STEM Beats - July 2014

STEMtistics: STEM facts you can use!

July 29, 2014

As summer blazes on and we move closer to our favorite time of year - back-to-school! - we here at CTEq thought that you, our fellow STEMthusiasts, might need a daily dose of awesome STEM facts to carry you into August.  For that reason, we're serving up some of our favorite STEMtistics every day through next week 

Not familiar?  Well, get in the know!

STEMtistics are beautifully designed, shareable facts on STEM education that are great in presentations, on social media, and even on your website to help make the case for STEM.  Over the next two weeks, we’ll be tweeting several new STEMtistics each day using the #STEMtistics hashtag, as well as releasing them here on changetheequation.org.  Visit the STEMtistics section of our website and search by category to find the perfect fact for your STEM needs!

Later this summer, we’ll be launching even more STEMtistics to equip you with the best information in STEM so stay tuned!  If there’s a particular STEM stat you’d like to see, let us know! 

Tags: STEMtistics, STEM degrees, engineering, higher education, STEM & the states, minorities, women & girls, Vital Signs, computer science

STEMworks: How Sweet It Is!

July 22, 2014

Summer’s the perfect time for treats – sundaes, smoothies, and STEMworks.  Yep, you read that right – the best new summer treat is STEMworks’ sweet new look!  The tool has been undergoing a redesign to make it more user-friendly and easier to find what’s best in STEM programs. We are pleased to announce the launch of the new site and encourage you to explore and share.

Just like the old site, you can depend on the quality of the programs represented and take advantage of the rigorous Design Principles and Rubric against which they’ve been independently evaluated.

Check out the new site, which offers increased functionality and a better user experience, including opportunities to:

  • EXPLORE improved program profiles;
  • COMPARE with enhanced search and comparison functionality; and
  • SHARE content with colleagues as you discover funding choices.

Take a look. Click around. Leave a comment and tell us what you’ve found and how STEMworks is making a difference to your STEM education efforts. And if you know of a program that should be in STEMworks, encourage them to apply now through September 12.

Pretty sweet, huh?

Tags: STEMworks

This Day in STEM, Moon Landing Edition - July 20th

July 18, 2014

In a moment that captured the attention of the world and changed the course of humanity, the first man stepped on the lunar surface on July 20, 1969. This Sunday, we here at CTEq will celebrate the 45th anniversary of that STEM milestone by reliving the Apollo XI mission that brought three astronauts to the moon and returned them safely to Earth as pioneers of manned space exploration.

There are lots of STEMtastic events planned for this weekend to mark the anniversary of the moonwalk. Here are just a few ways to join in on the celebration!

  • Today on NASA TV, join Morgan Freeman as he talks with Reid Wiseman, a NASA astronaut currently working on (and tweeting from) the International Space Station, about the future of space exploration.

  • Read about Apollo XI astronaut Buzz Aldrin’s dream to put bring manned space exploration to the surface of Mars.

  • Follow the #Apollo45 hashtag on Twitter as people across the world share their memories of that fateful day.

  • This Sunday, at 10:39 p.m. EST, tune in as NASA replays the Apollo XI mission footage of the historic first moonwalk.

The launch of Apollo XI didn’t just bring mankind to the moon; it brought dreams and curiosities into the hearts of a new generation of STEMthusiasts ready to continue the mission of furthering space exploration and study. So take a moment this weekend to look up at the moon and relive the moment when you first watched as man made that famous "giant leap for mankind!"

Tags: This Day in STEM, video

Common Core Round Up: The Debate Doesn’t Take a Holiday

July 16, 2014

Summertime and the livin’ is easy . . . unless you’re talking about Common Core.  Last month, CTEq CEO Linda Rosen discussed the ongoing battles in a number of states in our CTEq NOW newsletter (more here), but that was just the beginning of what state leaders have in store.

The past few weeks have seen states like North Carolina undertaking legislation to walk back on standards.  Louisiana also has quite a situation bubbling after Gov. Jindal decreed he’d pull the state out of CCSS.  And the National Governor’s Association, which met last week, all but ignored standards during the convening.  

