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  • richardmitnick 9:15 am on March 25, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Women in Physics Group inspires the next generation of physicists and astronomers", , STEM, ,   

    From University of Pennsylvania: “Women in Physics Group inspires the next generation of physicists and astronomers” 

    U Penn bloc

    From University of Pennsylvania

    March 22, 2019


    Erica K. Brockmeier Writer
    Eric Sucar Photographer

    Willman (center) and a group of undergraduates, including physics majors as well as students studying other STEM-related disciplines, chatted informally over breakfast about their personal experiences as STEM students and researchers.

    Earlier this month, Penn’s Women in Physics group hosted its fifth annual spring conference and networking event. Students had the opportunity to meet informally and share their work with Beth Willman, a world-renowned astronomer and deputy director of the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST).


    LSST Camera, built at SLAC

    LSST telescope, currently under construction on the El Peñón peak at Cerro Pachón Chile, a 2,682-meter-high mountain in Coquimbo Region, in northern Chile, alongside the existing Gemini South and Southern Astrophysical Research Telescopes.

    LSST Data Journey, Illustration by Sandbox Studio, Chicago with Ana Kova

    Providing access to strong role models is just one of the goals of the undergraduate led group, which was founded in 2013 to support women studying physics through scholarship, mentorship, and social activities.

    “It’s a positive message that [Willman] is a strong, leading woman in a field that’s usually dominated by men,” says junior Olivia Sylvester from Mendham, New Jersey, a board member of the group. “In addition to learning about what she has to say about her research, you’re also taking in the fact that she’s probably overcome a lot of barriers to achieve such great success.”

    The conference kicked off with a casual morning get-together as Willman and a group of undergraduates chatted over coffee and breakfast. Students shared their experiences at Penn, with several indicating that they felt the atmosphere in the Department of Physics & Astronomy was generally welcoming and inclusive for women.

    After being introduced to several researchers in the department and sharing lunch with the Society of Physics group, undergraduate students presented the results of their summer research projects to Willman.

    First-year student Jen Locke from Ambler, Pennsylvania, presented her work from the lab of Masao Sako, an associate professor and undergraduate chair of the physics and astronomy department, on visualizing new planet candidates located in the Kuiper belt.

    Kuiper Belt. Minor Planet Center

    Next summer, Locke will work on developing a search strategy for finding new objects in the LSST database, a project that will likely involve Willman to a certain extent.

    Junior Alex Ulin from Los Angeles talked about her NASA internship on the flower-shaped starshade, a complex foldable structure that will make it easier to take pictures of potentially habitable planets that are difficult to visualize because of the brightness of the sun.

    NASA JPL Starshade

    Ulin, who wants to study materials science after graduation, worked on how to cut the nanometers-thin sheets of metal so they can cover the 20-meters-wide, origami-like structure as precisely as possible.

    Senior Abby Lee from St. Paul, Minnesota, who is advised by Gary Bernstein, the Reese W. Flower Professor of Astronomy and Astrophysics, presented the results of her research on selecting features for a physical model that describes dark matter subhalo disruption. These events, which happen when the circular “halo” around stars and galaxies interact with black holes or large areas of dark matter, can now be visualized thanks to improvements in technology but now require models that can help describe their behavior.

    Caterpillar Project A Milky-Way-size dark-matter halo and its subhalos circled, an enormous suite of simulations . Griffen et al. 2016

    Throughout the student presentations, Willman asked questions that ranged from the technical to the philosophical. Ulin, who also sits on the board for the Women in Physics group, says that these types of projects, as well as having researchers and mentors who can provide meaningful feedback on results, are instrumental experiences for undergraduate students in physics. “Talking to someone that you see having a success in the field can really inspire you to consider research and a career in STEM,” she says.

    The final event of the conference was a public lecture from Willman. More than 70 students, faculty, and other members of the Penn community attended her presentation, “The Most Magnificent Map Ever Made.” Willman, who is a Philadelphia native, says that the LSST is poised to become one the most productive scientific endeavors of all time. The project will look at half of the sky over 1,000 times across a 10-year period, and each image it collects will be 3.2 billion pixels large.

    In 2022, the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) will embark on a 10-year mission to map half the sky. Willman discussed this ambitious project, as well as how the data could revolutionize the field of astronomy, during a public lecture that was held at Houston Hall.

    But Willman says that LSST’s real impact will come from distributing data in “science-ready” formats that can be used and studied easily. Through open-data initiatives that reduce barriers and enable people from a broad range of backgrounds to get involved with astronomy, Willman says that both scientists and society can benefit. “Everything that’s required in the future of scientific progress requires diversity,” she says. “Bringing ideas and people together is beneficial, and science needs as many viewpoints as possible.”

    Junior Abby Timmel from Baltimore, the third board member of the group, says that researchers like Willman who teach from their own experience instead of a textbook can do a lot to inspire students. “This event shows what it looks like to be really successful in physics, how to take the things that you’re learning about and go further with them to really make an impact,” she says.

    With more than 30 active members and a number of events throughout the year, the members of Women in Physics will continue working on their own “magnificent map” as they chart a course towards improved inclusion in STEM.

