Thursday, February 27, 2014

NoVa Mini Maker Faire - March 16

Hands-on Creation, Invention, and Fun at
 Northern Virginia’s Inaugural Mini Maker Faire
Sunday, March 16 11am-4pm

(Early Registration ends tomorrow!)
Reston, VA - Robots, rockets, radio broadcasts, and repurposed trash: So much to do and see at Nova Labs’ inaugural NoVa Mini Maker Faire on Sunday, March 16, at South Lakes High and Hughes Middle School campuses. Inventors, hackers, crafters, artists, and DIY’ers from across the region will demonstrate and collaborate with Faire-goers to make things, new inventions, tools, and gadgets, which can often be completed with reusable materials or household items.
Early bird discounts, available at, end February 28, 2014. Students are free; adults $10. At the door, tickets will cost $8 for children and $20 for adults.
Along with hands-on projects for adults and kids of all ages, Faire-goers will enjoy food, performances, and a series of short talks. More than 85 booths will feature “Makers” aged 12 to 92.  A few of the unusual mix of projects and activities include:
·       Aluminum Aerogami (a combination of origami and model airplane building from aluminum cans)
·       3D scanning and printing of you
·       Musical instrument maker
·       Snoopy Robot
·       Solar- powered Car
·       Light-up sewing
·       Hand-spinning yarn
·       Kinetic, wearable, and electronic art
·       Science experiments you can do at home by Gravity is Optional
·       Spy gadgets by the Spy Museum
·       Open-source hardware projects

For a list of all scheduled Makers, visit
The NoVa Mini Maker Faire is presented by Nova Labs,  a non-profit maker space in Reston, Virginia.  Sponsors include, Community Foundation for Northern Virginia, the International Spy Museum, WyoLum, the Girls Excelling in Math and Science (GEMS) Clubs, Holland & Knight, Activity Rocket, Ideaventions, and Small Batch Assembly.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Education reforms in Virginia

Reposted from the DailyPress:

Education reform moving forward

Monty Mason and Rob Krupicka

For much of the last year we heard a constant drumbeat for the need to adjust and reform certain elements of our K-12 educational system. Reforming the Standards of Learning tests, letter grades for schools, and even state takeover of failing schools have been proposed. In this session of the Virginia General Assembly we have focused on many education initiatives.
SOL testing reform, HB930, passed through the Virginia House of Delegates unanimously last week. The bill, which we co-patroned, would reduce the number of SOL tests in kindergarten through eighth grade by more than 20 percent and provide increased flexibility to local school boards through the use of authentic performance assessments. By replacing certain SOL tests with more robust and flexible assessment tools, we allow for creativity and flexibility in the classroom, while still having confidence that content is being taught. This will ensure students are making progress and learning the critical thinking skills they need to compete in today’s economy.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Washington Post First Person: Rosie O’Neil, Georgetown University

Rosie O'Neil is active on Arlington's Career, Technical and Adult Education Advisory Committee, a member of Dr. Templin's NOVA Advisory Council representing Arlington, and a former Chair fo the Arlington Public Schools Advisory Council on Instruction.

From the Washington Post Magazine:

First Person:
Rosaelena O’Neil, Georgetown University

Andre Chung/For The Washington Post -  Rosaelena O’Neil, associate director and program counselor, Landegger Program in International Business Diplomacy, Georgetown University.

Interview by Amanda Long

Everything I do in education centers on my mom and dad’s decision to leave Argentina. It wasn’t about finding a better life. It was about coming to the United States, knowing there would be more opportunity for consistent, uninterrupted education. All my papi’s 13 years of work as a civil engineer were unrecognized here. He had to start completely over. When your parents give up a beautiful, bucolic life — we lived on a vineyard — for a two-room flat in West New York, New Jersey, that’s a sacrifice you don’t forget. Basically my whole life growing up was about being educated and taking every opportunity possible.

