For winning Google’s 2010 Doodle 4 Google contest, third-grader Makenzie Melton from El Dorado Springs, Mo., now has a $15,000 college scholarship, a netbook computer, and a $25,000 technology grant for a new computer lab at her school, CNN reports. Melton’s doodle, titled “Rainforest Habitat,” will appear on the Google home page May 27. The doodle, which expresses Melton’s “concern that the rainforest is in danger,” was chosen over more than 33,000 submissions by students ranging from kindergarten to 12th grade, according to a post on the Official Google Blog. Melton and the rest of the applicants were asked to develop a doodle for the site’s home page based on the theme, “If I could do anything, I would…” A panel of “well-known illustrators, cartoonists, and animators” helped choose the winning doodle, according to the blog……Read More
Alarmed at what they see as a potential setback in federal support for education technology, several dozen state and national education groups and high-tech companies have sent letters to House and Senate lawmakers, urging them to continue funding the Enhancing Education Through Technology (EETT) block-grant program in fiscal 2011.
The letters expressed concerns about President Obama’s budget proposal, which would fold EETT—the largest single source of federal funding for school technology equipment, support, and professional development—into a new competitive grant program that aims to promote effective teaching and learning.
According to federal officials, this new initiative would “include a focus on integrating technology into instruction and using technology to drive improvements in teaching and learning” throughout all subject areas. (Read “Nation’s ed-tech chief reacts to budget concerns”)…Read More
“Default Lines” column from eSchool News, May 2010—In his speech to school superintendents during the American Association of School Administrators’ annual conference in February, Education Secretary Arne Duncan argued that schools should have more flexibility in how they get all students to achieve.
“We should be tight on standards … but loose about how to get there,” he told the nation’s school leaders in outlining what he called the administration’s “guiding principles” for rewriting No Child Left Behind.…Read More
Inspired by a Facebook message, thousands of New Jersey students walked out of class on April 27 to protest cuts in school aid, reports the New York Times. It was a silent call to arms: an easy-to-overlook message urging New Jersey students to take a stand against the budget cuts that threaten class sizes and choices, as well as after-school activities. But some 18,000 students accepted the invitation posted last month on Facebook, the social media site better known for publicizing parties and sporting events. And on April 27 many of them walked out of class in one of the largest grass-roots demonstrations to hit New Jersey in years. The protest disrupted classroom routines and standardized testing in some of the state’s biggest and best-known school districts, offering a real-life civics lesson that unfolded on lawns, sidewalks, parking lots, and football fields. The mass walkouts were inspired by Michelle Ryan Lauto, an 18-year-old aspiring actress and a college freshman, and came a week after voters rejected 58 percent of school district budgets put to a vote across the state. “All I did was make a Facebook page,” said Lauto, who graduated last year from Northern Valley Regional High School in Old Tappan, N.J. “Anyone who has an opinion could do that and have their opinion heard. I would love to see kids in high school step up and start their own protests and change things in their own way.”…Read More
President Obama proposed $900 million in school grants today designed to improve low-performing schools, particularly those with high dropout rates, USA Today reports. “Over 1 million students don’t finish high school each year,” Obama said during an education event at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, adding that most dropouts are in the African-American and Latino communities. There may have been a time when kids could leave school and still get a good enough blue collar job to pay the bills, Obama said, but: “That’s just not the case anymore.” The $900 million in grants targets states with graduation rates of less than 60 percent, the president said. Schools that fail to increase those rates face the prospect of new principals, new managements, or even outright closure. Obama spoke at an event sponsored by America’s Promise Alliance, led by one of his prominent supporters: Former general and Republican administration official Colin Powell.…Read More
