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Inquiry First.

In a new "crowdsourcing" experiment, scientists are appealing to the public for help in deciphering killer whale calls. Scientific American and The Zooniverse launched The Whale Project this week. By visiting whale.fm, people can study and compare spectograms of whale calls gathered from around the world. One impetus for this experiment is that people can succeed at this task where computers fail. "If these animals have some form of linguistics or language tradition, we're wanting to try to find the words within that repertoire of sounds," said project collaborator and University of St. Andrew professor Ian Boyd. "We don't know what they mean but what we do find is they have different lexicons; different groups have different types of sound, and they probably inherit these sounds from... Read More

With greater focus on STEM firmly established as a national education imperative, there's some momentum building to factor in the arts in a meaningful way. The result: STEAM -- with the A standing for "arts" -- implying that the intersection between the arts and the sciences is the place where the rubber meets the road. From conferences like the "Bridging STEM to STEAM" forum hosted by the Rhode Island School of Design, to NSF-funded projects like Chicago's Art of Science Learning project, the STEAM concept seems to be gaining ground. "For me, it is about connecting—or reconnecting—the arts and sciences in ways that learning can happen at the intersection of the two," said Harvey Seifter, director of the Art of Science Learning. "We believe there is a powerful opportunity here to use... Read More

Students aren't the only ones that can reap the benefits of mentoring. For female college faculty members in the sciences, having a mentor can help mitigate the feelings of marginalization that can go hand-in-hand with teaching in a typically male-dominated field. This, according the the Collaborative on Academic Careers in Higher Education (COACHE) project at Harvard. COACHE's Cathy Trower says, "Mentoring is crucial for STEM women because without it, they might not be privy to the good old boys’ club or behind-the-scenes conversations that are crucial to fitting in the department and to getting tenure."
Via blog-aauw.org

What better way to spark an early interest in science in students than to let them play with LEGOs!  Meadowbrook School in Massachusetts did just that, with impressive results.  The school entered -- and won -- the LEGO Smart Creativity Contest.  Students used LEGOs and NXT robotics in their creation of a "green" city, complete with solar panels installed by robots, and wind turbines.  Taking their creativity even further, the students produced this original song and video showing off their project.

Today, the Boston Herald launches a five-part series on Boston public schools that exemplify education that works. The schools included in the series: TechBoston Academy, UP Academy, Orchard Gardens, and Joseph Lee Elementary School. According to today's blog post by the Herald's Jessica Heslam, the secrets to the success of these schools include longer school days and a longer school year, innovative teachers and administrators, and students groomed for college from a young age.

The first article in the series: Teens engineer future success at TechBoston.
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NASA's new Aspire 2 Inspire section of its Women@NASA website targets young women with a campaign to inform and inspire them about careers in STEM fields. "We have an opportunity to reach out to the next generation and inspire today's girls to pursue science and technology careers," said Rebecca Keiser, associate director for agency-level policy integration and representative to the White House Council on Women and Girls. "Expanding opportunities in these fields will give our country perspectives and expertise that will help us out-innovate, out-educate and out-build the world. It's key to our future."  Check it out!
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There's a new face on the street... "Sesame Street," that is.  University of Rhode Island science educator Sara Sweetman -- an elementary science teacher in addition to her part-time professorship at URI -- has worked as a science advisor for the children's TV show since early 2010.  She was asked to appear on the program to help with a series of science experiments, and appears onscreen with such famous characters and Elmo and Super Grover.  "I respect the energy and passion the characters, producers and educators put in," she says.  It was amazing to be part of it."

Earlier this year, "Sesame Street" announced that it would be integrating a new STEM curriculum into its programming.  The curriculum focuses on STEM subjects through an inquiry-based approach to learning.

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The National Center for Education Statistics says that the number of science degrees awarded to women has been rising, slowly but surely.  From 2003 to 2009, undergrad degrees in physical science earned by women increased 22.1%, while doctoral physical science degrees awarded to women rose nearly 54% over the same time period. “The bottom line is that everyone is going to be goal-oriented, everyone wants to get to the top, and the reality of it is that only a special few are going to get where they want to be,” said University of Arizona sophomore biology major Sara Pousti. “It’s based on your abilities, not your gender.”
Via www.wildcat.arizona.edu


Science360 Radio features continuous audio programming from contributors including NSF, Scientific American, Discovery, Nature, NPR, AAAS, and many more.  Get the app for iPhone or Android or listen on your computer.
Via www.science360.gov

While Massachusetts students came out on top in 4th and 8th grade math and reading as measured by the recently-released National Assessment of Educational Progress exam (aka "the nation's report card"), there's work to be done to address a persistent gap in achievement between white and minority students.  Governor Patrick and state Secretary of Education Paul Reville have some plans in the works that aim to do just that.
Via www.bostonglobe.com

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