One major part of my job is to sit down with students to articulate their curricular experience. I will look at a student and say, “Now that you’ve accomplished your general education requirements,

Friday, February 21, 2014

Deep Learning - Arlington Artisphere March 24

Reposted from Data Science DC

A Short History of and Introduction to Deep Learning

  • Monday, March 24, 2014

    6:30 PM to 
  • Artisphere

    1101 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington, VA (map)
    Metro and parking information:
  • For our March event, we are thrilled to have John Kaufhold from Deep Learning Analytics present a technical introduction to Deep Learning, one of the hottest topics in data science in the last couple of years. How hot? Go search for "deep learning", and skim through hundreds of hyperventilating news articles describing how it's used at Google, Facebook, Netflix, and more, and how it's beating image and speech recognition benchmarks at near-human levels of performance. At it's core, Deep Learning is in many ways just the next iteration of the venerable Artificial Neural Network, a repeatedly hyped machine learning technique almost as old as the digital computer. So what's real innovation, what's hype, how do Deep Learning nets actually work, what's new about them, and what does it matter to you, the data science practitioner? Join us and find out!

       6:30pm -- Networking, Food, and Refreshments
       7:00pm -- Introduction
       7:15pm -- Presentation and discussion
       8:30pm -- Data Drinks (on-site cash bar!)

    Big data and the emergence of data science as a formal discipline have both renewed interest in machine learning technologies that are scalable, fast, affordable and do not suffer from overfitting. Though the "No Free Lunch theorem" implies no machine learning technology in 

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

" open to technical training"

From HyperAlergic

President Obama Pens Personal Apology to an Art Historian

Art historian Ann Collins Johns 
Professor Ann Collins Johns at the University of Texas at Austin was just as peeved as many people were about President Barack Obama’s knock on art history majors. So she did what any self-assured art historian would do and wrote a letter to Obama on January 31, shortly after the President’s remarks, and sent it using the White House website. Then came the surprising part: Obama responded with a handwritten note on February 12.

Johns told Hyperallergic that she did not save her original email because she posted it via the White House website:
However, I’m pretty sure that my email was not so much one of outrage at his statement, but rather a “look at what we do well” statement. I emphasized that we challenge students to think, read, and write critically. I also stressed how inclusive our discipline is these days (even though my own specialty is medieval and Renaissance Italy).
Asked for permission to reproduce the letter, Johns wanted to make it clear that she loves Obama. “What I did NOT expect is that THE MAN HIMSELF would write me an apology. So now I’m totally guilty about wasting his time,” she wrote on her Facebook profile page.
Here is Obama’s response, written on official White House letterhead then scanned and sent to Johns by email. We’ve transcribed the text below; the White House let the professor know that the original will be mailed to her shortly.
Ann —
Let me apologize for my off-the-cuff remarks. I was making a point about the jobs market, not the value of art history. As it so happens, art history was one of my favorite subjects in high school, and it has helped me take in a great deal of joy in my life that I might otherwise have missed.
So please pass on my apology for the glib remark to the entire department, and understand that I was trying to encourage young people who may not be predisposed to a four year college experience to be open to technical training that can lead them to an honorable career.
Barack Obama
(letter reproduced with permission)
(letter reproduced with permission)
With reporting and contributions by Hrag Vartanian
h/t Andy Campbell, Senior Lecturer in Art History at Texas State University

Monday, February 17, 2014

Lists of MOOCs

MIT and others provide a huge number of MOOCs (Massive, Open Online Courses) perfectly suitable for those who have a desire to continue learning from wherever and whenever they choose.

If you want to expand your mind but don’t have time to go back to school, there are plenty of options to get an advanced education online. The best part? All of these programs are completely free!

Check them out here:

Friday, February 14, 2014

Arlington Regional Science Fair Judges, March 1.

Arlington Schools needs judges for the Northern Virginia Regional Science and Engineering Fair on Saturday, March 1st. The science fair judging is from 7:30am -12noon at Wakefield High School. They particularly need judges for the categories of Physics, Engineering and Medicine/Health. Coffee and breakfast will be provided.

