Covid’S Hit on Education and Literacy Levels Will Impact a Generation – Can Ebooks Help Us?

Scholastic US research indicates that of children who had read an eBook, 26% of boys and 16% of girls said they were reading more books as a result. National Literacy Trust research found that boys were significantly more likely to say that they read on screen (65.7%) than in print (55.4%) outside school.[1]

To help tackle falling literacy levels and utilise the reading skills and motivation benefited from eBooks, ‘Nimble Stories’, a new eBook start-up company is launching a crowdfunding effort on Thursday, 4 March 2021.

Nimble Stories is an easy eBook subscription service for Schools, Parents and Guardians, providing short stories and children’s books – perfect for learning, fun adventures and bedtime reads. Nimble Stories will be releasing new titles every week, meaning you can always find something new – across both fiction and non-fiction categories. With unlimited downloads, your subscription makes sure the fun never stops. There’s no limit or allowance to worry about – just complete access to the entire Nimble Stories’ library, as if it were your own. All eBooks are easy to read, available offline and can even be printed at home or in the classroom.…Read More

4 keys to building an equitable STEM program

This year in schools across the nation, approximately 136,000 students took advanced placement (AP) computer science, a 31 percent increase from last year. This group included a record number of female and minority students, but girls still only accounted for 28 percent of students taking AP computer science exams, while underrepresented minorities accounted for 21 percent. Meanwhile, the increase in STEM jobs shows no sign of slowing down, and only 33 percent of workers ages 25 and older have a degree in a STEM field.

What does this all mean? It means we can’t afford to leave anyone out. We need to find ways to immerse all students of all ages, races, genders, and types (not just the “talented and gifted” kids) in rich STEM learning. Educators need to do whatever they can to engage all students in a way that appeals to their interests across all STEM subjects. In working with hundreds of school districts across the country, here are four steps I’ve seen educators take to effectively build and nurture an equitable STEM program.

1. Provide STEM professional development (PD) to elementary teachers.
One of the challenges educators face is that there are limited opportunities for STEM-specific PD designed for elementary teachers. To promote STEM equity, schools first need to help more teachers figure out how to integrate STEM into their curriculum.…Read More

Is STEM getting ‘IT’ right for female students?

March 8th was memorable for many reasons. Not only was it International Women’s Day, but Meghan Markle made one of her first official public appearances with her future husband, Prince Harry, at an event in Birmingham, England. Significantly, the event was organized by the STEMettes, an award-winning social enterprise working across the U.K. and Ireland to inspire young women to pursue STEM careers. The STEMettes were founded in 2013 by a math and science prodigy who had been motivated by the fact that only three of the 70 students in her math and computer science class in college were female. In its first five years, the organization has worked with nearly 40,000 girls, 95 percent of whom have expressed an increased interest in STEM.

Organizations all over the world, such as EngineerGirl in the U.S., are working hard to encourage more women to seek careers in STEM fields, and it is clear that these bodies and their events are having an impact. However, my feeling is that we can and must do more in our schools to increase the number of women represented in STEM careers, not just because of the drive for equality but because we are potentially missing out on a massive pool of talent. It is widely recognized that a career in STEM is more than technical knowledge; increasingly, it requires soft skills such as flexibility, creativity, and judgement. We need to look above and beyond people who rate highly in cognitive ability as it would typically be defined, and create an intentional plan to acquire talent from diverse sources.

One great example is that set by the Haysfield Girls’ School in the U.K. The school has won awards for its efforts in promoting STEM, including specialist days, a science fair, visits to science attractions and from female science role models, and encouraging STEM scholarship programs. The school’s STEM initiatives have been supported by corporations, including Dyson, and The James Dyson Foundation has developed brilliant resources and activities to teach STEM in fun and dynamic ways. Thirty percent of Dyson’s engineers are female, five times the percentage of the overall engineering workforce in the U.K. and almost three times the percentage in the US. When an effort is made to engage girls in STEM, great things will result.…Read More

Girls and STEM: A female engineer shares her path

Many people leave Disney World dreaming of becoming a princess, but when I experienced Disney for the first time as a three-year-old, I left the parks with a different dream: to become an engineer. I was enamored by the rides and became obsessed with learning how everything—from the roller coasters to the teacups—fit together and worked.