As one of the creators of the CCSS initiative, it seems the NGA has suddenly tabled this “radioactive" issue despite the fact that, now more than ever, states need to convene and collaborate on best practices.  Unlike the students and teachers that are depending on them, state leaders are not on summer vacation and should be using these face-to-face opportunities to work together on overcoming hurdles, examining stumbling blocks, and providing resources for effective CCSS implementation.

Unfortunately, it seems that rather than face the issue head on, NGA Chair, Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin (a Common Core opponent, who recently pulled her state out of the standards) has ignored the opportunity to be a problem solver on the issue, and instead opted to let mob rule overtake the discussion.  And we're sad to report that an appeal effort led by parents, teachers, and the Oklahoma Board of Ed was rejected by the state's Supreme Court and the repeal of CCSS will stand.

But that’s not stopping parents and community leaders in several states from advancing the discussion:

LOUISIANA:  New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu describes Common Core as "vital to students' future success" and calls out Gov. Jindall and other opponents for promoting misinformation around CCSS

UTAH:  Superintendents like Ogden School District’s Brad Smith are moving forward with Common Core, noting that it’s “a “huge step up” from the previous standards

KENTUCKY: Educators in the state received top marks from Gates Foundation’s College Ready Program for “smart planning” as they prepare students and teachers for success in CCSS

We applaud the states that are making the necessary arrangements for teachers and students to return in the fall with a sense that they’ll be equipped and prepared to succeed in Common Core.  As for those that would rather continue to slide backwards, away from higher standards for students in their states, we’re sure it will be a cruel, cruel summer indeed.

Unlike some governors we know, CTEq won’t be taking a holiday from this important conversation.  Be sure to follow us for the latest on CCSS, including new Common Core developments in your state, the next Myth of the Month, and more!

Tags: Common Core, STEM & the states, standards, K-12

There Are More STEM Jobs than You Think

July 14, 2014

Brace yourself for the next round in the battle over whether or not there is a STEM skills shortage. The Census Bureau reported on Thursday that almost three out of four people with a bachelor’s degree in STEM take jobs outside of STEM. “Aha!” cry the skeptics: that just goes to show that all those hard-luck cases with degrees in subjects like engineering or computer science have to settle for jobs outside of STEM to put food on the table. Of course, the skeptics are wrong.

If anything, the Census report offers yet another reminder that STEM skills are in demand across the labor market. Tony Carnevale and his colleagues at Georgetown described this dynamic in 2011. As people with STEM talent become hot properties in high-paying fields like management and finance, they argued, STEM employers have to compete for STEM talent. That just makes the STEM skills shortage more acute.

There is ample evidence for Carnevale’s theory. For example, the National Science Foundation reports that two out of three science and engineering graduates who end up in other fields report that their jobs are "closely or somewhat related" to their degrees. STEM degree holders who go into non-STEM jobs also earn 12 percent more than those don't have degrees in STEM.  And, as the Census report shows, STEM graduates are significantly less likely than their non-STEM peers to be unemployed, even in jobs outside of STEM.

The Census report reminds us that it is high time we redefined what it means to be in a STEM job. The report’s definition of STEM jobs is very narrow, which skews its results. For example, almost a third of graduates in “biological, environmental and agricultural sciences” go into health care, which—incredibly—the Census Bureau does not classify as a STEM field. (For what it’s worth, CTEq’s STEM definition includes health care and nets a much larger share of jobs. The Brookings Institution’s definition is broader still.) In a nation where technological innovation is the leading engine of growth and prosperity in just about every industry, it seems quaint to draw such a dark line around jobs in engineering, computing and life sciences. 

In fact, much of the current debate about STEM jobs is wasting energy we should devote to boosting STEM skills. The skeptics are right to point out that not every STEM degree will put you on a gravy train to lifelong security. Many science PhDs, for example, are struggling. But that misses the point. It’s almost always impossible to predict what STEM job will be the next hot thing. Yet that does not change the fact that every young person should graduate high school with a very strong foundation in STEM. That will give them the broadest array of choices in a shape-shifting job market.

Now, too many of our young people don’t even stand a chance.

Tags: STEM degrees

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