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  • richardmitnick 12:40 pm on July 24, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Rewiring STEM education, STEM education, , The idea that science skills are innate and great discoveries are made only by “lone geniuses” is losing traction in STEM   

    From Symmetry: “Rewiring STEM education” 

    Symmetry Mag
    From Symmetry

    Ali Sundermier

    The idea that science skills are innate and great discoveries are made only by “lone geniuses” is losing traction in STEM.

    Before Lauren Aguilar began her freshman year of college, she had dreams of becoming a neuroscientist. She remembers sitting in a lecture hall for her very first course, Chemistry 101. The professor had required the students to read the first chapter of the textbook before arriving. As someone with a passion for STEM who had excelled in high school, Aguilar had been confident the course was going to go well.

    But then she, a Latina woman, looked around the room. She didn’t see many people who looked like her, either women or men or women of color. “The seed of doubt was planted right then,” she says. “If there aren’t people like me here, then maybe this field isn’t for people like me.”

    The professor began the class with a demand: Anyone who didn’t understand everything in the first chapter perfectly should immediately drop the class.

    “I said, well, I didn’t understand everything perfectly, so this isn’t for me,” she says. “And right then and there I dropped that course and dropped that major. That one experience absolutely changed the course of my career.”

    This out-of-place feeling is not uncommon in STEM and contributes to the lack of diversity in STEM fields. The NSF’s 2018 STEM Inclusion Study showed that women and racial and ethnic minorities, as well as those who identify as LGBTQ and those with disability status, report more feelings of marginalization and experiences of exclusion in STEM fields compared to white men.

    The experience didn’t derail Aguilar’s dreams of a career in STEM. Instead, it propelled her into another field: social psychology. She wanted to try to understand what leads some people to feel like they belong in certain fields where others don’t, and how that leads to things like career engagement, learning outcomes, teamwork and innovation. Aguilar is now a diversity and inclusion consultant, helping organizations, many of them STEM related, create cultures of inclusion and belonging.

    Breaking the mindset

    According to Micha Kilburn, director of Outreach and Education at the National Science Foundation’s Joint Institute for Nuclear Astrophysics Center for the Evolution of the Elements, people have been studying STEM education for as long as we’ve been doing science. But it wasn’t until recent decades that these studies became more formal. Since then, the field of STEM education studies has been on the rise, with studies done both in academia and in industry, many dealing with diversity, inclusion and intervention.

    As part of her postdoctoral research at Stanford University, Aguilar collaborated with her advisor, Greg Walton, an associate professor in the department of psychology, and Nobel Laureate Carl Wieman, a professor in the department of physics and in the Graduate School of Education, to bring insights about STEM education to the field of physics and give educators tools to increase diversity in the field. In 2014, they published a paper called “Psychological insights for improved physics teaching” in Physics Today.

    One important insight drawn in the paper, Aguilar says, is the idea of a “growth mindset,” which originated with Stanford psychology professor Carol Dweck in her book Mindset.

    “Growth mindset is a set of beliefs that talent, intelligence and skill can be grown and exercised like a muscle, rather than being fixed or innate, like eye color,” she says. “If you have a fixed mindset, the most important goal is to prove your intelligence at all costs. When you run up against dead ends or are struggling and putting a lot of effort into something, it threatens your view of your intelligence and makes you fear that other people might find you out.

    “For people who have a growth mindset, effort is an exciting opportunity to learn and grow. It means you’re building that talent.”

    In her research, Dweck found that these two mindsets lead to different learning processes and outcomes, causing people to engage in learning in very different ways.

    “Dweck has shown how different types of praise can produce different mindsets in children,” Wieman says. “A strong fixed mindset in a learner, teacher or parent is very much a self-fulfilling prophecy if nothing is done to intervene. The belief that you cannot succeed, and prominent authority figures telling you that you cannot succeed, is very effective at ensuring most people will not be successful at a challenging task. Even relatively small interventions can shift students of all ages from a fixed to a more growth mindset, and their performance improves accordingly.”

    Genius culture

    According to Aguilar, studies have shown that fixed mindsets are much more prevalent in STEM fields than in liberal arts.

    “Something that’s problematic for STEM is this idea of a lone genius scientist,” she says. “It’s a stereotype about how work gets done that really leads people who don’t fit that stereotype to feel like they don’t belong.”

    In more mathematical sciences such as physics, Wieman says, the idea that the skills required to succeed are innate is particularly persistent.

    “These beliefs are most strongly linked to math in our society,” Wieman says. “At some point it became fashionable to be ‘stupid’ in math and science. Rather than saying you or your child isn’t working hard enough and that’s why they’re doing poorly in math, you can say ‘he just doesn’t have a brain that is good for math.’”

    Allison Olshefke, a recent physics graduate from the University of Notre Dame, believes that the idea that physics skills are innate has a lot to do with the history of the field.

    “I think there’s just this historical idea that the people who have made it really big in physics and have lasted through the ages were just inherently brilliant,” Olshefke says. “So that became what was valued as what was needed to make those kinds of contributions.

    “And that just reinforces itself. The people who show promise earlier on in physics without having to work as hard for whatever reason are going to be encouraged more from the beginning, and that encouragement is going to keep them going. And then we learn from that experience to encourage those same types of people in the next generation.”

    But despite the pervasiveness of the idea that STEM skills are innate, discoveries in science are more often than not a product of hard work and collaboration, as evidenced by the recent discoveries of gravitational waves and the Higgs boson by experiments made up of thousands of scientists each. And, Olshefke adds, it’s not as if people are born with the ability to do calculus.

