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Inquiry First.

Nice video from Bayer's Science Making Sense program.

Paula Allen-Meares, Vice President of the University of Illinois, makes the case for colleges and universities stepping up creatively to meet the challenge of graduating tomorrow's STEM professionals.  Along the way, she notes the critical importance of elementary, middle, and high schools in influencing students' career paths.
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Contrary to popular belief, the reason that fewer women than men stick with engineering majors and enter engineering careers is not necessarily related to their ambitions to start a family.  More likely, women's shaky "professional role confidence" is to blame, according to a study in this month's issue of the American Sociological Review.  According to the study's lead author, Erin Cech, a Postdoctoral Fellow at Stanford University's Clayman Institute for Gender Research, despite the fact that women perform comparably to men in engineering classes, subtle biases get in the way and undermine  women's confidence. "What we found is that the women in our study developed less confidence in their engineering expertise than men did and they also developed less confidence that engineering is the career that fits them... Read More

How many middle and high school students that you know can describe what a biotechnology scientist does at her lab bench?  How many of their parents could rattle off the kinds of tasks performed by an electrical engineer?  Or the training required to design computer science tools such as Twitter or MMS?  Such knowledge is the domain of the well-trained scientist, and these days, the demand for science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) skills is at an all-time high... and growing.

Project Engage! is an initiative that aims to provide students with just that -- the skills they need to tackle scientific questions and invent solutions.  It does so by putting students into the role of the scientist.  The program is being modeled in Everett, where Engage Everett! launched officially this morning.

Massachusetts... Read More

Framingham State University, which partners with MSSEF through MSSEF's Curious Minds Initiative to offer the STEM Certificate in Inquiry, is positioned to become an invaluable resource to teachers of STEM subjects.  As Massachusetts' first NASA Educator Resource Center, FSU will have access to a treasure trove of space-related materials for teachers.
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According to author Annie Murphy Paul ("Origins"), growing up in the digital age means that many of today's children are spending too little time tinkering.  "Research in the science of learning shows that hands-on building projects help young people conceptualize ideas and understand issues in greater depth," she writes.  Giving children the time and space to play and figure things out for themselves is an important part of setting them up to become young adults who have the capacity to do the kind of thinking that is needed for success in STEM courses and careers.
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A new study reveals that California's youngest students may be in peril of missing out on a foundation in science.  "High Hopes -- Few Opportunities: The Status of Elementary Science Education in California," funded by the S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation, suggests that state and federal testing emphasis on English and math has resulted in science education being relegated to the back burner in the state.  Among the findings of the study: 60 percent of California school districts have no staff dedicated to elementary science, and 40 percent of elementary teachers spend an hour or less on science instruction each week.
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With women earning well over half the undergraduate and master's degrees and slightly more than 50% of the doctorates awarded in 2009 and 2010, more and more are entering typically male-dominated STEM fields.  The change is occurring slowly, fueled by the enthusiasm and dedication of trailblazing female professors like William and Mary's Elizabeth Harbron.
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On a percentage basis, fewer African-Americans are earning degrees in STEM subjects today than at any other point in the last decade.  What's behind the declining numbers?  While the U.S. currently is not known for churning out as many STEM professionals as it used to, there is a particularly notable dearth of new mathematicians, engineers, and scientists among African-Americans.
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