Monday, October 28, 2013

Math and the Power of Myth

from Quartz, thanks to Steven N.

     power of myth

There’s one key difference between kids who excel at math and those who don’t

“I’m just not a math person.”

We hear it all the time. And we’ve had enough. Because we believe that the idea of “math people” is the most self-destructive idea in America today. The truth is, you probably are a math person, and by thinking otherwise, you are possibly hamstringing your own career. Worse, you may be helping to perpetuate a pernicious myth that is harming underprivileged children—the myth of inborn genetic math ability.

Is math ability genetic? Sure, to some degree. Terence Tao, UCLA’s famous virtuoso mathematician, publishes dozens of papers in top journals every year, and is sought out by researchers around the world to help with the hardest parts of their theories. Essentially none of us could ever be as good at math as Terence Tao, no matter how hard we tried or how well we were taught. But here’s the thing: We don’t have to! For high school math, inborn talent is just much less important than hard work, preparation, and self-confidence.

How do we know this? First of all, both of us have taught math for many years—as professors, teaching assistants, and private tutors. Again and again, we have seen the following pattern repeat itself:

Different kids with different levels of preparation come into a math class. Some of these kids have parents who have drilled them on math from a young age, while others never had that kind of parental input.
  1. On the first few tests, the well-prepared kids get perfect scores, while the unprepared kids get only what they could figure out by winging it—maybe 80 or 85%, a solid B.
  2. The unprepared kids, not realizing that the top scorers were well-prepared, assume that genetic ability was what determined the performance differences. Deciding that they “just aren’t math people,” they don’t try hard in future classes, and fall further behind.
  3. The well-prepared kids, not realizing that the B students were simply unprepared, assume that they are “math people,” and work hard in the future, cementing their advantage.
Thus, people’s belief that math ability can’t change becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Energy Journey Game this Weekend


Energy Journey Game

October 26, 2013
1:00 pm - 4:00 pm
Gunston Middle School
2700 S Lang Street
Arlington, Virginia 22206
Join us on Saturday, October 26 and be a player (or volunteer) in our life-size energy board game! Challenge yourself on everyday actions that have an energy impact as you journey down a path of decisions and chance! Open to all ages. The Game takes about an hour play. Come play anytime between 1pm and 4pm.

TechShop is Coming to Crystal City

Connie J. Zheng
North of Nine Communications
(415) 268-4821

TechShop to Begin Construction on D.C. Area Location in Fall 2013
New “maker space” in Arlington’s Crystal City neighborhood to be an innovation hub for the region
MENLO PARK, Calif. , October 22, 2013 -- TechShop, a membership-based, do-it-yourself (DIY) creative workshop and fabrication studio, today announced that construction on a Washington, D.C. area facility will begin later this year. The new location in the Crystal City neighborhood of Arlington, Va. is made possible by a continued partnership with the Department of Veterans Affairs Center for Innovation (VACI) and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). The Crystal City location is targeted to open to the public in the first quarter of 2014.

“TechShop energizes local communities and economies because our members have the passion to actually build their dreams, whether they’re personal projects or startups. And we’re very excited to activate the makers of Crystal City and the larger Washington area,” said Mark Hatch, CEO of TechShop. “We’re pleased to work with our government and development partners who made it possible to bring the tools of innovation to the people around our nation’s capital, and especially the programs designed to help men and women who have served in our armed forces.”

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Academy for female programmers: a model for our region?

From last month on GeekWire, a model for our area?

Hey, lady coders: Ada Developers Academy wants to turn you into an all-star programmer — for free!

Ada Developers Academy (Ada) is offering up a free, intensive 24-week class designed to teach women everything from Ruby on Rails to HTML/CSS to JavaScript. Once instruction is completed, students will be placed in a six-month apprenticeship with a local tech company to apply their newly-learned skills.

Elise Worthy, a Seattle-based developer, is Ada’s program manager and said she’s passionate about helping more women learn how to code.   “We’re really excited about our first class,” she said. “We’ll be directly addressing the gender imbalance in software as well as the pay gap in Seattle.”
Elise Worthy, Ada Developers Academy Program Manager.
Elise Worthy
Ada Developers Academy Program Manager.

Operating as a non-profit project of the Technology Alliance, the academy has already raised a good chunk of money from the Washington State’s Department of Commerce and local sponsors. But it is looking to bring in an additional $35,000 through an IndieGoGo campaign to cover costs like classroom rent and supplies.