    Their annual conference is just one example of how important making connections and providing encouragement are for students in STEM. “It spreads awareness that there is a group for women physicists, but I also think that having an event that we’ve organized helps people respect the idea of a group like this,” says Ulin. “They see that not only are we trying to be a support system, we’re also actively doing things for the community.”

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    U Penn campus

    Academic life at Penn is unparalleled, with 100 countries and every U.S. state represented in one of the Ivy League’s most diverse student bodies. Consistently ranked among the top 10 universities in the country, Penn enrolls 10,000 undergraduate students and welcomes an additional 10,000 students to our world-renowned graduate and professional schools.

    Penn’s award-winning educators and scholars encourage students to pursue inquiry and discovery, follow their passions, and address the world’s most challenging problems through an interdisciplinary approach.

  • richardmitnick 12:42 pm on September 6, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , NSF INCLUDES takes major step forward with new awards, STEM   

    From National Science Foundation: “NSF INCLUDES takes major step forward with new awards” STEM 

    From National Science Foundation

    Alliances, Coordination Hub represent next stages of program to improve US STEM ecosystem.

    A researcher from the American Chemical Society, one of this year’s NSF INCLUDES award recipient institutions, at St. Jude’s Research Hospital. Credit: Biomedical Communications — St. Jude’s Research Hospital

    September 6, 2018
    Rob Margetta, NSF
    (703) 292-2663
    email: rmargett@nsf.gov

    The National Science Foundation (NSF) has issued new awards that represent the next major step for its NSF INCLUDES program — the development of a national network to enhance U.S. leadership in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) by broadening participation in those disciplines.

    The U.S. innovation economy increasingly requires skilled STEM workers — scientists, engineers, technicians and people with STEM backgrounds — to maintain the nation’s status as a global leader. Researchers have identified persistent challenges that limit the access of underrepresented populations to quality STEM education and opportunities for STEM employment. The NSF INCLUDES approach builds on a growing body of scientific research suggesting that complex problems — such as overcoming the barriers many groups face in accessing STEM opportunities — are best addressed through structured, collaborative partnerships focused on finding solutions through common goals and shared metrics.

    “NSF INCLUDES was conceived as a sustained effort, a recognition that a problem as complex as the need to broaden participation in STEM requires a long-term, collaborative approach,” said NSF Director France Córdova. “After laying the groundwork through pilot projects, NSF INCLUDES is taking a significant step toward creating a national network with these new awards.”

    The awards will support the first five NSF INCLUDES Alliances and the NSF INCLUDES Coordination Hub. These new entities will develop partnerships among stakeholders across the public, private and academic sectors, share promising practices for broadening participation and other useful data, contribute to the knowledge base on broadening participation in STEM through research, and establish a framework for supporting communications and networking among partners.

    The NSF INCLUDES Coordination Hub will facilitate the activities needed to build and maintain a strong NSF INCLUDES National Network, including communications, technical assistance and efforts aimed at increasing visibility. While the Alliances provide support for their partners to coordinate and expand, the Coordination Hub will function as a backbone organization for the entire NSF INCLUDES national network.

    For decades, NSF and its partners have sought to create opportunities in STEM for all U.S. residents, ensuring that no matter who they are or where they come from, they have access to education and employment. NSF INCLUDES, one of the foundation’s 10 Big Ideas for Future Investment, seeks to enhance collaboration among those working to broaden participation in STEM, to strengthen existing relationships, bring in new partners and provide resources and support to enhance their work.

    “NSF INCLUDES addresses populations largely missing in the current science and engineering enterprise,” Córdova said. “Their inclusion is essential in helping the U.S. maintain its position as the world’s leader in innovation. Through NSF INCLUDES, we are funding researchers and others who have great proposals that would move the needle.”

    The new awards are listed below:

    Coordination Hub

    NSF INCLUDES Coordination Hub: SRI International, Timothy Podkul


    NSF INCLUDES Alliance: Expanding the First2 STEM Success Network: Associated Universities Inc/National Radio Astronomy Observatory, Sue A. Heatherly; West Virginia University Research Corporation, Gay B. Stewart; Higher Education Policy Commission, Jan Taylor; Fairmont State College, Erica Harvey; High Rocks Educational Corporation, Sarah Riley

    NSF INCLUDES Alliance: Computing Alliance of Hispanic-Serving Institutions: University of Texas at El Paso, Ann Q. Gates

    NSF INCLUDES Alliance: STEM Core Expansion: Saddleback College, Jim Zoval; University of Colorado at Boulder, Sarah M. Miller

    NSF INCLUDES Alliance: Inclusive Graduate Education Network: American Physical Society, Theodore Hodapp; University of Southern California, Julie Posselt; Rochester Institute of Tech, Casey W. Miller; American Chemical Society, Joerg Schlatterer

    NSF INCLUDES Alliance: National Alliance for Inclusive and Diverse STEM Faculty (NAIDSF): Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities, Howard J. Gobstein; University of Wisconsin-Madison, Robert D. Mathieu; University of California-Los Angeles, Erin Sanders; University of Texas at El Paso, Benjamin C. Flores; University of Georgia Research Foundation Inc., Suzanne E. Barbour; Iowa State University, Craig A. Ogilvie

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency created by Congress in 1950 “to promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare; to secure the national defense…we are the funding source for approximately 24 percent of all federally supported basic research conducted by America’s colleges and universities. In many fields such as mathematics, computer science and the social sciences, NSF is the major source of federal backing.

