Up to $2M to strengthen community colleges

The President’s Community-Based Job Training Grants program is designed to strengthen community colleges and their role in the U.S. workforce. Funds will be awarded to individual community and technical colleges, community college districts, state community college systems, One-Stop Career Centers, and other entities in areas without access to community colleges. Awardees will support or engage in activities for the purpose of building the capacity of community colleges to train for careers in high growth, high demand industries in regional economies.

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Trips and other prizes for engineering skills

Toys are a great way to learn about science, engineering and the design process. Sally Ride Science is giving students in grades five through eight the chance to step out of their classrooms and develop their engineering and design skills by creating their dream toy for the fifth annual TOYchallenge. The mission of this toy- and game-design competition is to motivate kids, especially girls, to get involved in engineering design. TOYchallenge 2007 will launch in the fall of 2006. To get started, teams must: find an adult coach (18 years of age, or older) and sign up this fall; then choose from themed-toy categories like “Games for the Family” or “Get out and Play” and start brainstorming. Both boys and girls in grades five through eight may participate, but at least half of the members of each team must be girls. All submissions will be judged on originality, creativity, engineering elegance, feasibility, design process description, team participation and clarity of communication.

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Tons of prizes and savings for educators

Big Lots is sponsoring a summer sweepstakes for teachers across the nation. Between July 7 and August 10, teachers can register online or in their local Big Lots store to win one of more than 120 prizes. The sweepstakes also kicks off one of Big Lots’ newest online communities, The Teachers’ Lounge. While registering online, teachers can join this new program and have a chance to preview upcoming promotions and receive special savings.

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Roughly $25,000 for math, science, and reading education

RGK Foundation awards grants in the broad areas of education, community, and medicine/health. The foundation’s primary interests within education include programs that focus on formal K-12 education (particularly mathematics, science and reading), teacher development, literacy, and higher education.

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Up to $10,000 for outstanding science education

Toyota TAPESTRY recognizes outstanding educators who are making a difference by demonstrating excellence and creativity in science teaching. Since 1991 the program has awarded more than $7 million to 826 teams of teachers for innovative science classroom projects. Thanks to these teachers’ tireless efforts to improve their skills and increase their effectiveness, students nationwide are gaining a better understanding of science principles and methodologies. Toyota and NSTA sincerely hope these grants continue to inspire teachers and serve as a catalyst for lifetime science learning.

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$3,000 for musical mathematics instruction

The purpose of this grant is to incorporate music into the elementary school classroom to help young students learn mathematics. For 2007-2008, grants with a maximum of $3,000 each will be awarded to persons currently teaching mathematics in grades K-2. This award is for individual classroom teachers or small groups of teachers collaborating in one grade or across grade levels. Any acquisition of equipment must support the proposed plan but not be the primary focus of the grant. Proposals must address the following: the combining of mathematics and music; the plan for improving students’ learning of mathematics; and the anticipated impact on students’ achievement.

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$456,000 for health-based scientific research

The Young Epidemiology Scholars (YES) Competition for original student research is designed to inspire talented students to investigate the many behavioral, biological, environmental, and social factors that affect health and, based upon this knowledge, to identify ways to improve the health of the public. The YES Competition awards up to 120 college scholarships each year to high school juniors and seniors who conduct outstanding research projects that apply epidemiological methods of analysis to a health-related issue. Epidemiologists seek answers to why some people get sick and others don’t. In other words, epidemiology is the science of exploring patterns of disease, illness and injury within populations, with the goal of developing methods for prevention, control and treatment to improve health. The basic skills required by epidemiology – framing the right question, collecting relevant information and analyzing it to answer the question – are skills that will help students succeed in any area of future work.

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Georgia schools accelerate web research with caching solution

As with other aspects of life, education has undergone tremendous changes with the rise of the internet. Teachers and students increasingly are using classroom PCs and the web for research as part of the regular curriculum, and they’re also using web-based applications to support instruction. For Georgia’s DeKalb County Schools, however, these trends were causing a problem: The communications infrastructure that provided access to these applications and the internet was too slow to serve the growing traffic volume.

Based in Decatur, Georgia (a suburb of Atlanta), the DeKalb County School System is the second largest school system in Georgia, with 143 elementary, middle, and high schools that serve more than 100,000 students. The school system, which employs 13,825 full-time employees, had relied on 256 Kbps links for its elementary and middle schools and T-1 connections for its high schools, but students and teachers faced longer and longer page loading times when they used the web.

Finding the solution

Because the curriculum was fairly consistent from one school to the next, DeKalb’s IT staff recognized that caching content at each local school would eliminate most of the bandwidth issues. By using these low-cost caching appliances, the district could eliminate the problem without the need for far more expensive network upgrades.

In 2003, the IT staff tested several competing caching products, and they ultimately selected Stratacache Flyer appliances. While individual schools had varying bandwidth requirements, the staff determined they could use caches that handled 1,000 transactions per second (TPS) for the smaller sites and 2,000 TPS caches for the larger sites.

“Stratacache’s Flyer product won the test hands-down,” says Joseph Swing, assistant director of MIS for DeKalb County’s technical and support services division. “Stratacache has a wide selection of caching systems, and the Flyer products had the best performance in our testing.”

Once testing was completed, the district set up a pilot implementation in five schools. Stratacache representatives came out and deployed those systems in a day. “We gave them an IP address scheme and a naming convention for the cache servers, and they did the rest,” Swing says. “Everything worked as planned, so we went immediately into a full rollout.”

Within 45 days, Flyer caches were up and running at all 143 sites in the district. “We had a very fast and trouble-free deployment,” says Swing, “and the Flyer systems have worked flawlessly ever since.” The caches have required little to no maintenance, he adds.

Up and flying

The Flyer caches made a huge difference in web page access times, district officials report. Before the caches were deployed, users waited up to a minute for pages to load over the internet. But by serving 70 percent of access requests locally, the Flyer caches gave students and teachers immediate access to pages.

As a result, classroom research projects and web applications are now delay-free. Students can cast a broader net for research within the allotted class time because they’re not waiting for page loads, and teachers can be more productive with faster access to web-based applications.

Richer content, faster connections

Over the past year or so, digital video has again increased bandwidth requirements. The Flyer caches are still delivering wait-free performance, but the school system decided to invest in an all-fiber network to make sure it stayed ahead of the demand curve. DeKalb County Schools has recently completed deployment of this all-fiber network for its facilities. Now, the network provides 1 Gbps access for every school–and nearly 20 of the largest schools have 10 Gbps access.

Because this network change required the remapping of school IP addresses, Swing relied on Stratacache for help. “Stratacache has been absolutely marvelous,” says Swing. “In the fiber conversion process, we were changing our IP addressing scheme. Stratacache worked along with us to reconfigure the cache servers and get the new addresses on them.”

As it looks to the future, the DeKalb County School System is well prepared for advancements in internet-based content and applications. With reliable, cost-effective products and outstanding service, Stratacache has been a full partner in the district’s web acceleration program.

Links:

DeKalb County School System
http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us

Stratacache
http://www.stratacache.com

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