    “The idea that math is language you need to learn to speak goes along with the growth mindset,” Olshefke says. “If you’re learning a new language, it’s going to look and sound completely unintelligible to you when you begin, but then as you work and practice, it’s going to get easier to understand.”

    In an article called The cult of genius [link currently unavailable] , Julianne Dalcanton of the University of Washington says that in physics, there’s no more damning phrase than saying someone is a “hard worker.” In general, Kilburn says, our society is much more likely to view white and Asian men as brilliant, and women and other underrepresented minorities as hardworking.

    “This idea that you have to be born a genius or born with talent hits the fields that are more mathematically inclined, in particular physics,” Kilburn says. “Physics, in particular particle theory, is at the far edge of the mindset that innate brilliance is the most important quality required to succeed. There have been published studies [Science] that show the more the field values brilliance or innate talent over dedication, the fewer women and underrepresented minorities that they have.”

    Hidden biases and combatting stereotypes

    Olshefke, who will soon begin a graduate program at Notre Dame to become a high school math teacher, spent a lot of her undergraduate career doing physics education research. Olshefke met Kilburn at a luncheon and found that the questions she was asking about gender diversity in physics and STEM resonated with her own experiences as a woman pursuing physics.

    Olshefke became involved with a study Kilburn was doing in which they evaluated letters of recommendation written by high school teachers. They had seen in previous research that in academic letters of recommendation, there are language differences based on the gender of the applicant.

    “We wanted to find out if these implicit biases extended into high school letters of recommendation as well, since these letters of recommendation are written at a crucial time when students are applying to colleges and programs,” Olshefke says. “We wanted to make sure that everybody is getting recommended in a way that’s going to create an equal playing field for admittance into programs for STEM.”

    They looked at letters of recommendation high school teachers had written for Notre Dame’s high school programs from 2013 to 2017. They looked through more than 1700 applications, pulling out words from categories that had been pointed out in previous research to try to identify differences between letters written for men and women.

    “We ended up really only focusing on two of the categories: grindstone words and ability words,” Olshefke says. “Grindstone words describe students as working hard, putting in a lot of effort, while ability words describe natural talent and innate skill. This idea that women are described as working hard more often and men were more likely to be described as innately talented was reflected in the letters that we read.

    “Yet when we looked at the quantitative portion of the recommendation where teachers rated students in different categories, women and men were rated identically throughout all of those. So we saw this disconnect between how teachers are quantitatively rating their students and how they’re qualitatively describing their students.”

    A fixed mindset can keep programs from admitting a diverse pool of candidates, and it can also drive candidates away, Aguilar says. When a STEM field or a particular STEM department, research center or firm espouses a fixed mindset, research shows that women and underrepresented minorities feel less trust in that organization.

    “They’re worried about not belonging,” she says. “They’re worried that they’re going to be seen through the lens of a stereotype. Stereotypes are really just fixed perceptions of people.”

    This sentiment resonates strongly with Olshefke, who was one of only three women physics majors in her year.

    “As a woman in STEM,” she says, “you’d be less likely to raise your hand and ask a question during lecture because you didn’t want to reflect badly on women in physics. You’d be more afraid to go to office hours. You’d be worried people would think, ‘Oh, women don’t understand things as quickly as men.’ Even though nobody is blatantly excluding you from doing anything, there’s still a little bit more fear because you’re different from everyone else.”

    Olshefke remembers a time in high school when she was passed up for an “outstanding physics student” award because her teacher felt she didn’t ask enough questions in class.

    “I was the only girl in my class, so I wasn’t comfortable asking questions,” she says. “There was just a lack of understanding of what I was feeling in the class. I think it speaks to the same kind of lack of knowledge about how women and men are experiencing different worlds as they go through physics.”

    Changing the face of STEM

    One way to confront the issue of inequalities in STEM is by having conversations about the experiences of women and underrepresented minorities in physics [Physical Review Physics Education Research].

    “There needs to be a discussion of experiences and what the issues actually are,” Olshefke says. “Having an open classroom and a supportive teacher who’s willing to talk about the issues that their students are going through will make a huge difference. It matches up really well with the growth mindset.”

    When organizations have this growth mindset, Aguilar says, individuals from underrepresented backgrounds feel like they are going to be seen as individuals, not stereotypes, and respected and valued for their own contributions. They feel like they’ll have a chance to learn and grow.

    “Decades of research has shown us that a growth mindset leads us to be more effective learners, teachers and managers, as well as creates a culture of inclusion and diversity in our STEM education centers,” she says. “Our brains develop and grow new neuronal connections every day. So if we believe in neuroplasticity, we need to believe in the growth mindset.”

    When organizations have this growth mindset, Aguilar says, individuals from underrepresented backgrounds feel like they are going to be seen as individuals, not stereotypes, and respected and valued for their own contributions. They feel like they’ll have a chance to learn and grow.

    “Decades of research has shown us that a growth mindset leads us to be more effective learners, teachers and managers, as well as creates a culture of inclusion and diversity in our STEM education centers,” she says. “Our brains develop and grow new neuronal connections every day. So if we believe in neuroplasticity, we need to believe in the growth mindset.”

    Aguilar adds that the research has shown that diversity leads to better decision-making and more innovation. She cites a research study done with juries that compared one jury of all white jurors to another of mixed races. The juries had been asked to listen to a case and make a decision at the end. The researchers found that the more racially diverse juries actually considered more of the facts of the case in their deliberation and reached a more accurate or fair decision.