  • richardmitnick 10:55 am on June 26, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , STEM, STEM Professionals in Schools partnership   

    From CSIROscope: “Engineers empowering teachers” STEM 

    CSIRO bloc

    From CSIROscope

    26 June 2018
    Amy Macintyre

    A STEM Professionals in Schools partnership in action.

    The STEM Professionals in Schools program partners engineers (and other experts in science, technology, and mathematics), with primary and high school teachers around Australia. Through these partnerships teachers and their students are able to learn more about modern engineering and how scientific principles taught in the classroom are applied in today’s engineering workplaces. The volunteer engineers who participate in the program are also given the opportunity to share their knowledge with the next generation of potential engineers – and have a lot of fun in the process.

    The purpose behind the program is not all fun and games however, as it strives to address the issue that in Australia there is a decline in the number of students participating in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) at school and who are considering careers in STEM. For example, the National Innovation and Science Agenda states that ‘over the next decade an estimated 75 per cent of jobs in the fastest-growing industries will need skills in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM)’. However, student participation in year 12 maths and science subjects is declining, and for science it is at the lowest rate in 20 years. As a result, two objectives of the Australian government are to engage all Australians in science, and build our scientific capability and skills.

    Sharon Allen is the Surface Engineer Manager at Origin Energy, and she has volunteered with the STEM Professionals in Schools program for more than a year. Partnering with Ashgrove State School in Brisbane, QLD, Sharon and her partnered teachers arranged for Sharon to visit the school on six occasions in 2017 to run a variety of activities based on the needs of the teacher and the age of the students.

    Engineer Sharon Allen with students at the Tech Girlz Conference.

    “I worked with the school to identify areas of the curriculum that I had interest and expertise in, so that by simply sharing some of my most fundamental knowledge from my work, I’m able to give examples of how the science lessons taught in the classroom come into play to make an impact in real world situations,” said Sharon.

    “The students love to see someone from outside of the school and were very receptive to what I presented to them. By working with the teacher I could build on what they had already learned in class to extend their knowledge and understanding.”

    Some of the activities included a viscosity experiment with grade three students (measuring the time it takes for a marble to fall through liquids of different viscosities, or the same liquid at different temperatures), making models of molecules with grade five students (creating water, methane, nitrogen, and salt from the elements from the periodic table), and Sharon also gave a presentation on energy and electricity to grade six students.

    A STEM Professionals in Schools partnership in action.

    “The preparation for these visits only takes up a fraction of my time, and the visits themselves can be arranged to suit my schedule, so I find the program quite flexible and easy to be a part of. More than that – it’s a welcome change of pace from my usual work. I’m fortunate in that my employer is very supportive of voluntary work and offers employees paid leave to undertake voluntary activities. For me, the sense of accomplishment in inspiring young people, particularly girls, to be interested – fascinated even! – by science has been very rewarding.”

    Despite research showing the females and males perform at a similar level of ability in maths and science subjects[1], there is a higher proportion of male graduates in STEM related fields than female graduates[2]. Gender imbalance presents a concern for the development of a more robust STEM career path and ultimately STEM related industries. Sharon said that although there seems to have been a shift in recent years in the historically male-dominated engineering fields, more change is needed to put engineering on the radar of young girls.

    “I always enjoyed maths, science and problem solving, and fortunately I had a great maths teacher who made maths fun and inspired me to work hard. Long story short, I find myself today in a job that has taken me all the way around the world and across a number of industries from the pharmaceutical sector to the energy sector, the oil and gas industry, defence and university sector,” said Sharon.

    “Engineering is a fabulous career option full of interesting challenges and problems. Women have a lot to offer in this space and I think standing in front of these girls (and boys) and telling them where engineering can take you does a lot to break down any misconceptions they might have about the job, as well as showing them what it has to offer.”

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    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 12:35 pm on November 29, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Global SPHERE Network, SPHERE-STEM Programs for High-Schoolers Engaging in Research Early", STEM,   

    From UCSC: “Global SPHERE Network promotes research opportunities for high school students” 

    UC Santa Cruz

    UC Santa Cruz

    November 29, 2017
    Tim Stephens

    Coalition of top U.S. educational institutions launches mentor network and online database to increase access to STEM research opportunities for high school students.


    A coalition of U.S. educational institutions has launched an online database of opportunities around the world for high school students to get involved in research in the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). The database is part of a global network of STEM programs and mentors for high school students.

    By promoting “STEM Programs for High-Schoolers Engaging in Research Early” (SPHERE), the Global SPHERE Network aims to increase both the number of mentors (researchers who engage high school students in their research) and the number and diversity of high school students who participate in authentic STEM research.

    Founding partners in the coalition include the University of California, Santa Cruz; the New York Academy of Sciences; the Bay Area Teen Science Program at UC Berkeley; American Museum of Natural History; RockEDU Science Outreach at the Rockefeller University; and the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. Since 2015, the Global SPHERE Network has connected with 120 organizations in 20 countries, said cofounder Puragra (Raja) GuhaThakurta.

