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Why It’s Time to Rethink School Science Fairs

KQED News Mind/Shift – Daisy Yuhas

“Springtime is science fair season. Thousands of kids across the country, from elementary through high school, spend weeks or months coaxing seedlings to grow, building devices to harness solar energy and carefully mixing acids and bases. Often, as was certainly the case for me as an eighth grader in suburban Pennsylvania, the result is an all-hands-on-deck enterprise. Parents regularly join in the effort, helping students design their experiments and test their results — not to mention ferrying them back and forth from stores to pick up supplies.” (more)

Student Competitions Support the Next Generation of Engineers

Education World – Sandeep Hiremath

“It’s no secret the world is evolving at a rapid pace, and in order to keep up, young people must be more prepared than ever to enter institutions of higher learning and eventually the workforce. In particular, there is an increasing need for candidates with hands-on experience in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields. According to Change the Equation, between the years 2014 and 2024, the number of STEM jobs will grow 17 percent, compared with 12 percent anticipated growth for non-STEM jobs. Knowing this, how do we ensure students are ready to tackle what lies ahead? Enter student competitions. It’s not your typical athletic contest or student election, but instead a competition involving robotics, engineering software, and collaboration.”(more)

What To Do About America’s STEM Education Gap

The Scientific American – Staff Writer

“America has been struggling to keep up when it comes to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education. The U.S. placed 35th and 27th out of 64 countries in math and science respectively according to the 2012 Program for International Student Assessment survey. That stinks. Today, Scientific American and Macmillan Learning held the STEM Summit 4.0 at the New York Academy of Sciences. Educators, entrepreneurs and government employees gathered in a space overlooking the lower Manhattan skyline to listen to and discuss strategies for teaching and engaging students in STEM topics. This year’s theme: The Power of Data.”(more)

STEM education: Not just for the next Neil Armstrong

The Hill – Rep. Randy Hultgren

“”I think I knew as a little girl that I was addicted to the stars and the universe and trying to understand it.”
“I’ve been lucky to have a number of mentors. … For me some of the most exciting [lectures] were on neutron stars, these spinning pulsars.”
“High school teachers were really important. Also my parents — my father always challenged me [with] all kinds of math quizzes.”
This is what some of the top astrophysicists in the world told the Committee on Science, Space and Technology when I asked how they began their journey and were inspired to become scientists. The common thread among all of them? Early, inspiring experiences followed up by relevant school subjects and caring mentors and educators that sparked their interest and gave them a vision of something bigger out there to explore. STEM education — those key subjects of science, technology, engineering and math — was central to their journeys. Yet science and math education isn’t just about building the foundation for a career in research medicine, architecture, space exploration or startup technologies. It’s about learning basic problem-solving.”(more)

Feng: Success bubbles up when science moves from the lab to the community

The Calgary Herald – Patrick Feng

“The relationship between science and the public has sometimes been a rocky one. While surveys show the public generally views scientists in high regard, there remains concern in some quarters about the public’s understanding of science. Worries about getting more students into science and engineering, and public controversies over topics such as climate change and water fluoridation feed the nagging suspicion among some that the public is not interested in science. Last week’s highly successful Beakerhead shows this is not the case. Well over 50,000 people attended the five-day “smash up of art, science and engineering,” making it one of the city’s largest annual events. Not bad for an idea that started only four years ago. Moreover, Calgarians’ enthusiastic response to Beakerhead shows that public interest in science is high, especially if science is served up in something other than a boring lecture.”(more)