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How to use engineering practices for more effective STEM learning

E-School News – PJ Boardman

“‘What if schools could offer a different approach to STEM education that provided students with truly immersive learning opportunities?” That question came to Ethan Berman, founder of i2 Learning, after the experience of his nine-year old daughter, who liked school but loved solving problems and making things with her own hands, especially, as she put it, “if it was something useful.” That was what inspired Berman to found Boston STEM Week, which just concluded its second successful year by replacing the usual curriculum for the more than 6,000 students and 300 teachers across 37 Boston middle schools. During this week, schools replace their usual curriculum with projects aimed at building lunar colonies, creating interactive monsters, designing digital games, and practicing surgical techniques.”(more)

Eye On Education: Harvard Study Aims To Strengthen Preschool Learning

CBS Boston – Paula Ebben

“When it comes to preschool, by now we know early learning can make a big difference but not all preschools are the same. Harvard researchers are conducting a first-of-its kind study that could change and strengthen the quality of early childhood education across the country. It is all thanks to the generosity of an Oscar Award-winning Hollywood film producer, the late Saul Zaentz.”(more)

Students See A New World With More Accurate Maps

KQED News Mind/Shift – Colin Dwyer

“Students throughout Boston are getting a radically different view of the world, one laminated 24-by-36-inch sheet of paper at a time. Beginning last Thursday, Boston Public Schools administrators have been sending social studies teachers in the second, seventh and 11th grades new maps for their classrooms — depictions that more accurately portray the sizes of Earth’s continents. When many people picture a map of the world, what they’re probably thinking of is a Mercator projection, a representation that despite its apparent distortions has been around more than 400 years. It’s that map that hangs in most classrooms throughout the U.S., including those in Boston.”(more)

Testing College Readiness

Education Next – Ira Nichols-Barrer, Kate Place, Erin Dillon and Brian P. Gill

“The state of Massachusetts introduced a system of standardized testing in its public schools three years before the federal No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 mandated such practices for all 50 states. Although the tests have evolved over time, the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) has been in place ever since. But after Massachusetts adopted the Common Core State Standards in 2010, its education leaders faced a decision: whether to stick with MCAS, which it had already revised to align with the Common Core, or switch to a “next-generation” test that was specifically designed for the Common Core—and to assess students’ readiness for college. More than 40 other states have signed on to Common Core, and many face similar decisions about their student assessment systems.”(more)

What the country can learn from Boston about bringing the arts back to public schools

The Hechinger Report – Marinell Rousmaniere

“After years of slicing and dicing arts budgets, some school districts across the country are introducing arts education back into the school day with broad-ranging, successful results. Cities such as Chicago, Los Angeles, and Boston have long recognized the intrinsic value of arts education for children to learn artistic skills and techniques while having the opportunity to express themselves. But it is the importance of improved readiness for success in college, career, and citizenship directly linked with arts education that has led cities like Boston to employ innovative partnerships to increase students’ access to arts. Research findings have made clear the persistence of strong connections between arts learning in earlier years and overall academic success and pro-social outcomes. A 2009 longitudinal study by UCLA’s James Catterall showed that arts-engaged low-income students are more likely than their non-arts-engaged peers to have attended and done well in college, obtained employment with a future, volunteered in their communities and participated in the political process by voting.”(more)

MIT partners with Johnson & Johnson to promote women’s STEM education

MIT News – Kimberly Haberlin

“MIT and Johnson & Johnson — a global leader in medical devices, pharmaceuticals, and consumer goods — have announced a new collaboration designed to increase the number of undergraduate women enrolling in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) programs and graduating with STEM degrees. This new effort will build on MIT’s ongoing work to expand the reach and quality of STEM education and attract more women to fields traditionally dominated by men. MIT is one of nine academic institutions that will be working with Johnson & Johnson in the coming months to develop effective recruitment, engagement, and retention strategies for women leaders in STEM. The other participating institutions are Caltech, Harvey Mudd College, Instituto Tecnológico de Aeronáutica (ITA – Brazil), Rhode Island School of Design, Rutgers Honors College, Spelman College, the University of Tokyo, and the University of Limerick.”(more)