    “As a STEM researcher, I feel it is very important to mentor today’s youth and get them deeply immersed in authentic research so they can get a taste of how exciting it is to tackle some of the open-ended problems facing the world today,” said GuhaThakurta, a professor of astronomy and astrophysics at UC Santa Cruz and founder of the UCSC Science Internship Program (SIP). He and SIP partner liaison Emily Entress Clark cofounded the Global SPHERE Network.

    The network’s new online database lists available opportunities across the world for high school students to engage in research. It also serves as a networking space for programs and mentors who are already offering research opportunities or are looking to do so. Member programs are encouraged to use the database on an ongoing basis to network with other programs, share resources, and engage with high school students.

    The database will initially offer a few hundred research projects across a dozen established programs in a wide range of STEM disciplines. The goal is to grow the database to five to 10 times its current size over the next few years, GuhaThakurta said. High school science teachers and students interested in these projects can access the database through the student portal on the Global SPHERE Network web site.

    “Many students on a STEM track at school are keen to do research projects, not only for their school work, but to also enter some of the science competitions that offer college scholarships, but they often don’t know how to get started,” said Celina Morgan-Standard, senior vice president of global business development at the New York Academy of Sciences. “The Global SPHERE Network initiative will help to address this opportunity gap while providing a great resource to teachers who’d like to give their students STEM related research projects.”

    GuhaThakurta noted that most established programs find that they have to turn away many qualified students and generally have no systematic way to redirect them to alternate programs. Meanwhile, parents and students tend to be aware of only a small fraction of the available programs. The Global SPHERE Network provides valuable resources for programs and mentors as well as for students, parents, and teachers.

    The network will host the first in a series of webinars on Wednesday, November 29 (1:30 to 2:30 p.m. PST), to give an overview of the network and answer questions for organizations that are interested in joining. Free registration for this and subsequent webinars is available through the prospective partner questionnaire on the network’s web site. Institutions, professionals, and educational groups are encouraged to register to receive invitations to webinars and find out ways they can benefit from the network.

    Additional information about the Global SPHERE Network is available online at http://www.globalspherenetwork.org.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    UCO Lick Shane Telescope
    UCO Lick Shane Telescope interior
    Shane Telescope at UCO Lick Observatory, UCSC

    Lick Automated Planet Finder telescope, Mount Hamilton, CA, USA

    Lick Automated Planet Finder telescope, Mount Hamilton, CA, USA

    UC Santa Cruz campus
    The University of California, Santa Cruz, opened in 1965 and grew, one college at a time, to its current (2008-09) enrollment of more than 16,000 students. Undergraduates pursue more than 60 majors supervised by divisional deans of humanities, physical & biological sciences, social sciences, and arts. Graduate students work toward graduate certificates, master’s degrees, or doctoral degrees in more than 30 academic fields under the supervision of the divisional and graduate deans. The dean of the Jack Baskin School of Engineering oversees the campus’s undergraduate and graduate engineering programs.

    UCSC is the home base for the Lick Observatory.

    Lick Observatory's Great Lick 91-centimeter (36-inch) telescope housed in the South (large) Dome of main building
    Lick Observatory’s Great Lick 91-centimeter (36-inch) telescope housed in the South (large) Dome of main building

    Search for extraterrestrial intelligence expands at Lick Observatory
    New instrument scans the sky for pulses of infrared light
    March 23, 2015
    By Hilary Lebow
    The NIROSETI instrument saw first light on the Nickel 1-meter Telescope at Lick Observatory on March 15, 2015. (Photo by Laurie Hatch) UCSC Lick Nickel telescope

    Astronomers are expanding the search for extraterrestrial intelligence into a new realm with detectors tuned to infrared light at UC’s Lick Observatory. A new instrument, called NIROSETI, will soon scour the sky for messages from other worlds.

    “Infrared light would be an excellent means of interstellar communication,” said Shelley Wright, an assistant professor of physics at UC San Diego who led the development of the new instrument while at the University of Toronto’s Dunlap Institute for Astronomy & Astrophysics.

    Wright worked on an earlier SETI project at Lick Observatory as a UC Santa Cruz undergraduate, when she built an optical instrument designed by UC Berkeley researchers. The infrared project takes advantage of new technology not available for that first optical search.

    Infrared light would be a good way for extraterrestrials to get our attention here on Earth, since pulses from a powerful infrared laser could outshine a star, if only for a billionth of a second. Interstellar gas and dust is almost transparent to near infrared, so these signals can be seen from great distances. It also takes less energy to send information using infrared signals than with visible light.

    UCSC alumna Shelley Wright, now an assistant professor of physics at UC San Diego, discusses the dichroic filter of the NIROSETI instrument. (Photo by Laurie Hatch)

    Frank Drake, professor emeritus of astronomy and astrophysics at UC Santa Cruz and director emeritus of the SETI Institute, said there are several additional advantages to a search in the infrared realm.

    “The signals are so strong that we only need a small telescope to receive them. Smaller telescopes can offer more observational time, and that is good because we need to search many stars for a chance of success,” said Drake.

