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Inquiry First.

Cornell University and Technion (Israel Institue of Technology) will be building a new graduate engineering school on Roosevelt Island, New York City. The new facility will be known as the NYC Tech Campus will focus on applied sciences and based on hubs including Connecting Media, Healthier Life, and Built Environment. All of the hubs will be based on computer science, electrical engineering, info sciences, economics, and business. Via

LEAP University Academy Charter School founder Dr. Gloria Bonilla-Santiago sees opportunities for STEM education to reach into impoverished areas and help lift children up to break the cycle of poverty. LEAP Academy, in Camden, NJ, has made inroads toward doing just that, with a STEM curriculum put into place last year.  It has operated through a formula that Bonilla-Santiago sees as a way of the future. "At LEAP, we are recruiting teachers from industry who are scientists first, educators second," she says. "For example, our freshman-level science classes are being taught by an energetic woman who holds a Ph.D. in physics. She can earn a lot more money in private industry, but she believes in our mission." In addition to hiring high quality teachers, Bonilla-Santiago's strategy has included developing a partnership with Rutgers University, keeping classes small, and providing teachers with ample professional development opportunities. "Add it all together, and you have the formula for... Read More

Teachers: get your applications in now for the Siemens Teachers as Researchers (STARs) program! Run by The Siemens Foundation and Discovery Education, the program is an all-expense-paid experience aimed at improving STEM teaching. Over the summer, the 40 teachers selected will work in small groups with teams of scientists on projects ranging from biological systems to sustainable energy. “While reviewing applications for our STARs program, we look for a diverse group of educators with strong academic backgrounds in science, technology, engineering and math who are truly passionate about advancing student achievement in those topic areas," said Mary Rollins, vice president of Discovery Education. "We are positive that the candidates we choose will take the skills, contacts and resources we provide them during the program back to their classrooms across the country and use them to motivate their students to excel in STEM learning.” Applications are due February 9th, and may be submitted... Read More

As part of Massachusetts' Race to the Top initiative, the University of Massachusetts-Lowell will receive $1.6 million to support teacher preparation in STEM subjects.  The grant will be given over three years, and will impact 250 teachers in the university's teacher preparation program.  According to UMass-Lowell Chancellor Marty Meehan, “The UTeach UMass Lowell program draws on our strengths in research and experiential education, working in partnership with the Lowell, Methuen and Lawrence school districts.”   Congratulations!

The 2012 Intel Schools of Distinction Application process is now open!  The deadline for applying is Feb. 23, 2012.  From Intel's web site:

"Every year, Intel honors U.S. schools demonstrating excellence in math and science education through innovative teaching and learning environments. To be considered as an Intel School of Distinction, schools must develop an environment and curricula that meet or exceed benchmarks put forth by national mathematics and science content standards.

Up to three schools at each level—elementary, middle, and high school—will be named as finalists in the math and science categories. The 18 schools will receive a cash grant of USD 5,000 from the Intel Foundation and a trip to Washington, D.C., for a four-member team from their school and district. Six winners will be selected from the finalists and receive an additional USD 5,000 cash grant for a total of USD... Read More

A democratic senator from Colorado thinks that an answer to the large, and growing, demand in this country for scientists and engineers could be addressed in part by granting temporary student visas to undocumented high school graduates who wish to pursue those subjects in college.  Sen. Michael Bennet, a former Denver Public Schools superintendent, proposed The DREAM Act --  an immigration overhaul bill -- this week, saying that another of its benefits would be to lower the barriers to working in the U.S. to foreign graduates holding advanced degrees in science or math.  "I've had a number of conversations with large- and small-business owners in Colorado who have made it clear that our visa system is putting them at a serious disadvantage," Bennet said.

A study published yesterday ("Debunking Myths about Gender and Mathematics Performance") challenges commonly-held assumptions linking math ability in girls and women to biological factors.  According to senior study author Janet Mertz, a professor of oncology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, "We tested some recently proposed hypotheses that try to explain a supposed gender gap in math performance and found they were not supported by the data."  In other words, girls aren't simply born with less math ability than their male counterparts.

Yet, you can't argue with data that consistently shows boys in the United States outperforming girls in math.  For an explanation, we need to consider social and cultural factors, the study says.  It looked at data from 86 countries.  In some of these countries, the study found no male variation in math achievement.  "We found that boys — as well as girls —... Read More

With the lofty goal of reaching one quarter of America's students, the National Park Service is assuming a leadership role is supporting environmental literacy.  Through virtual field trips, teacher professional development and partnerships -- as well as facilitating access to the parks for students -- Park Service leaders aim to reach students who otherwise would not have the opportunity to benefit from all that our national parks have to offer.  "The benefits of multiday, residential, outdoor education programs are very well documented and well embraced, but they are expensive to provide and require a lot of resources," said Julia Washburn, the Park Service's associate director for interpretation and education. "This means they are typically a deeper experience for fewer kids. Shorter single-day, field-trip experiences are less expensive, and can serve more students, but their impact, while still beneficial, isn't as great."
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Engage Everett! involves Everett Public School students in grades 6 through 12 in independent science and technology research experience, with the goal of building a culture of research in school districts across the state.

The latest update is exciting: No fewer than 119 seventh and eight grade projects have been entered into the middle school science fair! For comparison's sake, consider that last year, only about 10 middle school projects were science-fair-bound.

The program was designed through a multifaceted collaboration of professionals, including representatives from MSSEF, the Intel Corporation, the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education, the Massachusetts Academy of Sciences, the Everett Public Schools, and the Marlborough Public School system — the latter as a “mentoring” school district.

MSSEF offers access to key teacher professional development resources and hosts a forum for... Read More

National Museum of Natural History - IMG 1966Boston Museum of Science president and director Yannis N. Miaoulis has a nice piece in  US News & World Report about the importance of museums to STEM success.  "Science centers can be a powerful resource for teachers in STEM fields," he writes.  "School curricula traditionally focus more on the natural world, not the technological one. But it is the human-made world that facilitates 95 percent of daily experience."

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