MIT Stem Pals
  May 2013  
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The Flaws of Averages
Dick LarsonThe most popular MIT BLOSSOMS video lesson is “Flaws of Averages,” created and performed by Ms. Rhonda Jordan and Mr. Dan Livengood, now both with Ph.D.s from MIT. See videos/ lessons/ flaws_averages, available in four languages! The idea of this video can be placed in front of students at almost any level, say from 6th grade upwards, where the teacher can ask the students to think of other Flaws of Averages and report them back to the class. The idea is to get the students to think about averages in their everyday lives, how averages assist in our understanding and how they can be misleading. This gets STEM thinking outside of the classroom and into everyday experiences. It should engage the students for many hours. Read more.

Making Solutions in a STEM Outreach Lab
(Part II)

Megan RokopIn my article in the February 2013 issue of STEM Pals, I discussed the challenges of funding STEM outreach programs. In this follow-up article, I strive to turn the issue on its head, and share the results of brainstorming possible solutions to these challenges. This is the second installment of a two-part STEM Pals series, with “Cutting Costs” and “Raising Money” discussed in the March 2013 issue, and “Staffing Solutions”, “Sharing Means Saving” and “Partnerships Pay Off” covered in this issue.

Staffing solutions:
Part of the challenge of running a STEM outreach program on a limited budget is finding staff that the program budget can allow. The great news is that, since a lot of outreach programming happens outside of school time, it is possible to hire consultants and interns who are skilled and talented, and looking for a weekend or summer job, such as: Read more.


DIY STEM Or STEM and the Maker Movement
Rick McMasterI mentioned in my last columm about the significant presence of the Maker Movement at SXSWedu. It included a Distinguished Speaker session by Dale Dougherty, founding editor/publisher of MAKE Magazine and overflowing crowds in the MAKERSPACE room with its 3D printer, laser cutter and, most important, the tables covered with LEGO® pieces to let your inner MAKER run wild. So what does the Maker Culture or DIY Movement have to do with STEM? It is comes down to making STEM real and showing how that knowledge can be applied to not just science, technology, engineering and math—but to much more. 

I grew up with Lincoln Logs®, Erector® Sets, Tinkertoy® and other building sets. I always started with the suggested projects in the colorful booklets that accompanied them but then branched out with constructions that combined elements from more than just one of these sets. I doubt that I was alone in this hybridization. Read more.

MIT Online Resources for K-12 STEM Education
Elizabeth Murray“The mission of MIT is to advance knowledge and educate students in science, technology, and other areas of scholarship that will best serve the nation and the world in the 21st century.” For many years now, members of the MIT community have reached out to schools in the greater Cambridge and Boston communities to provide educational programs related to math, science and engineering. In recent years, more and more of these outreach programs have adopted an online approach, enabling MIT to extend its K-12 outreach well beyond the local community to the nation and world at large. Below are brief descriptions and the URLs of many of these online outreach initiative, most of which are aimed at high school level education. Read more.