Welcome back from the long weekend! We've got plenty of STEM fodder today.
STEM gets shout-out in the inaugural address (Jan. 21, 2013)
President Barack Obama was officially inaugurated for the second time in Washington over the weekend, and STEM made the inaugural address: When emphasizing that America needs "new responses to new challenges," the President mentioned the need to train math and science teachers to teach children the skills and knowledge they need for the future. We're eager to see how exactly the President the Department of Education emphasize this in the coming years.
National public high school graduate rate at a four-decade high (Washington Post, Jan. 22, 2013)
The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) released updated data on te number of students who graduate high school within four years today. The numbers are promising: 78 percent of students across the country earned their diplomas within four years, a 40-year high. Notably, the graduation rate for Hispanic students jumped 10 percent, to 71 percent. African-American students have the lowest graduate rates, at 66.1 percent, whil Asian students have a 93 percent grad rate.
For girls, teachers' gender matters, study says (EdWeek, Jan. 16, 2013)
The question of whether teachers bias girls against math has been under debate for several years now, and a recent study only furthers indicates taht gender biases may affect academic performance. Presented at the American Economic Association's conference, new research shows that girls taught by a female teacher got a boost when the teacher had a strong math background, but performed lower than boys when the teacher did not. Boys' performance, on the other hand, was not affected by their teachers' academic backgrounds, regardless of that teacher's academic background. This comes after earlier research showed that girls taught by female teachers with high math anxiety eventually had lowered performance, as welll.
Many hands make fractals tactile (New York Times, Jan. 22, 2013)
A common worry with teaching students math is how to make it concrete instead of abstract. While for basic skills, like adding, that's fairly easy, physical representations of higher-level concepts. In California, the Institute for Figuring has led a project where participants help build a fractal, or a structure with interdeterminate dimensionality and one of the harder mathematical concepts to explain. Check out the fascinating photos and shapes they created.