STEM Beats - July 2013

STEM in the News: July 30, 2013

July 30, 2013

If it's Tuesday, it must be news-day. We've got all the STEM news you need. 

Math Teachers Find Common Core More Rigorous Than Prior Standards, EdWeek, July 29

A survey of middle school math teachers in 43 states shows that 87 percent find the new Common Core State Standards to be more rigorous than their current or former state standards. However, while teachers are familiar with the standards and intrigued by the potential they offer, more can be done to help them incorporate Common Core into lessons, determine what materials best support CCSS aims, and plan and reflect regularly. 

For Female Scientists, There's No Good Time to Have Children, The Atlantic, July 29

It's not a new problem, but The Atlantic's got a strong look at the dilemma of married female scientists in academia, as well as a few potential solutions to the problem. Currently, married women with young children are 35 percent less likely to get tenure-track positions when compared to married men with young children, but unmarried, childless women hold a slight edge over unmarried, childless men. The solutions will take cooperation and buy-in from professors and administrators of both sexes, but may offer some hope. 

Computer Science Gets Plug in House Bill to Revise ESEA, EdWeek, July 29

The House's rewrite of ESEA gained many STEM detractors during its debate and passage earlier this month, but there was one notable STEM add in the bill: Computer-science teachers are now eligible for professional development funding through ESEA. The support for the amendment was bipartisan. Check out more on the add at EdWeek.  

Where Are All the Women Tech Entrepreneurs?, Forbes, July 29

Frida Polli, a female tech entrepreneurs launching her own business, reflects on her own experiences to determine why only 3 percent of new tech companies are founded by women. Some of her theories? Leadership qualities are often seen as 'unfeminine,' subtly discouraging girls and women; the desire for a work-life balance; and implicit sexism. For those interested in women and tech it's a good distillation and starting point for conversation.

Social Media is a must for America's STEM education future, eSchool News, July 15

Social media has exploded -- students these days aren't just on Facebook, they're on Twitter, Vine, Instagram, and many other sites. This has a great list of ways to reach and engage students about STEM across these many platforms. 

Yesterday in STEM -- July 25

July 26, 2013

While today is the anniversary of the launch of Apollo 15 and the first indictment under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, today we're spotlighting an anniversary from yesterday: The birthday of Louise Brown, the world's first baby conceived using in vitro fertilization. She turned 35 yesterday. 

Louise's parents had been trying to conceive for nine years prior to turning to IVF. Her mother, Lesley, was implanted in November 1977 by Patrick Steptoe and Robert Edwards. Edwards later won the Nobel Prize in Medicine for their work (Steptoe passed away by the time the Prize was awarded). The two had been working on finding an alternative to conception for 11 years before successfully implanting Brown. More than 80 pregnancies failed within the first few weeks, but a tweak in the procedure made this attempt successful.

While the medical advance was met with cheers, it also raised several ethical questions about the role that science and medicine can play in the every day lives of citizens. Despite this, the procedure has moved from experimental to commonplace. Approximately one percent of children in America are born through IVF each years. 

Tags: This Day in STEM

STEM in the News: July 24, 2013

July 23, 2013

A day late, but we've got the STEM news to read this week. 

STEM Coalition Opposes House GOP Bill to Rewrite No Child Left Behind, EdWeek, July 18

The U.S. House of Representatives passed an updated version of No Child Left Behind on Friday, which you can read all about here. Prior to its passage, though, a group of STEM came out against several provisions in the rewrite. Read to find out why. 

Community college opens doors for women, USA Today, July 21

This column from last week looks at the role of community colleges in preparing a strong STEM workforce. Community colleges are fertile ground for STEM due to their affordability, accessibility, and potential to work with the community.

In Climbing Income Ladder, Location Matters, New York Times, July 22

School, poverty, and career are inextricably intertwined, and a new, massive study out of Harvard takes a county-by-county look at how likely students born in the lowest quintile are to ascend to the top quintile of earners later in life. The result shows that poor children's chances of rising vary greatly by metropolitan area, and shows how some cities, such as Atlanta and Memphis, have notably dimmer prospects for poor children. This is important because as we look to equip students with the science and math knowledge they'll need in the 21st century, we must also work to ensure that students from all cities have chances to learn.  

MIT technology trailblazer is a critic of computerized learning, Hechinger Report, July 23

Mitchel Resnick, the LEGO Papert Professor of Learning Research at MIT -- holder of probably the coolest named professorship in academia -- and creator of two major educational technologies, the LEGO Mindstorms Robotics Kits and Scratch, gave an extensive interview on the role of technology in education to the Hechinger report. He covers why learning coding should be like writing, but also expresses caution about the use of data to drive educational decisions. 

How to Make Liquid Nitrogen Ice Cream,

And finally, in honor of National Ice Cream Month, a science experiment for all ages. 

Moving from Hype to Quality

July 23, 2013

Action on Capitol Hill last week effectively quashed the administration’s request to halve the existing 226 STEM learning programs currently spread across 13 federal agencies at a cost of $3 billion. Citing duplications and ineffectiveness, the administration’s proposal sought to consolidate federal responsibility for STEM learning at the Department of Education, the National Science Foundation, and the Smithsonian Institution. The relevant Senate Appropriations Subcommittee apparently did not buy it. We’ll leave to others a discussion of the merits of the particular proposal. But we applaud the growing chorus of voices that are making quality the centerpiece of any discussion about STEM learning.

After years of investment and reform, we should be thankful for any commitment to supporting practices, policies and programs that yield results and either improving or shutting down those that do not. The fact that not every idea or solution is necessarily a good one often gets lost in the post-Sputnik era when proselytizers tout new ideas with Madison Avenue verve. This hype is counterproductive in the long run. Educators have become used to keeping their heads down until the latest silver bullet runs its course. Funders become disenchanted when promised results don’t materialize. Policymakers balk at spending more political capital to defend STEM investments when the payoff has been so uncertain in the past.

Change the Equation’s coalition of companies have also lost patience with grand claims about STEM programs that do not deliver the goods. Working with CTEq, many are carefully reviewing the efficacy and impact of their own philanthropy and talking with the nonprofits they support about principles of quality. With annual STEM learning investments nearing two-thirds of a billion dollars, CTEq members can have a profound impact on young people—assuming those investments go towards programs that have the best track record or show the most promise. Our Design Principles, Rubric, and STEMworks database of already-vetted, effective programs are helping companies get a bigger bang for their buck at a time when public and private dollars are getting scarcer. We are now embarking on work to help companies rally around a handful of programs that have proven their ability to make a real difference at scale. Companies are impatient to see their efforts move beyond supporting islands of excellence.It’s time to ignore the hype and put the focus where it belongs -- on quality.

This Day in STEM -- July 19

July 19, 2013

Happy birthday, Mr. Mayo!

Today is the 148th birthday of Charles Horace Mayo, a doctor whose family's private practice grew into the world-famous Mayo Clinic, one of the largest medical research facilities and treatment centers in the world. Mayo joined the practice as a young physician and, when his father retired, took over control of the practice at 27. 

Mayo is known for its innovations in hospital systems, like the creation of the medical record, the residency program during medical school, and medical specialization. Charles, for instance, focused on thyroid and neurosurgery, and his insistance on sterile surgeries led to much greater success in the field than seen previously. He was elected head of the American Medical Association in 1916. After retiring in 1930, he passed away from pneumonia in 1939. 

Tags: This Day in STEM