Making science come alive for kids through interactive, hands-on, inquiry-based learning is key to getting them “hooked” enough to pursue STEM subjects as their academic careers advance. Darryl Lee Baynes, president of the Minority Aviation Education Association’s Interactive Science Programs, has an action-packed formula for encouraging minority students to think about pursuing careers in STEM fields.
A compelling part of Baynes’ message? Careers in STEM pay. “There is a shortage of scientists and engineers in this country,” he says. “If you get a job as a petroleum engineer, you’ll make $100,000 to start. The more math and science you take, the more money you make.”
The Boston-based non-profit Citizen Schools has long been working with corporate partners to bring exciting STEM experiences into the classroom and give students access to STEM professionals. Now, Citizen Schools will working with corporations on the US2020 project with the goal of having 1 million STEM professionals mentoring K12, college, and graduate students throughout their careers by the year 2020. In addition to changing the landscape of STEM education by giving students these opportunities, they also hope to change the workplace for those in STEM careers by making volunteering a common occurrence. Citizen Schools will be incubating this project until June 2014. Cisco, Cognizant, and SanDisk are the founding corporate partners.
MSSEF received notification of an opportunity through the UMass STEM Ed Institute that we thought we’d share with “Inquiry First” readers. Mohawk Trail High School has been a long-time participant in the Massachusetts State Science Fair program.
The UMass STEM Ed Institute Tuesday Seminar Series presents: Wayne Kermenski Science Teacher, Mohawk Trail Regional School District Project Based Learning, the Fifth Academic Class
A few years back, Mohawk Trail Regional Middle School created a course entitled, Project Based Learning or PBL. It became one of five academic classes for middle school students. The goals for this course included inquiry-based projects that enforced skills students learned in their other courses. In addition, the course was responsible for implementing social curriculum, math and reading literacy remediation, and authentic learning opportunities. The benefits from this course included an increase in student attendance, a well-rounded education for our students, and a letter of acknowledgement from the Governor for our achievement in our MCAS math scores. Come find out about this dynamic course and learn what has been
successful for us.
STEM seminars are held at 4PM on the first and third Tuesdays of each month during the academic year in Hasbrouck 138. Everyone is welcome; no reservations are needed, and there is no charge. Parking is available in the Campus Center Garage.
Projects ranged from the purely virtual — video games teaching computer program cell phone apps to help dropouts resume their education — to the extremely tactile: robotic drawing arms and hands-on tools to help teachers design curriculum.
We already knew that the demand for STEM graduates was on the rise to meet the demands of a changing economy, but recently the White House put a big number on how critical the demand really is.
Last week, the Obama Administration designated the effort to increase the number of undergrads with degrees in STEM fields as a Cross-Agency Priority goal. According to the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, this means that the effort is, “one of a limited number of such articulated goals designed to focus cross-agency coordination and encourage sharing of best practices among agencies with complementary missions.”
Initially, at least, the CAP goal to increase STEM graduates will focus on five “areas of opportunity”:
improving STEM teaching and attracting students to STEM courses;
offering meaningful opportunities for students to engage in STEM research early in their college careers;
improving mathematics preparation so that students enter college with adequate math skill to tackle science classes;
supporting women and minorities in STEM education;
identifying and supporting educational innovation.
Michael Maloney, Assistant Director of the Massachusetts Region IV Science Fair, received “Educator of the Week” honors at the Sunday, September 30 Patriots football game through Cubist Pharmaceuticals’ Science Education Leadership Award program.
According to Somerville High School Assistant Principal Sebastian LaGambina, who nominated Mike for the honor, “Michael is an absolutely fabulous physics teacher… probably the best educator I’ve seen in almost 30 years of education.”
Mike’s recent accomplishments include:
Developing an ePortfolio template that will be implemented school-wide, in which all 1,300 students will have an electronic portfolio for displaying their best work.
Spending many hours of his own time developing a resource page to assist teachers and students with their ePortfolios.
Developing an honors-level Engineering course that has more than 40 students enrolled.