    “The reason was that each person felt like they couldn’t assume the perspective of everyone in the room,” she says. “They had to really think about each piece of information from all different angles and not make assumptions about what people would think or believe. It not only brings more ideas to the table, but it helps us challenge our own assumptions, be better thinkers and argue our points more clearly. It’s not just a nice-to-have, diversity is a must have to ensure that we make the best decisions and create the most innovative science.”

    Learning to appreciate physics

    In physics in particular, Kilburn says, having more diversity and inclusion could lead to new frames of thought and revolutions in our understanding of the universe.

    “We think of physics as a very objective science, but for something to be truly objective, you have to ask all the questions and look at it from all perspectives,” she says. “If you’re training everybody through the same system and choosing the same types of people, then you’re going to ask the same types of questions. You might miss out on some of those left-field questions that lead to huge breakthroughs. If we want to be a really objective science, we have to ask questions from all angles, which requires people from all different backgrounds.”

    Kilburn adds that creating a more inclusive culture in STEM will not just increase diversity in the fields but will also enable others to have an appreciation for it as well.

    “As soon as you tell somebody that you’re a physicist,” she says, “some of the most common responses are ‘I hated that class,’ or ‘I could never do that, you’re so smart.’ All students enter and leave the field with different proficiencies, but they all are capable of learning and appreciating the subject more.

    “The arts do this: Just because you couldn’t play the flute doesn’t mean you stopped listening to and appreciating music. I think that we don’t focus on physics appreciation as much as we could to combat that socially awkward loner genius stereotype.”

    According to Wieman, everyone, regardless of their career, will be able to make better decisions if they have some understanding of STEM and how to use it.

    “Our way of life is so based on technology that one is regularly confronted by issues at work and home where STEM can help a person make better decisions,” he says.

    “More importantly, mankind is faced with critical decisions about things like energy sources and use of resources that will impact our world and species far into the future. These issues are fundamentally technical at their heart, so a person cannot make wise decisions on these issues without a grasp of STEM. If we want to preserve democracy and our world, we must have all students learn STEM better, which research shows is quite possible if we improve the way we teach.”

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Symmetry is a joint Fermilab/SLAC publication.

  • richardmitnick 9:53 am on June 1, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , STEM education   

    From Science Magazine: “Making grad school work for STEM students” 

    From Science Magazine

    May. 31, 2018
    Jeffrey Mervis

    Two postdocs at the University of California, San Francisco, make a sketch of their career paths as part of the National Institutes of Health–funded Broadening Experiences in Scientific Training program. Elizabeth Silva/2015 MIND program at UCSF.

    How many reports does it take to change U.S. graduate education?

    Answer: anywhere from one to 20. But the current system must want to change.

    The training of graduate students in science is no laughing matter. But the cascade of reports issued on the topic over the past quarter-century has become something of an inside joke among those who care about graduate education in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields. So, when a committee of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) this week issued a report on “revitalizing” graduate STEM education that referenced 19 related studies, its chairperson wasn’t surprised.

    “The first thing people ask me is, ‘So what’s new?’” says Alan Leshner, CEO emeritus of AAAS in Washington, D.C., (which publishes ScienceInsider). His answer, in a phrase, is the call for a “student-centered” education.

    “The current system works well for the PIs [principal investigators], institutions, and federal agencies that get relatively cheap labor and churn out lots of papers in top journals,” Leshner asserts. “But it doesn’t work well for students, and for many employers.”

    What’s needed, according to the report, is a greater focus on mentoring and high-quality teaching. Doing so, it suggests, would also address many other chronic problems—including inadequate preparation for careers outside academia, a lack of diversity, and overspecialization—that previous reports have cited.

    A job too far

    The misalignment between the career path that many faculty expect their students to follow, and where those students actually wind up, is a major theme of the new report, which is an update of a 1995 NASEM report on “reshaping” graduate education. The tellingly similar titles suggest the problem is long-standing.

    Most professors erroneously assume their job “is to produce little clones of themselves,” Leshner says. Yet fewer than 40% of the country’s STEM Ph.D.s actually work in academia, the report notes, and fewer than half of that group become independent investigators like their mentors.

    That mismatch has several unintended consequences, the report notes. It can push some students into unwanted postdoctoral positions as they sort out career options and cause others to abandon science altogether.

    But although the problem is serious, Leshner says any changes should be “evolutionary, not revolutionary.” Students still need to learn how to design and carry out research and to communicate the results to a broad audience. A combination of workshops, internships, and networking opportunities that expose students to career opportunities outside the lab, he adds, should “supplement, not supplant” the time needed to acquire what the report calls “core competencies.”

    Panelist Suzanne Ortega, president of the Washington, D.C.–based Council of Graduate Schools (CGS), explains what that means in practice. Academic tenure and promotion decisions now rely largely on research productivity, in particular, a faculty member’s ability to garner competitive grants to fund research that will generate publications in prestigious journals. “I’ve been on a lot of those committees,” says Ortega, a sociologist and former provost and graduate dean at several universities, “and I’ve never seen one that asked about innovations in mentoring or the quality of that mentoring as measured by students’ satisfaction.”

    A road map for change

    Leshner’s big idea is that federal research agencies such as the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) should require grant applicants to provide evidence of quality teaching and mentoring in their proposals. The agencies should then use that information, he says, to determine who gets the money.

