Students excel in STEM gaming challenge

Students' video games explore a variety of STEM topics.

Twelve students in grades 5-8 are winners in the first-ever National STEM Video Game Challenge, a competition to motivate interest in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education by tapping into the natural passion of youth for playing and making video games.

The award program’s first year offered competitions for students and developers.

(See “U.S. ramps up efforts to improve STEM education.”)…Read More

Survey: Districts lack STEM funding, professional development

Funding is among the top obstacles cited in a STEM education survey.

Though STEM educators highly value technology’s presence and potential in the classroom, they cited a lack of funding and professional development for teachers as two major roadblocks in creating 21st century classrooms in their districts, according to a new survey from research and consulting firm Interactive Educational Systems Design.

The 2011 National Survey on STEM Education was conducted in December 2010, and 515 educators responded to the survey, which was a follow-up to a similar March 2010 survey.

A majority of survey respondents, when asked to identify the three most important challenges facing K-12 science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education in the U.S., chose STEM funding (74 percent), a low number of qualified STEM education teachers (55.9 percent), and insufficient STEM professional development for teachers (54.6 percent).…Read More

Ga. Tech to host disabled STEM students in Second Life

Students with disabilities "show a strong capacity for science and math," researchers say.

Colleges and universities have shown concern about the growing gender gap in science, technology, education, and math (STEM), and Georgia Tech has found another group often left out of STEM studies: students with disabilities.

The university announced Feb. 23 that it would create and oversee a STEM training program hosted in the Second Life virtual world where disabled students would create avatars and receive free help from educators and experts in every STEM field.

The project, known at the university as Georgia STEM Accessibility Alliance (GSAA), was launched with $3 million in funding over five years, and will be available to students in high school, college, and graduate school, according to the school.…Read More

Education sees modest increase in Obama’s FY2012 budget

Though states are strapped for cash, education would see a slight bump in federal funding if Obama's budget is approved.

Despite tough economic times, President Obama’s $3.73 trillion budget proposal for fiscal year 2012 would increase education spending by 4.3 percent in an effort to help students compete on a global level and boost citizens’ college and workforce readiness.

The administration’s 2012 budget request for the U.S. Department of Education (ED) is $48.8 billion, an increase of $2 billion, over the 2011 budget, which was not approved by Congress and is being funded through continuing resolutions.

The budget proposal requests the following funding levels:…Read More

The top 10 ed-tech stories of 2010: No. 9

President Obama launched several new initiatives in 2010 aimed at improving STEM education.

Results from the 2009 Program for International Student Assessment, released in late 2010, showed the United States continuing to fare in the middle of the pack in terms of math and science achievement; U.S. students ranked 25th out of 65 industrialized countries in average math scores on the exam, and 17th in science.

But even before the new PISA figures came out, federal officials had ramped up their efforts to boost science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education.

Building on the “Educate to Innovate” initiative he launched in November 2009, President Obama on Jan. 6 announced the creation of several new partnerships to help attract, develop, reward, and retain outstanding STEM teachers. Later in the year, he announced a grant program that challenged students to design their own video games, and he set a goal of recruiting 10,000 new STEM teachers in the next two years. The White House also hosted its first-ever science fair in October to showcase the work of exemplary students.…Read More

White House honors student achievement in STEM education

President Barack Obama grabs the steering wheel as Tristan Evarts, of Londonderry, N.H., explains how their invention can detect distracted driving as he tours science projects on display in the State Dining Room of the White House. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy.)
President Barack Obama grabs the steering wheel as Tristan Evarts, of Londonderry, N.H., explains how their invention can detect distracted driving. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

President Barack Obama announced several new initiatives geared toward improving U.S. competitiveness in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education during the first White House Science Fair on Oct. 19, including new funding commitments and public service campaigns.

The private sector has committed $700 million to help improve the nation’s STEM education, and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) launched a public-private partnership to inspire young people to pursue STEM-related fields.