Google Inc. has awarded a two-year, $1 million research grant aimed at slashing energy usage in large internet data centers to a team of computer scientists at the University of California at Santa Barbara, Rutgers University, the University of Michigan, and the University of Virginia, Rutgers reports. The company also might award an additional $500,000 for a third year subject to program review. The grant is part of $5.7 million that the company has awarded to 12 university projects in areas of key interest to the company and the computing research community. Energy efficiency is a key concern for internet companies, because data centers can consume large amounts of power. “Data centers have to be built to handle the highest anticipated demand,” said Ricardo Bianchini, a Rutgers computer science professor. “But most of the time, they are only running between 20 and 50 percent of capacity. Trouble is, the computer servers in these centers consume about the same amount of energy whether their workload is low or high.” The research team will explore ways to create low power modes in servers, allowing parts of the computer to be turned off while other parts remain accessible. The goal is to allow less active servers to move their processing loads to other servers and essentially go to sleep. But information on the sleeping servers’ memories must still be instantly accessible……Read More
West Michigan schools, businesses, residents, and health-care facilities will have more broadband internet service options and could see lower bills thanks to a $33.3 million federal grant awarded Jan. 20 to an Ann Arbor-based research and education provider, reports the Grand Rapids Press. Merit Network Inc., a nonprofit owned and governed by 12 public universities in Michigan, is rolling out its Rural, Education, Anchor, Community, and Heath care — Michigan Middle Mile Collaborative (REACH-3MC) project. The effort is a 955-mile extension of the firm’s existing 1,600-mile fiber-optic backbone network. The 32-county project will improve broadband offerings for underserved communities in Michigan, including primarily rural areas, Merit spokesman Elwood Downing said. Cable will begin to be strung by May, with two-thirds of the project to be completed within two years. The federal grant—a piece of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding—opens the door for smaller commercial internet providers to be more competitive with larger firms such as Comcast Corp. The grant was one of four awarded by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration totaling more than $63 million. Michigan State also received an $895,000 public computer center grant to expand 84 existing library computer centers and establish four new ones……Read More
The Obama administration’s main school improvement initiative has spurred education policy changes in states across the nation, but it is meeting with some last-minute resistance as the first deadline for applications arrives Tuesday, according to The New York Times. Thousands of school districts in California, Ohio and other states have declined to participate, and teachers’ unions in Michigan, Minnesota and Florida have recommended that their local units not sign on to their states’ applications. Several rural states, including Montana, have said they will not apply, at least for now, partly because of the emphasis on charter schools, which would draw resources from small country schools. And Gov. Rick Perry of Texas said last week that his state would not compete for the $700 million that the biggest states are eligible to win in the $4 billion program, known as Race to the Top, calling it an intrusion on states’ rights.…Read More
A $2.38 million grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to Indiana University will be used to develop software to manage print and electronic collections for academic and research libraries around the world, reports Inside Indiana Business. IU will lead the Kuali OLE (Open Library Environment) project, a partnership of research libraries dedicated to managing increasingly digital resources and collections. Together, these libraries will develop open-source software that will be made available to libraries worldwide. Kuali OLE (pronounced Oh-LAY) partners also include a consortium of Florida universities; Lehigh University; Triangle Research Libraries Network (represented by Duke and North Carolina State); and Chicago, Maryland, Michigan, and Pennsylvania universities. Large academic research libraries such as these manage and provide access to millions of items, using software to track interrelated transactions that range from ordering and paying for items to loaning materials to library patrons. As the nature of library collections expands to include more digital materials, including leased electronic journals and digitized photograph collections, libraries are increasingly interested in developing management software for these resources, said Interim Ruth Lilly Dean of University Libraries Carolyn Walters. “Libraries now create, lease, and share digital materials, but the systems in place for cataloging and tracking these items are based on print collections,” said Walters. “With this project, we benefit from working together with a community of academic libraries that want to change the way that information is managed in the scholarly environment.”…Read More
The Amgen Award for Science Teaching Excellence (AASTE) is an annual awards program that recognizes extraordinary contributions by educators across the United States, Puerto Rico and Canada who are elevating the level of science literacy through creativity in the classroom and motivation of students. An independent panel of judges selects the winners based on the following criteria: creativity and effectiveness of teaching methods; the plan for the use of grant money to improve science education resources in their schools; and an innovative science lesson plan showcasing innovative methods in the classroom.