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ECO Classroom, the product of a $2 million investment by global security company Northrop Grumman in partnership with leading green group Conservation International, aims to strengthen STEM education in the U.S. by providing science teachers with a rich field experience.  Through an application process, 16 middle and high school teachers will be selected to travel to La Selva Biological Station in Costa Rica in July for an intensive two-week field study. ECO Classroom aims to immerse teachers in data collection processes, train them in advanced field technology, and ultimately guide them in the creation of a research project that they can replicate in their own schools. Northrop Grumman president and CEO Wes Bush said that the program was conceived in anticipation of talent shortages down the line.  "This is a longer-term effort to develop the talent for the future," he said. "We have to be thoughtful about where we see the industry going."... Read More

Enthusiasm is contagious, as they say. That's one of the underlying theories behind CalTeach, a California program that aims to inspire K-12 students by harnessing older students' enthusiasm for STEM subjects. At the same time, CalTeach enables those older students -- college STEM majors -- to become credentialed teachers during their undergrad experience. "We are producing mathematicians, scientists and engineers who have chosen to teach," says engineering professor and Berkeley CalTeach do-director George Johnson. Among the benefits of the program is the fact that it offers an opportunity for STEM majors to give teaching a try and determine whether or not it's for them.  Furthermore, "Learning the subject and learning to teach it at the same time really means unpacking the subject," says Shelly Seethaler, staff director of CalTeach at UC San Diego. "You can't just plug in formulas for gas, temperature and pressure and come up with answers. You also need to be able to explain, gas,... Read More

A new report, "Road Map to Renewal," from the President's Council on Jobs & Competitiveness, calls for better STEM education in grades K-12 as a foundation for future job creation.  The Jobs Council advises the administration on how to ensure long-term American competitiveness in the work force, as well as ways in which to spark short-term job creation.  In addition to emphasizing STEM education, the report, released yesterday, addresses the importance of investing in innovation and revitalizing the manufacturing sector. Via www.whitehouse.gov

Between the years 2002 and 2010, states cut funding for public research universities by 20 percent in constant dollars.  Meanwhile, in countries including China and India, spending on technology and education increased over the same time period.  So says the 2012 release of the biennial report, "Science and Engineering Indicators," which looks at scientific trends in the US and worldwide.  A compendium of fascinating data, the report will be available on the National Science Foundation's web site at noon (ET) today. Via chronicle.com

It may not be the short-term-forecasting epicenter of the country, but the American Meteorological Society (AMS) -- long-established at 45 Beacon Street -- boasts an unparalleled history of meteorological research. The organization was founded in 1919 with the goal of helping farmers by improving the science of weather forecasting. Today, it is the hub of meteorological research in the country, producing conferences and journals that bring together the best of the best in meterological science. "Our goal is make sure lawmakers are able to use the science that is available properly on topics like global warming," says Keith Seitter, the society's executive director. "We sit down and present the cold hard facts to these politicians based on the best science available." NECN meteorologist Matt Noyes is a fan. "The AMS is really just a collection of the best meteorologists in the country," he said. "It truly is a fantastic professional organization." Find out more about AMS on its website,... Read More

For Stephan Turnipseed, winning a seventh grade science fair was transformative experience.  The current LEGO Education President keeps the framed certificate won at the time of his science fair victory close at hand to remind him of the power of discovery, which his company harnesses so well to the benefit of generations of students.  "Our dramatic ability to engage and motivate students, and unlock creativity [is] dramatic,” Turnipseed says, “Our strongest presence is in the STEM area." Via gettingsmart.com

Great things are happening in the Everett, MA Public Schools.  Of particular note: The Everett High School Science Fair, held on January 12.  Exhibitions in biology, chemistry, engineering, and physics offered answers to some intriguing questions.  How does the application of heat affect a pineapple's enzyme activity?  Are naturally optimistic people more capable than pessimists of telling a fake smile from the real thing?  Is organic or synthetic fertilizer more conducive to plant growth?  What drinks have the most dramatic impact on blood pressure? Featuring 109 projects, the fair represented the work of well over 125 students, who either submitted individual projects or partnered with a friend on the effort.  Many of them expressed their interest in STEM subject matter.  "Science is my favorite subject in school... along... Read More

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 them... Read More

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