If interested, contact Christine Reid in the Science Office, Arlington Public Schools, at or 703-228-6166.

Anti-Science Bill (HB 207) Dies in the House


Virginia's House Bill 207 died on February 11, 2014, when a deadline for bills to pass their house of origin passed. The bill, which would have deprived administrators of the ability to prevent teachers from misleading students about "scientific controversies," was previously referred by the House Education Committee to the House Committee of Courts on Justice.  Unusually, the latter committee refused to accept the bill, so it returned to the former committee, which failed to consider it again before the passage of the deadline.

The sole sponsor of the bill was Richard P. "Dickie" Bell (R-District 20), who acknowledged to the Washington Post (January 29, 2014) that evolution and climate change "might fall into [the] category" of scientific controversies mentioned by the bill. Bell earlier told The Recorder (January 23, 2014) that he was himself a creationist and regarded global warming as "all theory at this point"; he later told WRIC (January 31, 2014) that the bill originated with the Virginia Christian Alliance, a radical religious right organization that explicitly promotes young-earth creationism.

The Recorder (January 23, 2014) editorially opposed the bill, as did the Virginian-Pilot (February 4, 2014), which editorially commented,  "[A]nti-evolutionists have shifted their approach to advocate teaching evolution theory with a scientifically unjustified emphasis on its uncertainties ... That approach animates Bell's bill, which would work
by tying the hands of school administrators," adding, "[S]cience teachers -- alone among educators -- [would be] exempt from guidance about what they should teach and repercussions for failing to cover required curricula."

For the text of Virginia's House Bill 207 as introduced, visit:

Thursday, February 13, 2014

David Nagel: Job Shadowing in STEM Careers

Reposted from The Journal:

'Job Shadowing' Can Get Students More Interested in STEM Careers

The "STEM pipeline" is leaking. But according to a new study published today, there's a fairly straightforward way to patch it up: Expose high school students to the actual workplaces where science, technology, engineering and math are done.
The concept is called "job shadowing," in which students visit work sites and observe the activities of people employed in careers they might choose to pursue. The idea is that once kids are exposed to these workplaces and are able to get a concrete idea of the day-to-day activities of STEM professionals, they can become motivated to pursue STEM careers themselves, according to a new paper, "Vocational Anticipatory Socialization of Adolescents: Messages, Sources, and Frameworks that Influence Interest in STEM Careers," published today in the National Communication Association's Journal of Applied Communication Research.
At present, that type of exposure just isn't happening, especially for students who are from lower socioeconomic backgrounds and whose families are not employed in STEM fields. So many students have little idea what a career in a STEM discipline might entail.
"Students don't learn enough about STEM careers unless their parents work in STEM areas, and the messages they receive from parents, teachers and counselors frequently fail to address how students think about and evaluate potential career paths," said lead researcher Karen K. Myers, an associate professor of communication at the University of California, Santa Barbara, in a statement released to coincide with the paper. "Once students get a detailed picture of what it's like to work in one of these jobs, it can motivate them to overcome difficult obstacles and adopt a STEM job as a goal."

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Bored with Judging Science Fairs?

If you have a technical background or interests and want to judge students on real skills, the Northern Virginia Regional Technology Student Association needs judges its event on March 1.

March 1 , 2014 Regional Technology Student Association event, Mt Vernon High School, 7 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

The judges coordinator is Cara Mosley from McLean HS and can serve as a contact and for questions.  Anyone with a technical background can be helpful, but some may find judging categories specific to their interests in the attachment.

