Young women will find engineering inspiring, not intimidating

Equality and diversity within engineering have been a hot media topic recently, with figureheads such as the president of the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE), Barry Clarke, speaking out in an effort to evoke action where it’s needed – in government, The Guardian reports. Even transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin, while heralding the virtues of HS2 at the ICE, called for more young people to pursue a career in engineering. That said, the workplace has clearly matured into a very different environment since women like Tina Amirtha – who recently wrote a column in the New Statesman criticising her male colleagues’ attitudes toward her as a female engineer – joined almost a decade ago. Whilst some would argue that females have to persevere with confidence to – in the words of Facebook CEO Sheryl Sandberg – “sit at the table”, the industry is changing. It has changed…

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What is the future of technology in education?

A couple of weeks ago I was asked what I thought the future of technology in education was, The Guardian reports. It is a really interesting question and one that I am required to think about all the time. By its very nature, technology changes at a fast pace and making it accessible to pupils, teachers and other stakeholders is an ongoing challenge. So what is the future? Is it the iPad? No, I don’t think it is. For me, the future is not about one specific device. Don’t get me wrong, I love the iPad. In fact, I have just finished a trial to see if using them really does support teaching and learning – and they have proved effective. I’ve written about the trial in more detail on my blog…

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Free school offering ‘cross-subject’ learning approved by Michael Gove

The Guardian reports that an unorthodox secondary school offering “cross-subject projects” rather than traditional classroom lessons, is among the latest tranche of free schools to be approved. XP school in Doncaster is one of the 102 new free schools given the go-ahead to open next year by Michael Gove, the education secretary, a slight decrease on the 109 schools opening this year. XP’s prospective chair of governors, Gwyn ap Harri – a former computer science teacher who went on to start a company selling educational software – says the school’s teaching method is based on how learning takes places in the “real world”, rather than sitting behind desks…

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Man or machine? The age of the robot blurs sci-fi and cutting-edge science

To alarmists, the rise of the machines must stoke inhuman levels of anxiety, The Guardian reports. And why not? Technology can be truly discomforting. The US government’s top secret Darpa labs are currently improving robots’ behavioral learning and anomaly detection programs, both of which will make them “smarter” and more efficient killing machines, literally; auto manufacturers are working on self-driving cars like those that run us down in Daniel H Wilson’s predictably plotted thriller Robopocalypse; and just this month word spread that European researchers turned on Raputya, an “internet for computers” that bears an uncanny resemblance to Skynet, the fictional super-computer that launched Terminator into our pop culture landscape. But to those who embrace technology, these upgrades aren’t harbingers hellbent on destroying human life. They’re portals into a brighter human future…

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UCSD computer scientists create educational Java game

UCSD computer scientists have created an educational game geared to teach students from elementary to high school how to use the programming language Java, The Guardian reports. The game, CodeSpells, has been tested on 40 girls between the ages of 10 and 12 who have never learned programming before. The researchers reported their findings at the Special Interest Group on Computer Science Education Conference in March. Their finds were also published in the SIGCSE 2013 paper. According to Jacobs School of Engineering computer scientist William Griswold, it is difficult to teach computer science to students below the college level due to a combination of unqualified instructors and the often frustrating task of engaging students while they cope with the difficulties of programming…

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