    It’s what Sally Rockey, president of the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research in Washington, D.C., and former head of NIH extramural research, calls “social engineering through the pocketbook.” In 2013 Rockey helped NIH launch its Broadening Experiences in Scientific Training (BEST) program, which made 17 awards to improve faculty mentoring skills and professional development training for students.

    A former top official at both NSF and NIH, Leshner says such culture change won’t happen overnight. “We’re not totally naïve,” he says. Professional societies and higher education organizations also need to do their part, he says, citing efforts already underway by CGS and the Association of American Universities, which is also examining ways to improve undergraduate STEM education.

    Change is possible if there is institutional buy-in, says panelist Keith Yamamoto, vice chancellor for science policy and strategy at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), which received one of NIH’s BEST awards. (NIH made only two rounds of 5-year awards and never intended BEST to be an ongoing initiative, but UCSF officials have pledged to continue the program after its NIH grant ends this year.)

    Panel members say the increased emphasis on quality mentoring need not become another burden on faculty already struggling to meet the growing demands on their time. Leshner says it can even become a recruiting tool. “Schools like UCSF have shown that it’s doable,” he says, “and students might want to take note of institutions that have such programs when they are deciding where to go for graduate school.”

    However, the overall impact on research productivity is less clear. “The message seems to be, ‘Keep doing everything you’re doing, but find ways to do it better,’” says a congressional staffer who was briefed on the report but is not authorized to speak on the record. “I don’t see how that is possible unless there’s less emphasis put on the amount of research being done.”

    Yamamoto doesn’t agree. He says the key to a student-centered education is not for professors to do less research, but to do it in ways that focus on teaching students the skills and knowledge required to become a practicing scientist.

    “Right now we have a flawed set of metrics,” he explains. “We place a priority on being first author in a prestigious journal. If we get rid of those metrics, we can move closer to the core competencies that students need to graduate. And remember, the goal is not to become famous, it’s to discover new knowledge.”

    [Let us get something straight: STEM generally involves the paucity of women in all phases of science education from at least high school through graduate school. We are losing valuable brain power when we do not accept women as having brain power equal to their male cointerparts.]

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

  • richardmitnick 7:06 am on February 6, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , STEM education   

    From CSIROscope: “Cybersecurity: we can hack it” 

    CSIRO bloc


    6 February 2018
    Chris Chelvan

    No image capton or credit.

    It is estimated that 3,885,567,619 people across the world have access to the internet, roughly 51.7% of the world population. More often than not, the internet is used to benefit society — from connecting opposite sides of the world to making knowledge more accessible. But sometimes, the anonymity provided by the internet creates risks of cyberbullying as well as threats to cyber security.

    Every month, at least 50,000 new cyber threats arise that expose internet users to risk. The National Vulnerability Database (NVD) operated by the National Institute of Standards and Technology suggests that between 500 and 1,000 new vulnerabilities emerge every month, of which at least 25 per cent are critical and pose a risk for significant damage.

    Some of the largest cybersecurity threats emerged just last year. The WannaCry ransomware attack in May 2017 affected more than 300,000 computers across 150 countries causing billions of dollars in damage. Spectre and Meltdown, too, exposed critical cyber vulnerabilities in computers and mobile phones around the world, exposing millions of people to hackers — in fact, Data61 researcher Dr Yuval Yarom from the Trustworthy Systems Group was one of the contributors whose research uncovered the Spectre issue.

    Not only are cyber threats increasing, they’re also evolving. First the focus was on attacking technology: hacking, malware, and remote access. Then the focus shifted to attacking humans with phishing, social engineering and ransomware, like WannaCry. Now cyber attacks are now more sophisticated than ever and even harder to detect.

    And yet, given all these threats, Australia has next to no cyber security specialists. The Australian Cyber Security Growth Network has said the demand for skills in the sector far outstrips demand. A recent Government report estimated Australia would need another 11,000 cyber security specialists over the next decade.

    It’s against this diverse backdrop of new and constantly changing threats that we celebrate Safer Internet Day and call on our future generation of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) leaders to fill the glaring shortage of cybersecurity professionals in Australia.

    Not only are we short of information security professionals now, but data show that by 2022 we’ll be short up to 1.8 million positions. This is particularly urgent in Australia, where women make up just one in three students studying STEM — a proportion that needs to rise to meet the country’s growing cyber security needs.

    Introducing STEM Professional in Schools, our education program that shows young women how they can make an impact in Australia and across the world. STEM Professionals in Schools is Australia’s leading STEM education volunteering program, bringing real world STEM into the classroom to inspire students and teachers.

    Our Data61 CEO, Adrian Turner, visited Melbourne Girls College to talk about safer internet usage and the importance of STEM.

    “These students are our future innovators, scientists and engineers,” Mr Turner said.

    “It’s essential to equip them with the skills they need in school, and to capture their interest in cybersecurity and why it matters now and in the future so they can see how much of a crucial role it is and will continue to play in Australia’s data-driven future and digital economy.”

    A rewarding career in STEM can take on many forms, too. Data61’s STEM graduates have worked in various roles and research projects, spanning everything from machine learning and robotics to analytics and of course — cybersecurity.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    SKA/ASKAP radio telescope at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO) in Mid West region of Western Australia

    So what can we expect these new radio projects to discover? We have no idea, but history tells us that they are almost certain to deliver some major surprises.

    Making these new discoveries may not be so simple. Gone are the days when astronomers could just notice something odd as they browse their tables and graphs.

