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Inquiry First.

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.”

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.

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.

Long Island middle school student Aidan Dwyer had a thought while walking through the woods one day: Might the efficiency of solar panels improve if they were arranged like leaves at the ends of tree branches? He took the idea to the next level, creating a prototype of a tree-like solar panel array for a science fair.  "My design is like a tree," he said, "but instead of having leaves it has solar panels at the ends (of the branches)."  Aidan's work won him the Young Naturalist award from the American Museum of Natural History, and got him a speaking gig at the recent PopTech conference.  (CLICK IMAGE FOR VIDEO)

The Girl Scouts of Massachusetts partnered with Raytheon over the weekend to engage 300 middle school students in math and science through interactive learning programs.

Massachusetts businesses that rely on workers with specific technical skills are finding that potential employees are in short supply. A lack of machinists, for example, and a dearth of mechanical engineers, are making it difficult for manufacturers to staff up. Some have observed that occupations traditionally considered "beneath" young college graduates are now requiring intelligent workers with problem-solving skills and the ability to work with their hands. "Those used to be skills that were passed down from generation to generation,” said Mary E. FitzGerald, human resources manager for Saint-Gobain Corp.'s ceramics and high performance refractory operations in Worcester, MA. “You just can't find those skilled people anymore."

STEM Education

Created by Knewton and Column Five Media


A multi-country survey conducted by personal technology company Lenovo concludes that students in emerging countries like India, Mexico, and Russia, are significantly more likely than students in developed countries to pursue STEM careers.

The 2011 Global Student Science and Technology Outlook "[calls] attention to the differences in how students around the world view science as a career aspiration," said Michael Schmedlen, the worldwide director of education at Lenovo. "While the study shows some interesting disparities, the outcomes suggest possible solutions for how to engage students and foster their passion for science."

The survey reveals that students in India ranked highest (82 percent) among those who believe it's very important for their country to lead the world in science.  Mexico ranked second (81 percent) and Russia third (78 percent). In response to the same question, students in the U.S., Japan, the U.K. and Canada came in at 73, 61, 60 and 55 percent, respectively.

Students in the emerging countries also ranked highest in their intentions to pursue... Read More

It stands to reason that the more time a student spends learning a subject, the better that student will perform on tests of that subject matter. A recently-released report from the National Center on Time & Learning erases any doubt about it -- where science is concerned, at least.

Five case studies look at public schools, including the Matthew J. Kuss Middle School, in Fall River, MA, where the school day was extended by 100 minutes per day beginning in the '06-'07 school year. Science learning benefited from the lengthened school day, and so did the students' performance on the science portion of the MCAS.

Supported with funding from the Noyce Foundation, the report, "The Power of More Time to Deepen Inquiry and Engagement," lists "key successful practices" identified across the five case-study schools. It concludes, "Without fundamentally restructuring the school calendar—particularly at the elementary and middle school levels—to add more learning time and... Read More

A new study out of the University of Virginia suggests that participating in science fairs and other STEM-focused out-of-school activities influences students' course of study in college.  Recent news has lamented the lack of students pursuing STEM fields in college. The UVA study suggests a reason. Its lead author, Katherine Dabney (pictured here) notes, "Students may not be developing a strong interest in science and mathematics simply because they have not been exposed to these disciplines in such a manner that engages and encourages their interest."


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