The ups and downs of girls in STEM

Are girls really underrepresented in STEM?

Yes. 

In the US, the workforce is pretty evenly split between men and women, but in STEM fields men make up 73 percent of the workforce to women’s 27 percent. Why?

It’s easy to want to find a well-meaning solution for this disparity, or even to brush it off as unimportant. But achieving a gender parity in STEM fields (particularly computer science, engineering, and programmers, among others) isn’t just a feel-good social justice crusade. The number of open tech jobs far outpaces the population of traditionally qualified candidates—data projections have pointed to a global shortage of 85 million tech workers by 2030.

It’s not a matter of encouraging girls to pursue STEM programs just for the heck of it, to prove they can and earn a good paycheck—it’s a matter of graduating enough highly-skilled workers to meet economic demand.

Still, the imbalanced statistics for the genders in STEM are damning. What can K-12 schools do to play their part in preparing the next generation for a talent-hungry workforce?

Let students lead…Read More

Discovery Education Premieres Haul!: An Interactive STEM Learning Experience that Digs Into Sustainable Copper Production with Freeport-McMoRan

Charlotte, NC. – Freeport-McMoRan and Discovery Education present a new, first-of-its-kind gamified educational experience with Haul!. This immersive, virtual STEM mission is part of Dig Into Mining – The Story of Copper, an educational program for students grades 6-12 that explores the use of metals such as copper in our everyday life.

Releasing September 22 at 1 P.M. ET, this cutting-edge learning experience is designed to give students the opportunity to discover how copper ore makes its way into items that power our day, including cellphones, computers, vehicles, and more. Students must navigate a loaded haul truck through a 3D copper mine to earn their Haul Truck Operator’s Scorecard, while learning how STEM is used in this larger-than-life operation. The learning experience is accessible through web browsers and Chromebooks using a keyboard and mouse or a USB game controller. An accompanying educator guide makes it easy for educators to integrate the hands-on STEM learning adventure into any lesson plan. The accompanying resources also include classroom extensions to engage students before, during, and after they explore the resource. Learn more and register here.

“Copper is a critical mineral in the renewable energy transition and one essential to our sustainable futures. At Freeport-McMoRan, we are committed to the highest standards of environmental stewardship and social impact. In this new interactive virtual experience created with Discovery Education, students discover first-hand the STEM activities and skills behind this resource powering our world,” said Tracy Bame, Director of Corporate Social Responsibility at Freeport-McMoRan. “The gamification of learning engages students in exciting ways, while the accompanying educator resources and activities make it easy for teachers to connect the classroom to the wider world.”…Read More

Creating student engagement through the power of play

Recently, my colleagues and I attended a summer camp where we introduced students to some fantastic STEM activities. Kids learned how to create their own lava lamps out of everyday kitchen materials. They programed Sphero robots and used them to make cooperative artwork. We also taught them how to make circuits out of batteries and wire, as well as exploding paint bags. The events were endless, and the students had a great time, because more than anything science should be fun!

As I look back on the events of camp, I’m reminded of how important this type of play is for young minds. Play is an essential part of learning and growth. In nature, animal cubs play to sharpen their hunting skills or learn valuable foraging techniques. Among humans, play teaches valuable social skills like communication and cooperation. It also fosters a learning mindset, teaching students to absorb knowledge through exercise and practice.

While unstructured play has its place in education, most teachers need something with a little more organization if we’re to help our students grow. We can accomplish this by dividing play into two distinct categories: Playing Downhill and Playing Uphill.…Read More

Gen Z students are aiming for STEM careers

A majority of high school and college students chose STEM as their No. 1 preferred career path, according to a survey of 11,495 Gen Z students conducted by the National Society of High School Scholars (NSHSS).

The 2022 Career Interest Survey gives insights into what motivates an adventurous, civic-minded, concerned, vocal, tech-savvy, emerging workforce.

NSHSS is an academic honor society that recognizes and serves high-achieving student scholars in more than 26,000 high schools across 170 countries.…Read More

Phenix City Schools Awarded Cognia STEM Certification

Phenix City, Ala. (August 4, 2022) — Phenix City Schools (PCS) are now STEM certified, becoming the largest and fourth district in the nation. Every school in the PCS system earned Cognia’s STEM Certification in June.

According to Cognia, its STEM Certification Program, “guides leaders with a specific framework and improvement process, culminating in recognition for programs that demonstrate a strong and effective STEM focus… These standards, which Cognia identified through robust research and extensive observations, focus on characteristics like problem-based experiential learning and the integration of
STEM thinking into a broad range of activities and learning opportunities.”

PCS met and exceeded each of the standards and expectations set forth by Cognia. Cognia recognizes and certifies PCS’ STEM program:…Read More

Reaching the 4Cs with 3D and virtual reality

I thought I was ahead of the times when I acquired virtual reality headsets and other
mixed reality technology via a grant award in late 2019. The pandemic shutdowns halted my plans to use the acquired virtual reality headsets for virtual field trips and other STEM investigations. Returning to in-person learning just six months later, the prospect of utilizing this tech for meaningful integration seemed more daunting and less appealing.

