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Inquiry First.

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."
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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."
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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.

Search The Connectory for activities and resources in your community that inspire young people to develop the important science, technology, engineering and math skills they need to become the problem solvers of tomorrow.

The Connectory is part of Time Warner Cable’s Connect a Million Minds (CAMM) initiative  -- a five-year, $100 million philanthropic initiative to address America’s declining proficiency in science, technology, engineering and math.

With the intersection between education and technology getting busier with each passing month, what are the top trends that we're likely to see in 2012?  KQED suggests a dozen to keep an eye on, from BYOD (Bring Your Own Device), to game-based learning.

The 16th Annual N.E.M.E.S. Model Engineering Show will take place on February 18, 2012 from 10am to 4pm at the Charles River Museum of Industry, Waltham, MA.

Visitors will see: operating scale steam engines, gasoline engines, aircraft engines, Stirling Cycle engines, clocks, machinist tools and fixtures, locomotives, traction engines, model boats, and meet the craftsman who built them.

For more information, call 781-893-5410 or visit the N.E.M.E.S website.

Typically underrepresented in STEM careers, African Americans looking for scholarships to study math, engineering, and the sciences have several options. US News & World Report rounded up a useful list of organizations that make funds available specifically for African Americans studying STEM. Among them: Oracle, Microsoft, and the Gates Millennium Scholars Program.

Opposing Views' 2011 list of top 10 women in technology features Nancy Ectoff, among others. Ectoff, assistant clinical professor of psychology at Harvard University, wrote "Survival of the Prettiest," which details the advantages that conforming to cultural notions of beauty convey. Also in the top 10: Sony Entertainment CEO Amy Pascal, "Science Babe" Dr. Deborah Berebichez, mechanical engineer Dr. Karlin Bark, documentary maker Jennifer Siebel Newsom, and several more. A great source of inspiration for budding female engineers and scientists!

Veteran teacher Wendi Pillars suggests that teachers are "brain-changers," with the opportunity to help children make connections between prior experiences and new information, actually altering the structure of the students' brains. Furthermore, she suggests that critical thinking is increasing in importance, and that the classrooms that encourage and support higher-level thinking are the ones in which students really learn. "I've realized that I need to provide more opportunities for my students to explore the inquiry process: to take their learning to the next level, wherever that may be," Pillars says. "This necessitates teaching them how to inquire and how to be comfortable taking risks."


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