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Inquiry First.

According to many, the advent of the No Child Left Behind Act created an atmosphere across education of "teaching to the test." The impact of this has often meant significantly less flexibility for teachers in the classroom. This is being especially felt in science classrooms.

Increasingly, science education has been evolving toward argumentation, the practice of utilizing hands-on, practical experiments and critical thinking to arrive at results and comprehension. This is becoming a preferred standard in science curricula.

A recent survey conduced by researchers at Boston College's Lynch School of Education has revealed that teachers are encountering several barriers to the new standards. First, teaching to the test is limiting their ability to include instruction and practice in argumentation. Second, teachers in lower income... Read More

More accolades are coming in for Massachusetts based STEM educators. Today we are pleased to highlight the achievements of four women from Sharon who were recently honored with other colleagues from around New England at an event at Boston's Museum of Science in late March. Attendees included representatives from 19 Massachusetts and New Hampshire school districts.

The four from Sharon - Varla Smith, Trish Shea, Eileen Meisner, and Cindy Leary, were noted for their efforts within the Sharon school system to create and improve STEM curricula for their students, with help from the museum's Gateway Project.

Among those there to honor these educators was US Representative Je Kennedy III (D-MA), who serves as honorary chair of MA Governor Deval Patrick's STEM Advisory Council. IN his remarks, Kennedy noted the triple rate of increase in STEM jobs in the current economy,... Read More

On April 4, seven teachers were recognized with awards for innovative techniques in using data collecting with handheld technology in their classrooms, including two New England based teachers. Representing elementary through college education levels, these educators are raising the bar for STEM in the classroom.

The awards are sponsored by Vernier Software and Technology in conjunction with The National Science Teachers Association (NSTA). The awards include cash and software, and are designed to recognize and encourage the use of technology in the classroom to promote hands-on learning.

From New England, David Auerbach teaches at Cardigan Mountain School, a middle school in Canaan, NH. Auerbach encourages hands-on learning, with a C-Prize (modeled after the X-Prize) where students develop and test model rockets, analyzing all aspects of the process along the way.

On the high school level,... Read More

We are delighted to share the news that MSSEF Vice Chair Barnas G. Monteith and board member Dr. Peter Wong were part of a team of people who took home two awards at a recent SPARK (Science, Play and Research Kit) competition.

SPARK offers two categories for consideration: 1) prototypes, kits and projects that could be demonstrated, and 2) ideations, projects that were being conceptualized but had not yet fully implemented into products. The Tumblehome team of Monteith, Wong, and their fellow teammate, Penny Noyce, submitted the Tumblehome SenSay Sensor System Kit to the competition. The Kit had been in discussion for some time, but hearing about the SPARK competition spurred the team into action to create their first working pieces. As a result of their efforts, the Kit took third place in the prototype category.... Read More

The Christa McAuliffe Center at Framingham State University has now opened registration for a summer STEM certificate program. Pairing up with PTC, this program is available to educators across subject areas, including those not primarily teaching STEM curricula. PTC specializes in software solutions for product/project management, and has particular emphasis on engineering processes.
 
The STEM certificate program is designed to assist educators in increasing their own technical literacy as well as offering tools for development of STEM curricula and projects. Upon completion of the program, those educators will also receive an extensive package of PTC software as well as other software donations and consulting support. This is open to educators both in and outside of Massachusetts.
... Read More

It's becoming a growing concern that there are not enough students pursuing studies and careers in engineering. Manufacturers, especially, are increasingly feeling the pinch that comes from not enough skilled engineers emerging into the work force to replace baby boomers who are starting to retire.

Massachusetts, especially Boston, is a center for developing engineers. The state overall enjoys a fairly high 40% of students from public schools who pursue college as having interest in STEM fields. Other areas of New England, especially more rural areas, show a dramatic drop off in STEM interest. Overall, it could be that a misperception of what sorts of jobs are available in the manufacturing sector might be impacting what students foresee as opportunities for after they graduate. As many good paying engineering jobs exist in those industries, more can be done to raise awareness of this fact with students.

Efforts are ongoing to grow the perceptions of opportunities out there so that students can better envision futures... Read More

This two-day (July 29 & 30) workshop at Tower Hill Botanic Garden in Boylston will focus on making science writing an reality in your classroom. From formal essays to oral presentations, debates, and science conversations, STEM controversies provide exciting springboards for objective writing and evidence-based discussion. In addition to Common Core writing styles and academic language, we will investigate ways to document lab investigations, including abstracts, narrative methodologies, logbooks, and symposia, We will craft writing prompts so that they are ready to implement in your classroom, including reading packets for the upcoming PARCC assessments.  Participants will also develop original MCAS-style open response questions ready to use as journal prompts, class starters, or formative assessments.  Join us for this intensive, two-day workshop on science writing for middle and high school teachers.

For more information, please download the flyer (PDF). For registration info, email Dr. Judith... Read More

While New Hampshire does not have an official statewide science fair, organizers in the state are still finding ways to encourage and showcase students with interests in STEM.
 
Taking place at Concord's New Hampshire Technical Institute in late March, the 11th annual New Hampshire Science and Engineering Exposition drew students from 16 schools. Sixty seven projects were presented alongside 11 challenge events, evaluated by 59 judges, who represented a mix of teachers and STEM industry professionals. As this event grows each year, there is hope that it will gain enough traction to be recognized by the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair. Diversity of topical representation for judges remains a concern, as most of the STEM professionals were engineers, leaving gaps in judging knowledge for biological sciences for example.

Read more about the... Read More

The National Science Foundation has made available a nifty new app to help bring science imagery into the classroom. Called Science360, this free iPad (only it seems, at least at present) app collates images, videos, and news from a variety of sources. A fantastic new tool for educators, it could be a real time-saver in the search for material to bring into the classroom. New content is added weekly -- sources from the NSF, as well as scientists, secondary institutions, and NSF centers of science and engineering. It also features an ongoing news feed for new and breaking stories. The app is designed to allow for easy sharing of content on social media outlets, further expanding its reach.
 
Perhaps best of all is that the app is completely free!
 
Given that technology in the classroom is a... Read More

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