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Inquiry First.

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. Via

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. Via

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! Via

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." Via

National Math and Science Initiative president and CEO Dr. Mary Ann Rankin writes in today's Huffington Post that the U.S. public school system no longer provides a path to the American dream for our students. Their preparation in math and the sciences, in particular, is insufficient to meet the anticipated demands of the future workforce. "We can do better if we recognize that success in college depends on preparation that begins in middle school or earlier, especially in the critical areas of math and science," Dr. Rankin writes. "Students who fail to learn the basics in these fields have little hope of catching up in time to succeed in college." Via

So much for throwing the term "bird brain" around as an insult. Pigeons are proving that they're no slouch in the intelligence department, especially when it comes to numerical competence.

A study published in the latest issue of the journal Science, reveals that pigeons have surprising math abilities, leading scientists to question whether they are unique in this regard in the bird world, or if all birds have greater intelligence than we typically assume. "It would be fair to say that, even among birds, pigeons are not thought to be the sharpest crayon in the box," lead author Damian Scarf told Discovery News. "I think that this ability may be widespread among birds. There is already clear evidence that it is widespread among primates."

While science fair preparations may seem intimidating or even downright overwhelming for students, good planning and some strategic parental guidance can help mitigate the stress.  Furthermore, parents can be extremely useful when it comes to choosing a project. “Parents are usually in the best situation to know what fascinates and inspires their kids,” says parent Kathleen Bethel.  For some simple yet valuable things parents can do to help during science fair season, read on. Via

In 1953, GE used comic books as a hook to get kids interested and involved in learning STEM.  Anyone remember "Adventures inside the Atom?"  The modern-day equivalent: Video games, of course.  What do you think about the strategy of meeting kids "where they live" as a hook for STEM learning? Via

What preconceived notions do middle school students have about scientists?  The image of the myopic, middle-aged, lab-coat-wearing geek flew out the window for a group of 7th graders, who drew their impressions of scientists before and after a field trip to Fermilab to meet real, working scientists on the job. Via


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