- The Fairs
- Curious Minds
The U.S. Departments of Education and Defense announced the launch of “Learning Registry,” an open-source community and technology designed to improve the quality and availability of learning resources in education. Rather than creating an alternative destination to existing websites, Learning Registry is a communication system that allows existing educational portals and online systems to publish, consume, and share important information about learning resources with each other and the public, while respecting the privacy of individual users.Basic data about resources—grade level, subject area, and author—can be shared through Learning Registry, as well as more complex data such as curricular standards alignment information.
Tufts University has an innovative program in place to help ensure that incoming freshmen intent on engineering majors have every shot at success. The school's Bridge to Engineering Success at Tufts (BEST) program equips selected students with a summer of courses and workshops to help ease the transition from high school into the rigors of Tufts' first-year engineering program. With students nationwide switching from STEM majors into the humanities at an alarming rate, Tufts' solution is both timely and effective.
Marlborough High School's early-college program, called STEM, integrates project-based learning and problem-solving for real-world applications across all subjects. Marlborough is the first of six school districts in Massachusetts to implement the STEM program. As part of it, juniors and seniors can take up to 16 college credits at Framingham State University.
How's this for an influential science fair project: Last year, Ohio seventh graders Casey Gittelman and Eleanor Bishop investigated how well children and adults could distinguish candy from medicine. This past October, Gittelman traveled to the American Academy of Pediatrics national conference, held in Boston, to present the results. In a nutshell, they found that one in four of the children, and one in five of the teachers had difficulty distinguishing between pills and candy, with SweetTARTS mistaken for Mylanta, and SweeTARTS for Tums, among others. In addition, the girls looked at how people stored their medications. “Only about 10 percent said they stored their medicines appropriately,” said Gittelman. “If people did keep medicines locked up, it would prevent a lot of unintentional ingestions.”
Among the 23 grantees that secured funding through the second round of the US Department of Education's i3 Development Grant program: the Turnaround Using Increased Learning Time (TILT) program of the Boston Public Schools. With i3 funding amounting to nearly $3 million, the program will, "... catalyze school turnaround and the rapid acceleration of achievement for 1000 students per year; further refine and develop alternative resource allocation and staffing strategies in order to sustain the expanded day at little or no additional cost after the i3 funding expires; and disseminate effective strategies for significantly increasing learning time to support large-scale replication."
As a response to the shortage of teachers qualified to teach STEM subjects, Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) in Worcester, MA has plans to create a center dedicated to STEM education. “The STEM Education Center at WPI will engage and empower K-12 STEM educators and help them to do the critically important job of fostering the next generation of scientists and engineers who will help solve some of the greatest challenges facing our world,” said Dr. Martha Cyr, who will be the center's executive director. “Our nation and our world are relying on these teachers and their students, and WPI is dedicated to helping them succeed.” The center will focus on three primary areas: Certification and Degree Programs, Professional Development Workshops, and Integration of Research on Teaching and Learning.
A Nigerian School, Madonna Model Secondary School, emerged victorious from the recent International Science Fair competition in Brazil. Thirty-five countries competed in the competition.
The winning project was a bio-digester, designed for decomposing organic household waste and extracting gas for cooking. "We have been trying to get the project registered at the National Office for Technology Acquisition and Promotion and to see the possibility of having the bio-digester in many homes, said Desmond Achoakawa, coordinator for the the Society for the Promotion of Science and Technology. "This will reduce the dependence on kerosene and cooking gas, as the bio-digester provides an alternative for cooking at a very minimal cost since the required raw material is waste products."
National Science Teacher Association (NSTA) Executive Director Francis Eberle weighs in on the NSTA blog about the health of the STEM pipeline, pointing out that STEM literacy doesn't end at the high school level: "How we can keep more students engaged in STEM both in high school and especially when they get to college?"
A partnership of the Department of Education, the City University of New York, and IBM, P-TECH is an innovative high school with a mission. The six-year (grades 9-14) school offers students core subjects with a special focus on STEM. Graduates receive a high school diploma as well as an Associate's degree in Applied Science. Underwritten by IBM, the school opened in September with 104 students and anticipates an enrollment of 400-450 by 2014. "We want to get underrepresented students and populations to go into science, technology, engineering or math industries," said P-TECH principal Rashid Ferrod Davis. "We have to work with those who need strengthening so that they have a shot at middle-income lifestyles via these industries."