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  • 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.

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    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.
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    Stem Education Coalition

  • richardmitnick 5:11 pm on October 17, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , San Joaquin Expanding Your Horizons Conference, STEM,   

    From LLNL: “Girls explore STEM careers at conference” 

    Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

    Oct. 17, 2016
    Carenda L Martin

    “She Believed She Could So She Did STEM,” was the theme for the recent San Joaquin Expanding Your Horizons Conference, held at the University of the Pacific

    “She Believed She Could So She Did STEM,” was the theme for the 24th annual San Joaquin Expanding Your Horizons (SJEYH) conference, where nearly 500 young women flocked to the University of the Pacific campus in Stockton, excited to learn more about science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

    The conference, which is co-sponsored by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), Sandia National Laboratories, and the University of the Pacific School of Engineering and Computer Science, sparks girls’ interest in STEM careers in a fun environment. Participants, spanning grades 6-12, came from across San Joaquin and Stanislaus counties, including Stockton, Lodi, Manteca, Modesto and other rural communities, to attend the daylong event.

    Monique Warren, a Stockton native and environmental engineer at LLNL, served as the keynote speaker, kicking off the event with an enthusiastic and inspirational talk exploring the SJEYH theme.

    As a past attendee, Warren was delighted to come full circle as the keynote speaker and credited SJEYH and programs like it for helping her get to where she is today. “When I first heard the theme for this year’s conference, I thought to myself, ‘Wow, what a great idea and what a great thing to teach,'” said Warren. “But the more I thought about this theme, the more I realized that wasn’t how my story began.”

    Warren didn’t always have a clear picture of what she wanted to do in life. “There have been many people in my life who have influenced, taught and helped to shape who I am for the better,” said Warren. “However, there are four special people in particular, that without them, I may not have become an environmental engineer. These four people are a huge part of the reason that I believed ‘I could.'”

    Warren shared that her primary inspiration came from her parents, along with mentors Andrea Hodge, an LLNL scientist, and Darin Gray, her teacher when she attended the USC Discover Engineering program.

    “My dad, a Laboratory employee, opened my eyes to the possibility of science through his determination to connect me with a mentor,” said Warren. Through his network at LLNL, he introduced me to Andrea, who shared with me first-hand what her job entailed. Darin Gray showed me that engineers solve real world problems and by introducing fun hands-on projects, he gave me a feel for what engineering was like. Finally, it was my mom who encouraged me to the point where I believed I could do it.”

    “Our goal today is to provide you with the opportunity to see the endless possibilities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics and to remind you that there is so much you can be and do,” said Warren. “If you want to live life like you intend to win, you need to put in the ‘EFFORT’ (enthusiasm, faith, flexibility, originality, rise [to the challenge] and teachable).”

    Each participant attended three out of 24 hands-on workshops that were offered, including titles such as: Fun With Science, Bristle Bots, DNA Cheek Cell Extraction Experiment, Cyber Defense, Ubiquitous Electronics, Water Treatment in Action, Engineer a Microscope, Computer Repair and Networking, Chemistry Potions and many more.

    After lunch and the final workshop, event organizers showed a slideshow of photos from the day and distributed raffle prizes to participants, including a laptop (grand prize). Many of those present had attended SJEYH before. Sierra Carpenter (Millenium High School), Diana Aguilera (Stockton Early College Academy), Emma Navarra and Hanna Navarra (both from Connecting Waters Charter School) received recognition for having attended the conference for all seven years.

    Jeene Villanueva, a computer scientist at LLNL, served as SJEYH conference chair for the second year in a row. “It is exciting to see the impact this conference has on students,” she said. “Past attendees are now professional women scientists and come back as volunteers to run workshops and chaperone groups. We feel the excitement continue not only in new attendees, but in workshop presenters and volunteers as well.”

    The annual conference is coordinated by a core committee of volunteers with the help of 200 additional volunteers who work at LLNL, Sandia National Laboratory and the University of the Pacific, along with other members of the community. More than 40 LLNL employees were involved in making SJEYH a successful event.

