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Inquiry First.

Randolph-Macon College English Professor Thomas Peyser makes an interesting case for the importance of STEM students having a strong foundation in grammar in the Richmond Times-Dispatch.  "...we can be confident that the abandonment of instruction in grammar is robbing us not just of future writers but of future scientists, physicians and engineers as well," he writes.

With more and more emphasis on STEM education and less and less on grammar, the gap seems to be widening dangerously.  Scientists use words, sentences, and paragraphs to communicate, just as writers do.  Furthermore, STEM studies require students to distill complex sentences for comprehension.  Without an ample grasp on the fundamentals of grammar, students find themselves at a disadvantage on both the expressive and receptive sides of the communication equation.

One of the key benefits of science fairs is the opportunity they provide for multi-disciplinary learning. A student's skills as writer,... Read More

There's plenty of room in the fast-moving world of extreme sports for science.  Ben Gulak proved it.  As a teenager, the now-23-year-old had a big ambition: Winning the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair.  His senior project, the Uno, was a part Segway, part motorcycle vehicle that he developed as an environmentally friendly transportation option for consumers in Asia.  Although regulatory issues thwarted that vision, the chairman of Intel at the time, Craig Barrett noticed Ben's project, which won the "most marketable" award.

From there, Ben launched his won engineering design company, called BPG Werks, to develop a similar, even cheaper-to-produce concept -- the DTV Shredder.  Geared toward extreme-sports fans, he tough-looking all-terrain vehicle borrows elements from the Segway, motorcycle, and skateboard.   “I really like the idea of bringing something new into the world, to an industry that’s been stagnant for a... Read More

All signs point to the fact that the abilities to innovate and create are skills that today's students need for future success. Teachers who make their classrooms "idea factories" for their students, rather than focusing solely on textbook-based instruction, have the right idea. By coming up with their own ideas and executing them in the classroom, students get grounded in the kind of thinking and experimentation that is the foundation for innovation.

A new book, Bringing Innovation to School: Empowering Students to Thrive in a Changing World, makes useful suggestions for turning classrooms into spaces where innovation can thrive.  Among them, the book advises teachers to welcome authentic questions, build empathy, and amplify worthy ideas.
See on... Read More

What will education look like a decade or so from now?  The demands of a changing society are predicted to alter the job landscape drastically for today's grade school students: a projected 65% of them will work in jobs that don't yet exist.  It only makes sense, then, that education will have to evolve to prepare students for that future.  Check out this infographic on this very subject, that illustrates the move from a classroom-centered learning environment to a new set of virtual environments tailored to a changing employment landscape.


See on www.fastcoexist.com

On Wired's "Geekmom" blog, Rebecca Angel recapped her interview with Carlos Contreras, Intel's Education Director, about the state of STEM education in the US.

Pointing out that American students have a long way to go when it comes to matching their international peers' performance on tests that require creative, complex thinking, Contreras feels that parents have a role to play in engaging young children in the kinds of activities that foster a spirit of inquiry. "Whatever the passion of the parent is, there is science behind it, whether it’s cooking or whatever hobby they are into," he said. "There is science there, and get your kids to experiment."

Encouraging students to explore science and work to find the solutions to the questions they have can be invaluable.  Mentoring programs, like... Read More

The Broadcom MASTERS® (Math, Applied Science, Technology, and Engineering for Rising Stars), a program of Society for Science & the Public, is the national science, technology, engineering and math competition for U.S. 6th, 7th, and 8th graders that inspires and encourages the nation’s young scientists, engineers and innovators. This year's list of semifinalists includes the following nine young stars from Massachusetts:

Dayle Kwang-Liang Wang | Grade 8
Massachusetts Region V Science Fair (USMA01)
Dover-Sherborn Regional Middle School
Gusty Discoveries

Evan Leon Tilley | Grade 6
Massachusetts Region III Science Fair (USMA03)
St. Francis Xavier School (Acushnet)
Salt Water Desalination

Ethan Wyatt Messier | Grade 6
Swansea New England Christian Academy
Wave to the Future: The Utilization of... Read More

In an interesting collision of pop culture and science, MIT unveiled a new reality video series this week called "ChemLab Boot Camp."  The series follows MIT freshmen as they progress through the four-week-long Introductory Lab Techniques course. It's geek entertainment with a mission.  According to MIT Professor John Essigmann, "We hope to show the human side of our field and to inspire young people to want to become the next generation of chemists."

The show, which premieres officially in September, promises to give viewers a front-row seat on hands-on learning at its finest.  It also has the potential to deliver a little drama: Students who succeed in the class have a guaranteed job in a MIT research lab.  Stay tuned...!
See on... Read More

NASA's "Mohawk Guy" Bobak Ferdowski -- a flight director for the Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity mission -- has been the subject of some unexpected curiosity, himself. With his hair-raising style and winning personality, Ferdowski seems to be taking his new-found fame in style. The Washington Post's Haley Crum had the opportunity to ask Ferdowski reader-submitted questions. Here's his response to an inquiry about STEM education and his possible role in motivating the next generation of scientists.

See on www.washingtonpost.com

As games gain popularity among students as an education delivery method, the Department of Education has jumped on board with awards that focus on game-based learning education technology products.  The Institute of Education Sciences -- the research arm of the Department of Education -- announced a new round of awards, many of which focus on game-based learning products.  Phase I awards provide support to the tune of up to $150K for prototype development.  Phase II awards will kick in next year in amounts reaching $900K over two years.

Education gaming experts say that well-designed games are motivating for students and by presenting discovery-based tasks, encourage critical thinking skills.  One project currently in the funding cycle is Game-enhanced Interactive Life Science -- a suite of five life-science games.  Their purpose is to... Read More

At the National Urban League Conference in New Orleans last month, President Obama announced an initiative geared toward improving the education of African-American students. The goal of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans is to close the achievement gap between black and white students -- a goal that is particularly significant withing the STEM education realm. The initiative should have an impact on STEM education for African-American students in several ways, not the least of which is exposing them to the sciences, math, and engineering at a younger age. For more ways in which President Obama's initiative promises to brighten the STEM education outlook for African Americans, read this post in Black Enterprise:... Read More

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