The college degrees employers seek

New grads with business or technology degrees will have a decided advantage when they hit the job market this summer, new research shows. LiveScience reports that a study by CareerBuilder revealed that degrees related to business and technology are the most in demand by employers and account for more than half of the 10 most-sought-after college majors.  Matt Ferguson, CEO of CareerBuilder, said more than half of employers are planning to hire new graduates this year. “College students who are graduating in business, technology and health-related majors will have an advantage in terms of the volume of opportunities available today,” Ferguson said. “However, other majors such as liberal arts and sciences are also attractive to employers as they look for individuals with strong communications and critical-thinking skills.”

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Ants ‘use math’ to find fastest route

Just as light does, ants traveling through different materials follow the fastest path, not the shortest one, LiveScience reports. A recent study found that when fire ants (Wasmannia auropunctata) crossed different surfaces, the insects chose the route that would minimize their total walking time, rather than the distance traveled. The ants’ behavior offers a window into how groups of social insects self-organize, the scientists say. In optics, a ray of light traveling between two points takes the path that requires the least amount of time, even if it’s not the shortest distance — which is known as “Fermat’s principle of least time.”

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Math careers just don’t add up for women

Having skills suited for a variety of careers helps explain why few women pursue math and science jobs, new research finds, reports. A study by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Michigan revealed that women may be less likely to want careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) because they have more career choices, not because they have less ability.

“Our study shows that it’s not lack of ability or differences in ability that orients females to pursue non-STEM careers, it’s the greater likelihood that females with high math ability also have high verbal ability,” said Ming-Te Wang, one of the study’s co-authors and developmental psychologist at the University of Pittsburgh. “Because they’re good at both, they can consider a wide range of occupations.”

As part of the study, researchers examined data from 1,490 college-bound U.S. students that were surveyed in both their senior year of high school and then again at age 33. The two surveys combined to question participants on SAT scores, various aspects of their motivational beliefs, and values and their occupations……Read More

Shakespeare stored in DNA files

Floppy disks, jump drives, DNA? Scientists have developed a way to encode music and text files into DNA, the molecules that normally hold the instructions for life, LiveScience reports. The new method, described today (Jan. 23) in the journal Nature, is extremely expensive right now, but eventually it could be used to store digital files without electricity for thousands of years. And since DNA is so compact, vast amounts of data could be stored in one test tube, said study author Nick Goldman, a geneticist at the European Bioinformatics Institute in the U.K…

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Study: Teens Facebook their way through class

Paying attention? A new study finds that 94 percent of Israeli high school students surf social media sites during class, LiveScience reports. The students are accessing these sites through their cell phones, according to the study conducted by University of Haifa researchers, and only 4 percent said they never pulled their phones out during class.

“Based on our findings, there is almost no moment during any class when some pupil isn’t using their cell phone,” the researchers said in a statement. The majority of Israeli teens have cell phones, according to political science professor Itali Beeri and pre-doctoral student Dana Daniel, who conducted the study. In the United States, smartphone use is also high: 31 percent of 14- to 17-year-olds have their own smartphone, according to a 2012 Pew Research Center Report.

Likewise, teens the world over love social media. Nearly three-quarters, or 73 percent, of teens who use the Internet have at least one social network account such as Facebook or Twitter, according to a 2010 Pew survey……Read More

15 current technologies a child born today will never use

From the moment that I found out my wife was pregnant with our first child, a son, I’ve thought of his development in terms of tech, says Avram Piltch for LiveScience. When pregnancy sites described our six-week-old fetus as the size of a “lentil,” I referred to him as the length of an RFID chip. When the doctor said he had reached 1.3 pounds, I told all my friends that my son was the size of an iPad. When he was born this week, he was about the size of an HP Envy 15, though unfortunately his cries did not use Beats Audio. As my newborn son grows to match the size of a mid-tower desktop, a large-screen TV and eventually a server rack, I can’t help but think about all the gadgets he won’t even remember using that were so important to his dad. I’m not talking about long dead-and-buried technologies such as the VHS recorder or the 35mm camera. Rather, I’m thinking about devices and concepts most of us use today that will fall out of mainstream use so soon that he either won’t remember them, or will only have very hazy memories of having lived with them…

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Study: Minority students get less critical feedback from teachers

Black and Latino students may be getting less critical, but helpful, feedback from teachers than their white counterparts, a new educational study indicates, LiveScience reports.

“The social implications of these results are important; many minority students might not be getting input from instructors that stimulates intellectual growth and fosters achievement,” study researcher Kent Harber, a Rutgers-Newark psychology professor, said in a press release.

This positive bias in feedback to minority students may be contributing to the achievement gap between white and minority students, a stubborn national problem, Harber said. The study “tested” 113 white middle-school and high-school teachers in two public school districts, one middle class and white, and the other working class and racially mixed……Read More

Students win $115,000 by doing the math on high-speed rail

Many high school students do math problems about trains. Fewer win $115,000 in college scholarships by calculating the possible future of U.S. high-speed rail, LiveScience reports. That high-speed rail future may not look too bright, according to some student papers presented at the Moody’s Corp. headquarters next to the World Trade Center site on April 26. But the top six student teams who made the final cut of the Moody’s Mega Math (M3) Challenge had plenty to smile about — they clustered in celebratory circles around giant prize checks after a long day of explaining how they had applied math to a messy real-world problem.

“It’s really this idea that the real world in many cases is not someone locked in a room with a pencil and paper,” said Ben Galluzzo, a triage judge for the M3 Challenge and a mathematician at Shippensburg University in Penn. Galluzzo came up with this year’s question asking students to rank 10 regions in order from most to least deserving of U.S. high-speed rail funding. He based the question on the U.S. Department of Transportation’s High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail Program ? a proposed $53 billion plan that has failed to attract the necessary funding from Congress…

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Students’ device taps swimming pool for power

Most American teens may see a pool as a chance for a swim or lazy summer relaxation, but one group of California high school students envisions swimming pools as a new source of electricity to power U.S. schools, homes and businesses, LiveScience reports. Their energy solution relies upon the power of thermoelectric panels capable of harnessing the temperature difference between a hot surface and the cold water. That could do much more than just power household devices — huge floating farms of the devices might create electricity for energy-hungry coastal towns and cities.

“As this device floats on water, reflector panels focus sunlight onto a black surface that converts the solar energy to heat,” said Anthony Silk, a math teacher and adviser to the Harker School team in San Jose, Calif. “This heat is then passed through thermoelectric panels and passively dissipated into the surrounding water.”

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New year brings new attacks on evolution in schools

The new year is bringing new controversy over teaching evolution in public schools, with two bills in New Hampshire seeking to require teachers to teach the theory more as philosophy than science, LiveScience reports. Meanwhile, an Indiana state senator has introduced a bill that would allow school boards to require the teaching of creationism. New Hampshire House Bill 1148 would “require evolution to be taught in the public schools of this state as a theory, including the theorists’ political and ideological viewpoints and their position on the concept of atheism.”

The second proposal in the New Hampshire House, HB 1457, does not mention evolution specifically but would “require science teachers to instruct pupils that proper scientific inquire [sic] results from not committing to any one theory or hypothesis, no matter how firmly it appears to be established, and that scientific and technological innovations based on new evidence can challenge accepted scientific theories or modes.”

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