Monthly Archives: March 2015

Opinion: Why America’s obsession with STEM education is dangerous

Fareed Zakaria, a columnist for The Washington Post, is the host of “Fareed Zakaria GPS” on CNN and the author of “In Defense of a Liberal Education.”

If Americans are united in any conviction these days, it is that we urgently need to shift the country’s education toward the teaching of specific, technical skills. Every month, it seems, we hear about our children’s bad test scores in math and science — and about new initiatives from companies, universities or foundations to expand STEM courses (science, technology, engineering and math) and deemphasize the humanities. From President Obama on down, public officials have cautioned against pursuing degrees like art history, which are seen as expensive luxuries in today’s world. Republicans want to go several steps further and defund these kinds of majors. “Is it a vital interest of the state to have more anthropologists?” asked Florida’s Gov. Rick Scott. “I don’t think so.” America’s last bipartisan cause is this: A liberal education is irrelevant, and technical training is the new path forward. It is the only way, we are told, to ensure that Americans survive in an age defined by technology and shaped by global competition. The stakes could not be higher.

Read the complete article here.

I-STEM, 2 universities get grant to work with Evansville Vanderburgh Schools

March 17, 2015

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — The I-STEM Resource Network, based at Purdue University, has received a grant to work with 14 high-needs schools in the Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation.

Through the Math and Science Partnership Program grant, I-STEM will work with the Mathematics Department at the University of Southern Indiana and the Butler University College of Education in an effort to improve Evansville Vanderburgh teachers’ content knowledge in mathematics by using science and engineering applications.

The goals are to develop teachers’ conceptual understandings of mathematics; align science and mathematics instruction; and develop mathematics extensions and engineering modules that function as applications of the science curriculum.

The grant for the three-year program is $650,000. The project leader is Jennifer Hicks, K-12 science program manager in the Purdue Office of Engagement.

MSP is a federal competitive grant program administered by the states. It is designed to encourage universities and local school corporations to partner in activities that increase the knowledge and teaching skills of math and science teachers.

The I-STEM Resource Network was formed in 2006 to expand STEM education in Indiana and improve student success. It is supported by grants from the Lilly Foundation, Indiana Department of Education, Indiana Commission for Higher Education, BioCrossroads, and the Lilly Endowment.  I-STEM is hosted by Purdue University.

Writer: Judith Barra Austin, 765-494-2432, jbaustin@purdue.edu

Source: Jennifer Hicks, 765-496-3523, hicks12@purdue.edu

Mishawaka students delve into science at Notre Dame

By Kim Kilbride South Bend Tribune

Danny Martinez created a new type of crystal in a science lab at the University of Notre Dame this semester.

His name will be on the scholarly articles that’ll describe how it was discovered and why it’s significant.

But Danny’s not a postdoctoral, nor a graduate student. He’s not even an undergraduate. He’s a junior in high school.

As part of a partnership between a couple of Notre Dame professors and Mishawaka High School, a half-dozen teens are having similar educational experiences.

Read the complete article here.

Create & Play Tech Camps

ebash Video Game Centers are offering several Create & Play Camps including:

  • Intro to Game Design (Kodu)
  • Game Design Intermediate (Project Spark)
  • Video Games & Graphics (Graphic Design)
  • Learning Javascript with Minecraft
  • Mobile Game Creation (Construct 2)

Camps are open for ages 8-16 and located in Indianapolis and Terre Haute.  For more information and registration go to: www.createandplaycamps.com.

Maker Camps – Indianapolis Area

1st Maker Space is offering summer camps around Indianapolis in:

  • 3D Design & Printing
  • 2D-3D Design & Laser Cutting
  • Textiles & Soft Circuits
  • Electronics & Programming
  • 3D Maker Mania

For more information and registration go to www.1stMakerSpace.com.

Study Finds Girls Still Lag Boys at Math

OECD study showed boys struggled to show basic proficiency in various subjects but outperformed girls at math

Despite decades of global efforts to get more young women to study and pursue careers in math and science, girls still lag behind their male classmates in terms of academic performance and career aspirations in STEM-related fields.

Using results from a 2012 assessment given to about a half-million 15-year-olds around the world, a new report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development finds that even though more boys struggled to show basic proficiency in reading, math and science than did girls, boys still ultimately outperformed girls in math. The gap was widest at the top, with high-achieving boys scoring significantly higher than the top girls.

Across OECD countries, boys scored an average of 11 points higher than girls on a test where the average score was 494, and had a 20-point advantage among the top 10% of students of both sexes.

Results for students in the U.S. tended to reflect OECD averages.

See the complete story here. (Subscription may be required.)  The OECD report is here.