    The only downside is that extraterrestrials would need to be transmitting their signals in our direction, Drake said, though he sees this as a positive side to that limitation. “If we get a signal from someone who’s aiming for us, it could mean there’s altruism in the universe. I like that idea. If they want to be friendly, that’s who we will find.”

    Scientists have searched the skies for radio signals for more than 50 years and expanded their search into the optical realm more than a decade ago. The idea of searching in the infrared is not a new one, but instruments capable of capturing pulses of infrared light only recently became available.

    “We had to wait,” Wright said. “I spent eight years waiting and watching as new technology emerged.”

    Now that technology has caught up, the search will extend to stars thousands of light years away, rather than just hundreds. NIROSETI, or Near-Infrared Optical Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, could also uncover new information about the physical universe.

    “This is the first time Earthlings have looked at the universe at infrared wavelengths with nanosecond time scales,” said Dan Werthimer, UC Berkeley SETI Project Director. “The instrument could discover new astrophysical phenomena, or perhaps answer the question of whether we are alone.”

    NIROSETI will also gather more information than previous optical detectors by recording levels of light over time so that patterns can be analyzed for potential signs of other civilizations.

    “Searching for intelligent life in the universe is both thrilling and somewhat unorthodox,” said Claire Max, director of UC Observatories and professor of astronomy and astrophysics at UC Santa Cruz. “Lick Observatory has already been the site of several previous SETI searches, so this is a very exciting addition to the current research taking place.”

    NIROSETI will be fully operational by early summer and will scan the skies several times a week on the Nickel 1-meter telescope at Lick Observatory, located on Mt. Hamilton east of San Jose.

    The NIROSETI team also includes Geoffrey Marcy and Andrew Siemion from UC Berkeley; Patrick Dorval, a Dunlap undergraduate, and Elliot Meyer, a Dunlap graduate student; and Richard Treffers of Starman Systems. Funding for the project comes from the generous support of Bill and Susan Bloomfield.

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

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

    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 9:58 am on August 18, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Back to school for Science Week, , , STEM   

    From CSIRO: “Back to school for Science Week” 

    CSIRO bloc

    Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation

    18 Aug 2017
    Ashleigh Fortington
    +61 2 4960 6142

    More than 350 Australian schools are today welcoming Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) professionals into their classrooms – virtually and physically – to promote the importance of STEM to Australia’s future.


    Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science, Senator the Hon Arthur Sinodinos AO talks to Gundaroo primary students about all things science during our STEM in Schools event.

    Minister for Education and Training, Senator the Hon Simon Birmingham working with East Adelaide Primary School students as part of STEM in Schools.

    The STEM in Schools event, run by CSIRO, Australia’s national science agency, forms part of National Science Week and will see classrooms across the country come alive with science as students participate in a virtual classroom discussion with STEM professionals working in the international space industry.

    Many also have the opportunity to take part in hands-on science activities with CSIRO scientists.

    More than 30 Federal MPs will also head back to school for the day and join students in the activities, underlining the national importance of STEM for Australia’s future.

    With research indicating that 75 per cent of the fastest growing occupations now require STEM skills and knowledge, it is now more important than ever to engage students in science, technology, engineering and maths.

    CSIRO Chief Executive Dr Larry Marshall said the event was about inspiring a curiosity and passion in science that will encourage more students to pursue STEM as a foundation of their future.

    “For Australia to prosper, we need to empower our students to calmly and confidently stare into the face of Australia’s challenges, knowing that science has the power to solve the impossible and turn challenge into opportunity,” Dr Marshall said.

    “STEM in Schools teaches our children how they can reshape the future, inspiring them with the possibilities of science. These students will go on to become our scientists, engineers, business leaders and entrepreneurs of tomorrow.”

    STEM in Schools events are taking place in over 350 schools around Australia, with over 70 CSIRO staff and 30 members of parliament visiting schools across the country to conduct activities and share their passion for STEM.

    Follow the conversation and see all the action from the events across the country with #STEMinSchools on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

    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.

  • richardmitnick 12:15 pm on August 16, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , In the US they don’t call them nerds — in fact they call some of them billionaires, Nerds and Billionaires: Let scientists out of their boxes, STEM, We need our kids to be empowered to change their world, We need to embrace a more ­diverse model for success if we’re going to be competitive in an exponentially changing world   

    From CSIRO Blog: “Nerds and Billionaires: Let scientists out of their boxes” 

    CSIRO bloc

    CSIRO blog

    16 August 2017
    Dr. Larry Marshall, Chief Executive CSIRO

    Artwork: Tom Jellett.

    When I came home to Australia to head up the CSIRO, I was on a panel and the moderator told me I was “just a scientist”. The implication was: what would you know about business?

    Reviewing some of the television interviews given by my predecessor, Megan Clark, I was shocked to hear her called a “head of the nerds”. She laughed it off, but I don’t think I could have.

    After 26 years in the US I’d forgotten what Australian culture thinks of scientists. Sure, they’re smart, they’re achievers, and they’re important — but don’t ask them about anything other than science.

    Science becomes very specialised very quickly, and so do markets, so you need to be an endlessly curious person who isn’t afraid to ask questions. That’s definitely at the heart of science training and, I think, at the heart of the best business training. But just because you study science doesn’t mean you can’t do business. In fact, it may prepare you to run companies far better than management courses do, especially in the innovation revolution.

