demonstrated proficiency in science on a test administered by National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). The good news: Massachusetts students fared a bit better than most, with 40% of those tested scoring at the “proficient” level. Results of another science test administered by NAEP will be released in June. This test will measure students’ proficiency in hands-on experiments. “We’re very, very interested in tasks that look more like real science,” said Sean P. “Jack” Buckley, the commissioner of the National Center for Education Statistics, which administers NAEP.
Congratulations to Lexington High School, which triumphed over North Hollywood High to secure the top place in the high school division of the Energy Department’s National Science Bowl yesterday at the National Building Museum in Washington, DC.
The five student members of the team — Alan Zhou, Julia Leung, Jonathan Tidor, Zaroug Jaleel and Matthew Arbesfeld — will receive an all-expense paid, nine-day Alaska adventure! Hearty congratulations to all of the students, and to their coach, Nicholas Gould.
See on energy.gov
Treehugger takes the opportunity to shine a spotlight on the “best-of” in many green-related categories, from people to products. In the “Science” category, Treehugger honors inspirational initiatives, projects, and products that are making a real difference in the world. Of particular note: “Rescue Spider” by the Frauhofer Institute, the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature Project, studies on what is killing bees, the Graphene Water Filter, and the “Seafood Watch” app. Check out Treehugger‘s slideshow of the 2012 Best of Green Science honorees here.
Science education teeters on the brink of change, with the message that an inquiry-based teaching approach is what works with students taking root in classrooms across the country. By engaging students through innovative means, science teachers are experiencing new success at gaining — and keeping — their students’ interest in subject matter that can be perceived as too difficult. “[Making] things more relevant for the students” is what it’s all about, according to Wilmington, Delaware chemistry teacher John Scali. “It’s what goes on in the real world. I place a lot more priority on the process of science itself—the process is a lot more important.”
Between the years 2002 and 2010, states cut funding for public research universities by 20 percent in constant dollars. Meanwhile, in countries including China and India, spending on technology and education increased over the same time period. So says the 2012 release of the biennial report, “Science and Engineering Indicators,” which looks at scientific trends in the US and worldwide. A compendium of fascinating data, the report will be available on the National Science Foundation’s web site at noon (ET) today.