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A democratic senator from Colorado thinks that an answer to the large, and growing, demand in this country for scientists and engineers could be addressed in part by granting temporary student visas to undocumented high school graduates who wish to pursue those subjects in college.  Sen. Michael Bennet, a former Denver Public Schools superintendent, proposed The DREAM Act --  an immigration overhaul bill -- this week, saying that another of its benefits would be to lower the barriers to working in the U.S. to foreign graduates holding advanced degrees in science or math.  "I've had a number of conversations with large- and small-business owners in Colorado who have made it clear that our visa system is putting them at a serious disadvantage," Bennet said.
Via www.denverpost.com

A study published yesterday ("Debunking Myths about Gender and Mathematics Performance") challenges commonly-held assumptions linking math ability in girls and women to biological factors.  According to senior study author Janet Mertz, a professor of oncology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, "We tested some recently proposed hypotheses that try to explain a supposed gender gap in math performance and found they were not supported by the data."  In other words, girls aren't simply born with less math ability than their male counterparts.

Yet, you can't argue with data that consistently shows boys in the United States outperforming girls in math.  For an explanation, we need to consider social and cultural factors, the study says.  It looked at data from 86 countries.  In some of these countries, the study found no male variation in math achievement.  "We found that boys — as well as girls —... Read More

With the lofty goal of reaching one quarter of America's students, the National Park Service is assuming a leadership role is supporting environmental literacy.  Through virtual field trips, teacher professional development and partnerships -- as well as facilitating access to the parks for students -- Park Service leaders aim to reach students who otherwise would not have the opportunity to benefit from all that our national parks have to offer.  "The benefits of multiday, residential, outdoor education programs are very well documented and well embraced, but they are expensive to provide and require a lot of resources," said Julia Washburn, the Park Service's associate director for interpretation and education. "This means they are typically a deeper experience for fewer kids. Shorter single-day, field-trip experiences are less expensive, and can serve more students, but their impact, while still beneficial, isn't as great."
... Read More

Engage Everett! involves Everett Public School students in grades 6 through 12 in independent science and technology research experience, with the goal of building a culture of research in school districts across the state.

The latest update is exciting: No fewer than 119 seventh and eight grade projects have been entered into the middle school science fair! For comparison's sake, consider that last year, only about 10 middle school projects were science-fair-bound.

The program was designed through a multifaceted collaboration of professionals, including representatives from MSSEF, the Intel Corporation, the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education, the Massachusetts Academy of Sciences, the Everett Public Schools, and the Marlborough Public School system — the latter as a “mentoring” school district.

MSSEF offers access to key teacher professional development resources and hosts a forum for... Read More

National Museum of Natural History - IMG 1966Boston Museum of Science president and director Yannis N. Miaoulis has a nice piece in  US News & World Report about the importance of museums to STEM success.  "Science centers can be a powerful resource for teachers in STEM fields," he writes.  "School curricula traditionally focus more on the natural world, not the technological one. But it is the human-made world that facilitates 95 percent of daily experience."

More at usnews.com

PhotobucketThe 2012 Massachusetts State High School Science & Engineering Fair will take place Thursday, May 3 - Saturday, May 5 at MIT.  Students in grades 9-12 from all Massachusetts public, private and parochial schools -- as well as home-schooled students -- are eligible to enter through their schools.

The Massachusetts Middle School Science and Engineering Fair will be held Saturday, June 2, 2012 at Worcester Technical High School.

How the High School Fair Works
Each school may send two outstanding student projects directly to the Massachusetts State Science & Engineering Fair (MSSEF) State Fair: One individual and/or one team project (2 or 3 student members to each team).  In addition, the top... Read More

An interesting chart based on 2010 census data shows how various college majors stack up in terms of career income potential.  For each major listed, data includes unemployment percent, popularity ranking, and average earnings at the 25th, 50th, and 75th percentiles.  It's easy to access engineering and science data by clicking the buttons in the "Suggested Searches" area.
Via graphicsweb.wsj.com

Increasingly, the demands of state tests for proficiency in math and reading seem to be pushing subjects like science, art, and social studies aside, according to a survey commissioned by Washington-based research organization Common Core. "During the past decade, our public schools have focused—almost exclusively—on reading and math instruction," said Common Core president and executive director Lynn Munson. "As a result, we are denying our students the complete education they deserve and the law demands." Specifically, the study reveals that while art and music predictably have taken the hardest hit, foreign languages, social studies, phys ed, and science are right behind them, with science getting 27% less time than it used to.
Via blogs.edweek.org

Women CEOs from several US companies traveled to Capitol Hill on Monday to deliver a message to a group of female lawmakers: We've got science and technology jobs to fill; where are the qualified candidates?  A big part of the problem, panelists agreed, is a lack of job applicants with adequate skills in STEM fields. For example, Lisa Hook, CEO of Sterling-Va-based Neustar Inc., a telecommunications company, pointed to a solution.  “We need a lot of federal assistance in encouraging children to go into STEM, we need to make it accessible and available starting in the ninth grade,” she said.

via abcnews.go.com

During Computer Science Education Week (December 4-10, 2011), here are several interesting facts about computer science (from CSEdWeek.org):

  • Five of the top ten fastest growing jobs will be in computing-related fields ( i.e., computer software engineer jobs expected to grow 45% over the next five to seven years).
  • Only 17% of AP computer science test-takers in 2008 were women, although women represented 55% of all AP test-takers.
  • By 2018, current government projections show that more than 800,000 high-end computing jobs will be created in the economy, making it one of the fastest growing occupational fields.

more at www.csedweek.org

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