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Parents May Hold the Key to Teens’ Embrace of STEM Education

The University of Virginia – Kathy Neesen

“Researchers from the University of Virginia have found a promising way to pique adolescents’ interest in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics: their parents. The study, conducted with colleagues from the University of Wisconsin and the University of Chicago, enlisted parents of 10th- and 11th-graders. It found that parents who conveyed the importance of math and science courses to their children in high school made a lasting impact on their interest in STEM fields years down the road. The findings, published in the latest issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, are the first to show that a motivational intervention by parents can have important long-term effects on a student’s STEM preparation and career pursuits.”(more)

Engaging kids in design-based learning

Tech Crunch – Gian Paolo Bassi

“While most kids their age are glued to various digital devices, often wasting hours playing mindless games or watching cat videos, 164 fourth and fifth graders, along with eight elementary school teachers, have been using those same devices to explore new paths to learning. In 15 classrooms across Texas and Virginia, students are using manufacturing design and digital fabrication processes to create physical models, learning the underlying mathematical concepts and using them in meaningful contexts. The FabLab Classroom pilot is a National Science Foundation project focusing on the “E” in STEM education (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math). The project started at the University of North Texas and is based on a scaled-down version of Neil Gershenfeld’s Fab Lab, which originated at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Students design their projects in 3D on a computer, then make the item using simple materials.”(more)

Every student got an iPad. Teacher says she regrets it

The Atlanta Journal Constitution – Maureen Downey

“Virginia elementary school teacher Launa Hall wrote a long, thoughtful piece for the Washington Post today on what happened when her district gave all her third graders iPads. Under the headline “I gave my students iPads — then wished I could take them back,” Hall explains, “My lively little kids stopped talking and adopted the bent-neck, plugged-in posture of tap, tap, swipe.” Despite comprehensive training on how to incorporate iPads into daily instruction, Hall said the technical problems — “bandwidth issues that slowed our lessons to a crawl, username issues followed by password issues followed by hundreds of selfies” — forced her to write lessons two ways so she always had a backup if the iPads did not work.”(more)

Year of the Outdoor Classroom: Why Schools in Virginia, West Virginia and Michigan Have Joined the National Trend

The 74 Million – Nathania Johnson

“When people talk about innovation in education, they tend to first turn to issues of technology. But a new trend is blooming in schools across the country, and it’s altering the way students learn about everything from science to math to language arts.
Students are picking up their backpacks, walking through the school doors and engaging in tangible learning experiences in outdoor classrooms. A ribbon cutting ceremony was held on Monday to officially dedicate and open the new outdoor classroom at Landstown Middle School in Virginia Beach, Virginia. The 14,000-square-foot space has room to seat 40 students and boasts a chalkboard, flower garden and vegetable beds, reports WTKR. Several area community organizations and businesses helped make the project a reality, including VBCPS Educational Foundation, Home Depot, Seagreen Lawns, Virginia Tech, and LifeTouch. Professionals with related skills, including farmers, chefs, and horticulturists, will teach in the classroom.”(more)

Five Steps Communities Can Take To Strengthen a STEM Education Program

PR Web – Staff Writer

” Although the latest projections show that the rate of job increases in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math fields (STEM) over the next five to seven years will outstrip rate increases in non-STEM positions, Dr. Aaron Smith, author of “Awakening Your STEM School,” says that the country may not be able to meet the demand for the larger job-ready workforce unless communities focus on improving STEM education and attracting more students to science, technology, engineering and math. “We’re just not inspiring enough of our students to consider careers in STEM fields—particularly minority and female students, according to the 2015 U.S. News/Raytheon STEM Index.” Overall, statistics show that less than one in five U. S. high school students have an interest in STEM careers,” Dr. Smith said. “A successful STEM program is one of the best investments any community can make not only to provide high-skilled workers, but also to tackle the problem of high dropout rates.”(more)

U-Va. starts new undergraduate degree program for STEM teachers

The Washington Post – T. Rees Shapiro

“The University of Virginia is joining a growing cadre of universities offering an undergraduate program that aims to prepare future science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) teachers. The state flagship announced Wednesday that the engineering school will team with the Curry School of Education to provide undergraduates with a dual-degree program that will offer a five-year bachelor’s and master’s degree…The new degree program, which will start enrolling students this fall, comes amid a surging demand for STEM programs in classrooms around the country.”(more)