    “This conference runs smoothly due to the hard work of my awesome team that includes Deb Burdick, Martha Campiotti, Marleen Emig, Cary Gellner, Carolyn Hall, Joan Houston, Sharon Langman, Carrie Martin, Kathleen Shoga, Lindsey Whitehurst, Pearline Williams and Teri York,” said Villanueva. “I am always impressed by their selfless dedication to ensuring a successful event each year.”

    Special guests in attendance included: Jenny Kenoyer, City of Modesto council member; Maria Mendez, Stockton Unified School District Board of Education; Chiakis Ornelas, representing Congressman Jerry McNerney, 9th District Office; and Steven Howell, dean of the School of Engineering and Computer Science at the University of the Pacific.

    Various sponsors that contributed giveaways, services and donations included the American Association of University Women (AAUW); Junior League of San Joaquin County; Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory Women’s Association; Matthew Simpson (LLNL); NASCO, Modesto; Sandia Women’s Connection; SaveMart S.H.A.R.E.S. Program; Sandia/Lockheed Martin Foundation Gifts and Grants; Simplot J R Company, Lathrop; Society of Women Engineers/UOP; Soroptimist International, Manteca, Tracy; Stockton AAUW and Watermark.

    For more information, see the SJEYH website.

    To view more photos of the event, see the San Joaquin EYH 2016 photo gallery.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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    LLNL Campus

    Operated by Lawrence Livermore National Security, LLC, for the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security
    DOE Seal

  • richardmitnick 8:09 am on September 22, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , STEM,   

    From U Washington: “UW receives $500,000 from Boeing to enhance STEM training, opportunities for local students” 

    U Washington

    University of Washington

    September 21, 2016
    No writer credit

    Boeing announced Wednesday it is awarding $6 million in grants to more than 50 nonprofit organizations and education institutions across Washington, including $500,000 to the University of Washington.

    The grants are geared toward programs that enhance STEM, workforce training, and educational and career pathway opportunities for students – particularly for underserved students who have not historically pursued these fields. Included in the grants is $1 million to further support students seeking a STEM education and learning opportunities at local universities.

    Junior Ann Margaret Stompro leads a discussion about wildlife ecology as part of the UW’s Alternative Spring Break program.U. of Washington

    The UW will receive $500,000 to help under-represented high school students attend and succeed at the university, including support for the Dream Project, which trains students to mentor first-generation and low-income high school students. The funds will also help support the UW’s Alternative Spring Break program, during which teams of UW undergraduate students spend their spring break in a rural or tribal community of Washington state working with local elementary and middle schools on literacy arts and environmental science projects.

    “This funding will enable UW programs like the Dream Project, Alternative Spring Break and others to dig deeper into their work of connecting UW undergraduates to leadership and mentorship opportunities,” says Ed Taylor, vice provost and dean of Undergraduate Academic Affairs. “As leaders and mentors, UW students support, teach and motivate younger students to pursue higher education. It’s especially inspiring to see many of our students return to the very communities they grew up in — all around Washington. They help others attain higher education, and, in the process, they develop characteristics and leadership skills that future employers would value.”

    Also getting a boost from this grant are the UW’s Multicultural Outreach & Recruitment team and the UW’s Upward Bound and Math Science Upward Bound programs in partnership with Seattle Public Schools.

    Boeing expects a substantial portion of its Washington workforce to retire during the next several years and is working to ensure that students in the state have the education and skills to fill these openings and move with the company into its second century. These grants support Boeing’s long-standing commitment to Washington and will prepare the workforce for these opportunities in the near future.

    “Boeing will be a significant jobs provider in Washington for decades to come. Our hope and goal is that those future jobs will continue to be filled by kids who grow up right here in the state,” said Boeing Commercial Airplanes President and CEO Ray Conner. “We are working hard today to give Washington students opportunities for employment within aerospace, manufacturing and other STEM-related fields when they graduate. Despite the always dynamic aerospace industry, Boeing remains consistent in its investment in our future here in Washington.”

    Washington State University and Seattle University are also receiving $250,000 to further support STEM student experiences and retention programs. The additional $5 million in grants, ranging from $25,000 to $550,000, are designed to provide a continuum of learning and education resources for Washington’s younger residents.

