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Inquiry First.

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

While traveling, many people have a tendency to keep to themselves. We get lost in our devices or a good book, and often deliberately avoid random chit-chat with fellow travelers. Sometimes, though, engaging can lead to meaningful exchanges.

Recently, Paula Golden, the Executive Director of Broadcom Foundation and Director of Broadcom Corporation Community Affairs, met a man in his 20s named Josh as both were traveling cross country. Golden learned that he had begun working independently back in middle school on fractal art. Josh had become obsessed with it, but lacked the tools and computer programs he needed to delve as deeply as he... Read More

Peer pressure is a force in all of our lives, and that's especially so for school-aged kids. It's been shown that the middle school years are when girls tend to start turning away from math and science. Psychology researcher Nilanjana Dasgupta from the University of Massachusetts Amherst is starting to investigate the factors contributing into that trend.

National Science FoundationDasgupta recently received a grant from the National Science Foundation which she will use to craft studies to examine both what keeps girls and minorities in, and what pulls them out of STEM studies. She plans to look at the impact of single-sex versus co-ed classrooms, and how peer pressure impacts kids as well.

Once she has... Read More

Stephen Colbert of Comedy Central's The Colbert Report had a very special guest on his October 30, 2013 show: teen scientist Jack Andraka.

Grand Prize Winner of the 2012 International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF), at the age of just 16 years old, Andraka developed a simple and inexpensive test for pancreatic cancer. He talks about that test and his work in general in this fun little interview.

Watch the interview here, or at the original web page.

Mansfield Education FoundationIt's no secret, not breaking news, that school budgets are suffering. The result is a reduction of programs which can help students learn outside of the core curricula. In Mansfield, MA, an 'outside' organization called Mansfield Education Foundation was set up in 2010 to raise and find money to help support students in a variety of ways, including STEM related programs. Like many ancillary groups, it takes a multi-pronged approach to fundraising, like an upcoming Secret Shop (December 7), where businesses can sponsor tables, as well as working with businesses in general for other gifts and sponsorships. The result of this work thus far has been more than $30,000 in grants... Read More

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