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Inquiry First.

Tarina Quraishi, Harvard class of 2014, shares her thoughts on STEM education during the college years in The Harvard Crimson.  "Although early exposure to the sciences is certainly necessary, and positive experiences can be formative, getting kids interested in math and science is only half the battle," she writes. "To ensure that children’s passion for STEM leads into actual careers, we must sustain and support this interest through adulthood." A good perspective, and worth a read. Via www.thecrimson.com

It's one thing to do the research and assemble the project... it can be quite another to anticipate and adequately answer all of the judge's questions!   For new and veteran science fair contestants alike, preparing for judging by using the 20 questions featured in this article as a guide might help quell some nerves and boost confidence on the big day! Via www.stevespangler.com

We recently received the following note from a middle school science teacher, and thought that the resource she mentions might be of interest: "I am a teacher currently preparing for the 6th grade science fair. I just happened to come across your resources page while I was looking for some experiments and other science project ideas to create a project sheet to hand out to my students with some ideas of what they can do for the science fair. I just wanted to take a second and say thank you for helping me out, your page is very helpful in creating my assignment sheet. I am very grateful for all the information and resources you took the time to post. I thought I could share a resource I came across. Rubber, Plastic, and More -- Top Science Project Ideas (from Polymer-Search) has some good resources for science fair projects and I thought you might want to add it as an another resource. Thanks again for your help, I really appreciate it!"

Science education teeters on the brink of change, with the message that an inquiry-based teaching approach is what works with students taking root in classrooms across the country. By engaging students through innovative means, science teachers are experiencing new success at gaining -- and keeping -- their students' interest in subject matter that can be perceived as too difficult.  “[Making] things more relevant for the students” is what it's all about, according to Wilmington, Delaware chemistry teacher John Scali. “It’s what goes on in the real world. I place a lot more priority on the process of science itself—the process is a lot more important.” Via www.eclassroomnews.com

Don't miss what's sure to be a fascinating discussion on where STEM education is heading.  An interactive virtual conference on the topic is scheduled for Thursday, February 2 at 7:00pm ET. The event will examine the broad set of issues facing STEM education, as well as solutions such as project-based learning models that are fostering engagement and interest in STEM subjects. Speakers include business leaders, teachers and administrators from U.S. public high schools, prominent education journalists, researchers and advocates for education reform. Featured participants include: Andrew Liveris, Chairman and CEO of Dow, Mary Ann Rankin, CEO of the National Math and Science Initiative, Linda Rosen, CEO of Change the Equation, Subra Suresh, director of the National Science Foundation and Francis Eberle, executive director of the National Science Teachers Association. During the 30-minute online conference, which is open to all at http://futurewecreate.com, participants will have the opportunity to engage in an online discussion and live question and answer session with many of the speakers via digital and social media... Read More

There may be a January chill in the air, but planning is well underway for summer camps across the country. With creativity and innovation currently being hailed as critical components of education for the new global economy, STEAM camps -- that's STEM plus Art -- are gaining traction as educators look for models that nurture both sides of the brain.   According to Ed Abeyta of the University of California San Diego, which runs STEAM camps in partnership with a San Diego charter school, "We need STEAM based education. Our global competitive edge requires educating our youth in a manner whose training combines the convergent thinking skills found in STEM education divergent thinking skills (and) creative problem solving real problems in the world." Via www.huffingtonpost.com

“I always was fascinated by weather,” says New England meteorologist Mish Michaels.  A member of the Massachusetts Science & Engineering Fair board of directors, the TV veteran has early memories of a tornado blasting through her family's Baltimore, MD apartment complex -- an experience that helped form her fascination with the weather. Currently taking a break from her TV meteorologist job to raise her young daughter, Mish has a new children's clothing line called Natural Cloud Cover, consisting of weather-themed organic t-shirts and onesies.  A percentage of sales goes to the Blue Hill Meteorological Observatory in Massachusetts.  Mish is living proof that there's no limit to where an interest in science can lead! Via www.gse.harvard.edu

President Obama's State of the Union address on Tuesday touched on a number of education issues, including No Child Left Behind, and Common Core State Standards. Scientific American appealed to the science educators among the readership of its blog, "Budding Scientist," to offer up their thoughts on the president's remarks. Respondents include Jon D. Miller, Director, International Center for the Advancement of Scientific Literacy at the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research, and Sharon Lynch, George Washington University Graduate School of Education and Human Development and President-Elect, National Association for Research in Science Teaching. All in all, an interesting analysis of where the SOTU speech leaves science education. Via blogs.scientificamerican.com

While a string of recent reports have emphasized the critical need for more and better trained STEM professionals, too many of those in a position to answer the call over the short term -- students ages 16 to 25 -- do not see themselves in science and engineering careers. Why such reluctance?  Respondents to the Lemelson-MIT Invention Index cited factors ranging from lack of knowledge about the relevant fields, to perceptions that they are ill-prepared for the demands of STEM professions.  On a positive note, innovation fared well in the survey: 80% of respondents said they would be interested in courses that helped them "become more inventive and creative."... Read More

Thanks to a new $3 million grant from the Gates Foundation, a massively multiplayer online game (MMOG) will soon be available from MIT to boost high school students' understanding of STEM subjects.  With the aim of engaging students on topics that run the risk of alienating many of them when taught via the traditional classroom model, the MIT Education Arcade's MMOG will deepen subject matter knowledge while honing modern-day skills. In a MMOG sencario, players' avatars interact in a virtual world.  According to Professor Eric Klopfer, director of the Education Arcade and the Scheller Teacher Education Program at MIT, "This genre of games is uniquely suited to teaching the nature of science inquiry because they provide collaborative, self-directed learning situations. Players take on the roles of scientists, engineers and mathematicians to explore and explain a robust virtual world."  Boston-area teachers and students will participate in a... Read More

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