    Some of the largest grants will support: Thrive Washington and its focus upon early learning; Washington STEM and its K-12 learning initiatives; and SkillUp Washington and its manufacturing pathways partnership with community and technical colleges.

    This item was adapted from a Boeing news release.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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    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 7:24 am on September 8, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , STEM   

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

    CSIRO bloc

    Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation

    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.

    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.”

    Innes Willox, Chief Executive, Ai Group

    “Participation in STEM subjects is declining but industry can do more to support the Australian economy with a robust skills pipeline. Our relative decline of STEM skills is holding back our national economy and causing real frustration for employers. Demand for STEM graduates is increasing especially as technology is infiltrating more and more industries but at the moment the number of students coming out of university 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 getting its member organisations into Australian classrooms 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.

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    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 7:12 am on August 2, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , STEM   

    From Rutgers: “You Can Be an Engineer, But You’ll Make More Money as a Lawyer” 

    Rutgers University
    Rutgers University

    [Only] 17% of college students graduate with a science or engineering degree

    There is considerable mythology and half-truths surrounding students in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) and the careers they pursue, but there is surprisingly little empirical evidence on the topic, according to Rutgers Professor Hal Salzman. So he and his team of researchers are looking to dispel the myths with some hard data and new analysis based on those numbers.

    Hal Salzman has been studying the dynamics of employment in STEM for a long time. A professor of public policy at Rutgers University–New Brunswick and senior faculty fellow at the John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development, Salzman focuses on science and engineering labor markets, workplace restructuring, skill requirements, and globalization of innovation, engineering, and technology design. An expert witness in several Congressional hearings, he has published opinion pieces in Nature, USA Today, U.S. News & World Report, and other major publications; his research has been reported in Science, the New York Times, Washington Post, PBS Newshour, the Philadelphia Inquirer and Chicago Tribune among other national media.

    Salzman and colleagues recently won a nearly $2.5 million grant for their research project, “Pathways to Science and Engineering Professions: Persistence and Career Choice for Bachelors and Masters Graduates – Research Experiences, Decision Points, and Labor Market Transitions.” This five year initiative is looking at what factors bring students into STEM fields, and what undergraduate experiences are important for those pursuing a STEM career. The project has three major sections: the key decision points and high-impact events that influence students, the impact of undergraduate research on college completion and continuation into STEM careers, and how the structure of work in STEM firms influences career choices and persistence. This research is looking at what attracts students to STEM majors, what keeps them there, and why they leave.

    One topic in particular the project will examine is introductory science courses at universities. As a general rule, these are large classes with limited individual attention. Salzman says, “That’s the place we should be paying a lot more attention to, providing the best instructors, making sure they are the best classes. That’s where you’re going to bring a lot of students into the field…There is a huge potential loss of students that might be interested, but are turned off because the experience wasn’t engaging.”

    The research is also looking at why science and engineering majors do better in their careers than other majors, on average. Salzman believes it’s because they are already a select group of individuals, the top of their class, dealing with intensive workloads.

    Currently there are twice as many students graduating with STEM degrees than there are jobs available in those fields, the data show. One reason many students choose to major in engineering or science, Salzman says, is that they believe, incorrectly to some extent, that they’ll make more money upon graduating than students in other disciplines.

    30% of students who start in STEM majors, leave the major

    While data confirm the commonly held belief that many students in science, technology, engineering and math will switch into another major before graduation – it’s about 30 percent – just as many students enter STEM fields after they’ve started college, Salzman notes. That result is that the graduating STEM cohort is about the same size as the cohort of those who begin in a STEM major.

    Salzman has been researching STEM fields for a long time, and believes this project will shed new light on how to strengthen the STEM workforce and U.S. innovation.

    “If you control for people who are working that hard, in any field, does engineering really help them, or is it just that level of work and performance?” Salzman says, “No one has ever studied that, and I suspect it’s important. When putting in that kind of intensive effort, focus, and concentration, students who are interested in a high-paying career are probably better off not in engineering.”

