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Inquiry First.

The West Virginia State Board of Education voted for Climate Change not to be treated as a “foregone conclusion” in classrooms last year. The board decided to modify Next Generation Science Standards, the new National Science Standard with curriculum adopted by 26 states.  NGSS was developed to ensure that science education is being taught rigorously, using the professional practices of working scientists and engineers. For example, students asked to asses the “rise and fall” of global temperatures would explore how STEM professionals investigate this question, learning to think critically, analyze data, and engage in the process of figuring out the solution, not simply gaining knowledge about it. Teachers who want to learn more about using this approach can enroll in CMI courses from MSSEF. The move by West Virginia to modify the NGSS has caused a lot of anger in the Climate Science community. Lisa Hoyos, director of the Climate Change Education advocacy group “Climate Parents,” thinks it’s a problem that the science class is being treated like a debate club, since science is by definition based on concrete evidence. But Gayle Manchin, president of West Virginia’s board of... Read More

EdX, an online learning platform created by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is rolling out 26 Massive Open Online Courses. According to edX CEO Anant Agarwal, these free courses are part of an effort to provide “high-quality, engaging, and interactive courses to specifically meet the needs of this student population.” Developed through the collaborative effort of 14 institutions, including The University of California Berkeley, Georgetown University and Rice University, these 28 courses allow anybody to experience state-of-the-art education from their computer screen.  But the work is far from over; now that the universities have finished putting them together, interested high schools must figure out how to integrate MOOCs into their curriculum. Some schools have offered non-academic credits to students who complete MOOCs. Nikhal Chopra took edX classes when he was at Andover High School and said that the experience “ prepares you to teach yourself how to learn.” But it’s not just the college bound who can benefit from MOOCs. These classes are open to everybody, and although it’s a small step, this effort is an example of how education... Read More

"Keira Knightley is going to be a great role model for young women who are wanting to...pursue STEM careers," Reshma Saujani, CEO of Girls Who Code, told USNews. She was referencing the actress’ role in “The Imitation Game,” a movie about Alan Turing’s attempts to break a Nazi code that would help the Allies win World War II. Knightley plays Joan Clark, Turing’s confidante and fellow coder. Many have been looking for a solution to the lack of women in high tech positions, and Saujani believes that we should look no further than role models such as Knightley. Saujani added that “girls need to see women whom they admire...doing the very things they don’t think they can do." Although Knightley’s role may inspire many young girls to try coding for the first time, there’s still a long way to go in terms of evening the playing field for female coders and programmers.

 

 

Building on past studies of reading and the brain, computer scientists Tom Mitchell and Leila Wehbe have created one of the most comprehensive studies to date. While past research has focused only on one element of language, these ambitious researchers decided to widen the scope, testing a theory that as we read, different regions in the brain turn on. Wehbe explains that they decided to use the Harry Potter books to test their theories because “many people have read the books and are familiar with the characters and the Harry Potter world.” This choice is important because of the ability it gives readers to visualize the world of the book, an integral part of the study. Since subjects of the study would have to be inside an MRI machine where they would have to remain perfectly still in order to allow accurate imaging of the brain, the... Read More

 

When asked what it’s like living on earth after returning from space,  Garrett Reisman said that “The first thing you notice is that everything seems really heavy.” The former astronaut answered the question in detail in an article on the website, giving readers the unique opportunity to imagine life as a homebound astronaut. Reisman elaborates “The next thing you notice is that your vestibular system is all messed up. Just sitting up took a lot of concentration.” Garrett Reisman’s piece in the Post sheds much needed light on an element of space travel that’s unknown to many. The full article can be read here: ... Read More

 

Long thought to be the father of Artificial Intelligence, Alan Turing is the subject of the brand new blockbuster “The Imitation Game”. But that doesn’t mean that his ideas are tucked neatly into history. According to the Huffington Post article “What Babies Can Tell Us About Artificial Intelligence,” Turing’s findings that children play an important role in the quality of Artificial Intelligence has influenced thought leaders in this area. A group that works under the title “Ideas Lab” is made up of four academics from the University of California at Berkeley. Although each works in an entirely different field, they all agree on... Read More

Katherine Wu, a finalist in the 2014 Discovery Education 3M Young Scientists Challenge has a mission that’s a bit bewildering given her age: combat drowsy driving. According to the Huffington Post, the 14 year old invented a tiny computer worn on a bluetooth headset that tracks changes in drivers' bodies via EEG and sends audio-visual alerts if drowsiness is detected. With two years until she can legally obtain her drivers license, Wu is making impressive headway in creating safer roads for herself and others.

 

On January 6th, a spacecraft called Dragon was launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida carrying experiments set up by students, according to the NASA website. The experiments range from studies on how crystals grow without gravity to tests about how different levels of gravity affect milk spoilage. Although these students, united in the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP), have been immensely successful by virtue of the fact that they’ve gotten their experiments into space, sometimes students and professional scientists fail. However, failures offer new opportunities and create new angles for discovery. “Failure happens in science, and what we do in the face of that failure defines who we are” says an SSEP overseer. Whether SSEP students’ experiments... Read More

The Belmont Hills Elementary School has enlisted Apple iPads to help and inspire students with everything from spelling to guided reading, according to the Education Week article “What Good Technology Use Looks Like in the Early Years.” The school believes that these devices are key to sparking collaborative spirit in students, jumpstarting their communication skills, and allowing them to work at their own pace. A video on the Education week website shows a colorfully clad youngster playing what at first glance looks like a regular computer game, but turns out to be a math tutorial from the educational website Dreambox. Although these tools may seem like a drastic shift in the structure of the classroom, they’re “just another way of giving the students a little bit more of what they need” according to a Belmont Hills Elementary School teacher.

 

Nominations for the the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST) are now being accepted. Instituted in 1983 by the White House, the PAEMST Program is sponsored by the National Science Foundation.

The program acknowledges exceptional mathematics and science teachers from kindergarten through twelfth grade in each of the fifty states, Puerto Rico, Guam, U. S. Virgin Islands and American Samoa. These awardees will serve as examples for their colleagues and model leadership in the advancement of mathematics and science education.

... Read More

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