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Inquiry First.

Community colleges are emerging as an ever more important piece of the STEM education puzzle. Speaking at the 2012 U.S. News STEM Solutions Summit, Uri Treisman, math professor at University of Texas-Austin, said, "A 10, 15 percent increase in [STEM degree] completion would solve our national problem."  One challenge in getting to that level of increase lies in the disconnect between high school STEM programs and university-level expectations.  Positioned between these two entities, community colleges have the potential to provide skills that are lacking among recent high school graduates and prepare them for the rigors of college-level STEM programs.
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The research of Quincy High School seniors Peter Giunta and Eoin Moriarty snagged them a Team Honorable Mention at the 63rd Massachusetts High School Science & Engineering Fair at MIT in May.  More importantly, the pair's project shed light on an interesting question: Is the consumption of probiotics through yogurt or pills really beneficial to digestive health?  Read all about their project and the hands-on work that they did in order to reach their conclusion.

Fifteen-year-old Rahi Punjabi has had an exciting year. His research on the efficacy of garlic in reducing bacterial infection in patients with cystic fibrosis won him first-place honors at the Massachusetts State High School Science & Engineering Fair in May.  The same project nabbed a fourth place at the Intel International Science & Engineering Fair, and led to a coveted opportunity for Rahi to participate in the 2012 National BioGENEius Challenge earlier this week.

Rahi had the chutzpah early in the course of his research to contact researchers at UMass Medical School to inquire about working in their labs during his school vacations. Dr. Beth McCormick, professor of microbiology and physiological systems, felt compelled by his email.  "One of the reasons I’m in academia is to encourage those who show an interest in science,” she... Read More

Despite the heavily-reported need for U.S. students to graduate from high school with sharp STEM skills to meet work force demand, a report released today suggests that we have a long way to go.

For the first time ever, the 2009 National Assessment of Educational Progress, administered to 4th, 8th, and 12th graders featured hands-on and interactive computer-based science activities.  The results are sobering, especially those linked to students' ability to apply the data they collected to explain or apply their findings.  “While I’m happy to see the vast majority of students [tested] were able to make straightforward observations, I’m not particularly happy to see a smaller number know what data to collect in an experiment,” said NCES Commissioner Jack Buckley. “This points to something we need to work on in the future.”
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The University of Maryland Baltimore County is a STEM machine, due to the vision and leadership of Freeman Hrabowski. Be sure to check out this great "60 Minutes" segment about Hrabowski and his success at making UMBC a powerhouse in the sciences.

Two high school students who entered outstanding projects into this year's Massachusetts State High School Science & Enginnering Fair (May 3-5 at MIT) will compete in this weekend's BioGENEius Challenge in Boston.  According to Suzanne Grillo of MassBioEd -- a local partner of the BioGENEius Challenge, "The BioGENEius Challenge is the premier competition for high school students inspired to excel in the field of biotechnology."

Rahi Punjabi, a sophomore at Marlborough's Advanced Math and Science Academy Charter School, will showcase his project, "The Role of Garlic in Attenuating Pseudomonas Infection."  He discovered that a therapy combining garlic with tobramycin could benefit patients with cystic fibrosis.

Oliver Dodd, a senior at Needham High School will compete in the BioGENEius Challenge with his project called "Cancer Growth... Read More

The top three finalists in this spring's Intel Science Talent Search credit things like parental support, perseverance, a spirit of inquiry, and science fair participation for their successes.

For his project, first-place winner Nithin Tumma analyzed the molecular mechanisms in cancer cells and found that by inhibiting certain proteins, it may be possible to slow the growth of cancer cells and decrease their malignancy.

A high school senior from Michigan, Nithin suggests that his participation in science fairs earlier in his academic career laid a foundation for his recent success. "I wasn't great at winning, but I had a good time doing it," he said. "My parents always supported me. So I kept on doing it. And it worked out." It worked out in a big way: Nithin received a cash prize... Read More

The projects from around the world that made it into this year's Intel International Science and Engineering Fair are outstanding examples of student innovation. Through its SciArt Series, Intel added a dimension to the students' scientific breakthroughs by inviting artists to represent them through original pieces of art. Take a look at the beauty that Intel discovered at the intersection of art and science.
See on sciart.intel.com

Last weekend's Massachusetts State Science & Engineering Fair owes its success in no small part to UMass Medical School. Twenty-six faculty and staff from UMMS and UMass Memorial Medical Center spent a rainy Saturday at Worcester Technical High School serving in the crucial role as science fair judges.  With every competitor receiving judging from three professionals, the demand for judges is tremendous, and UMass Medical School's contribution to this year's State Middle School Science & Engineering Fair made a big difference.  "No other organization had more volunteers than ours,” said Sandra Mayrand, director of UMMS's Regional Science Resource Center. A big "thank you" from MSSEF to UMMS for this extraordinary and valuable effort!
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Thinking about applying to law school? An undergrad degree in a STEM subject is a selling point these days. While the typical law school applicant of a decade or so had a humanities background, today's recruit is more likely to have a grounding in the sciences.  Driven by the tremendous growth in technology, the trend in law school admissions is yet another sign of the rapidly increading importance of STEM in the job market of tomorrow.
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