Ada, named after one of the first programmers ever and Geek Madness participant Ada Lovelace, will still launch if the IndieGoGo doesn’t reach its goal. However, the program may be delayed and/or admit fewer students. The first cohort is expected to be around 15-to-20 programmers, but Ada wants to eventually graduate 80-to-100 per year.

If you’re interested in Ada, head here to apply. You must be a woman, not have prior programming experience and own a Mac laptop. Applications (were) accepted through Sept. 30 at 5 p.m. PST.

Reach staff reporter Taylor Soper at or on Twitter @Taylor_Soper. Follow us on Twitter @GeekWire.

AIA/NDIA DC STEM Call-to-Action Forum

471A - AIA/NDIA DC STEM Call-to-Action Forum

AIA/NDIA DC STEM Call-to-Action Forum October 28-29, 2013 Washington, DC

Mr. Mike Hydeck, Anchor, WUSA*9 and Mr. Jim Dinegar, President and CEO, Greater Washington Board of Trade are confirmed to speak at the upcoming AIA/NDIA DC STEM Call-to-Action Forum being held October 28-29, 2013 at the Patton Boggs facility in Washington, DC.

To view the full agenda, please visit and click the agenda tab.

The primary purpose of our quarterly meetings is to engage in local dialogues about how we can increase the quality of STEM education; the quantity of STEM educated graduates that are eligible for employment in the Aerospace and Defense (A&D) industries; and the amount and effectiveness of engagement by A&D employers, working in partnership with others in their communities.

Don't miss your opportunity to hear from other top industry executives and educators on STEM in the D.C. area and around the country. Register today!

To register, please visit

Book Release next Wednesday

Register at this online form

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Ireland-Based Game-Making Competetion welcoming Northern Virginia students

October 21: Deadline for Individual Registration (flexible)

We’d love to have some participants from the US take part in this challenge. I’ve attached the poster for This Is Not A Game ( The basic idea is for kids between the ages of 14-18 to create games with a social conscience. We are using ocean awareness as our main theme.   

The kids will form teams (or be assigned teams) with 2 – 5 team members. We’ll webcast a launch event in Dublin, Ireland on October 29 that will give an overview of the project and deadlines. We’ll also have a number of guest speakers (including Tierney) to talk about the importance of the marine topics as well as using creative forms to highlight important issues.

The kids will be given workshops on the following platforms: Gamemaker (for windows), Game Salad (for Mac), and Project Anarchy (more advanced – for mobile). If the kids want to program on another platform, that’s absolutely fine. We will be pitching this at all skill levels and for kids with a variety of interests including:
  • computer programming (to write the code for the game using provided software or software of your choosing)
  • art (to choose the visual design of the game)
  • marine sciences (to create the story of the game)
  • marketing (to help create a trailer and other marketing material for the game)

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

2013 Girls Rock: Emerging Young Leaders Empowerment

2013 Girls Rock: Emerging Young Leaders Empowerment Conference

Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., Xi Zeta Omega Chapter

Saturday, November 16, 2013 from 7:30 AM to 5:00 PM (EST)
Washington, DC

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Gunston MS (Arlington) Ecosystems Project

Reposted from the Green STEM Learning Blog by Mary Van Dyke:

Learning from Trees:Gunston Middle School Tree Ecosystems Project and Project Learning Tree Webinar

 Here is a Arlington Public Schools GreenScene film of the three-day Tree Ecosystem Study I co-facilitated with Luz Chamorro at Gunston Middle School in September as a catalyst for student stewardship projects.
The movie shows Day 3 where classes are going out to look at three stations to evaluate the ecosystems of trees on the hillside.

On Day 1 students drew their Favorite Tree and we learned about products from trees, Goods from the Woods and also recapped Tree Biology - how a tree works inside and out.

