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Inquiry First.

New research from King's College London suggests that there's a disconnect between young students' enjoyment of science in school and their attitude about pursuing a professional career in the sciences. The ASPIRES research team surveyed more than 9,000 primary school age children, and found that at around the age of 10 or 11, attitudes about science begin to drop off. "Children and their parents hold quite complex views of science and scientists and at age 10 or 11 these views are largely positive," notes research team leader Louise Archer. "Nevertheless, less than 17 percent aspire to a career in science."

What do you think is happening in school to drive this trend, and do you believe that a similar phenomenon exists in the USA?
Via www.myscience.me.uk

In US News & World Report, William Broman, a current biomedical engineering major at George Washington University, offers a reality check about the financial burdens facing many college graduates in the form of hefty college loan payments. The data, he says, supports the notion that one of the quickest ways for graduates to eliminate their college debt is to enter a STEM field. "One way to get students interested in these fields is to inform them of the money they can make with their degrees," Broman suggests. "Money entices people to work harder, and while money can't buy happiness, it can buy a lot of the cool gadgets that youth are fascinated with." Makes sense to me.
Via www.usnews.com


From Maine to Arizona, high schools across the country seem to be embracing the reality of the importance of a strong educational foundation in the sciences.  Increasingly, this new understanding is taking the form of STEM-specific high school diplomas.  In pursuit of a STEM diploma, students focus more heavily than usual on science-related subjects, often  with the opportunity to take STEM classes at their local community colleges.

The trend appears to be a response to a host of recent reports sounding the warning bell about the state of STEM education in America, including a recent report from the Commerce Department highlighting the need for federal investment in STEM education.  As Commerce Secretary John Bryson said, "Our ability to innovate as a nation will determine what kind of economy — what kind of country — our children and grandchildren will inherit, and whether it’s a country that holds the same promise for... Read More

Among the messages featured in a speech this week by Air Force Space Command commander General William Shelton: We must make STEM education exciting to keep students interested in pursuing science, engineering, and math subjects in college and beyond. Speaking up in support of high school internships in the sciences, General Shelton said, "Just think how many kids we could get off the fence and down the path of a STEM career once they got to participate in some real-world science and engineering."
Via www.afspc.af.mil

Middle School teachers: Do you have a student whose science aptitude and interest might make her or him a contender for the title of America's Top Young Scientist?  Open to students in grades 5 through 8, a national middle school science competition sponsored by Discovery Education and 3M could net the winning scientist $25,000! Click here for details:
www.youngscientistchallenge.com


A new study released by Georgetown University's Center on Education and the Workforce paints a grim picture of the direction of America's students. While evidence abounds that a college degree in a STEM subject is one precursor to success in this economy, students don't seem to be heeding the call to major in engineering, math, or the sciences. Only 16 percent of recent college graduates, to be exact, chose a STEM major. What's the barrier to entry?

The Georgetown study suggests that shaky math aptitude in high school prevents students from looking seriously at STEM subjects in college. Unfortunately, this fact leads study authors to conclude, “Current interest in STEM fields and proficiency in math are not sufficient to meet U.S. workforce demand.”
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Facebook, Petaflop, and nanotubes illustrate the increasing importance of STEM education in keeping today's students equipped to face their future.  Veteran educator Tim Gott, director of the Gatton Academy of Mathematics and Science in Kentucky, suggests in US News & World Report that aligning an antiquated public education system with today's demands -- and those of the future -- is critical.

Further, Gott points to the STEM fields as among the best learning environments for developing critical, creative, collaborative, and compassionate thinking.  "Who will be prepared to step into [STEM] careers and opportunities?" Gott asks. "If we want U.S. students to be among those who do, we must continue to support STEM initiatives and establish more educational avenues for our young people to become equipped and prepared to meet the ever-growing challenges and possibilities."
... Read More


Classroom learning may not be the most effective means of drawing girls into STEM fields. The success of programs like Techbridge, an after-school opportunity specifically for girls to learn about science, technology, engineering, and math, suggests that organized learning that takes place beyond the boundaries of the formal school day could be influential in sparking girls' interest in these subjects.  Figuring out the most effective formula for gaining -- and retaining -- the interest of girls in STEM subjects is the trick.  According to Carol Tang, director of the Coalition for Science After School, "Because there is such a great diversity of after-school programs, we need to identify a diversity of successful examples so that the majority of after-school programs can find models to fit their own audiences and infrastructure."
... Read More

A reception and book signing will be held this month for "New Frontiers in Formative Assessment." Edited by Penny Noyce, MD and Daniel Hickey, Ph.D., the book features a chapter about the Math Learning Community Project co-authored by MSSEF board member Sandy Mayrand, MBA, Director of the Regional Science Resource Center, and Wendy Cleaves, M.ED, Math Coordinator.

The event will take place on Wednesday, January 18, 2012, from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. in the faculty conference room, University of Massachusetts Medical School (... Read More

Teachers: you have nearly one month left to apply for a Toshiba America Foundation 7-12 Math and Science Grant.  Grants average $9,500 - $17,000, and cover math, science/environment, and technology program areas.  From the Toshiba America Foundation website: "The mission of Toshiba America Foundation is to promote quality science and mathematics education in U.S. schools. Grants are made for programs and activities that improve teaching and learning in science and mathematics, grades K-12. The Foundation focuses its grant making on inquiry-based projects designed by individual teachers, and small teams of teachers, for use in their own classrooms."

The foundation will consider applications from public, private, and charter schools all over the U.S.  The deadline for submission is February 1, 2012.

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