TSA Regional Fair Competition Codes & Events

Middle School
A-2   Career Prep
A-3   Challenging Technology Issues
A-5   Communication Challenge
A-6   Community Service Video
A-8   Digital Photography
A-9   Dragster
A-13 Essays on Technology
A-14 Flight
A-16 Go Green Manufacturing
A-21 Prepared Speech
A-23 Promotional Design
A-24 STEM Animation
A-26 System Control Technology
A-31 Water Infrastructure

High School
B-4   Career Preparation
B-5   CAD- Architecture, 2D
B-6   CAD- Engineering, 3D
B-9   Debating Technological Issues
B-10 Desktop Publishing
B-11 Digital Video Production
B-12 Dragster Design
B-14 Essays on Technology
B-15 Extemporaneous Speech
B-17 Flight Endurance
B-20 Manufacturing Prototype
B-21 Music Production
B-24 Photographic Technology
B-25 Prepared Presentation
B-27 Promotional Graphics
B-30 System Control Technology
B-34 Transportation Modeling
B-36 Video Game Design

Friday, February 7, 2014

VISTA Professional Development Opportunities

Virginia Initiative for Science Teaching & Achievement (VISTA) Professional Development Opportunities 

-- Summer 2014 -- 

VISTA aims to improve science teaching by helping teachers learn to apply the principles of hands-on science, student-centered inquiry, the nature of science, and problem-based learning. VISTA provides support and research-based teaching coursework for new middle and high school science teachers. Teachers receive free professional learning opportunities, free coaching and mentoring, and the facilitation of a statewide community of practice. To learn more or to apply, visit; see “About the Program.”

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Marymount University Master's in Education

You're Invited: M.Ed. in Education Info Session 2/11
Join faculty and staff at the Reston Center on Tuesday, February 11@6:30pm for an information session about our graduate Education programs. Space Is Limited.Register Online>>

The Master's in Education at Marymount Reston
Marymount University offers a Master of Education degree with teaching licensure for elementary or secondary grades through its Reston Center, as well as its nonlicensure Master of Education in Professional Studies.
Learn More>>

Marymount’s Reston Center
Marymount Reston is designed to meet the needs of a diverse population of adult students at the undergraduate and graduate levels.
Learn More>>

Upcoming Events
Representatives of Marymount Reston will be on-hand to meet current and prospective students at these upcoming events:

February 11@6:30pm
Graduate Education
Information Session

Marymount Reston

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Arlington Career Center's Entries in the White House Video Competition

Our Arlington students' two entries in the first annual White House video competition.

White House Arlington Career Center from Arlington Career Center TV on Vimeo.

The Power of Technology from Arlington Career Center TV on Vimeo.

Click below for more ACC TV:

Bill Nye Protecting Science Education

I was so very impressed with Bill Nye on Tuesday night. I was skeptical that this debate could elevate a lay person's understanding of science, and the concern for science education.  This seems particularly acute because of HB 207 currently under consideration by the Virginia House of Delegates Education Committee.  It's a bill introduced nationwide and supported by the Discovery Institute to introduce Creationism in science classroooms.

     Nye: "I say to the grownups, if you want to deny evolution and live in your world, that's completely inconsistent with the world we observe, that's fine. But don't make your kids do it. Because we need them. We need scientifically literate voters and taxpayers for the future. We need engineers that can build stuff and solve problems."

But this debate was a real debate, and moderated very well.  Both Bill Nye and Ken Ham had excellent slides, and both were polite even when challenging.  This was one of the best and most well-managed debates I've ever watched. Political debate moderators should learn something.

The debate did not take place in a school, it took place in the Creation Museum (a church). Second, the focus on this debate was whether Ken Ham's Creationism is a viable explanation of the history of life, and not a debate on the validity of evolution, biochemistry, astronomy, physics, and geology.

And finally, where Ken Ham's message and strategies limited his appeal to only new-Earth Creationist's who believe in a literal interpretation of the Bible as translated into American English, Bill Nye's explanations of all its contradictions were so wonderfully tangible to any listener.

If you watch only one segment, skip the opening remarks and Ken Ham's platform, and watch Bill Nye's presentation.  The link below shout take you to it directly.  You can rewind or skip forward from there.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Coding as a Foreign Language Requirement

This is another one of those reports in which I'll establish that I am only the messenger!  -  Jim

from the Courier-Journal:

Computer programming would satisfy foreign-language requirement under Kentucky bill

Melissa Andrews, Roger McKeeFRANKFORT, KY. — Legislation that would let students use computer programming courses to satisfy foreign-language requirements in public schools moved forward in the Kentucky Senate on Thursday.    Supporters said the measure, Senate Bill 16, would help prepare students for good-paying jobs in the computer industry. It passed the Senate Education Committee on a 10-1 vote.