    This research project has a big data analytics component for which the team is working with the University of Michigan, in a program that is part of Rutgers participation in the Big Ten Academic Alliance. The team will be using this program to analyze seventeen Big Ten universities and several other universities to do a large scale analysis of student experiences and post-graduate employment outcomes.

    To collect data about the employer, the research team is doing case studies in biopharma and engineering, and will be working with the National Academy of Engineering and industry associations that are interested in participating in the case studies.

    Salzman says, “This project allows us to do more in-depth analysis, case studies, and use large and comprehensive datasets that have not been available before, at a size and scope that we, with our collaborators, will be developing as part of this and an ongoing Sloan Foundation-funded project. So we expect to be developing datasets and case studies that go beyond what has currently been done or was possible.”

    To be clear, Salzman does not think it’s wiser for a young student to lean toward becoming a lawyer rather than an engineer. He simply points out that the data show they’re likely to make more money in the legal field than in engineering. A key conclusion of Salzman and his colleagues is that pushing students into STEM because of a belief they’ll enjoy greater earnings is a mistake; high performance is rewarded financially and in satisfaction in many careers. And, the researchers say, universities should pay attention to their introductory classes to attract students and help them develop their interests and abilities.

    See the full article 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

  • richardmitnick 9:30 pm on July 17, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , STEM,   

    From The Conversation via ANU: “How to keep more women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM)” 

    The Conversation

    ANU Bloc
    Australian National University

    July 12, 2016


    There have been myriad promises made by the major political parties over the years focused on funding programs aimed at increasing the number of women pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

    Although some of the policies do target disciplines where women are underrepresented, there seems to be very little acknowledgement of the bigger problem.

    Attracting women to STEM careers is one issue, retaining them is another. And that does not seem to get the same level of attention.

    Simply trying to get more women into STEM without addressing broader systemic issues will achieve nothing except more loss through a leaky pipeline.

    Higher Education Research Data from 2014 shows more females than males were being awarded undergraduate degrees in STEM fields. Early career researchers, classified as level A and B academics, are equally represented in the genders.

    Gender disparity in STEM fields at the higher academic levels (C-E) based on Higher Education Research Data, 2014. Science in Australia Gender Equity (SAGE)

    At senior levels, though, the gender disparity plainly manifests – males comprise almost 80% of the most senior positions.

    A biological and financial conundrum

    Studies in the United States found that women having children within five to ten years of completing their PhD are less likely to have tenured or tenure-track positions, and are more likely to earn less than their male or childless female colleagues.

    Angela (name changed) is a single parent and a PhD student in the sciences. She told me she is determined to forge a career for herself in academia, despite the bureaucratic and financial hurdles she has to overcome.

    ” Finding ways to get enough money to afford childcare […] jumping through bureaucratic hoops […] It was ridiculous and at times I wondered if it was all worth it.

    It may be just one reason for women leaving STEM, especially those with children, and doubly so for single parent women.”

    Women tend to be the primary caregivers for children, and are more likely to work part time, so perhaps this could explain the financial disparity. But according to the latest report from the Office of the Chief Scientist on Australia’s STEM workforce, men who also work part time consistently earn more, irrespective of their level of qualification.

    Percentage of doctorate level STEM graduates working part time who earned more than $104 000 annually, by age group and gender. Australia’s STEM Workforce March 2016 report from the Office of the Australian Chief Scientist., CC BY-NC-SA

    The same report also shows that women who do not have children tend to earn more than women who do, but both groups still earn less than men.

    Perhaps children do play a part in earning capacity, but the pay disparities or part-time employment do not seem to fully explain why women leave STEM.

    Visible role models

    The absence of senior females in STEM removes a source of visible role models for existing and aspiring women scientists. This is a problem for attracting and retaining female scientists.

    Having female role models in STEM helps younger women envision STEM careers as potential pathways they can take, and mentors can provide vital support.

    Yet even with mentoring, women in STEM still have higher attrition rates than their male colleagues.

    So what else can we do?