    Nowadays, astronomers are more likely to be distilling their answers from carefully-posed queries to databases containing petabytes of data. Human brains are just not up to the job of making unexpected discoveries in these circumstances, and instead we will need to develop “learning machines” to help us discover the unexpected.

    With the right tools and careful insight, who knows what we might find.

    CSIRO campus

    CSIRO, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, is Australia’s national science agency and one of the largest and most diverse research agencies in the world.

  • richardmitnick 1:41 pm on November 6, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , STEM education, The new Life Sciences Center (LSC II) at Rutgers Newark   

    From Rutgers University: A New Front Door to the Sciences at Rutgers University-Newark 

    Rutgers University
    Rutgers University

    November 6, 2017
    Kimberlee Williams

    LSC II is the front door to the sciences quad, a contiguous, multi-building teaching and research complex.
    Photo: Anthony Alvarez

    Rutgers University-Newark celebrated the new Life Sciences Center (LSC II) on Thursday, November 2, with a grand opening event for the $59 million, state-of-the-art, five-story science complex located on University Avenue in downtown Newark.

    “It is such a grand day,” said Nancy Cantor, chancellor of Rutgers University-Newark, “and a grand facility that not only realizes the long-standing plans of the Rutgers-Newark STEM community, but it also opens so many new possibilities for our community to contribute to where Life Sciences innovation is moving going forward.”

    LSC II is the front door to the sciences quad, a contiguous, multi-building teaching and research complex that is home to the departments of Biological Sciences, Chemistry and Earth and Environmental Sciences and the Center for Molecular and Behavioral Neuroscience (CMBN).

    The 85,000-square-foot structure gives physical reality to interdisciplinary practice in the sciences linking Life Sciences I, built in 2005; Aidekman Hall, completed in 1991 (neuroscience); Boyden Hall, completed in the 1960s (biology and environmental sciences); and Olson Hall, completed in the early 1970s (chemistry).

    “It’s the knowledge spinout that drives the engine of the economy,” said Robert L. Barchi, president of Rutgers University. “It’s the students that are learning these new techniques, especially in the biological sciences and medical sciences that are going to stamp those new companies and lead them, and it’s the combined action of both of those that really drives the economy and business of the state.”

    Ushering in the new Life Sciences Center At the Nov. 2 grand opening, left to right, Rutgers president Robert Barchi; State Sen. Ronald L. Rice; Jan Lewis, dean, FASN; John Sheridan, senior associate dean, FASN; and Nancy Cantor, chancellor, Rutgers University-Newark.
    Photo: Anthony Alvarez

    Rutgers University-Newark boasts highly regarded chemistry and psychology programs and leading programs in cell biology, ecology and evolution and environmental sciences. In addition, CMBN provides cutting-edge research in the neurosciences and has the premier research MRI facility in the northern part of the state, the Rutgers Brain Imaging Center (RUBIC) located in Aidekman Hall.

    The five above-ground floors inside LSC II include: modern teaching laboratories for upper-level chemistry and biology courses; chemistry and biology research laboratories; and a 100-seat lecture hall with “smart classroom” capability, designed for active learning and student engagement. A state-of-the-art imaging and electron-microscopy facility is housed 27-feet below ground level.

    LSC II will further broaden the university’s capacity to be New Jersey’s talent pipeline for first-generation, underrepresented and minority students in science and community-engaged research that has an impact in Greater Newark. “LSC II fulfills a commitment to research and teaching in the sciences made at Rutgers University-Newark more than half a century ago. We make a commitment to the future, to pass on to the next generation excellence in the sciences,” adds Jan Lewis, dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences.

    The faculty at FASN have proven their ability to hire and mentor younger scientists in their fields.The FASN has 17 distinguished professors, the highest rank Rutgers bestows on professors, and 12 are in STEM fields. Additionally the science faculty has a Henry Rutgers Professor and a Henry Rutgers Term Chair in STEM, as well as an endowed chair in neuroscience and a distinguished service professor. About one-third of the faculty in the departments of Chemistry and Math and the Neuroscience Center are distinguished professors.

    Rutgers University-Newark’s commitment and demonstrated success in training first-generation, underrepresented and minority students in STEM is further reflected in the array of longstanding funded programs.

    Barry Komisaruk’s National Institutes of Health Minority Biomedical Research Support grant for minority graduate students in the biomedical sciences has been funded continuously since 1984. Alec Gates’ Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation program (LSAMP), aimed at increasing the number of underrepresented students in non-medical STEM fields, has been funded continuously since 2009. The LSAMP grant has recently been supplemented by a $2.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation S-STEM, Sustainable Pathways from Community College to Bachelor’s Degree for Urban Youth in STEM, Northern New Jersey. And the Academic Foundations Center recently received a $1,160,000 grant to fund the preparation for graduate study, including in STEM, of undergraduates from first-generation, underrepresented and minority groups.

    See the full article here .

    Follow Rutgers Research here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition


    Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, is a leading national research university and the state’s preeminent, comprehensive public institution of higher education. Rutgers is dedicated to teaching that meets the highest standards of excellence; to conducting research that breaks new ground; and to providing services, solutions, and clinical care that help individuals and the local, national, and global communities where they live.

    Founded in 1766, Rutgers teaches across the full educational spectrum: preschool to precollege; undergraduate to graduate; postdoctoral fellowships to residencies; and continuing education for professional and personal advancement.

