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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Guest: What do you mean by ‘STEM’?

The Seattle Times – Glenn Hampson

“It’s been about 20 years since the term STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) was first introduced by the National Science Foundation. The original goal was to consolidate and promote the concerns of various interest groups all seeking better technical education and literacy.”(more)

Monday, April 21, 2014

University Education, a Wise Investment?

News Herald – Juliann Talkington

Juliann

For the past forty years, college has been a right of passage – a place to have fun, make friends, and grow up. In the 1950s, 60s, and 70s a college degree of any type opened the door to high quality employment and above average compensation.

 

Then technology began to change and K-12 education faltered. High school graduates no longer had the skills employers needed for many jobs. In an effort to fill job openings with skilled personnel, employers began to require college degrees for a wider range of assignments.

 

These new employment requirements caught many families off guard. They had not planned for post secondary education, but wanted to provide their children with reasonable job prospects. To fill the gap many families obtained loans to cover the cost of college education.

 

At first the loans made financial sense, because the cost of college was low compared to income potential. This meant graduates could pay back loans quickly after graduation.

 

However the increase in demand for college education led to tuition increases as colleges and universities rushed to add programs and facilities. As the cost of university education increased, the payback period for loans increased as well – moving from a few years to decades.

 

At about the same time technology was radically changing the workplace. Low cost computer and communication technologies reduced the number of people required for most jobs and made it possible for companies to fill openings with lower cost workers from overseas. Most high quality job openings now require strong math and science skills, weak areas for most U.S. citizens.

 

U.S. colleges and universities have been slow to adjust to the new workplace demands. Many schools are still offering degrees that are useless in the 21st Century. This means students are graduating with poor job prospects and high debt.

 

According to Clayton Christianson, Harvard University Professor and expert on disruptive change, this is an equation for disaster. He predicts that over half of the colleges and universities in the U.S. will fail within the next 15 years because they are not offering a useful product.

 

Parents and students need to take proactive steps to avoid problems. Young people should be completely proficient in international level math and science by the end of grade 12. Parents need to confirm a college is financially stable before their child enrolls. Then young people need to select degrees that include advanced math and science and build strong communication skills.

 

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Why 5-Year-Old Kids Can Do Algebra

ABC News – Lee Dye

“Preschoolers can do basic algebra — and we do mean very basic — through gut instincts that we share with a lot of other animals, but by the time we get fully involved in the educational process algebra will become a lot more difficult.”(more)

The Best Job in America Isn’t One Most High Schoolers Dream About

Policy Mic – Tom McKay

“Sorry, teens. It looks like the best job in America is one you probably won’t like very much: being a mathematician. But you might want to reconsider. Jobs site CareerCast crunched some numbers and found that with a median U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics-estimated salary of $101,360 and expected 23% growth in the field by 2022, ‘careers in mathematics are diverse and rewarding’.”(more)

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Going Gaga for Math

Ozy – Niamh Ni Mhaoileoin

“Mathematicians tend to conjure images of ill-fitting pants and pen protectors, but one fashionable genius is changing that equation, at the same time his theories are adding efficiency to global industries.”(more)

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Helping children — and ourselves — get comfortable with math

The Columbia Tribune – MARI-JANE WILLIAMS

“Let’s put it in algebraic terms. If X equals disengaged kids and Y equals parents who are intimidated by elementary-school homework, the sum of the variables is Z: an epic math fail.”(more)

Friday, April 11, 2014

How to get reluctant children to embrace math

The Washington Post – Mari-Jane Williams

“Let’s put it in algebraic terms. If X equals disengaged kids and Y equals parents who are intimidated by elementary-school homework, the sum of the variables is Z: an epic math fail…Lots of perfectly smart parents are cowed by math. How can they avoid passing their trepidation to their kids?”(more)

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Math Anxiety Is Linked to Genetics, Study Finds

Education Week – Liana Heitin

“There’s been plenty of buzz on the topic of math anxiety over the last few years. Studies have shown it can lead to decreased working memory, low performance, and avoidance of math pursuits. Much of the research on math anxiety’s causes has focused on early exposure to negative math experiences. However, the new study looks at how influential genetics are in determining whether students develop math anxiety.”(more)

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

‘Tougher’ GCSEs and A-levels revealed

BBC News – Sean Coughlan

“There will be a stronger emphasis on maths skills and final end-of-course exams, as tougher, new-look GCSEs and A-levels for England are revealed.”(more)

GoldieBlox latest video shows ‘your brain on princesses’ (+video)

The Christian Science Monitor – Lane Brown

“GoldieBlox is aiming once again to beat a path out of the princess toy aisle and get more girls building, innovating, and thinking about futures in science and math.”(more)