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:
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.
Samidha Sane, 8th grade science teacher and science fair coordinator at the Locke Middle School in Billerica, received the Aerospace Teacher of the Year award from the Massachusetts Wing Civil Air Patrol (the auxiliary wing of the US Air Force). Samidha is now Massachusetts’ aerospace teacher of the year nominee for the entire Northeast region. Depending on the results of the Northeast competition, she could move to the national level.
Samidha’s school, the Locke Middle School, is one of 30 “GEMS” schools that received multi-year grants to expand or start science fair programs and to enable more students to engage in hands-on experience with real-world science practices. As a result, for the last three years, top student researchers at the Locke Middle School have earned a place in the MA State Middle School Science & Engineering Fair, scheduled this year for June 1 at Worcester Technical High School.
GEMS (Gelfand Endeavor in Massachusetts Schools) is a partnership with the Massachusetts State Science & Engineering Fair (MSSEF) that provides schools and science educators with training, resources and tools. Learn more about GEMS and MSSEF’s Curious Minds Initiative.
Congratulations and good luck to Samidha!
After collecting ticks for her originally intended science fair project, Braintree High School sophomore Jacqueline Flynn decided to pursue a topic on ticks with a different spin (or rather, spin cycle).
Worried about keeping her clothing tick free after collecting the parasitic arachnids, Flynn researched methods of killing them in the laundry. She found a large lack of data on the subject, with recommendations while washing machines were ineffective, that a full hour in a dryer would kill them. However, after her own extensive testing, she found that five minutes on a low-heat cycle would be sufficient.
Soon Flynn’s project results garnered attention from the state parks and forestry services as well as officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who said they were willing to help her expand on her research. “It just spread very fast,” Flynn told the School Committee.
Flynn has taken first place in the Braintree School Science fair for her work and is bound for the Massachusetts State High School Science and Engineering Fair, which will be held at MIT from May 2nd to the 4th.
Read more on Falmouth Patch.
~ James Penna
As a sixth grader, Nathan Han of Boston received first-place honors at MSSEF’s 2011 Middle School Science Fair for his project, “A Study of Somatic Sensory Receptive Fields in Human Skin.” From there, he went on to the Broadcom MASTERS — a prestigious national STEM competition for 6th, 7th, and 8th graders.
This spring, Nathan has another honor to add to the list. He has been named one of 30 semifinalists in Disney’s Iron Man 3 Inventor and Innovator Fair. Held in conjunction with the release of Marvel’s “Iron Man 3,” starring Robert Downey Jr., the competition asked students from across the United States to produce innovative, inventive projects based on themes from the movie.
If he is selected as a finalist, Nathan will win a trip to California for the premiere of Iron Man 3, a visit to Disneyland, a trip to Broadcom Headquarters, the opportunity to share his research at the El Capitan Theatre and more! Good luck, Nathan!
Cora Beth Abel, Executive Director of the Massachusetts State Science & Engineering Fair, recently shared her perspective on the value and challenges of science fairs with Heather Goldstone of WCAI, the Cape and Islands NPR station.
During the nearly half-hour-long interview, Abel emphasized the importance of mentors in the science fair process. “Scientists can really help a student experience and understand how ‘real’ science gets accomplished,” she said. “The student gets to ‘own’ the research project and will probably have to overcome some obstacles, which demands curiosity. Science fair projects are more relevant than ever before given our high-stakes innovation economy.” MSSEF’s Curious Minds initiative takes a multi-pronged approach to engaging every Massachusetts middle and high school student in inquiry-based learning, including professional development opportunities for teachers leading to the STEM Certificate in Inquiry.
Of her own science fair experiences, WCAI’s Goldstone says, “…science fair was clearly a memorable learning experience. Perhaps that’s what experts are talking about when they refer to the power of student-driven, inquiry-based learning.”
Read more & listen here!
While most of his peers likely slept late and played video games, Jagath Jai Kumar, a freshman at Hopedale Jr-Sr. High School, took the opportunity presented by Tuesday’s snow day to put a few finishing touches on his award-winning science fair project.
Having taken second place at the March 9 Worcester Regional Science & Engineering Fair at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Jagath has his sites set on the Massachusetts State Science & Engineering Fair, scheduled for May 2-4 at MIT.
Jagath’s project explores the question of whether infrared or ultrasonic sensors do a better job at helping robots detect objects. “I found that infrared sensors were better, both with getting faster times and seeing more objects,” Jagath said. “It completely contradicted my original hypothesis.”
Althought he’s only 14, Jagath has a career path in mind: biotechnology. “I know I want to get into that and I have a lot of ideas,” he said.
Read more on Milford Daily News
Last year, Tyler Dewitt, a graduate student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology gave an inspiring talk at Tedx Beacon Street, recently made available online.
In short, Tyler believes scientists should present science as a “story.” He suggests that there would be benefits to be had by moving away from the dry textbook-style learning and toward making science more fun and interactive for all students.
Tyler supports STEM education through his involvement with MIT’s K12 video initiative and his own YouTube channel.
The 2012 National Survey of Science and Mathematics Education results were released last month. Based on the responses, the need for increased support to science and math teachers is clear.
The survey, endorsed by numerous professional educator and scientific societies, polled thousands of K-12 teachers from around the nation. Education Week pulled a number of interesting statistics from the report, noting that only one-third of middle school math teachers have a degree in either math or math education. Additionally, a majority of elementary teachers do not feel “very well prepared” to teach science and only 20 percent of them teach science every day. This is especially concerning given the move to the common-core standards. Many of the skills pushed by the new standards are those that teachers report feeling most uncomfortable with, such as having students explain reasoning and support a conclusion.
On March 9th and 10th, MIT Mechanical Engineering Professor David Wallace and the MIT Office of Digital Learning hosted the Education Design-a-thon, an education hacking event for MIT students and anyone interested in education. Organizations posed challenges and attendees chose one project to work on throughout the 32-hour event.
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.