More than 100 top executives from the nation’s leading corporations recently launched a campaign called “Change the Equation,” designed to improve America’s math and science rankings.…Read More

Discovery Education launches iPad platform

DE's platform already has over 33,000 videos and clips.
DE's platform already has over 33,000 videos and clips.

In an effort to answer President Obama’s call for companies to become involved with science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education, and also to continue its aim to provide leading-edge STEM resources to thousands of districts across the country, Discovery Education’s new iPad platform comes at a time when educators are giddy with mobile tech fever.

Discovery’s new platform also comes at a time when education vendors are going app crazy; however, Discovery has taken its product one step further.

“When a school or district decides to pilot iPads, sometimes it’s hard because you can’t pre-load apps on the device; meaning if a school wants certain education apps, they have to download them one-by-one, which is time-consuming,” said Craig Halper, Discovery Education’s vice president of customer operations and platform strategy. “We decided to make an online platform specifically for the iPad, so students and educators can access it anywhere there’s an internet connection.”…Read More

Summit: U.S. needs more computer science teachers

Panel members spoke of the need for more rigorous computer science education.
Panel members spoke of the need for more rigorous computer science education.

Fewer than 65 percent of K-12 schools in the United States offer an introductory-level computer science course, much less rigorous training, according to a recent study conducted by the Association for Computing Machinery and the Computer Science Teachers Association—and an Oct. 6 Computing in the Core summit aimed to draw attention to the need for more computer science teachers.

James Shelton, the U.S. Department of Education’s (ED) Assistant Deputy Secretary for Innovation and Improvement, spoke of how computer science education was never explicitly included as a part of the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Education Coalition, which works to support STEM education programs for teachers and students.

“We want a well-rounded curriculum for students. That means reading and writing … but it also means the other things that add into making a student well-rounded,” Shelton said.…Read More

House bill would create office of STEM education

Calling the country “woefully inequipped” to teach students about science and math, Rep. Mike Honda, D-Calif., introduced a bill Sept. 29 that would create an office to oversee federal efforts in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education, reports The Hill. As a former science teacher for more than 30 years, Honda said America is lagging behind other developed nations in technical fields and needs better coordination among stakeholders to improve outcomes. His comments echo those from President Obama on Sept. 27 when he announced the White House will be attempting to recruit and train 10,000 new STEM teachers over the next two years. Honda’s bill would create an Office of STEM in the Department of Education at the assistant-secretary level in charge of coordinating all federal efforts to boost STEM education. It also would establish a voluntary consortium where states can collaborate to develop common standards for STEM in K-12 education. Finally, there will be a repository where educators can research the latest innovations in STEM. Honda said this bill is a precursor to comprehensive legislation he plans to introduce early next year that will provide a blueprint for improving STEM education nationwide. He noted that in 2006, the federal government spent more than $3 billion on 105 STEM programs at 15 different federal agencies without demonstrating any improvement in students’ performance. “Due to a lack of coordination, coherence, and cooperation, these investments result in little return,” Honda said…

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Obama calls for more STEM teachers, longer school year

Obama: “Strengthening STEM education is vital to preparing our students" for the 21st-century economy. (AP photo)
Obama: “Strengthening STEM education is vital to preparing our students" for the 21st-century economy. (AP photo)

Barely into the new school year, President Barack Obama issued a tough-love message to students and teachers on Sept. 27: Their year in the classroom should be longer, and poorly performing teachers should get out. Separately, the president also announced a goal of recruiting 10,000 teachers over the next two years in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).

American students are falling behind some of their foreign counterparts, especially in math and science, and that’s got to change, Obama said. Seeking to revive a sense of urgency that education reform might have lost amid the recession’s focus on the economy, Obama declared that the future of the country is at stake.

“Whether jobs are created here, high-end jobs that support families and support the future of the American people, is going to depend on whether or not we can do something about these schools,” the president said in an interview on NBC’s “Today” show.…Read More