    We need to embrace a more ­diverse model for success if we’re going to be competitive in an exponentially changing world. People are so much more than the sum of their qualifications, and it’s one-dimensional thinking to try to label them or confine them to a box. Not only is that absurdly narrow minded, it’s also hugely damaging for the next generation of science, technology, engineering and mathematics specialists, kids in school who see that and think, well, I like science but I don’t want to be called a nerd. We need our kids to be empowered to change their world.

    In the US, they don’t call them nerds — in fact they call some of them billionaires. They drive Ferraris and provide the wisdom and angel funding to the next generation of brilliant minds. They invest in bold, brave, risky new ideas, because they’ve done the maths — and the biology, or chemistry, or physics — to understand how these game-changing benchtop concepts can be turned into world-changing products.

    You don’t change the world by thinking the same as everyone else; diversity of perspectives is the compass to navigate the ambiguity of innovation.

    When I look around the Australian venture capital scene, this same false delineation between scientists and business is tripping us over and stopping us from investing in the genius in our own back yards. According to the Australian Private Equity and Venture Capital Association, we’ve had only two Australian venture-backed start-ups make it to Nasdaq: one in 2000, founded by pioneering internet entrepreneurs (Looksmart); the other last year, founded by scientists and run by a PhD chief executive (Quantenna) based on a CSIRO invention.

    The national sci-tech accelerator, ON, powered by CSIRO, and our new investment fund, Main Sequence Ventures, are just a couple of the ways we’re aiming to break down these barriers and take more great Australian science from benchtop to beta to buyer. You’d be hard-pressed to find a more diverse group than at an ON launch event, and while they certainly don’t conform to “leadership demeanour”, their innovations are game changing, from environment to health, manufacturing, energy, food, agriculture, mining, digital and space.

    This artificial separation of careers and capabilities has to stop if we’re going to navigate the transition into an innovation economy. We can’t think outside of the box if we’re stuck being squares. Most businesses need more science in their strategy, and the future chief executives of Australian companies can’t be from central casting.

    Consider that there is a place in the world where the “nerds” create multi-billion-dollar companies and still take time out to teach at Stanford, and the bankers and lawyers chase them in search of the next unicorn.

    So the next time you meet a mathematician, don’t assume he’s a professor — he might be the chief executive of Qantas. When you meet a computer scientist, don’t assume the screen to which he’s glued is full of numbers — he could be the chief executive of Netflix. Don’t be surprised that a young woman studying maths and science became chief executive of eBay and later Hewlett Packard Enterprise, or that the chief executive of PepsiCo has a degree in maths and chemistry.

    But of all the science disciplines, beware the physicists — because they can work out everything from first principles. And while they could be a teacher or a professor, they also could be the founder of Intel, the seed that grew into Silicon Valley; or Space­X and Solar City and Tesla, powering the next generation of energy and exploration; or even a serial entrepreneur with two initial public offerings under their belt, and a plan to catalyse innovation in their home country.

    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 9:22 am on March 2, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: AAU, STEM, ,   

    From UCLA: Women in STEM -“UCLA to Enhance Undergraduate STEM Education” 

    UCLA bloc


    March 01, 2017

    From the left, Erin Sanders, Gina Poe and Megan McEvoy.UCLA

    UCLA is among 12 universities nationally to be awarded a grant from the Association of American Universities to fund workshops on campus over the next year to assess all programs that support and retain undergraduate students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

    The first workshop, to be held in late spring on campus, will focus on advising, tutoring, career contacts with alumni, research activities and other-curricular student support programs and activities. A second workshop in the fall will examine changes in how courses are taught, how grades are assessed and ways to change the culture in and outside the classroom to better support students in their educational goals. A third workshop,to be held next year, will bring all relevant stakeholders together to discuss a variety of issues on which they can work together and to identify gaps that can be filled.

    These workshops will be organized by life sciences professors Gina Poe and Megan McEvoy, co-directors of UCLA’s new Center for Opportunities to Maximize Participation, Access, and Student Success (COMPASS) and by Erin Sanders of the Center for Education Innovation and Learning in the Sciences. Nearly 200 STEM stakeholders across campus will be invited to attend the workshops.

    Each meeting will be attended by the deans of engineering, life sciences, physical sciences, public health, and the dean and vice provost for undergraduate education,. They will use the findings to plan funding priorities and to create lasting change, Poe said.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    UC LA Campus

    For nearly 100 years, UCLA has been a pioneer, persevering through impossibility, turning the futile into the attainable.

    We doubt the critics, reject the status quo and see opportunity in dissatisfaction. Our campus, faculty and students are driven by optimism. It is not naïve; it is essential. And it has fueled every accomplishment, allowing us to redefine what’s possible, time after time.

    This can-do perspective has brought us 12 Nobel Prizes, 12 Rhodes Scholarships, more NCAA titles than any university and more Olympic medals than most nations. Our faculty and alumni helped create the Internet and pioneered reverse osmosis. And more than 100 companies have been created based on technology developed at UCLA.