While I knew I wanted to be an engineer, I didn’t know which type of engineer I wanted to be. Fortunately, my parents handled my interest in engineering in the same way they handled other extracurricular activities: by finding every opportunity for me to learn about and experience engineering. Over the next decade, I learned about engineering by interviewing current engineers, going to summer camps, and absorbing information online.

When I was 13, I read a paragraph-long description about industrial engineering and knew what I wanted to do with my life. Today, I’m a senior industrial engineering student at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, and I couldn’t be happier with the decision I made in my teens.…Read More

What motivates girls to pursue STEM?

It’s a persistent and troubling problem: Why are girls so underrepresented in STEM clubs and subjects in K-12 through college, and why are there so many more men than women in STEM fields?

The call for equal representation is becoming louder, and society is striving to solve glaring gender gaps in STEM graduates and STEM fields across the country. The numbers tell an alarming story about female representation in STEM education and fields.

According to Girls Who Code, fewer than 20 percent of computer science graduates are women. Today, only 24 percent of computer scientists are women, and by 2027, just 22 percent of women will be represented in the field.…Read More

Free coding classes for girls grows, gets nod from White House

With a shout out from the White House, the efforts to teach computer coding to more Kanawha County girls expanded Wednesday, with plans for an initiative that started with just female students to further grow and, eventually, expand beyond women and Kanawha’s borders.

Ysabel Bombardiere, the volunteer instructor for a girls coding group that started early this year at the West Virginia University Extension Service office in Kanawha City, said she’s started a new initiative, called Project Code Nodes, that will add — atop the Kanawha City group, where a new session of meetings started last month — three new free coding groups based in downtown Charleston, Institute and Rand.

On Wednesday, the Institute class became the first new one to open. Bombardiere said the downtown Charleston group is expected to start this fall and the Rand group is planned to begin in January.…Read More

Teach students to learn by doing with Google school coding clubs

Google’s CS First clubs open up new worlds for novice coders

scratchA few months ago, I was searching for resources to support computer science education for middle school students—girls in particular—when I came across Google CS First. Not really knowing what it was, I went ahead and registered my school, and then myself—as a teacher host, advocate, volunteer, and guru all at the same time. I might not have known what I was getting into, but I knew that I would do anything to inspire my students to grow and learn in all areas of STEM, but in particular, computer science.

Today my school is a Google CS First site, meaning we host CS First clubs that take place before or after school as an enrichment experience for students in grades 4-8, where they learn about computer science and coding in a hands-on way—learning by doing. As part of the process, I made my classroom available for local volunteers, or “gurus,” to come in to help and connect with students, opening up my school to the community. Our gurus receive detailed information about where to go, when to show up, and even how to locate my classroom. Most importantly, a background in computer science is not a requirement.

The support from Google CS First is tremendous. Upon request, they sent a loaner set of 30 headphones and peripheral materials for the students that included passports, sticker-badges for each day’s modules, detailed scripts, certificates of completion, and directions for exercises. All materials are also available for free download from the club site, with coding done in Scratch, a programming language that uses building blocks to form commands. All of these supporting materials make it seamless for anyone, be it a volunteer guru, teacher, or parent to come in and help out. A suggested script, as well as breakdown of time for each activity, is also included.…Read More

7 ways to keep girls interested in STEM for the long haul

Just 15 percent of U.S. engineers are women. Here’s how to correct that statistic and get girls invested in STEM

girls-stemEngineering is empowering. It encompasses the ability to create whatever you can imagine and thereby change the world for the better. But in the United States, fewer than 15 percent of working engineers are women, despite comprising half of the population. There are a number of possible reasons for this inequality, but a variety of contributing factors take effect at an early age.

Consider that our culture encourages boys to play with construction toys, while girls are given dolls and are expected to be princesses. Boys are praised for being smart while girls are praised for being pretty. Children learn through play; by having the opportunity to build, boys are able to develop spatial reasoning skills in a way that girls aren’t. Classroom expectations also vary by gender; for instance, research has shown that math teachers call on boys far more often than girls.

We need more women to bring their talents and energy into science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). This process must begin in the elementary school classroom, because by the time they reach middle school it may be too late. Girls may already be discouraged about math and science from earlier negative experiences.…Read More

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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