    Rutgers smaller
    Please give us back our original beautiful seal which the University stole away from us.
    As a ’67 graduate of University college, second in my class, I am proud to be a member of

    Alpha Sigma Lamda, National Honor Society of non-tradional students.

  • richardmitnick 10:02 am on November 6, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , New funding for exciting STEM education projects, , STEM education,   

    From UK Space Agency: “New funding for exciting STEM education projects” 

    UK Space Agency

    UK Space Agency

    6 November 2017
    No writer credit found

    No image caption or credit

    The UK Space Agency has awarded £210,000 of funding for seven new education and outreach activities.

    The projects are designed to inspire interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and provide exciting contexts for the teaching of a range of subjects. This will, in turn, help the growth of the space sector, which is currently hampered by the lack of graduates and technicians with relevant qualifications.

    The seven new projects were selected to support the aims of the Education and Skills Strategy, and build upon the Agency’s investment in a number of areas, in particular:

    Earth Observation
    Satellite Launch Programme (UK spaceports and launchers)
    James Webb Space Telescope

    NASA/ESA/CSA Webb Telescope annotated

    Susan Buckle, Astronaut Flight Education Programme Manager, said:

    “We are delighted to be funding all these projects and to work with a variety of different organisations – from the D&T Association with expertise in design and technology to the Triathlon Trust with expertise in getting children active, as well as the more traditional STEM organisations. Each project will fulfil the objective to inspire the next generation to study STEM and consider a career in the space industry, whilst having a lot of fun along the way.”

    The 7 successful projects to be funded are:

    Glasgow Science Festival: Get me into orbit!
    Triathlon Trust: Space to Earth view
    Mangorolla CIC: Space zones ‘I’m a Scientist’ and ‘I’m an Engineer’
    Institute for Research in Schools: MELT: Monitoring the Environment, Learning for Tomorrow
    The Design and Technology Association: Inspiring the next generation: design and technology in space
    European Space Education Resource Office-UK: James Webb Space Telescope: Design challenge
    Children’s Radio UK (Fun Kids): Deep Space High – UK Spaceports

    The MELT project will allow students to understand and analyse key earth observation data relating to the North and South Pole.

    This work is in collaboration with Robert Swan on his Antarctic expedition, who said:

    “I’m delighted to be working with IRIS on the MELT project. Students looking at Earth observation of the poles will be directly observing our South Pole Energy Challenge and seeing what a crucial role they have in understanding and taking care of their environment.”

    Emma Watson from The Design and Technology Association said:

    “The Design and Technology Association are delighted to be working with the UK Space Agency to develop a series of curriculum based resources which will use the design and technology curriculum as a platform to motivate more young people to consider careers in the space industry.

    “Structured around Earth Observation, Satellite Launch Systems and the James Webb Space Telescope, these innovative resources will inspire young people to imagine new possibilities, drawing on their existing STEM knowledge, and applying it to real-life space contexts.”

    More details on each of the projects will be available as they develop their resources and activities.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    The UK Space Agency is responsible for all strategic decisions on the UK civil space programme and provides a clear, single voice for UK space ambitions.

    At the heart of UK efforts to explore and benefit from space, we are responsible for ensuring that the UK retains and grows a strategic capability in space-based systems, technologies, science and applications. We lead the UK’s civil space programme in order to win sustainable economic growth, secure new scientific knowledge and provide benefit to all citizens.

    We work to:

    co-ordinate UK civil space activity
    encourage academic research
    support the UK space industry
    raise the profile of UK space activities at home and abroad
    increase understanding of space science and its practical benefits
    inspire our next generation of UK scientists and engineers
    licence the launch and operation of UK spacecraft
    promote co-operation and participation in the European Space programme

    We’re an executive agency of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, made up of about 70 staff based in Swindon, London and the UK Space Gateway in Oxfordshire.

    We are responsible for:

    leading the UK civil space policy and increasing the UK contribution to European initiatives
    building a strong national space capability, including scientific and industrial centres of excellence
    co-ordinating strategic investment across industry and academia
    working to inspire and train a growing, skilled UK workforce of space technologists and scientists
    working on national and international space projects in co-operation with industry and academia
    regulating the UK civil space activities and ensuring we meet international treaty obligations

  • richardmitnick 9:37 am on August 12, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , STEM education   

    From CSIRO blog: “What is STEM and why is it important?” 

    CSIRO bloc

    CSIRO blog

    12 August 2017
    Mary Mulcahy

    Our Scientists and Mathematicians in Schools program in action.

    STEM – it’s a word that’s bandied around a lot lately. But what does it mean? At the very least it’s an acronym that stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (and sometimes you might see STEAM with A for Arts or STEMM when an extra M for Medicine is included).

    But it’s much more than an acronym – it’s potentially your passport for the future. Research has shown that students who study STEM are more creative, flexible and able to take advantage of the changes that are predicted in the workforce and workplaces of the future. Jobs from accounting, construction, nursing, to hair dressing all use STEM skills – let alone what the jobs of the future might be.

    As technology and IT disrupts more and more industries, there’s a real concern that there won’t be enough STEM-qualified people to work in the jobs of the future. But how do we get more people interested in and taking up STEM subjects at school?

    For students it’s difficult to take in information and get excited about what is taught in the classroom if they don’t understand how it can be applied and how it’s relevant to them. How can you consider a career if you don’t know what options there are and what it would be like?