Commonwealth STEM Industry Internship Program (CSIIP)

Keeping STEM Talent in Virginia

The Virginia Commonwealth
STEM Industry Internship Program (CSIIP)

With an increasing demand for skilled STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) workers in Virginia, the development of efficient pathways between undergraduate students pursuing STEM degrees and industry has become an urgent need. With support from the Commonwealth of Virginia, Virginia Space Grant Consortium (VSGC) in partnership with Virginia’s Regional Technology Councils, and in collaboration with Virginia companies, Virginia colleges, and community colleges, has created the Commonwealth STEM Industry Internship Program (CSIIP). CSIIP links undergraduate STEM students to paid summer internship positions with companies throughout Virginia.
This program offers a one-stop, centralized, online internship application system that provides Virginia's undergraduate STEM majors the ability to search and apply for STEM-related (summer/fall/spring) paid internship opportunities with participating Virginia-based companies that can search our database of prescreened student applications for specific skills, experience, educational background, interests and desired work locations to find the best possible candidates for their paid summer internships. Companies select students, make offers, and employ interns directly.  

Important Internship Highlights

There is no cost for students or companies to utilize this online service.
Please use the appropriate link StudentsCompanies or Colleges for program access.
CSIIP has the strong support of the Center for Innovative Technology and the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Virtual field trip at the Autodesk Gallery

   PLTW - Project Lead The Way

Virtual field trip TOMORROW.  Join Discovery Education for a virtual field trip at the Autodesk Gallery in San Francisco. Explore the world of innovative design:

U.S. adults lag most countries in literacy, math and computer skills

We regularly hear elected officials and broadcast journalists misrepresent international comparisons in math and science with complete disregard for all confounding variables, but this article also identifies the real culprit, highlighted by Layton in a previous article:  achievement gaps.

From today's Washington Post:

Policymakers and politicians who wring their hands about the mediocre performance of U.S. students on international math and reading tests have another worry: The nation’s grown-ups aren’t doing much better.
A first-ever comparison of adults in the United States and those in other democracies found that Americans were below average when it comes to skills needed to compete in the global economy.
The survey, released Tuesday, measured the literacy, math and computer skills of about 5,000 U.S. adults between ages 16 and 65, and compared them with similar samples of adults from 21 countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OEDC).

Cyber Education Symposium in Arlington, VA - November 19-20, 2013

The Cyber Education Symposium, will take an interdisciplinary approach to cyber education, forcing leaders and educators to understand what is taking place rather than specializing in only one area of security.  The Symposium offers a rare opportunity for the brightest minds in government (.gov), the private sector (.com), and the educational community (.edu) to convene and discuss the best practices and solutions for cybersecurity education.  

The Symposium website is here, and you can find  the agenda here

Attendees will:
  • Gain a better understanding of how to provide cyber training to their workforce, and actually how to start that training
  • Discover the best practices, models and approaches for effective, affordable, and sustainable training
  • Hear directly from leaders in government, industry, and academia on the latest trends and challenges in the cybersecurity education and training market
  • Gather best practices covering cybersecurity program creation, financing, and performance
  • Gain a better understanding of the methods and strategies other nations are using to successfully train and educate the next generation of cyber leaders
  • Examine the State of Art in key academic areas – including curricula development, and pedagogy
  • Obtain information on different types of certifications to determine which ones add the greatest value to the workforce
  • Learn about Government programs and initiatives aimed at solving the gap of skilled cybersecurity personnel 

Current Speakers include:

Friday, October 4, 2013

NoVA Outside Fall Networking / Professional Development - October 21

Please join us for our Fall Networking and Professional Development Meeting, Monday October 21 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Stoneybrooke Park in Alexandria (3900 Stoneybrooke Drive in Alexandria, VA 22306).

This three-hour event will include:

o   NoVA Outside’s business meeting updating participants on our events, committees, and ways to get involved.

o   A networking lunch to build connections and share knowledge (lunch is included in the cost of registration). Please come and share your current projects and bring flyers, newsletters, and other materials to distribute to those interested. We'll allot three to five minutes per participant for sharing - you can use your time to promote your latest event, ask other professionals advice, or share a success story.

o   A short hike in Stoneybrooke Park, exploring the historic Stone Mansion and surrounding property led by Fairfax County Park Authority (FCPA) staff. The theme of the hike is "Helping our Land Heal," and we'll focus on the impacts of our work on our public lands. FCPA staff will lead a hike and discussion on how we treat the land and the resulting impacts, using the property at Stoneybrooke Park to show examples. Learn more here.

Thanks to Fairfax County Park Authority for hosting this program. 

                                                                                                                            This program is $15 for members and $25 for non-members, with 10% off for early bird registration till October 7. Click here to register!

-- The NoVA Outside Leadership |