Serving as advisor to both the Science League Advisor and the Yearbook Advisor.
Mentoring physics interns from Tufts University.
Throughout the Patriots football season, a “Teacher of the Week” will be recognized and have his/her name read on-air during the New England Patriots radio broadcast. At the end of the season, one of these teachers will be selected as the recipient of the Cubist Science Education Leadership Award and win $5,000 for the teacher’s school science department.
Congratulations, Mike on this well-deserved honor!
Randolph-Macon College English Professor Thomas Peyser makes an interesting case for the importance of STEM students having a strong foundation in grammar in the Richmond Times-Dispatch. “…we can be confident that the abandonment of instruction in grammar is robbing us not just of future writers but of future scientists, physicians and engineers as well,” he writes.
With more and more emphasis on STEM education and less and less on grammar, the gap seems to be widening dangerously. Scientists use words, sentences, and paragraphs to communicate, just as writers do. Furthermore, STEM studies require students to distill complex sentences for comprehension. Without an ample grasp on the fundamentals of grammar, students find themselves at a disadvantage on both the expressive and receptive sides of the communication equation.
One of the key benefits of science fairs is the opportunity they provide for multi-disciplinary learning. A student’s skills as writer, designer, and speaker all come in to play during the science fair process — excellent practice for real-world science. “Engineers and scientists must be competent readers, writers and speakers of syntactically complex sentences,” Peyser points out. “That is why the English classroom is an important stop on the road to the lab, the clinic and the drafting table. Good grammar isn’t rocket science, but students can’t become rocket scientists without it.”
See on www2.timesdispatch.com
As games gain popularity among students as an education delivery method, the Department of Education has jumped on board with awards that focus on game-based learning education technology products. The Institute of Education Sciences — the research arm of the Department of Education — announced a new round of awards, many of which focus on game-based learning products. Phase I awards provide support to the tune of up to $150K for prototype development. Phase II awards will kick in next year in amounts reaching $900K over two years.
Education gaming experts say that well-designed games are motivating for students and by presenting discovery-based tasks, encourage critical thinking skills. One project currently in the funding cycle is Game-enhanced Interactive Life Science — a suite of five life-science games. Their purpose is to boost understanding of the scientific inquiry process among middle school students and students with disabilities.
See on www.ed.gov
Integrating the arts into STEM education can have powerful effects on student performance. According to the National Endowment for the Arts in its 2012 report, “The Arts and Achievement in At-Risk Youth,” “Eighth graders who had high levels of arts engagement from kindergarten through elementary school showed higher test scores in science and writing than did students who had lower levels of arts engagement over the same period.” Wolf Trap’s Institute for Early Learning Through the Arts in Vienna, Virginia, is going full STEAM ahead with a full slate of programs designed to infuse art into the curriculum. Wolf Trap’s senior director of education, Akua Kouyate, is leading the organization’s charge into the classroom. “If we think historically about how that has always been a part of learning, why would we stop it?” she said. “Why would we deny our children that which will allow them to really contribute significantly in the future?” Here’s more about Wolf Trap’s Institute for Early Learning Through the Arts:
How’s this for a useful application of science: An interesting post by Dr. Judy Willis in Edutopia makes the case for teachers having a foundation in neuroscience. A neurologist herself, as well as a teacher, Dr. Willis says, “Teachers who are prepared with knowledge of the workings of the brain will have the optimism, incentive and motivation to follow the ongoing research, and to apply their findings to the classroom.” She goes on to say, “These teachers can help all children build their brain potential — regardless of past performance — bridge the achievement gap, and reach their highest 21st century potential starting now.” Dr. Willis’s argument makes good sense. As she points out, if teachers understood the impact of stress on a student’s classroom performance, or knew more about how the brain processes and stores information, wouldn’t such knowledge have great potential to result in a better classroom experience for all students?
See on www.edutopia.org
The Massachusetts State Science & Engineering Fair (MSSEF) is committed to increasing awareness of, exposure to, and participation in inquiry-based learning through the development of science and engineering projects by middle school and high school students, and to showcase and celebrate that learning.