Feedback from my students revealed that they had already consumed hours of 360° views while gaming on their home computers and were well versed in digital travel because teachers frequently used video tours as engagement tools during the pandemic.

To overcome my discouragement, I recalled that in 2020, Natale et al. published a review of recent research related to learning with virtual reality and concluded that VR is not as impactful on learning when done with non-immersive tools such as the Chromebooks students were issued when they were forced into distance learning. …Read More

Powerful strategies to motivate girls in STEM

The history of STEM is filled with amazing women who revolutionized our understanding of science. Take Grace Hopper, one of the first computer programmers who went on to become a rear admiral in the United States Navy. Chien-Shiung Wu was a renowned physicist who helped crack the secrets of nuclear physics. Alice Ball saved countless lives by developing a treatment for leprosy, while Ynés Mexía gave us a better understanding of the many plants which make up our environment. The list goes on, and only grows more extraordinary!

Unfortunately, women only make up 28 percent of the STEM workforce. This is because many young girls have struggled to engage with STEM while in school. The reasons for this are numerous, from forced stereotypes to a lack of role models.

As a result, many young women are missing their chance to pursue STEM in higher education, and the world is poorer for it. So, how can educators take steps to correct this imbalance?…Read More

3M Young Scientist Challenge Announces 2022 National Finalists and Honorable Mentions

Today’s youth has never been more hopeful for a better, brighter, and safer world. Inspired by the desire to impact change in communities far and near, they are using the power of STEM to help drive the change they want to see. 3M ( @3M) and Discovery Education ( @DiscoveryEd) are proud to announce the top 10 finalists and four honorable mention recipients in the 2022 3M Young Scientist Challenge, the 15th year of the competition. 

This year’s finalists and honorable mention recipients feature outstanding innovations from young scientists – fourteen students ages 12 to 14 – who submitted a one-to two-minute video communicating a solution to an everyday problem in their community or the world and the science behind their solution. A diverse group of judges, including 3M scientists and leaders in education from across the country, evaluated entries based on creativity, scientific knowledge, and communication effectiveness. The final event will take place on October 17-18, 2022, at the 3M Innovation Center in Minneapolis.  

“At 3M, we are committed to unlocking the power of our people, science, and ideas to reimagine what comes next. The ‘3M Young Scientist Challenge’ supports young innovators who have demonstrated that same passion through creative discovery and the desire to improve the world around us,” said Karina Chavez, senior vice president and chief strategy officer at 3M. “We are thrilled to welcome the latest generation of finalists and honorable mention recipients, and we are energized by a future that embraces STEM-for-all to build a better tomorrow.” …Read More

3M and Discovery Education Recognize 31 State Merit Winners in 2022 3M Young Scientist Challenge

SILVER SPRING, Md. & ST. PAUL, Minn. – 3M and Discovery Education announced 31 State Merit Winners in the 2022 3M Young Scientist Challenge. As the nation’s premier middle school science competition for 15 years, the 3M Young Scientist Challenge features outstanding innovations from young scientists that utilize the power of STEM to improve the world. 

The 3M Young Scientist Challenge asks students in grades 5-8 to identify an everyday problem in their classroom, community, or the world and submit a one- to two-minute video communicating the science behind their solution. An esteemed and diverse group of judges, including 3M scientists and leaders in education from across the country, evaluated entries based on creativity, scientific knowledge, and communication effectiveness.  

“At 3M, we are committed to unlocking the power of our people, our science, and our ideas to reimagine what comes next. The ‘3M Young Scientist Challenge’ supports young innovators who have demonstrated that same passion to create what’s next and see their creative discoveries unfold and improve the world around us,” said Karina Chavez, senior vice president and chief strategy officer at 3M. “We are thrilled to welcome the latest generation of finalists and honorable mention recipients, and we are energized by a future that embraces STEM-for-all and what it can do for the world around us.”  …Read More

4 engaging strategies that promote student SEL

In 2020, the World Economic Forum released a list of the most sought-after skills for the jobs of tomorrow. Among them were a number of surprising entries such as creativity, coordinating with others, emotional intelligence, and service orientation. At least, they were surprising if you weren’t an educator. For those of us who spent the last year teaching through a pandemic, the necessity of social-emotional learning (SEL) has been only too apparent. After all, what good is a knowledge of STEM if you don’t have the ability to recognize and manage your own emotions?       

As educators, we know all too well how important social-emotional learning is to a student’s overall development. Science, math, and reading are vital subjects, but empathy, self-awareness, and responsible-decision-making are what allow someone to apply those subjects in ways that make the world a better place.

But with so many standards and subjects competing for our attention, how do we make space for effective SEL in the classroom? Well, it starts with the right activities. Here are just a few engaging lessons that can make a huge impact on students’ emotional growth:…Read More