MIT Stem Pals
  August 2012  
Please forward this to friends and colleagues interested in STEM

Our STEM education community is growing rapidly. We want to hear from you—your ideas, opinions
or news on this important topic. Send your contribution and a photo by the 10th of each month here.

The New STEM Math Challenge: “Advanced-Think” Word Problems
Dick LarsonMath: Those dreaded "word problems." Remember them? When we were in school they seemed to be the hardest thing to do in math.

But wait, they're, and this time in a much more powerful form! We're speaking about the new Common Core State Standards, put forward by the National Governors Association and about to be implemented across much of the United States. While those old dreaded word problems seemed difficult, in fact they tended to be formulaic. To solve one you had to recognize the type of problem it is—by doing some pattern matching with topics taught recently by your teacher, then recall the recipe or algorithm for solving that type of problem, then plug in the given numbers, and turn the crank. Presto, you're done. Not so bad after all. Read more.

An Exemplary STEM High School in Ohio: The Metro School
Heidi Rudolph“Metro is designed to serve students who want a personalized and extraordinary learning experience that prepares them for a connected world where math, science and technology are vitally important. All Metro students engage in a personally relevant and academically rigorous curriculum within a safe and trusting environment.”

Sounds great, doesn’t it? I am proud to say that the Metro School is found on the West campus of The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio. The school takes advantage of many opportunities in and around the University that benefit the students. Some staff members are Ohio State graduates, some Metro graduates will attend the Ohio State University. Students that attend Metro remain on their home school district’s register so they can participate in sports and additional activities closer to home. Read more.


Notes from Summer Conferences: Revamping the AP Course Curricula and a CETE Initiative to Encourage More Students into STEM Fields
Reen Gibb I have recently participated in two educational conferences focused on strengthening STEM education in the U.S.

1) The CollegeBoard is revamping all the AP course curricula and AP tests, and I’ve worked with the redesign of the chemistry curriculum. This revamping has been a 10-year project and has gone through many iterations. In the sciences the objective is to engage students in the “practice of science by enabling them to develop questions and hypotheses, and then design experiments providing evidence and explanations; and provide students with advanced inquiry and reasoning skills that will prepare them for the study of advanced scientific topics.” In addition, there is a strong focus on access for all students to an excellent education and the need for pre-AP programs that provide students with the basic skills so they can be successful in an AP program. In other words, there should be no gates to keep students out of AP courses. Read more.

Starting STEM Early
Rick McMasterI recently had the opportunity to attend STEM Solutions. There were a number of themes and actions discussed throughout the panels and keynotes, but one in particular is rising to the top: we need to start early with STEM. Not that long ago we focused on high school students. Then we engaged middle school students, especially young women who were losing interest in math and science. But now we understand that even younger minds need to experience these topics directly. The results can be amazing. Read more.