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Wish Book: Ant-Man takes flight in Tech Museum’s science and engineering labs at low-income schools

The Mercury News – Joe Rodriguez

“They sure don’t teach science in fourth and fifth grades like they used to, at least not at Washington Elementary near downtown San Jose. Damaris Triana and two other kids had their assignment: Build a flying contraption for Ant-Man to travel six feet and land safely — and do it in 20 minutes. All they had to work with were a coffee filter, paper plate, string, two rubber bands, paper clips and a bead. The bead was a stand-in for Ant-Man, a superhero. Almost every fourth- and fifth-grader in the country knows about him.”(more)

Play Hard, Live Free: Where Wild Play Still Rules

NPR – Eric Westervelt

“There are only a handful of these “wild playgrounds” in the country. They embrace the theory that free, unstructured play is vital for children and offer an antidote to the hurried lifestyles, digital distractions and overprotective parents that can leave children few opportunities to really cut loose. “It’s really central that kids are able to take their natural and intense play impulses and act on them,” says Stuart Brown, a psychologist and the founding director of the National Institute for Play. Children need an environment with “the opportunity to engage in open, free play where they’re allowed to self-organize,” he adds. “It’s really a central part of being human and developing into competent adulthood.” Brown says this kind of free-range fun is not just good; it’s essential. Wild play helps shape who we become, he says, and it should be embraced, not feared. Some educators advocate “dangerous play,” which they say helps kids become better problem solvers.”(more)

Schools can — and should — teach more than discipline

The Seattle Times – Jerry Large

“Dismantling the school-to-prison pipeline doesn’t require more information or analysis. It requires a will to change strong enough to produce sustained, effective action. Someone said that the other night at a meeting about the pipeline. And a lot of people said what a lot of people have been saying for a very long time, the gist being don’t criminalize kids, educate them. Well, maybe it takes repetition to sink in deep enough to matter. Here’s a definition of the pipeline: “ … the policies and practices that push our nation’s schoolchildren, especially our most at-risk children, out of classrooms and into the juvenile and criminal justice systems.” That’s from the American Civil Liberties Union, one of numerous organizations working nationally to fix what’s wrong. Schools went along with the tough-on-crime, no-tolerance attitude that swept politics and the criminal-justice system in the 1980s. The result has been a huge increase in the number of children suspended or expelled, often for classroom behavior that could be dealt with productively if it were treated as a teaching opportunity.”(more)

Good News for New Orleans

Education Next – Staff Writer

“What happened to the New Orleans public schools following the tragic levee breeches after Hurricane Katrina is truly unprecedented. Within the span of one year, all public-school employees were fired, the teacher contract expired and was not replaced, and most attendance zones were eliminated. The state took control of almost all public schools and began holding them to relatively strict standards of academic achievement. Over time, the state turned all the schools under its authority over to charter management organizations (CMOs) that, in turn, dramatically reshaped the teacher workforce.”(more)

Michelle Obama Takes to Japan, Cambodia for Let Girls Learn

Education News – Jaclyn Harr

“Michelle Obama is visiting Japan and Cambodia this week to promote the education of girls and speak about the new initiative Let Girls Learn. Let Girls Learn, introduced by President Obama earlier in March, is a worldwide initiative to help girls attend and stay in school…The First Lady is planning on stressing the importance of meeting community needs like providing uniforms and providing training on gender-specific issues…She also made sure to mention the importance of education for girls in the US…and hopes that the initiative will also help motivate American women to learn.”(more)

10 steps to making yours a STEM school

E-School News – Stephen Noonoo

“The quest to improve the way schools team STEM subjects, such as engineering and computer science, isn’t an easy fix. New resources, technology, and teacher training all play a significant part. Recently, school administrators shared how they were tackling the problem at the elementary level, using professional development courses from the National Center for STEM Elementary Education at St. Catherine University in Minnesota. To help other schools, the NCSEE has also come up with a ten-point tip sheet for schools looking to beef up their commitment to STEM. “The thing that’s most universally true is that schools and teachers are so full of opportunities to teach STEM. There’s so much right there already,” said Patty Born-Selly, the executive director of the NCSEE. “What we’ve found across the board is that teachers really want to be more comfortable with this material and the subject matter so they feel as comfortable with it as, say, reading.” Among the organization’s suggestions: be realistic, involve local professionals from the community, survey local outdoor areas, and take time to celebrate STEM successes in a way that joins together the entire school. Read on for the NCSEE’s full suggestions.”(more)