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Inquiry First.

Empowering students to participate meaningfully in real-world research is what science fairs are all about. For any student, science fair participation has multi-fold benefits, but for some, like Emory Payne, the benefits pay off early and in a big way.

Emory and his science fair partner, Zohaib Moonis, both students at the Bancroft School in Worcester, MA, won "Team 1st Place” honors at the Massachusetts State Science & Engineering Fair at MIT in May for their project, "Effect of Ethanol on Beta Cell Development in Zebrafish: Linking Fetal Alcohol Syndrome to Type 1 Diabetes." Two weeks later, the duo headed to the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in Phoenix, picking up second place in the Addiction Science Awards from the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

For Emory, the fun didn't stop in Phoenix.  He received the opportunity to work at UMass Medical School this summer, studying a gene mutation in... Read More

Since 1949, the Massachusetts State Science & Engineering Fair (MSSEF) has been promoting science literacy and advancing inquiry learning. MSSEF programs engage sustained student interest, increasing science learning while also developing students’ 21st century workplace skills, such as communication, teamwork and a strong work ethic.

It can be difficult to put into words the excitement that builds when a student's idea becomes fully realized through a science project.  We thought we'd let some of our students, teachers, and friends do the talking for us through a series of videos.  Visit MSSEF's YouTube channel, or start with The Anatomy of a Science Fair Project, below.

 

A little light summer reading: Longitudinal data on students from two states -- Florida and North Carolina -- reveals "STEM-relevant variables" linked to success in STEM education.

Download the full text of the report (PDF)

Read more on American Institutes for Research

Identifying problems, brainstorming possible solutions, and conducting experiments are all steps in the process of inquiry learning.  One school is taking the process even further, by adding video documentation to the mix.

Thanks to a partnership with Crissy Field Center, environmental science students from Galileo Academy of Science & Technology in San Francisco have the opportunity to use video to capture data and present scientific findings.  The video-production angle takes inquiry learning to a new level, bringing with it the potential to extend the end project far beyond the classroom walls.  In this digital age, challenging students to develop some media production skills isn't a bad idea, either!

More on KQED Education

Making science come alive for kids through interactive, hands-on, inquiry-based learning is key to getting them "hooked" enough to pursue STEM subjects as their academic careers advance.  Darryl Lee Baynes, president of the Minority Aviation Education Association's Interactive Science Programs, has an action-packed formula for encouraging minority students to think about pursuing careers in STEM fields.

A compelling part of Baynes' message?  Careers in STEM pay.  “There is a shortage of scientists and engineers in this country,” he says. “If you get a job as a petroleum engineer, you’ll make $100,000 to start. The more math and science you take, the more money you make.”

Read more on Take Part

Touted as the educational model best suited to prepare students for 21st-century challenges, project-based learning boosts student engagement while honing critical thinking and problem solving skills.

While the idea of project-based learning is gaining traction, the challenge of shifting from the "traditional" teaching method to a project-based model takes careful planning and more than a little trust.

Teacher training is crucial. In Massachusetts, teachers have an opportunity to earn the STEM Certificate in Inquiry from Framingham State University by taking a series of three professional development courses over the summer.  The program was developed by the Massachusetts State Science & Engineering Fair (MSSEF) in collaboration with the Education Development Center... Read More

Massachusetts isn't churning out enough college graduates in the field of computing to meet the demands of the current job market.  So said representatives of Google, Microsoft, and Intel during a meeting with Massachusetts lawmakers on Wednesday at a Tech Hub Caucus meeting held at the State House.

According to Steve Vinter, engineering and site director at Google's Cambridge office, "Computing... is not a tech sector problem, it is a Massachusetts economy problem." Vinter pointed out that while more than 70% of new STEM jobs require advance computing skills, inadequate computer science offerings in Massachusetts schools have created a shortage of workers to fill the available openings.  One solution: Spark interest in computer science by introducing the subject earlier in students' school careers.

Read on CommonWealth Magazine

 

Allison Wolfe, left, and Ella King won the Genzyme Award at the Region I Massachusetts Science & Engineering Fair (photo by iBerkshires.com)

Excitement is building to the Massachusetts State Middle School Science & Engineering Fair, now just two days away! A record student turnout is expected at Worcester Technical High School on Saturday, and the caliber of projects looks to be higher than ever.

Two outstanding exhibitors, Ella King and Allison Wolfe, have already received considerable media attention for their science fair project. A... Read More

Nine students in Massachusetts' delegation, 24 strong, received awards at Intel ISEF 2013!  In addition to the Special Award winners announced last night, this year's Grand Award winners included:

Ayush Kumar & Raashed Raziuddin, Advanced Mathematics and Science Academy
3rd place Grand Award - Life Sciences - Biochemistry

Project: "Albuterol Toxicity in Zebrafish and Its Protection with Vitamin E"
Abstract: "The goal of this project was to determine the toxic effects of albuterol in an in vivo model system of zebrafish. 24 hpf and 48 hpf zebrafish embryos were exposed to different concentration of Albuterol and were inspected for mortality and heart rate. Significant morphological defect and mortality was observed at concentration of 1000 μM of albuterol treatment. Acridine orange staining of the treated embryos exhibited apoptosis. Concentration dependent increases in superoxide anion (O2-) and nitric oxide (NO)... Read More

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