You are here

Inquiry First.

"Afterschool Snack," a useful blog focused on quality afterschool and out-of-school learning programs, has redesigned its STEM pages for even greater ease and navigability.  Features including STEM-specific funding opportunities, policy updates, local program listings and resources, an interactive calendar, and more make the STEM section an invaluable resource.  Check it out!

Starting this fall, a new STEM Education Center at Worcester Polytechnic Institute will offer students the opportunity to pursue a four-year degree in a STEM discipline and initial teaching licensure simultaneously.  “If our teachers are not prepared to help students understand the type of careers they can have and the excitement of the work that can be done, we won’t have the workforce that can turn our economy around,” said Martha Cyr, executive director of the Center.  Practicing teachers will also be able to receive a master's degree and specialized professional development training in STEM fields.  Massachusetts Lt. Governor Tim Murray and National Science Foundation chief for teacher preparation Barbara Olds attended an inaugural event for the center earlier this week.

A new report by the National Academy of Sciences casts the shortage of talent in STEM fields in a new and unsettling light.  The military -- and therefore our national security -- could be hurt by a lack of personnel adequately trained in science and engineering. "We're in the bullets, bombs, and guns business, but that's just a piece of what the big mission is," said Laura Adolfie, who heads STEM Development at the Department of Defense's office of the assistant secretary of defense for research and engineering. "We have scientists and engineers across the gamut. We have social scientists that perform important human performance research, technicians, welders, lab workers."  An already small pool of workers well equipped to do these jobs shrinks even further when you factor in the citizenship requirement for jobs with the military; many STEM graduates in America are foreign-born, and therefore not eligible to apply for military positions.  Among the... Read More

Barnas Monteith, chairman of the MSSEF board of directors and president of Tumblehome Learning, attended the week-long 2012 Taiwan International Science Fair (TISF) recently. A serial science fair winner himself -- with four 1st-place MSSEF wins among many others -- Barnas was impressed by the quality of the student work he observed at TISF. "The projects at TISF were mind blowing, some clearly worth of patents, and certainly all would be competitive at the Intel International Science & Engineering Fair, perhaps even a select few may someday lead to Nobel prizes in the not-too-distant future," he wrote in an article posted to the Tumblehome Learning site.

Barnas's article goes on to compare the challenges facing TISF with those confronted by science fairs in the U.S., including MSSEF. "Schools are faced with increased focus on tested curriculum, and accountability of teachers," he writes. "Not to mention, while schools in Taiwan... Read More

Noted education reformer John Dewey believed in active learning that should not be limited by process. In other words, we cannot give ideas directly to students as if they were "bricks" and expect them to engage with them in a way that is lasting and educationally meaningful.

In an interesting article in "The Art of Teaching Science," Jack Hassard, Professor Emeritus of Science Education at Georgia State University, explores Dewey's thoughts on learning as an interactive "informal" process in light of today's science standards.  One of the conclusions he reaches: "To create science standards that reflect a consensus among researchers in cognitive science, they must be written in such a way the content aims are combined with the skill or processes needed to help students have a chance at meaningful learning." Good stuff.

Thanks to Conor Powers-Smith of Falmouth Patch for helping to spread the word about MSSEF's judge recruitment efforts! Hundreds of students spend many hours perfecting their projects for the big day. Volunteering as a judge is just a several-hour commitment, but the experience lasts a lifetime.

If you have a four-year college degree in a STEM subject and work in a related field, you're qualified to join the judge pool at the High School Fair on May 4th!  Registration is easy through MSSEF's online form.

Speaking at Northeastern University's CEO Breakfast Forum yesterday, Raytheon Chairman and CEO William H. Swanson emphasized the critical need to inspire a new generation of STEM leaders.  "Virtually every business is technology dependent today, so we all have a stake in replenishing the STEM pipeline," he said. "Businesses certainly see the benefits of a stronger STEM pipeline with a highly skilled workforce driving innovative new products, systems and solutions."

With women making up only 24 percent of the STEM workforce, there's a need to examine hiring practices.  A 50-page study by the Anita Borg Institute does just that, offering advice on hiring women to high-paying jobs in STEM.  The report includes practical tips like concealing job candidates' names during the screening phase, and including at least one female candidate among those considered for technical positions.  It looks at the practices of companies like IBM, which ranks high on friendliness to women.  "Everyone for years has been talking about, 'How do we get more women in technology jobs?' [This] report gives answers," says Jarri Barrett, vice president of marketing for the Anita Borg Institute.  "We're sharing with the world how to recruit more women."

Regardless of whether it comes in like a lion or a lamb, March will usher in National Women's History Month.  Astro4Girls, a project collaboration NASA and the American Library Association will leverage the theme into the STEM sphere.  Focusing on middle-school-age girls, Astro4Girls will include activities like astrophotography, telescope-building, creating active galaxies, and learning about female astronomers.  The project will take place at nine public libraries around the country, with the hope of expansion into more libraries in future years.

Funded by the Motorola Solutions Foundation and the National Science Foundation, FabFems is a "national database of women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) professions who are inspiring role models for young women." It aims to connect students with a network of female STEM professionals, with the goal of increasing career awareness and interest in STEM fields. As the FabFems Project website says, "When girls have approachable role models (women in STEM who see their work as rewarding, relevant, and enjoyable), their impression of what it means to be a STEM professional can change dramatically and they are more likely to pursue STEM courses and careers." Check it out at


Theme by Danetsoft and Danang Probo Sayekti inspired by Maksimer