UPDATE | Kentucky Senate passes bill to let computer programming satisfy foreign-language requirement

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Good News on Virginia HB 207

An update from this week in the House of Delegates:

There’s good news on House Bill 207, the antiscience bill before Virginia’s legislature. 
When the House Subcommittee on Elementary and Secondary Education met on January 30, about ten people testified against the bill.  It wasn’t enough to convince the subcommittee to kill this unnecessary bill, though. Instead, the subcommittee recommended to send it to the House Courts of Justice Committee, where it is expected to be sent to the Subcommittee on Constitutional Law.
House Education Committee and ask them to oppose this dangerous legislation:

R. Steven Landes (Chair) (804) 698-1025 (540) 255-5335
Brenda L. Pogge (Vice Chair) (804) 698-1096 (757) 223-9690
Richard P. Bell (804) 698-1020 (540) 448-3999
Robert H. Brink (804) 698-1048 (703) 531-1048
David L. Bulova (804) 698-1037 (703) 310-6752
Mark L. Cole (804) 698-1088 (540) 786-3402
Glenn R. Davis, Jr. (804) 698-1084 (757) 802-4982
Peter F. Farrell (804) 698-1056 (804) 644-0266
Thomas A. (Tag) Greason Daun Sessoms Hester (804) 698-1089 (757) 625-8989
Mark L. Keam (804) 698-1035 (703) 350-3911
James A. Leftwich, Jr. (804) 698-1078 (757) 382-4156
James M. LeMunyon (804) 698-1067 (703) 264-1432
Lingamfelter, L. Scott (804) 698-1031 (703) 580-1294
James P. (Jimmie) Massie, III(804) 698-1072 (804) 377-0100
Jennifer L. McClellan (804) 698-1071 (804) 698-1171
Joseph D. Morrissey (804) 698-1074 (804) 698-1074
Roxann L. Robinson (804) 698-1027 (804) 308-1534
Thomas Davis Rust (804) 698-1086 (703) 437-9400
Roslyn C. Tyler (804) 698-1075 (434) 336-1710
David E. Yancey (804) 698-1094 (757) 897-3953
Joseph R. Yost (804) 698-1012 (540) 922-8032
This is a promising development, since the new subcommittee is going to be alert to the potential constitutional problems that the passage of HB 207 would bring with it for school districts across Virginia.

The House Education Committee needs to approve that recommendation, though. It will consider it on Monday, February 3. So connect with members of the committee, especially if they’re your delegates thise weekend to share your perspective. 
HB 207 is modeled on dangerous antiscience laws passed in Tennessee in 2012 and Louisiana in 2008, and on similar bills rejected in almost a dozen other states over the last decade.

STEM+Women Conference - March 25

George Mason University’s  Computer Game Design Program andSimulation Game Institute, in partnership with Women in Technology (WIT) Education Foundation, are proud to present the STEM+ WomenConference on March 25, 8am to 5pm at the Fairfax Campus.
STEM+ Women is a conference offering young women in high school and college the opportunity to learn about STEM+ fields, with a special focus on the skills and knowledge necessary for navigating a global workforce. Participants will learn from current students and professional women about STEM+ majors, internships, and potential careers. This conference also provides a positive space for dialogue about issues that women face in industry and explores solutions for empowering women to pursue the careers of their choice. 
The conference is open to high school junior and senior young women and all college students.  For more information, visit our website at
While this conference is free, registration is required and space is limited, so register early.
Discover why studying STEM+ matters and how women are reprogramming the industry!
You can also follow us online at Facebook and Twitter: @STEMPlusWomen

WIT Education Foundation & GMU Game Design Volunteers