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Inquiry First.

The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) will hold a briefing on the research, development, and STEM education portions of the President's FY 2013 Budget on Monday, February 13, 2012 beginning at 1:30pm, EST.  Speakers will include John P. Holdren, Director, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, Subra Suresh, Director, National Science Foundation, and Patrick Gallagher, Director, National Institute of Standards and Technology.  Live web streaming of the event can be accessed at http://www.aaas.org/go/ostp.

Former Secretary of Education William Bennett is afraid that we're facing a national crisis if U.S. students continue to turn out sub-par performances in STEM subjects. Bennett tells CNN that we're on our way to a "disaster in the making."  Specifically, he points to the uncertain future of our GDP, job market, and national financial well-being if we fail to regain our edge as the most innovative country in the world. Bennett does offer a five-part solution to the crisis, beginning with the suggestion that we "front-load STEM-related teaching." Other steps he says we need to take on the path to regaining our strength in innovation include improving teacher training in math, integrate math and sciences more effectively within school settings, use forms of math and scientific methods in teaching across the curriculum, and take advantage of the teacher trainining opportunities offered by nonprofits focused on STEM education.... Read More

More than 100 students attended the second White House Science Fair yesterday, showcasing award-winning projects from around the country. In his remarks, President Obama announced several proposals conceived to help reach the goal of preparing 100,000 teachers with math and science skills over the next decade. Among them: $80 million in the president's upcoming budget earmarked for STEM teacher preparation via a competition by the DOE; a $22 million investment from the non-profit and private sector through a coalition called "100Kin10"; a STEM focus in the Race to the Top competition. Via spotlight.macfound.org

It's a big day for Hannah Wyman, currently a fifth grader at Saint Anna Catholic School in Leominster, MA. Hannah won the grand prize in her age group for the video game she created, called Toxic, for Microsoft's Kodu Cup. Today, Hannah is at the White House and Toxic is on display for none other than the President of the United States at the second White House Science Fair. (Via www.stannaschool.org)  

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Some states, including Massachusetts, seem to be taking this question seriously. Along with states including California and Oklahoma, Massachusetts has a commission in place to examine the potential for an index measuring the extent to which schools foster innovation and creativity.  The goal would be to move toward a more balanced curriculum through a system that would "rate every public school on teaching, encouraging, and fostering creativity in students" and be based "in part on the creative opportunities in each school."  According to Massachusetts commission member Jonathan Rappaport of Arts/Learning in Natick, "Our charge is to figure out what the index should be and how it would be implemented.  The effort, referred to as  the Creative Challenge Index, would exist to "measure inputs, to show what opportunities kids have in their school day," Rappaport said.... Read More

Lincoln Financial Foundation has awarded Teach for America a one-million-dollar grant over three years to expand efforts to recruit teachers of STEM subjects.  Teach For America is the national corps of recent college graduates who commit to teach for two years in urban and rural public schools and become lifelong leaders in expanding educational opportunity.  "We're grateful to Lincoln Financial for their support of Teach For America corps members and alumni who are working alongside so many others to end the disparities that exist in math and science education," said Wendy Kopp, founder and chief executive officer of Teach For America. "We are seeing an incredible moment of opportunity to enlist more top graduates with STEM degrees to bring their passion and commitment to our nation's urban and rural classrooms. Lincoln's partnership will help Teach For America seize this moment and inspire the next generation of leaders in math and science... Read More

Virginia technology and engineering education teacher Matt Walton speaks out on CNN.com about the often overlooked middle two letters of STEM. "As a country we need to focus on improving in all areas of science, technology, engineering and math education if we are to succeed in creating and competing for the jobs that will be prevalent in the decades to come," he says. "However, it’s vital to our nation and to our students not to overlook the 'T and E' in STEM." Via schoolsofthought.blogs.cnn.com

From a homemade, working hovercraft (left) to an examination of the impact of weather on mood, the projects on display at the North Attleboro High School Science Fair on Wednesday represented admirable hard work and creativity. This year saw 47 entrants in the school's fair, more than double the number of students that participated last year. The students whose projects rank in the top 18 at the school will go on to the regional competition, and the top winners there will have a shot at the state science fair at MIT, scheduled for May 3-5.  Good luck! Via www.thesunchronicle.com

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