MIT Stem Pals
  March 2012  
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STEM PALS: Moving Away from Standardized Tests
Dick LarsonThere exists no magic bullet!” This cliché applies to so many situations, but especially to the complex task of educating our young people. For years now we have been hearing about the need for increased accountability in our education system. And with regard to STEM and k-12, we hear all sorts of ways to increase student performance and interest in STEM careers. We also hear of various ways to evaluate teachers. The notion of evaluation is good. But bad evaluation can be terrible. Read more.

The Next Generation of Science Standards...10 Things You Need to Know
Mike KasparOver 15 years have passed since science standards were comprehensively reviewed and much has changed over those years. The list is long. Think Facebook, the internet, Google, the i-phone, not to mention all the advances in biotechnology such as the use of DNA in crime investigation and the way we see our universe, like the relegation of Pluto from planet to dwarf planet.

To update the science standards, the National Research Council (NRC), the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA), the American Association of the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and Achieve, Inc. have embarked on a two-step process to develop the Next Generation of Science Standards (NGSS). Termed ‘next generation’ the organizers did not want the science standards confused with common core standards that exist for English/Language Arts (ELA) and Mathematics and which have had the misfortune of being labeled ‘national’ standards to the chagrin of the U.S. Department of Education. Read more.


STEM in Washington State
Ellen EbertIn January, five Washington state schools and one district were named STEM Lighthouse schools. Each of the schools and the district receives a $20,000 grant to support their STEM programs. In 2010, the Washington state legislature passed House Bill 2621 to create model schools as resources and examples of how to include best practices, which support personalized learning communities, an interdisciplinary curricula, and active partnerships within the business and local community. Read more.

We Need More Women in STEM!
Rick McMasterMarch is Women’s History Month and it’s a good time to reflect on the many significant contributions that women engineers and scientists have made to the world society. I won’t try to pick just a few but instead suggest some reading to pursue. Several years ago, an excellent book was published, Changing Our World: True Stories of Women Engineers by Sybil E. Hatch. It covers 238 stories of women engineers. Read More.

Let’s Put Engineering Education into Grades K-5
Elizabeth MurrayCreated by the Museum of Science in Boston, the Engineering is Elementary (EiE) project aims to foster engineering and technological literacy among children. EiE is creating a research-based, standards-based, and classroom-tested curriculum that integrates engineering and technology concepts and skills with elementary science topics. EiE materials also connect with literacy, social studies, and mathematics. Through interesting engineering design challenges, children are invited to apply their knowledge of science, engineering, and their problem solving skills, as they design, create, and improve possible solutions. Read More.