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Low or High – income, education should be equal for all

EdTech’s recent article, As Connectivity Improves, The Digital Divide Persists in Teacher Tech Preparation, reports on the difference between technical resources available in low- and high-income area schools. EdTech cited Education Week’s 20th annual Technology Counts survey, which revealed that many schools are struggling to provide teachers with adequate training in computer science-related fields. This issue is further compounded in states where low- and high-income areas border each other. In addition to the limited number of computer teachers and the rise in technology, EdTech pointed out how Internet access has become a necessity that many schools may not be able to afford due to lack of funding. However, the United States Federal Communication Commission (FCC) 2016 survey shows 88 percent of schools reached the required 100kbps per student. Even with poor Internet connection...

Personalized Learning: Modest Gains, Big Challenges, RAND Study Finds

Personalized learning plans are one of the more recent trends in education. Whether it is a helpful or positive trend, however, is in question. According to a recent RAND Corporation study, the answer to that is “maybe”.  With funding being provided by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the study is one of several conducted over a multi-year period by the RAND Corporation, a nonprofit organization that researches and develops new solutions to public policy challenges. On paper, the concept of personalized learning plans seems to make sense: simply match students’ preferences and individual pace with personalized learning environments. In practice, however, there can be some snags. In the most recent study, 40 schools and their principals, teachers, and students were surveyed about personalized learning. The schools using personalized learning plans had difficulty offering a variety...

GM CEO Cites Need for More Coders

Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors (GM), has a front-row seat to witness the growing need for employees trained in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM). Advancements in technology make today’s cars far more complex than ever before and with that complexity comes the need for an ever-increasing labor force trained to meet the challenge. Demand is rising for skilled labor, but schools are not producing nearly enough candidates to fill these needs. GM automobiles contain the typical materials of steel, rubber, and glass, creating a substantial need for scientists and engineers who are capable of finding more efficient ways to use these raw materials in the production of cars. However, GM founder William C. Durant never envisioned the modern necessity of using computer coding to improve every aspect of automobile design and manufacturing. Barra explained in a recent CNN...

Girl Scouts Add Badges to Encourage STEM Exposure

The Girl Scouts have added 23 new badges that include 15 related to Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) in an effort to encourage girls to pursue careers in related fields. Girl Scout STEM badges are awarded for coding, website design, robotics, designing model race cars, and much more. Girl Scout CEO Sylvia Acevedo has a unique interest in STEM education for girls as she really was a ‘rocket scientist’ in the past when she worked for Jet Propulsion Laboratories. Sylvia Acevedo became the permanent CEO of Girl Scouts in May, and is determined to address “the lack of exposure many girls have to STEM” in many places across the country. Over the next two years, the badges will be available to girls from Kindergarten all the way through 12th grade. According to the STEM page on girlscouts.org, these programs tap into the natural tendency of girls to “look at the world...

Manor ISD Introduces Advanced Robot for Summer STEM Program

Manor ISD, a small community just east of Austin, Texas, has adopted a unique approach for their Summer STEM program. Partnering with Robokind, a Dallas technology company, Manor used Jett, an advanced robot, to teach children in the STEM Summer Camp about coding. Robots4Autism is recognized as an industry leader in the implementation of robotic technology to help students, particularly those with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Milo, the robot, is a highly advanced robot designed to interact with children who have been diagnosed with autism. The heart of Robokind, and mission of Robots4Autism, is to help all children, and they have leveraged the success of Milo to create a unique and fun education platform to teach children coding. In addition to the robot, RoboKind designed a virtual environment to support and expand Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) programs...

Philadelphia Honors Teacher with STEM Education Center

The Donald McKinney Center for STEM Education was launched last month in Philadelphia, in honor of 30-year high school chemistry teacher Donald McKinney. McKinney is recognized as a tireless educator, teaching at Radnor High School, creating the Ed Fund’s Math and Science Coalition, and infusing “his love of science, passion for education, phenomenal work ethic, and ability to connect people, disciplines, and agencies.” His influence will continue to benefit those receiving an education in Philadelphia public schools. The career of McKinney and the Ed Fund’s new center are described in Philadephia Education Fund to launch center for STEM education, by Philadelphia Public Schools. Benefits of the center include increased “access to and engagement in science, technology, engineering and math [STEM] for all Philadelphia K-12 students” as well as providing for expansion of the STEM...

STEM Scholars turn to a future of gender equality in Geneva

During the final meeting of a program created by U.S. Representative Randy Hultgren to champion the pursuit of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) based careers, nineteen local high school students were given an important lesson courtesy of an all-female panel on how to succeed in male-driven professions by conquering the gender obstacle. The students in the program, including ten women and nine men, won their place in Hultgren’s inaugural STEM scholars program based on personal commitment to STEM-related subjects including math, robotics and computer programming. The program offered students weekly tours to local STEM-oriented businesses for insight into the running of those businesses and the potential for career opportunities in the future. On July 10th, the program’s students were awarded graduation certificates during a ceremony at FONA International in...

Grants Available from the National Science Foundation for K thru 12 STEM Education

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is expected to award $10-20 million in multi year grants in 2017 for the promotion of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) in schools Pre K through 12th grade. The motivation for awarding these grants is simple; to help fuel the need for more children and young people interested in STEM related careers. STEM has a role in almost everything today, from cars, computers, cell phones, and even home thermostats. The program that helps to oversee the creation and distribution for the grants is Innovative Technology Experiences for Students and Teachers (ITEST) and NSF describes them as “…a research and development program that supports projects to promote PreK-12 student interests and capacities to participate in the STEM and information and communications technology (ICT) workforce of the future.” They do this by helping them obtain...

Changing Needs in Technical Education

The ever changing technological landscape in the United States creates equally dynamic shifts in the need for technical skills in the workplace. In the article Career Education Needs New Supports, Skill Focus, National Report Says, Education Week reveals a Bill working it’s way through the U.S. Congress to give States more flexibility to target grant money as needed by local labor needs. As the marketplace accounts for the need for technical careers that do not require a four-year degree, school and adult education also need to be able to provide the necessary training and adapt to the needs for flexibility in career guidance. Technology is reducing the need for manual labor while increasing the need for technical skills requiring high levels of knowledge. The report stated, demand for education and students is challenging in that it can be difficult to identify “viable career options...

GM looking to help bridge the gender gap in STEM education

Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors, announced earlier this month that the company will give $850,000 to support Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education. Barra is focusing on four non-profits that specifically work with young women and minorities. These four programs are Black Girls Code, Institute of Play, Code.org, and Digital Promise. All four companies are well established and promote diversity in STEM education. Barra believes that the future of automakers depends heavily on a deep and diverse pool of skilled engineers. Not only is General Motors interested in helping to ensure a brighter future for these students, but with the rise of automated cars and related technology, the automotive industry needs STEM-skilled employees more than ever, to push forward automotive innovation. While there have been leaps and bounds made in technological advancements,...

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