Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Elementary School Robotics today at Noon EST

Gear Up Free Webinar: Robotics Program Guide for Elementary Grades
December 17, 2013 @ 10:00AM (MST)

Robotics puts excitement into STEM education for students and educators. Join us for a free, information packed, 1-hour, robotics webinar to learn the necessary steps in planning and conducting your own elementary robotics program for grades 4 - 6. From a basic understanding of robotics through program implementation, receive step by step instructions on infusing robotics into your current curriculum.
Topics covered:
  • What is Robotics
  • Robotics Engineering Concepts
  • Computer Programming for Robotics
  • STEM Unit Plan Examples
  • How to Prepare Standards Based Content for Robotics
  • Where to Focus Your Instruction Time for Each Grade
  • Robotics Program Time-line Examples

Seating is limited; reserve your seat today!


Quick Overview
Subject: Robotics Program Guide for Elementary Grades
Grades: 4-6
Date: December 17, 2013
Time: 10:00AM (MST)
Duration: 60 Minutes

"The PCS Robotics and Engineering program has been so successful and well accepted by staff and students that we are expanding it this year to accommodate the high demand, and to also capitalize on the positive impact it is making."

- Carmen Rivera,
GEAR UP Program Director

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Good discussion of recent PISA scores

I'm usually disappointed at the superficial discussions of US rankings on TIMMS and PISA scores.  The scores certainly challenge our vision of American Exceptionalism, and it is difficult for many to accept that we might not be in the top 10 (or even top 20) rankings on these international Math or Science exams.

While I'm glad we consider these data, I like to point out that there are a lot of confounding variables and other considerations that are regularly overlooked:

  1. Nearly all of the countries outranking the U.S. are mono-cultural;
  2. Nearly all of the countries outranking the U.S. are less socio-economically diverse;
  3. Nearly all of the countries outranking the U.S. have kids in schools much longer each day;
  4. Some countries outranking the U.S. have kids in schools an extra 30 days per year;
  5. Few if any countries outranking the U.S. have as much religious influence on politics;
  6. Few if any countries outranking the U.S. have as much religious influence on school policy;
  7. Few if any countries outranking the U.S. have as as many religious leaders promoting anti-intellectualism; 
  8. Many of these countries outranking the U.S. send delegations to the U.S. to learn how to promote creativity and innovation; and
  9. Few if any countries outranking the U.S. combine sports with schools!

Fareed Zakaria leads one of the most thoughtful discussions I've heard recently.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Federal Legislative Updates from the STEM Education Coalition

Here is the latest update on recent Coalition’s activities and related policy developments in the STEM education world.  Follow us  @StemEdCoalition.

House Science Hearing Testimony on America COMPETES Act:  The November 11 hearing at House Science went smoothly by all accounts, with Executive Director James Brown testifying on behalf of the Coalition.   Roughly half the hearing focused on research issues, with the other half covered several STEM ed topics, along with a smattering of other issues.  It was well attended, with more than a dozen members making an appearance and a full audience.  The hearing also created a lot of chatter on Twitter and other social media for the Coalition as well.    Watch a webcast of the hearing here. 

It’s Computer Science Education Week:  Tens of thousands of schools are hosting Hour of Code events in their classrooms and President ObamaArne DuncanEric Cantor, and Newt Gingrich released videos to kickoff the week.  Find out more here. 

Update on House STEM Competition:  Before Thanksgiving, the House Administration Committee adopted a resolution to set the formal regulations that will govern the new House STEM Competition, which was established back in February in a vote of 411-0.  More details on the competition:

Bill for STEM experiences for underepresented students

Rep. Kennedy & Sen. Gillibrand plan to introduce a bill Tuesday that would create a Dept. of Ed grant program to increase STEM exposure and experiences to under-represented K-12 students.  They are seeking organizational support.  Attached is a section by section and a letter of support from MOS/NCTL. The final bill language will be out Tuesday

If your organization would like to support their efforts, just emailCaroline.Darmody@mail.house.gov in Rep. Kennedy’s office.


