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Engaging Future STEM Leaders

Real Clear Education – Dwayne Sattler

“In February, President Donald Trump signed the Inspire Act and the Promoting Women in Entrepreneurship Act, two laws aimed at increasing the number of women in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) jobs. The science and education communities collectively rejoiced to see STEM – and particularly initiatives to break down barriers many face in accessing STEM education and entering STEM fields – elevated as a national priority so early in the new administration. The legislation comes at an important time for our economy and has direct benefits to the American worker. Demand for STEM jobs is expected to grow 17 percent between 2014 and 2024, and the median wage for today’s STEM jobs is nearly double that of all other jobs.”(more)

Keeping the Opioid Crisis Out Of Schools Starts with Early Education

Education World – Joel Stice

“The opioid crisis has a firm grip on the well-being of Americans and drug-related overdoses now account for the leading cause of death among adults under the age of 50. It’s a startling statistic and one that has sadly led to numerous headlines of parents overdosing with children present. Opioid abuse isn’t limited to adults of course and is a growing problem in schools, both in small towns and large cities all across the United States. The prescription drugs which fall under the opioid umbrella — hydrocodone, codeine, morphine, fentanyl, and oxycodone — generally lead abusers to turn to heroin once the prescription runs out. Going beyond the “Just Say No” campaign of the 1980s, educators and lawmakers are working to combat the growing use of these drugs at all age levels, from elementary up through college.”(more)

Forget Archery, These STEM-Focused Campers Are All About Robotics and Chemistry

Education World – Joel Stice

“Some campers this summer are skipping on traditional summer camp activities like canoeing to try their hand at something a little more futuristic — like, fighting robots for example. “You start out with a picture of the robot,” said 11-year-old, Mateo Dody. “You uncheck (the box) when you’re done with a step, and you go to the next step. It’s quite simple.” Dody is just one of many students around the country this summer participating in STEM-based summer camps. The camps focused on STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) have students working on everything building solar ovens to roast s’mores to using forensics to search for clues in mock crime scenes. It’s a way for educators to connect with students who have a passion for science and math in a no-pressure environment. The camps run the gamut from some that are free and just a few hours over the course of a week, to others that can be expensive and cover a good chunk of the summer. They’re tailored to different age levels and interests, to offer students programs that are not only fun, but challenging.”(more)

National arts scores are in, and the western U.S. lags behind

Ed Source – Carolyn Jones

“Only a third of 8th-graders in the western U.S. took an art class last year and only 17 percent played in the school band, the lowest figures of any region in the country, according to a recently released national arts assessment. The assessment, given to a random sampling of 8th-graders once every eight years by the National Assessment of Educational Progress, looked at how many students were enrolled in visual art and music classes at their schools, how well the students understood basic art and music principles and other criteria intended to measure the quality of arts education in the U.S. The assessment is the largest and one of the only assessments of arts education in the country.”(more)

Preparing kids to change the rules

News Herald – Juliann Talkington


U.S. children are less creative than they were 30 years ago. Many people attribute this decline in inventiveness to over-scheduling of organized activities and emphasis on high-stakes testing and rote learning. These factors may be part of the reason children are unimaginative, but minimal exposure to “failure” and limited life experiences also keep U.S. kids from reaching their full creative potential.

To create, a person must be comfortable “failing” because “trial and error” is part of the innovative process. Many U.S. children are uncomfortable with “failure” because they have little exposure to it. In many cases, well-intentioned parents shield their kids from life’s tough lessons, because it is easier to solve problems for their children than to spend the time and energy necessary to help their children learn how to solve problems on their own.

Among other things, parents negotiate with coaches to get their children places on the best teams rather than encouraging their kids to work hard and talk with the coaches themselves. Parents talk with principals to negotiate grades rather than forcing their children to take responsibility for their performance. Too frequently, parents complain about “bullying” when another kid says something unkind on the playground rather than teaching their children how to overcome negativity.

As a result, the first thing parents need to do is set expectations and let their children learn by doing. This requires letting go and being available to coach as their children work to recover from life’s setbacks. Through this process children learn that there are consequences to actions, “failure” is a part of life, and success requires perseverance. Specifically, when things don’t work perfectly the first time, one can make adjustments until “failure” becomes “success”.

Another problem is parents are so worried about safety, that kids are isolated. This means children often lack the exposure required to come up with innovative solutions to a problem. Parents can easily address this issue by encouraging their children to take on activities outside of their peer group. Simple undertakings like participating in discussions with adults, welcoming a foreign exchange student, attending a history lecture, teaching a class, volunteering at the hospital, or working on a special project for a politician, all help broaden exposure.

Once children know how to recover from “failure” and have a broad understanding of how the world works, they should have the skills and the self-confidence to innovate.

To teach kids math, open a cookbook

The Tallahassee Democrat – Bill Hoatson

“Parents, to continue a child’s intensive math instruction over the long summer so that they don’t lose their skills, all you need is a cup. A measuring cup, to be exact. A measuring cup has more potential to teach a myriad of math skills than your home computer and, the last time I looked, is a whole lot cheaper. A couple of important educational principles come into play here.”(more)