    There are many programs and initiatives that are already in place to attract and support women in STEM, including the Science in Australia Gender Equity (SAGE) pilot, based on the United Kingdom’s Athena SWAN charter.

    But women’s voices are still absent from leadership tables to our detriment.

    Homeward Bound

    This absence is especially noticeable in STEM and policy making arenas, and was the impetus for Australian leadership expert, Fabian Dattner, in collaboration with Dr Jess Melbourne-Thomas from the Australian Antarctic Division, to create Homeward Bound.

    Dattner says she believes the absence of women from leadership “possibly, if not probably, places us at greatest peril”.

    To address this, Homeward Bound is aimed at developing the leadership, strategic and scientific capabilities of female scientists to enhance their impact in influencing policy and decisions affecting the sustainability of the planet.

    Initially, it will involve 77 women scientists from around the world. But this is only the first year of the program, and it heralds the beginning of a global collaboration of 1,000 women over ten years.

    These women are investing heavily – financially, emotionally and professionally – and it is clearly not an option for everyone.

    Flexible approaches

    There are other simple ways to support women in STEM, which anyone can do.

    Simply introducing genuinely flexible work arrangements could do a lot towards alleviating the pressure as Angela shows:

    ” My supervisor made sure that we never had meetings outside of childcare hours […] or I could Skype her from home once my child was in bed. They really went above and beyond to make sure that I was not disadvantaged.”

    We have already attracted some of the best and brightest female minds to STEM.

    If keeping them there means providing support, publicly celebrating high-achieving women, and being flexible in how meetings are held, surely that’s an investment we can all make.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    The Conversation US launched as a pilot project in October 2014. It is an independent source of news and views from the academic and research community, delivered direct to the public.
    Our team of professional editors work with university and research institute experts to unlock their knowledge for use by the wider public.
    Access to independent, high quality, authenticated, explanatory journalism underpins a functioning democracy. Our aim is to promote better understanding of current affairs and complex issues. And hopefully allow for a better quality of public discourse and conversation.

  • richardmitnick 7:19 am on July 13, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , STEM   

    From Rutgers: “Tech Kit for Girls Aims to Lessen a Gender Gap” 

    Rutgers University
    Rutgers University

    June 27, 2016
    Charles Wasilewski

    Rutgers students create educational game designed to help girls 11-14 learn programming and technology skills in Rutgers Makerspace.

    Slingshot’s kit challenges girls to solve a problem posed in the form of a story. Shown above is a briefcase with parts for a spy camera to be assembled and programmed to solve a kidnapping.

    The president’s daughter has been kidnapped. “This is where you come in,” read the typewritten, terse instructions. “You are the chosen one. The fate of Sasha’s life is in your hands. If you choose to accept this, open the enclosed briefcase.”

    The story is fiction, thankfully – but the briefcase is real. The small metal box unlatches to reveal a miniature computer, display and cables, along with instructions to create a spy camera to help solve the kidnapping.

    Created by a group of 19 students in their capstone course for the information technology and informatics major in the Rutgers School of Communication and Information (SCI), the briefcase is the first educational technology subscription kit designed to help girls 11-14 learn programming and technology skills.

    The project and company – both dubbed “Slingshot” – are driven by a market need: the gender disparity in the technology field, notes Sree Vuthaluru, a capstone student leader. “Slingshot aims to lessen this gender gap by introducing technology and design concepts to girls at a young age.”

    “There were 30,000 test takers for Advanced Placement computer science in 2014, and out of them, only 30 percent were female,” points out Nicole Yip, a leader of the capstone group, which pitched the project in May to a group of six judges at the annual ITI Showcase spring 2016 event. Only 25 percent of the computing workforce is female, while women hold only 17 percent of CIO positions in the U.S. information technology sector.

    Using a story to reach and involve girls is beneficial, Yip says, “because we found that girls in that [11-14] age group are more engaged in story-based projects.” “Each kit comes with a story that makes the girl the main character ready to go out and solve a mission.”

    Each month, the latest kit delivers a story along with parts, instructions and links to Slingshot’s website videos and community forum. All are aimed to equip girls to develop skills in problem solving, analysis, critical thinking, technology and programming.

