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Inquiry First.

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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It can be nerve-racking for teachers to surrender control of a classroom in order to let inquiry-based learning in.  A recent post on eMINTs' blog, "Networked Teaching & Learning," guides teachers on ways in which to move gradually toward a model of open inquiry rather than diving in with both feet.  Among the recommendations offered: consider where each lesson lies on a "continuum of inquiry"; some are more naturally suited to closed inquiry sessions than they are to open inquiry.  In addition, the article suggests that a teacher try to limit the questions that he or she provides, allowing student questions to propel the experience.   "There are many small things we can do in order to make inquiry part of our lessons and units of study without jumping into student-led inquiry headfirst," the article states. "If you struggle seeing your students as able to complete an inquiry... Read More

Let's face it: Social media plays an integral in the average high school student's life. While some parents and educators might be prone to view Twitter, Facebook, and the like as distractions to the young people in their lives, an interesting blog post by George Washington University biomedical engineering student William Broman suggests that there's a flip side to that assumption.  His article on US News & World Report's STEM Education blog suggests ways in which creative educators might consider leveraging the technology to encourage engagement in STEM subjects.  Broman concludes, "Higher education, including my school, and businesses are using Twitter and Facebook to communicate effectively with students or customers and solve problems--it's time for high schools to do the same."


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