MIT Stem Pals
  September 2012  
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STEM: Academic Silos or Exciting Fusion?
Dick LarsonSTEM equal Science, Technology, Engineering AND Math.

STEM ≠ Science, Technology, Engineering OR Math.

What’s my point with these two relationships, the 1st an equation or equivalence and the 2nd an inequality? It has to do with academic “silos” or “stovepipes.” STEM education needs to lift the student out of the silo mentality, where she thinks, “this class is math,” “this one is biology”, and this one focuses on “engineering design.” STEM education needs to cut across silos, showing the evolving and exciting integration now developing among formerly disparate academic disciplines.

Biology provides a wonderful example. Some of the current breakthroughs in biology involve inter-silo collaboration with math, and/or computer science, and/or physics, and/or chemistry. The new results are not biology’s alone, but belong to a fusion of fields. An example is in an upcoming BLOSSOMS video, “Why Don’t Falling Raindrops Kill Flying Mosquitoes?” Read more.

Meeting Of The Committee On Developing Assessments For K-12 Science
Mike Kaspar
The Next Generation of Science Standards isn’t completed, yet the Committee on Developing Assessments for K-12 Science , a committee of the National Research Council (NRC), has been formed. This new NRC committee was given the charge to develop A Framework for Assessment of Science Proficiency in K-12 Education led by the National Academies’ Board on Testing and Assessment.

Though it has been reported that states will decide whether to create assessments aligned to the Next Generation Science Standards, the Committee recently held a workshop as part of a study to explore strategies for assessing science practices, crosscutting concepts, and core ideas as described in the Framework for K-12 Science Education. Read more.


Best Practices in STEM Education from the World: Finland
Yuko OkuboConducting research on STEM education in Asia (including Japan, South Korea, China, Taiwan, and Singapore) and in Finland - the countries that have attained a high ranking in international achievement tests - I noticed a sharp contrast between the two. Asian education systems are oriented toward entrance examinations with much pressure on students to cram for tests. In Finland, there is only one standardized test at the age of 16. Read more.

Sparking Creativity across the US
Rick McMasterA slight change in plans… I had promised inquiry- and project-based learning for K-12 as part of “back to school month” but here’s something that should not be missed if it has not yet visited your community, SparkTruck.

I first learned about SparkTruck and its crew through WGBH’s Design Squad Nation, another great source of project-based learning. SparkTruck began as SparkLab, envisioned by a group of Stanford students who are passionate about making, education, and technology. They ran a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for a truck and high-tech maker equipment. Read more.

Changing School Culture Leads to Remarkable Results: A STEM Best Practice
Mackenzie HirdThis summer, while serving as a visiting scholar at the National Academies of Science Board on Science Education, I was presented with many best practices in STEM education, but one in particular stands out in my mind. Manor New Technology High School (MNTHS), just outside of Austin, Texas, is a STEM school that breaks down the silo walls and integrates curriculum from different STEM subjects both with one another and with other disciplines. Read more.