    Evidence from our Scientist and Mathematicians (and ICT professionals) in Schools (SMiS) program shows that bringing the teaching and STEM professionals together in partnerships has profound benefit for students, schools, teachers and STEM professionals. For that reason we think it’s important to get more industry professionals into classrooms to demonstrate the diversity and excitement of STEM careers in the real-world.

    We held an event this week with our SMiS partners to talk about the challenges that educators face when teaching STEM and how government, universities, research organisations and corporate businesses can all play a part in ensuring our kids get the best education possible.

    We’ve called on some of those partners to give you an insight into those discussions.

    Our SMiS program helps to pollinate ideas in the classroom.

    Rebecca Smith, Head of Science, Cathedral School Townsville

    “It was my very own biology and chemistry teachers who inspired me to pursue a career in science education. My teaching philosophy is about ensuring we search for ideas and ways to be able to link classroom learning beyond school – to teach students to deal with scientific knowledge in a critical and creative way, and to apply what they learn to everyday real-world problems. That’s why I think the Scientists and Mathematicians in Schools program is so great. I work with Professor Jim Burnell from James Cook University to bring real-world biology and chemistry into my classroom. When one of my students tells me they want to be a scientist or an engineer or work with technology, I know I’m doing a good job.”

    Sae Kwon, Vice President of Technical Services, Cisco Australia

    “Cisco recently partnered with CSIRO’s SMiS program as part of our AUSTEM2020 initiative to tackle the STEM skills shortage and help Australia become more innovative. For me, it’s a real privilege to give back to the students that will be tomorrow’s great innovators through the program. Industry professionals are needed to help bring technology to life and show kids how technology is used to enable businesses, make cities smart, transform countries and provide critical support in disaster recovery situations around the world. The kids are fascinated that I talk to them from other countries like Singapore over video conference. It’s great to be able to talk about the cool jobs available, the great people you get to meet, the many countries you can visit and all the fun you can have working in STEM. I was certainly not aware of the cool jobs that exists in STEM until I started working in the field. These days STEM education has too much competition through the various social networking and games available online. We need to make STEM education fun again.”

    Megan Lily, Head of Workforce Development, Ai Group

    “The relative decline of STEM skills is holding back our national economy and causing real frustration for employers. The demand for STEM graduates is increasing, especially as technology is infiltrating more and more industries, but at the moment the number of students entering the workforce is not keeping up with this demand. That’s why I think it’s so important businesses to invest in the future innovative workforce by helping teachers and schools through programs like Scientists and Mathematicians in Schools.”

    Dr Roslyn Prinsley, National STEM Adviser, Office of the Chief Scientist

    “I’m constantly inspired by the scientists and students I meet. We have some of the finest problem-solvers in the world and we will need more of them in the future so we are training up the next generation to follow their lead. I am also really excited with the partnership between SMiS and the Ai Group which grew out of a project that the Office of the Chief Scientist funded through Ai Group looking at good practice industry engagement with schools. SMiS was identified as a high-quality program that Ai Group and others could partner with to increase industry participation in, and support for, schools so I’m pleased to see the results of that work playing out now.”

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    CSIRO campus

    CSIRO, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, is Australia’s national science agency and one of the largest and most diverse research agencies in the world.

    The CSIRO blog is designed to entertain, inform and inspire by generally digging around in the work being done by our terrific scientists, and leaving the techie speak and jargon for the experts.

    We aim to bring you stories from across the vast breadth and depth of our organisation: from the wild sea voyages of our Research Vessel Investigator to the mind-blowing astronomy of our Space teams, right through all the different ways our scientists solve national challenges in areas as diverse as Health, Farming, Tech, Manufacturing, Energy, Oceans, and our Environment.

    If you have any questions about anything you find on our blog, we’d love to hear from you. You can reach us at socialmedia@csiro.au.

    And if you’d like to find out more about us, our science, or how to work with us, head over to CSIRO.au

  • richardmitnick 9:04 am on May 1, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , STEM education,   

    From U Washington: “Can early experiences with computers, robots increase STEM interest among young girls?” 

    U Washington

    University of Washington

    April 27, 2017
    Kim Eckart

    Penn State/Flickr

    Girls start believing they aren’t good at math, science and even computers at a young age — but providing fun STEM activities at school and home may spark interest and inspire confidence.

    A study from the University of Washington’s Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences (I-LABS) finds that, when exposed to a computer-programming activity, 6-year-old girls expressed greater interest in technology and more positive attitudes about their own skills and abilities than girls who didn’t try the activity.

    The results suggest both a need and an opportunity for teaching computer science, in particular, in early elementary school, said Allison Master, a research scientist at I-LABS and the study’s lead author. Introducing concepts and skills when girls are young can boost their confidence and prompt interest in a field in which women today are underrepresented.

    “As a society, we have these built-in beliefs that are pushing boys toward certain activities more than girls. So our thought was, if you give equal experiences to boys and girls, what happens?” Master said. “We found that if you give them access to same opportunities, then girls and boys have the same response — equal interest and confidence.”

    The study, published online in the Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, involved 96 6-year-olds, evenly divided among boys and girls, who were randomly assigned one of three groups. In the first group, each child programmed a robot, then answered survey questions; in the second group, each played a storytelling card game, then answered the same questions, while those in the third group only answered the questions. The survey was designed to collect kids’ opinions of technology activities, like the robot, and their beliefs about whether girls or boys are better at computer programming and robotics.

    Programming, the researchers explained to the children, is “when you tell a computer or a robot or a phone what to do.”