  • richardmitnick 4:16 pm on January 26, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Erika Escalona, Raja GuhaThakurta, STEM, Student Internship Program (SIP), ,   

    From UCSC: Women in Science – “Science Internship Program creates opportunities for high school students” Erika Escalona 

    UC Santa Cruz

    UC Santa Cruz

    January 26, 2017
    Tim Stephens

    Erika Escalona in the laboratory of chemistry professor Shaowei Chen at UCSC, where she did a research project on graphene quantum dots for her summer internship.

    Aptos High School student Erika Escalona liked high school chemistry, but she wasn’t sure how far she wanted to pursue the subject until last summer, when she did a research project in the lab of chemistry professor Shaowei Chen at UC Santa Cruz.

    “Now I totally know I want to do chemistry,” said Escalona, one of 142 high school students (a record number) who did research projects at UC Santa Cruz last summer through the Science Internship Program (SIP). Chemistry graduate student René Mercado was Escalona’s mentor, and they still keep in touch.

    “I had never been to a research lab before,” Escalona said. “The Chen lab was pretty amazing. It was a great environment. I gained skills and learned to have confidence in myself.”

    Escalona plans to major in chemistry at Princeton University, where she will start as a freshman in the fall. When she spoke about her experience in the program at an SIP reunion in December, it was a proud moment for her parents, both Mexican immigrants who had to quit school and start working before they got beyond elementary school.

    “Every one of these stories means a lot to me, because it shows the impact the program can have on students’ lives and the importance of need-based scholarships for students who could not otherwise afford the program,” said Puragra (Raja) GuhaThakurta, a professor of astronomy and astrophysics at UC Santa Cruz who started SIP in 2009.

    Astronomer Raja GuhaThakurta, who founded the Student Internship Program (SIP) in 2009, spoke at the SIP reunion. (Photo by Steve Kurtz)

    Fundraising effort

    GuhaThakurta organized the reunion for SIP alumni and their families to celebrate the program’s success and to launch a fundraising effort to provide continued support. Google has been a generous supporter of the program and hosted the reunion at the Google campus in Mountain View. A dozen families of SIP alumni have already committed $120,000 in matching funds to help establish an SIP Annual Fund.

    Among other things, the fund will help SIP develop additional enrichment activities, provide more training for mentors, recruit qualified students from low-income communities, provide need-based scholarships, and recruit a full-time program director.

    GuhaThakurta said SIP started informally, when he helped a few high school students find computation-based research projects to work on over the summer. He soon discovered that a great many students are interested in such opportunities. The interns work closely with graduate student mentors in faculty research labs, and the program has grown rapidly as GuhaThakurta has gotten more faculty involved.

    “I’m trying to encourage other universities to do this, because there’s a huge demand. We’ve found that not only are the students having good experiences, there are also significant benefits for the graduate students who mentor them,” GuhaThakurta said.

    SIP now involves 15 different departments at UC Santa Cruz, offering students opportunities for summer research projects in areas such as astrophysics, biomolecular engineering, chemistry, linguistics, and environmental science. To date, more than 400 students from 90 different high schools have participated in the 10-week program, which involves a deep dive into a real science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) research project, and also includes workshops, social activities, and field trips.

    One hallmark of the program from the start has been the remarkable success rate of interns who submit their research projects to national and international science competitions, such as the Siemens Competition in Math, Science & Technology. Last year, SIP interns made up a quarter of the California semifinalists in the Siemens competition. In addition, GuhaThakurta said many of the students who do astrophysics research projects present their findings in poster sessions at American Astronomical Society meetings.

    Increasing diversity

    Increasing the diversity of SIP students and providing scholarships for those with financial needs have been priorities for GuhaThakurta as the program has grown. He noted the program has always had good gender diversity, with about 60 percent girls all along.

    “This alone is a big achievement. We’ve found that many of them go on to pursue computer science degrees in college, and women are strongly underrepresented in that field,” GuhaThakurta said.

    He has been reaching out to regional public schools and partnering with outreach programs such as UCSC’s Educational Partnership Center and Minds Matter of San Francisco to recruit more students from underserved groups. “We’ve had four students from Minds Matter, a great program in San Francisco that focuses on high-achieving low-income students in the public schools. They’re one of seven diversity partners we’re working with to expand our outreach,” GuhaThakurta said.

    He is also working to establish a “bridge program” for students who may need additional support to navigate some of the challenges of the internship program or may feel intimidated by them. “The idea is to give them an opportunity to build their skills and work on projects in a controlled environment where we can give them as much guidance as they need,” GuhaThakurta said. “We will focus on students who are disadvantaged due to socioeconomic status, would be the first in their family to go to college, or are from groups underrepresented in the STEM fields.”

    Escalona said she didn’t apply for SIP in her sophomore year because she didn’t think she was ready, but with hindsight she says she probably would have done fine. “Any high school student should think about it,” she said. “No matter what skill level you think you are, you can do it. What matters is your motivation and the effort you put into it.”