STEM Opportunities Act
Representative Joseph P. Kennedy and Senator Kirsten E. Gillibrand
To increase the participation of women, girls, and underrepresented minorities in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields, to encourage and support students from all economic backgrounds to pursue STEM career opportunities, and for other purposes. 

Section 1. Short Title.
STEM Opportunities Act

Section 2. Findings.
The makeup of the US STEM workforce does not reflect the diversity of our nation.  While STEM fields are projected to continue creating high-quality job opportunities and driving economic growth, many segments of the American workforce have subpar access to these opportunities and are underrepresented in the pipeline of STEM workers. 

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Carnevale study of median reported earnings by college major

from USA Today:

Georgetown findings determine college major has significant impact on future income.

Emily Atteberry, USATODAY  December 6, 2013
 To what extent does your college major dictate your future income? Very much so, according to recent research conducted by Anthony P. Carnevale, Jeff Strohl and Michelle Meltonan at Georgetown University.  

The team interviewed hundreds of full-time employees holding various bachelor 's degrees and calculated each area of study's median reported earnings.

The range of earnings is staggering. The highest-paid area of study—petroleum engineering—makes $91,000 (134%) more than the lowest-paid area, counseling psychology.

The researchers wrote that income isn't the only thing to consider when selecting a major, but hoped their research would help students make educated financial decisions.

Check out the team's entire findings here.

Top 10 highest-paid college majors
1. Petroleum Engineering: $120,000
2. Pharmacy Pharmaceutical Sciences and Administration: $105,000
3. Mathematics and Computer Science: $98,000
4. Aerospace Engineering: $87,000
5. Chemical Engineering: $86,000
6. Electrical Engineering: $85,000
7. Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering: $82,000
8. Mechanical Engineering: $80,000
9. Metallurgical Engineering: $80,000
10. Mining and Mineral Engineering: $80,000

Top 10 lowest-paid college majors
1. Counseling Psychology: $29,000
2. Early Childhood Education: $36,000
3. Theology and Religious Vocations: $38,000
4. Human Services and Community Organization: $38,000
5. Social Work: $39,000
6. Drama and Theater Arts: $40,000
7. Studio Arts: $40,000
8. Communication Disorders Sciences and Service: $40,000
9. Visual and Performing Arts: $40,000
10. Health and Medical Preparatory Programs: $40,000

Monday, December 2, 2013

WP: German approach to technical apprenticeships in the US

from the November 28 Washington Post front page:

Recasting high school, German firms transplant apprentice model to U.S.

(Nanine Hartzenbusch/ For The Washinton Post ) - Baron Caber, left, a machinist, works with Hope Johnson, right, a third year apprentice at the Siemens plant in Charlotte, N.C. Johnson was offered a life-defining choice by Siemens, the German industrial conglomerate: drop everything, enroll in a European-style apprenticeship, and get a free technical education and a job in return.

CHARLOTTE — As a high school junior, Hope Johnson thought she had things figured out. She’d been hit with wanderlust during an academic trip to Brazil, set her sights on London’s Richmond University and hoped to pursue a career in diplomacy.
It was just the kind of white-collar job that would take her far from the confines of this Southern city and please her dad, an elevator repairman who wanted his daughter to graduate from a four-year college.
That was before the 16-year-old was offered a life-defining choice by Siemens, the German industrial conglomerate: Drop everything, enroll in a competitive European-style apprenticeship, and get a free technical education and a job in return.
Johnson opted for the job. The allure of traditional college life was strong, she said, “but you gotta pay the bills.”
Now, she’s learning to work with formless metal on a high-tech factory floor as part of a program that some see as an answer to one of the chief challenges facing the U.S. economy: Why, when so many people, particularly the young, are looking for work, do high-level manufacturing jobs at places like Siemens go unfilled? The country has the world’s most extensive and sophisticated system of higher education, yet top executives warn of a crisis in the science, technology, engineering and math disciplines considered to be at the core of global economic competitiveness.
German companies such as Siemens in Charlotte or Wacker Chemical, which is building a working model of its polysilicon plant to train potential employees at Chattanooga State Community College, say German-style apprenticeship programs might help untie the knot.