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Inquiry First.

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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Two honorees from the 2011 MSSEF Middle School Fair were among the 30 finalists to compete in the Broadcom MASTERS competition. Sponsored by the Broadcom Foundation, a non-profit organization funded by Broadcom Corporation, in partnership with Society for Science & the Public (SSP), the Broadcom MASTERS is a national STEM competition for sixth, seventh and eighth graders. The students displayed their projects during Broadcom MASTERS’ week (September 30 - October 4).

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A study conducted by Georgetown University shows that 65% of people with bachelor's degrees in STEM subjects make larger salaries than those with master's degrees in non-STEM subjects.  Holders of STEM certificates are sitting pretty, as well; many earn more than people with non-STEM degrees.

MSSEF's Curious Minds Initiative offers three courses that form the STEM Certificate in Inquiry. Curious Minds builds on nearly six decades of experience and success with more than 28,000 students in Massachusetts.  Developed in collaboration with the Education Development Center (EDC), the STEM Certificate in Inquiry is offered in partnership with Framingham State University.
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The Brookings Institution in Washington, DC held a conference this week called "Technology and the Innovation Economy: How to Harness New Engines for Growth." Experts included Intel CTO and Director of Intel Labs Justin Rattner, Senior Innovation Advisor to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Eric Nakajima, and Kevin Richards, Senior VP of Federal Government Affairs at TechAmerica.   Among the conclusions reached by the guests: Congress needs to do more to keep up with innovation in technology, and in order to do so a greater investment must be made in STEM education.
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Funded by seed money from the STEM Advisory Council, Massachusetts' "WOW Initiative," announced by Lt. Gov. Timothy Murray at Tuesday's STEM Summit, aims to increase awareness among students of career opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and math fields.  It celebrates 15 "WOWsters" -- local professionals applying STEM skills, including Red Sox statistician Bill James and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute researcher Amy Kukulya.  This video introduces the WOWsters.

Part of the Nobel Prize money won by President Obama in 2009 will help Hispanic students pursuing studies in STEM subjects.  The Hispanic Scholarship Fund received $125,000 of President Obama's prize money -- the entire $1.4 million of which he donated to 10 different charities.

According to Hispanic Scholarship Fund CEO Frank Alvarez, his organization would like to see at least one college degree in every Hispanic household. The scholarships afforded by President Obama's donation is a step in that direction.  "As soon as there's a degree in the household, things like applying to college, financial aid, etc. become known because students have an embedded mentor," he said.  This year's 12 winners (another 12 will be selected next year) include college students currently majoring in chemical engineering, secondary education, atmospheric science, information technology, among others.  Award winners showed an interest in becoming STEM teachers.

Lieutenant Governor Timothy Murray recognized Dr. John Schneeweis, a Massachusetts physician and proud father of two former Massachusetts State Science & Engineering Fair competitors, for his dedicated involvement with STEM education at the Annual STEM Summit this morning.

Dr. Schneeweis, who works as a family physician in Leominster, has helped to mentor Wachusett Regional High School students working on science research projects.  His own daughter and son won recognition at their respective MA Science & Engineering Fairs at MIT (in 2007 and 2010).  Dr. Schneeweis’s daughter is currently a college student, and his son is finishing high school.

Dr. Schneeweis believes it’s vital that students learn to present ideas in a logical way and develop the skill of critical thinking. “Both are skills vital to success in the future,” he says.


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