    The company and kit idea were sketched and developed in about nine weeks, aided by the guidance and facilities of Rutgers Makerspace, part of the Rutgers Division of Continuing Studies.

    “It’s easy for the students to talk about the stories,” explains Rick Anderson, director of Rutgers Makerspace, who worked with the capstone students throughout the spring semester. “The physical part is the challenge.They have to tell the story using pictures and objects so their project will integrate for the girls who get the kits.”

    Applying the “making” of things in educational curricula from grade school and beyond is a growing trend. Makerspaces – workshops offering tools and learning experiences to support people carrying their ideas – are founded on “an openness to experiment, iterate, and create,” according to material from the New Media Consortium’s Horizon Project, among “artists, tech enthusiasts, engineers, builders, tinkerers and anyone else who has a passion for making things.”

    For the Slingshot prototype, the ITI capstone students met weekly at Rutgers Makerspace’s garage/workspace setting at 35 Berrue Circle on the Livingston Campus in Piscataway. Stocked with tools ranging from glue guns and screwdrivers to 3D printers and laser cutters, Makerspace is open for drop-in hours from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. during the week.

    The students met at Makerspace to align parts ordered from manufacturers into a prototype and to build out the story and instructions for their target customer group. A hardware team built the prototype briefcase. A software team created an interface that supports a Scratch computer language program that the girls can program to operate the spy camera.

    The end result: Using what’s she’s assembled right in the briefcase, the girl can take her photo and create a profile to help solve the kidnapping.

    “It’s all kinds of making,” explains Anderson about how Makerspace was instrumental for the ITI project. “You’re making multiple media, robots and kits. They ‘3-D printed’ a camera mount, did vinyl cutting, used a Raspberry Pi [tiny computer] as part of the kit they assembled.”

    To bring the product to market, the team pitched using Dragon Innovation, a manufacturing company, and KickStarter for funding the product and to prove the concept.

    “I’d call it social hardware, because it’s ‘social media meets the hardware,’” says Anderson of Slingshot. “Their kits are part of their website. And their kits are part of the social [media] in the community [website]. And the kits are part of their stories.”

    Sharon Stoerger, director of the Information, Technology, and Informatics program in SCI’s Department of Library and Information Science, says the capstone students are given a charge as they kick off their project: “Use what you’ve learned” in the course of their Rutgers career.

    The course bridges a traditional classroom with the Makerspace and other out-of-classroom team meetings. It combines communications, science, business and entrepreneurship disciplines, Stoerger says – along with doses of ingenuity and creativity.

    For a second story, the students built a prototype automated miniature car and outlined and pitched an education company focused on STEM to bring the subscription kit product to market. To bring the product to market, the team proposed using Dragon Innovation, a manufacturing company, and a KickStarter campaign to fund the product and further prove the concept.

    About Rutgers Makerspace: An open floor plan of classrooms, rooms for prototyping equipment, workshop, workstations, and offices, it is part of the Rutgers Center for Innovation Education within the Rutgers Division of Continuing Studies. Makerspace serves a diverse constituency within and outside the university: faculty, staff, students, K-12 teachers and students through programs focused on technology education, creativity and “do-it-yourself,” youth programs, user experience design and related areas.

    See the full article 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.

  • richardmitnick 4:52 pm on March 29, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , STEM,   

    From UNSW: “Women scientists are here: we need to be seen and heard” 

    U NSW bloc

    University of New South Wales

    30 Mar 2016
    Professor Emma Johnston

    Dr Emma Johnston. Photo: Dan White

    When people think of science celebrities, they think of men. Emma Johnston argues that more needs to be done to highlight the role of women in science.

    OPINION: Malcolm Turnbull, our innovation Prime Minister, says there’s never been a more exciting time to be an Australian but I’m only half convinced. The bright light shining on this new innovation age is not illuminating many women.

    And we are here. A great many women are working in science, technology, engineering and math – and we have been for many years. Some science degrees have had 50 per cent female graduates for a few decades and overall we represent about 40 per cent of science, technology, engineering and mathematics staff in universities.