    For the robot activity, children chose an animal-like robot. They first followed step-by-step instructions on a smartphone to “tell” it to move forward, backward, right or left, then chose the instructions themselves, effectively programming the phone to control the movements of the robots. The study found that after completing the robot activity, the boys and girls showed equal interest in technology and their own feelings of self-efficacy, or confidence in their own abilities.

    But when compared to the “control group” of children who played the card game or only answered the survey without playing a game, the difference was striking: The designed activity with the robot reduced the gender gap in technology interest by 42 percent, and the gap in self-efficacy by 80 percent.

    In other words, girls who programmed the robot were much more likely to express interest in programming and confidence in their own abilities to perform technology-related tasks than the girls who didn’t work with the robot.

    Co-author and I-LABS co-director Andrew Meltzoff said, “Experience in programming the robot movement was something that both boys and girls thought was fun. But the most important finding is that we brought the girls’ interest and motivation in STEM up to the level of the boys. This was a big impact for a brief, well-designed intervention. How long will it last? That’s an important question for future scientific experiments.”

    The findings suggest that incorporating more programming activities in the classroom or at home may ignite and sustain girls’ interest, Master said. Summer camps, after-school programs and other partner- or group-oriented activities present natural opportunities.

    “The important thing is to make activities accessible to all children in a fun way that also helps them build skills,” she said.

    The study’s robot activity did not, however, appear to change the children’s stereotypes about whether boys or girls are better at programming and robotics. While the girls who programmed the robot indicated greater confidence in their own abilities, that confidence did not alter their stereotypes, picked up from the culture, about girls and boys in general. The authors pointed to the potential of other experiences, such as meeting or seeing a woman programming a robot or working in a STEM field, for shifting these more deeply-held stereotypes.

    “Stereotypes get built up in our heads from many different sources and experiences, but perhaps if we give girls more experience doing these kinds of activities, that will give them more resources to resist those stereotypes,” Master said. “They might be able to say, ‘I can still be good at this and enjoy it, despite the cultural stereotypes.’” The researchers hope to test this in future studies.

    Researchers on the study also included Sapna Cheryan, associate professor in the Department of Psychology, along with Adriana Moscatelli of Play Works Studio in Seattle. The study was funded by the National Science Foundation.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    The University of Washington is one of the world’s preeminent public universities. Our impact on individuals, on our region, and on the world is profound — whether we are launching young people into a boundless future or confronting the grand challenges of our time through undaunted research and scholarship. Ranked number 10 in the world in Shanghai Jiao Tong University rankings and educating more than 54,000 students annually, our students and faculty work together to turn ideas into impact and in the process transform lives and our world. For more about our impact on the world, every day.

    So what defines us — the students, faculty and community members at the University of Washington? Above all, it’s our belief in possibility and our unshakable optimism. It’s a connection to others, both near and far. It’s a hunger that pushes us to tackle challenges and pursue progress. It’s the conviction that together we can create a world of good. Join us on the journey.

  • richardmitnick 10:05 am on April 27, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: A new EPFL incubator for education technology, , , , STEM education, Swiss EdTech Collider   

    From EPFL: “A new EPFL incubator for education technology” 

    EPFL bloc

    École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne EPFL

    Sarah Bourquenoud

    © Alain Herzog / EPFL 2017

    EPFL’s new Swiss EdTech Collider will be home to around 30 startups involved in developing new education technologies. This coworking space, which is being inaugurated today, will give these companies the chance to enhance their visibility among both clients and investors and to generate synergies. The startups will also have the opportunity to become involved in the cutting-edge research conducted by EPFL professors who specialize in education technology.

    For several years now, EPFL has played a leading role in developing digital education, particularly through its massive open online courses (MOOCs), which more than 1.5 million users have signed up for since they were launched in 2012. Digital education platforms are an ever-growing market, and investments in this area will exceed USD 250 billion in 2020 (according to the EdTechXGlobal and IBIS Capital report, 2016). In Europe alone, EUR 227 million was invested in this sector in 2016, primarily in France and Germany.

    With its new Swiss EdTech Collider, EPFL has taken a decisive step towards developing an international hub for digital education based in Switzerland.

    Entrepreneurs active in educational technologies and EPFL professors conducting cutting-edge research will be able to come together in this nearly 300m2 coworking space. Thanks to its location in the EPFL Innovation Park, this unique ecosystem will also benefit from being close to the EPFL campus and to the current Center for Digital Education and several research laboratories.

    The challenges of an increasingly digital society

    The main aim of the Swiss EdTech Collider is to contribute to the development of the education technology sector in Switzerland. Using new methods and solutions, the incubator will strive to meet the challenges of an increasingly digital society, from nursery schooling to continuing education for adults and corporate training. The latest studies in machine learning and data science will also be used to enhance research in the area of education.

    The Swiss EdTech Collider is managed by a not-for-profit association and has four EPFL professors on staff: Pierre Dillenbourg, Denis Gillet, Francesco Mondada and Marcel Salathé. The association will work in partnership with the Digital Switzerland initiative. The incubator received funding from EPFL, the Jacobs Foundation, the Henri Moser Foundation and the EPFL Innovation Park Foundation.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    EPFL campus

    EPFL is Europe’s most cosmopolitan technical university with students, professors and staff from over 120 nations. A dynamic environment, open to Switzerland and the world, EPFL is centered on its three missions: teaching, research and technology transfer. EPFL works together with an extensive network of partners including other universities and institutes of technology, developing and emerging countries, secondary schools and colleges, industry and economy, political circles and the general public, to bring about real impact for society.

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