NBA great promotes STEM education at event

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar bent down Monday to study the solar-powered car being demonstrated by sixth-graders from Miller’s Hill School in Shingle Springs, the Sacramento Bee reports. The NBA Hall of Famer was at the Sacramento Convention Center to kick off the first-ever California STEM symposium, a two-day event designed to help K-12 educators improve how they teach science, technology, engineering and mathematics. “By fifth grade, 92percent of boys and 97percent of girls lose interest” in STEM fields, Abdul-Jabbar said. “I’m really stoked to have the opportunity to impact our kids’ lives in a really positive way. That’s what this is all about. That is why I’m here.”

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Public schools in Fresno, Calif., to provide tablet computers to students

A public school district in Fresno, California, in one of the first such programs in the country, will provide each of its 15,000 students with a tablet loaded with curriculum specifically designed for the new technology, CBS News reports. The plan, scheduled to be announced Wednesday, will put a tablet in the hands of all kindergarten through 12th graders in the district’s 21 schools next year. The Central Unified School District has been working with the Boston-based educational publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for two years to develop interactive learning materials that will allow its teachers to get rid of traditional textbooks and gear instruction to each child’s level…

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In reality and film, a battle for schools

On Tuesday officials in Adelanto, a California desert town, are set to consider whether parents there can be the first to take over a failing public school under a new state law that is being closely watched around the country, the New York Times reports. The Hollywood version? It’s already a done deal. In a rare mix of hot policy debate and old-fashioned screen drama, 20th Century Fox is preparing a September release for “Won’t Back Down.” The film heads smack into the controversies around so-called parent trigger laws that in California and a handful of other states allow parents to dump bad teachers and overrule administrators in bottom-ranked schools. Viola Davis, an Oscar nominee as best actress for “The Help,” plays a teacher who risks career and friendships to join the revolt. Maggie Gyllenhaal is the single mother who sells cars, tends bar and rouses parents to take charge of their grade school…

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Are video games the answer to college counseling shortage?

Recent high school graduate Edwin Brito plays the pilot version of USC's Pathfinder game.
Recent high school graduate Edwin Brito plays the pilot version of USC’s Pathfinder game.

A simple online search will turn up hundreds of web sites packed with advice for high school students applying to college. But few internet resources offer step-by-step guidance, and with college counseling dwindling in public schools, University of Southern California researchers have created a video game that lets student simulate the application process in all its complexity.

The online game, called Pathfinder, has been piloted among more than 100 Los Angeles-area high school students this year and could be available to school districts free of charge if USC’s Game Innovation Lab secures $1 million in grants and funding, said Zoe Corwin, a research associate in the university’s Center for Higher Education Policy Analysis.

The Pathfinder pilot uses playing cards, but the finished product will be a web-based game, officials said.…Read More