    Yet, unless you’re looking pretty hard, we are apparently just not that easy to find.

    The media severely under-represents women in science, technology, engineering and math. Just look at the big science celebrities internationally. Who do you think of when you think of science in the media? David Attenborough, Brian Cox, Neil de Grasse Tyson, Brian Greene, or Carl Sagan. And in Australia, our stars are the wonderful Robyn Williams, Karl Kruszelnicki and Adam Spencer.

    I’m one of the rare working research scientists who makes television and I’ve heard a commercial TV executive proclaim “women don’t present science, they present cooking shows”.

    This bias is insidious. It reflects how many women scientists we see on our TVs and in our news articles and how we see them.

    When British scientist Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1964, the headlines screamed “Nobel Prize for British wife” and “Grandmother wins Nobel Prize”. Unfortunately, not much has changed. A 2014 study found that when women scientists do appear in the media, there is an unreasonable focus on their appearance, their relationship status, and their status as a parent.

    When researchers interrogated more than 2.3 million articles from more than 950 news outlets they found that even respected organisations like the BBC referred to men 81 per cent of the time.

    In its more than 50 years, only 12 of the 100 or so science speakers at the National Press Club of Australia have been women. My appearance on Wednesday as part of a panel on women in science with mathematician Nalini Joshi and physicist Tanya Monro will increase the representation of women scientists who have appeared at the press club by a quarter.

    Although many have their own set of biases and stereotypes, the problem is often not intended, but the fact the media tends to run to tight deadlines. They want to speak with the most senior experts in a field and they want to do so immediately.

    Even reporters who are consciously trying to address under-representation may struggle if they only talk to the top. Because science has struggled, like most other fields, to increase the number of women in senior roles. Women currently comprise only 16 per cent of the most senior STEM positions (excluding health) in universities.

    This is the crux of our problem: it’s self-reinforcing. It is well established that a lack of visible role models reduces a person’s confidence in their ability to undertake a role. This lack of confidence, in turn, can create stress that reduces performance and, separately, it can result in gender-biased assessments of “merit”. It also reduces the attractiveness of the career as a choice. So the fewer women leads to fewer women leads to fewer women…

    We need something to change. Australia really needs more women to enter, stay, and succeed in STEM areas.

    By turning off girls, by teaching both men and women that while women can study science, they can’t be science leaders, we are hindering our ability to become the smart and agile society we need to be if we are to be truly competitive in a rapidly evolving world.

    We absolutely need to change the structural barriers to gender equality in science. And there’s promising beginnings. Programs like Science in Australia Gender Equity or SAGE, are aiming to fundamentally redress the gender imbalance at the senior levels of science.

    But we must also change the strong negative stereotypes and unconscious biases as well. We must give our girls and women more successful science role models – something grand to aspire to.

    When we see, hear and read people talking about science we need to ensure they accurately reflect the true, full diversity of STEM professionals.

    Of all the serious issues facing women in science today, the lack of visible role models may be the easiest to fix.

    We just need to be given a chance to say we’re here, we do fascinating research, we have wonderful jobs, and we know what we’re talking about.

    Come find us and we’ll break the cycle together.

    Professor Emma Johnston is an award-winning marine scientist at UNSW, Director of the Sydney Harbour Research Program at the Sydney Institute of Marine Science and TV presenter for Coast Australia.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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    Stem Education Coalition

    U NSW Campus

    Welcome to UNSW Australia (The University of New South Wales), one of Australia’s leading research and teaching universities. At UNSW, we take pride in the broad range and high quality of our teaching programs. Our teaching gains strength and currency from our research activities, strong industry links and our international nature; UNSW has a strong regional and global engagement.

    In developing new ideas and promoting lasting knowledge we are creating an academic environment where outstanding students and scholars from around the world can be inspired to excel in their programs of study and research. Partnerships with both local and global communities allow UNSW to share knowledge, debate and research outcomes. UNSW’s public events include concert performances, open days and public forums on issues such as the environment, healthcare and global politics. We encourage you to explore the UNSW website so you can find out more about what we do.

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