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Inquiry First.

Forty-seven small U.S. colleges and universities have been chosen by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute to receive funding for the creation of collaborative, engaging undergraduate science classes.  “Collaboration is a vital activity that drives science forward,” said HHMI President Robert Tjian. “We believe that collaboration among institutions can have a similar catalytic effect on science education, and we look forward to seeing these schools work together to develop new science and teaching programs that inspire their students.” See on

With the statistics pointing overwhelmingly to a dire need for STEM-trained students to graduate into the US workforce, the question remains: How do educators break down the barriers that can prevent some perfectly capable students from enrolling in STEM courses?  On the Citizen IBM blog, AP Computer Science teacher Seth Reichelson offers up some answers based on his own experience.  Among his suggestions: "[make] computer science more accessible and rewarding" by using mastery learning, and communicating directly with parents when a student gets a bad grade.  By building confidence and taking some common-sense approaches to communicating, "everybody wins," Reichelson says. See on

Photo: US students join those from other countries in an opening ceremonies celebration.


The Massachusetts delegation to the Intel International Science & Engineering Fair (ISEF) racked up five third-place awards and two fourth-place awards at today's Grand Prize Ceremony in Pittsburgh, PA.

Third Place

Name: Emily Hu School: Lexington High School Project: "The Effects of Mindful Decision Making on Post Decision Regret" Description:  The purpose of this experiment is to determine a relationship between mindful decision-making and post decision regret. The main objective is to confirm that... Read More

Six Massachusetts high school students won awards presented at the Intel International Science & Engineering Fair's Special Awards Ceremony last evening.  The grand prize winners will be announced during a separate ceremony taking place today.  Stay tuned for updates as the become available! Congratulations to these outstanding ISEF Special-Award-winning students from Massachusetts: Name: Sneha Subramaniam School: Westborough High School Project: "Engineering a Novel Hydrogel Matrix for Bone Cell Regeneration" Description: The goal of this project was to engineer a low cost and low risk alternative for bone cell regeneration through tissue engineering techniques. An mTG crosslinked gelatin hyrogel was used as a scaffold and its... Read More

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.

The 2012 Massachusetts State High School Science & Engineering Fair has begun!  About 350 volunteer judges received training this morning on the finer points of the job, and have made their way into MIT's Johnson Athletics Center (JAC) to meet their assigned students.  Results of the judging will be tabulated this evening and winners will be announced during the awards ceremony tomorrow evening. Billy Costa, host of High School Quiz Show and well-known radio personality, will MC.

With half a million dollars in prize money and scholarships at stake, there's palpable energy in JAC today!  The science fair will be open to the public tomorrow, May 5th, from 12:30-3:00.  Bring the family and check out these amazing student projects!

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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.
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Once focused on college and university grads as the primary source of potential new employees, more and more companies that need workers with solid STEM skills are looking at talent in middle and high schools. So says James Brown, Executive Director of the STEM Education Coalition. "To the extent that you’re really trying to look at the big picture ... [companies are betting] that if we make the pipeline stronger there, it will have ripple effects upwards," he says. And how do you encourage and nurture talent at the K-12 level? Make STEM subjects fun. Get students excited about STEM through inquiry-based learning, and competitions like science fairs. Clearly, corporate resources can have a tremendous impact on improving the quality of STEM education in the country, and more and more corporations seem to understand that the eventual payoff -- in the form of well-trained employees -- is worth the investment.
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