Saturday, September 19, 2015

A Succinct Rationale for Modern Approaches to Math

Like many of you, I'm sure, I've grown weary of right-wing attacks on Common Core Math from parents who could no longer help with middle school homework, and I stopped trying to convince childhood friends on Facebook to seek enlightenment.  But this video is smart and comfortable.  Share it.

Friday, September 18, 2015

The Solar System to Scale

You know all those classroom models and textbook images?  They're all misleading.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Inshoring and the Demand for Technicians

from Jim Stone, Director of the NRCCTE

By now you no doubt have heard or read about "inshoring," the movement of manufacturing jobs back to the United States. Growth in this area has been slow but steady, with the Labor Department estimating that 320,000 new positions opened up in March.

Part of what is interesting about jobs like these is that many require STEM skills, but not necessarily STEM degrees. Needed skills include programming and operating computer-controlled tools, maintaining and repairing sophisticated machinery (which require workers to have a strong understanding of mechanics and electronics), and doing specialized types of welding. 

The Wall Street Journal recently published an article (warning: subscription required) in which it showed that more than three-quarters of existing workers holding the following jobs have less than an associate's degree:
  • Chemical plant system operators
  • Aircraft structure and systems assemblers
  • Model makers
  • Computer machine tool programmers
  • Chemical equipment operators and tenders
  • Tool and die makers
High-quality CTE programs in high schools and community colleges teach the kinds of skills needed to thrive in these middle-skill STEM and manufacturing jobs.

As always, I enjoy hearing from you. Please email me at with your thoughts. 

James R. Stone III

Forbes Calls for Greater Emphasis on CTE

Orginally Posted: 08 Sep 2015 11:56 AM PDT

On Tuesday, September 2, Forbes published an opinion article by Nicholas Wyman titled “Why We Desperately Need To Bring Back Vocational Training In Schools.” The piece outlined the shifting attitudes toward CTE (or vocational education) since the 1950’s, and emphasized the reinvigoration that CTE has experienced that has made it a key component to every student’s education.

Wyman notes the need for a diverse workforce that is equipped with a variety of backgrounds and skills – noting that many students’ interest would be better served by hands-on learning opportunities that are frequently featured in CTE. Furthermore, he points to the challenges faced by students who have obtained education that has led to un- and underemployment among many young professionals today.

Wyman’s point regarding the value of and need for increased support for CTE is correct; students who enroll in CTE programs are building the skills they will need for their future careers and preparing themselves for success in whatever field they so choose. By helping students to incorporate CTE into their educational road map and better informing them of the options available to them, we can prepare them for college and career success.
To learn more about how you can work with the media to strengthen awareness of CTE (including writing your own op ed), click here to visit the Advocacy Toolkit.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Women in applied science

The discovery of a new hominin species is making headlines around the world this week but what many people don't realize is that the excavation team that uncovered this historic find was made up of six daring women scientists! The fossils were found at the bottom of a cave system in South Africa; one of the scientists, Marina Elliott, said that their collection and removal involved "some of the most difficult and dangerous conditions ever encountered in the search for human origins.” Thanks to the dedication of these six women, people everywhere will have the opportunity to gain new insight into the development of our species.

Palaeoanthropologist Lee Berger learned about the fossils in Rising Star Cave in October 2013 -- as well as their location, at the bottom of a 36 foot long shaft that gets as narrow as 7 inches across. He put up an ad on Facebook seeking scientists with a background in archaeology or paleontology, but with a catch: “the person must be