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    UCO Lick Shane Telescope
    UCO Lick Shane Telescope interior
    Shane Telescope at UCO Lick Observatory, UCSC

    Lick Automated Planet Finder telescope, Mount Hamilton, CA, USA
    Lick Automated Planet Finder telescope, Mount Hamilton, CA, USA

    UC Santa Cruz campus
    The University of California, Santa Cruz, opened in 1965 and grew, one college at a time, to its current (2008-09) enrollment of more than 16,000 students. Undergraduates pursue more than 60 majors supervised by divisional deans of humanities, physical & biological sciences, social sciences, and arts. Graduate students work toward graduate certificates, master’s degrees, or doctoral degrees in more than 30 academic fields under the supervision of the divisional and graduate deans. The dean of the Jack Baskin School of Engineering oversees the campus’s undergraduate and graduate engineering programs.

  • richardmitnick 12:19 pm on January 5, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Experts Seek to Boost Knowledge and Allies for Teaching STEM, STEM   

    From AAAS: “Experts Seek to Boost Knowledge and Allies for Teaching STEM” 



    3 January 2017
    Kathleen O’Neil

    Multidisciplinary science organizations are working together to devise a plan for improving undergraduate STEM programs, calling for more collaboration across disciplines.industrieblick/Adobe Stock

    If you ever dropped differently-sized objects to see if one fell faster as part of your physics class, or watched a stalk of celery turn colors when placed in dye instead of listening to a lecture on capillary action, you have benefited from research into how students learn and understand science.

    Educational best practices that apply to all the fields of science recognize common observations, such as knowing that students tend to learn more from hands-on activities than a lecture. Yet, much more research is needed to frame more effective approaches to teaching science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM) topics with their complex and sometimes interlocking concepts.

    Discipline-based education research, however, has traditionally stayed in its respective STEM field, with separate journals, conferences and research topics and largely eschewed collaborative approaches that could better integrate teaching in the STEM fields.

    Now, a small group of researchers and organizations including AAAS and the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU), are trying to help break the knowledge their respective communities have free from such constraints. They aim to increase collaborations across disciplines by organizing a community of discipline-based education research (DBER) practitioners who want to improve undergraduate education across the STEM fields.

    About two dozen leaders in this area of STEM education research met 18-19 November in Washington, D.C. to discuss the potential goals and benefits of a cross-disciplinary community that they are calling the STEM DBER Alliance. It would supplement and enhance existing DBER group activities. The founders are working on a white paper and have plans to share their vision and solicit input more widely at other scientific and education meetings, including at the 2017 AAAS Annual Meeting in Boston in February.

    The nascent effort came about after several researchers, including Scott Franklin, a physics professor and director of a STEM education center at Rochester Institute of Technology, Charles Henderson, a physics professor at Western Michigan University, and Shirley Malcom, head of Education and Human Resources at AAAS, discussed forming a national interdisciplinary group at the public and land-grant universities’ group workshop in June.

    “It was quite clear that we needed an umbrella that was going to help us really understand how we could contribute to each other’s understanding,” Malcom said. “We said ‘Maybe we’re smarter together.’”

    Franklin said he and Henderson have seen the benefits of cross-discipline discussions at their own institutions and been interested in expanding it nationally. “We’ve seen firsthand the discussions that result from the very different experiences and backgrounds, and how these have supported research in unexpected directions,” Franklin said. He said the STEM DBER Alliance will bring him into contact with more researchers who can contribute ideas and opportunities for collaboration, and help the group tackle difficult issues, such as diversity, inclusion and broadening participation.

    Such collaborations could greatly help improve student retention and diversity in STEM fields, Malcom said. If a college student studying engineering is having trouble with the required mathematics, for example, it is not just a problem with how the engineering is taught, but rather how the math is taught, Malcom said. Engineering faculty could benefit greatly from learning how math educators teach those concepts and how students learn mathematical concepts.

    Sciences that deal with some of the same basic concepts could also begin to make those connections to help students better grasp fundamental principles. For example, students learn about energy in physics and biology, and whether the examples deal with colliding cars or sugar stored in plants, “it’s still energy,” said Susan Rundell Singer, lead editor of a 2012 National Academies of Science report on DBER.

    Singer combined biology DBER research with research on the developmental biology of flowering in plants in her 30 years as a professor at Carleton College before recently becoming vice president for academic affairs and provost at Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida.

    This kind of interdisciplinary teaching and education research is essential in preparing learners to address global challenges,, Singer said. “We need systems thinkers in engineering, biology, and chemistry to address climate change,” she said. “If we aren’t talking to each other and figuring out how these shared concepts are understood, then our students lose, and ultimately, our nation loses.”

    Efforts to improve science and mathematics education began in the early 1900s, when professors realized that traditional ways of teaching concepts to undergraduates could be improved. DBER had a resurgence in the 1960s post-Sputnik push to increase the number of STEM graduates. However, it was not until the 1990s that discipline-based education began to grow into an active research field in most STEM disciplines, with physics education research taking the lead.. It is now solidly established in each STEM field, with more faculty members being added each year.

    Singer hopes the cross-disciplinary community will “get people out of their STEM silos and talking with fields including economics and cultural anthropology, social psychology — not just to borrow their methodologies, but to think in new ways together.”

    See the full article here .

    The American Association for the Advancement of Science is an international non-profit organization dedicated to advancing science for the benefit of all people.

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.
    STEM Icon
    Stem Education Coalition

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