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Inquiry First.

The issue of lack of qualified STEM workers is, by now, well known. What are some of the innovations being employed to help correct this?

A physics professor at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, Bob Beichner, has completely changed up his classroom by "flipping" it. He felt that the plethora of videos and information on the internet made lecturing a moot exercise, so in his classroom, students are focused on practical, hands-on work and problems. He has gone so far as to test different sizes of tables, to determine the optimal size for work space and communication (the answer: 7' round). Students, working in teams, are further motivated by contracts within those teams by which they can remove less productive classmates (who then have to do all of their work by phone; apparently this has only happened a handful of times).

What has been the result? Beichner's students take the same exams as other physics classes and generally score a grade better than their peers. Failure rates among... Read More

Intel Science Talent SearchWe were delighted to discover that there are three students hailing from Massachusetts who will be part of the Intel Science Talent Search. This prestigious science fair is open to high school seniors. Forty finalists are selected from 300 semifinalists and 1800 entrants from across the United States. This year, the finalists hail from 14 states, making 3 finalists from Massachusetts even more notable. They will compete in March in Washington, D.C.

Of particular note for us here at Massachusetts Science Fair, one of those finalists, David Seong, is an alumnus of our own events. In 2013, Seong placed second as a junior at the Fair,... Read More

The Bromfield Schools PTO is seeking 20 judges to help evaluate 100 projects in their upcoming February 7 Science Fair. If you are interested, contact Ellen Sachs Leicher at eslassoc61@aol.com. Read more details here.

Mark your calendars to judge at the state fair, too! The Massachusetts State Science & Engineering Fair (MSSEF) provides middle and high school students with the opportunity to work on independent research projects in science and engineering. Now in its 65th year, the annual statewide high school fair will feature the highest quality projects of hundreds of students from across the Commonwealth. We will need more than 300 outstanding judges to donate their time to evaluate these students' work.  Some students invest more than 1,000 hours of research in their projects!

Volunteer to judge! Please consider being a member of the distinguished judging panel at the 2014 State Science & Engineering Fair.  If you have received a four-year college degree in a science or... Read More

As important as it is to keep growing STEM options in the classroom, exposure to STEM possibilities with opportunities to explore outside of the classroom are also key. To that end, there is a new business called Click2Science. Designed to be used by staff who work with kids in out-of-school programs, this free site offers a variety of videos and other resources to expand the tool kit for teachers, coaches, and trainers. The site will continue to be developed and add more content over the course of 2014. The goal is to facilitate building skills and expanding the range of activities for inspiring and engaging kids in STEM related activities.

Check out the Click2Science website and see how you can get involved today!

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As our society grows increasingly technical in nature, and both needs and wants to be more innovative in engineering and science, careers in STEM fields are growing while the number of people entering those fields is not keeping up. This has spurred on the push to find more ways to inspire kids to pursue science and math in school.

Now there is also some call to expand the reach of STEM to include art and design. Some educators are pushing to expand STEM into STEAM -- the "A" standing for "art" -- to give kids even more tools for taking creative ideas and being able to put them into practical forms.

The concept is gaining traction even through such avenues as Sesame Street, which is starting to show how design and science can work together. Given the steady decrease in arts and music education in schools these days, kids are losing more and more of the necessary bridges that link these concepts together. Adding A to STEM won't necessarily replace that, but by increasing support for creativity,... Read More

Sponsored by the Massachusetts Academy of Math and Science, four workshops for teachers on science writing will be offered in March of 2014. Details for each are:

March 1, 10 am to 4 pm, Mass Academy of Math and Science, WPI, Worcester MA
Workshop 1: Common Core: Argumentative Science Writing

March 7, 10 am to 4 pm, Tower Hill Botanic Garden, Boylston MA
Workshop 2: Common Core: Science Writing Boot Camp

March 15, 10 am to 4 pm, Mass Academy of Math and Science, WPI, Worcester MA
Workshop 3: Got Doldrums? Alternatives to Traditional Lab Reports

March 21, 10 am to 4 pm, Tower Hill Botanic Garden, Boylston MA... Read More

Science Fair project

Photo by Shelli Pabis/Mama of Letters. Used with permission.

Blogger Shelli Pabis of Mama of Letters wrote a post about her son's keen interest in science and how, as a home-schooled child in Georgia, he did not have easy access to more typical in-school science fairs. Interested in helping to cultivate his curiosity, Shelli reached out to the Sandy Creek Nature Center, which responded by sponsoring its first-ever science fair in conjunction with another event -- a rock and gem show.

With that piece in place, Shelli and her son proceeded to identify a project, conduct the experiment, and prepare the display. His wound up being the... Read More

Museum of Science, BostonIn partnership with a program at the Museum of Science in Boston, some fifth-grade students are getting a rare opportunity to look more closely at engineering. Students from Townsend's Hawthorne Brook Middle School, guided by science teacher Judy Brown, are taking part in a study to look at ways engineering can be better included in middle and high school science curricula. The study will also examine how to reach students typically under-represented in engineering, including girls and minorities.

Read more about their bridge building with Popsicle sticks, and how they are keeping track of their work: HBMS students... Read More

The Massachusetts state average in standardized testing for science is 72%. Hopkinton High School pulled in scores of 94% for 2013, down slightly from a high of 96%. Not content even with this achievement, principal Evan Bishop has been reaching out to parents for ideas on how to continue to support and help to boost students with disabilities and others who struggle so that everyone fares well in STEM education. Part of the identified challenge is continuity, as students change schools every few years.

Read more about the achievements and efforts in this MetroWest Daily article: State Gives Hopkinton High School Top Marks.

The Gateway Project is offering a series of workshops in 2014 which will be of interest to STEM educators. Click on the photo below for details on this year's activities and the goals of the Project. For more information, email gateway@mos.org.

The Gateway Project - 2014 events

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