MIT Stem Pals
November 2013
Please forward this to friends and colleagues interested in STEM

Girls of Color and STEM: A Personal Story
Irene Smalls This story is true, but it is based on a lie. I was afraid of math. A female teacher in elementary school told me that I couldn’t do math. That message stayed in my head for most of my life. Indeed, a paper published in the January 2010 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggest that “having a highly math-anxious female teacher may push girls to confirm the stereotype they are not as good as boys in math, which in turn, affects girls‘ math achievement.” Being a female of color, that message had a double impact. The academic achievement gap between children of color and whites in this country is well known and believed among children as well as adults. Read more.

Up Close and Personal with Lesson Study Brings Valuable New Insights
Mac HirdI recently had a chance to visit the Greenwich Japanese School (GJS), a K-9 school where the teachers use Lesson Study to prepare in-depth lessons. Lesson Study, which has been talked about in previous editions of STEM Pals, is a method of cooperative lesson planning among groups of 4 or 5 teachers. Teachers jointly develop a lesson, spending between 10 and 20 hours to develop the “first draft” of this lesson plan. Then, one teacher delivers this lesson while the other teachers observe the students’ understanding and questions. Before having a finished prduct, the teachers improve this lesson iteratively over the next few months of discussion and presentation to different classes. Read more.


TheEin STEM – “Discover Engineering”: A New Name for an Expanding and Enduring Mission
Rick McMasterI believe that many of you have heard of EWeek, short for Engineers Week, that has celebrated the contributions of engineers to society now for over 60 years. In 1990, a new aspect was added to EWeek, outreach to K-12, to introduce students to engineering and encourage them in their studies of math and science, keeping the door open to a future career in engineering or other technical professions. My first experience with EWeek was on an assignment to the IBM corporate staff when Stephen Bechtel, Jr. approached Jack Kuehler, then president of IBM, to have IBM join the effort. It was the start of IBM’s and my own commitment to STEM before anyone had yet invented the acronym. Read more.

Progress Advancing in STEM Education but Mandated Student Assessments Continue to Hamstring Teachers
Reen Gibb We’ve made some wonderful steps forward in STEM education at my high school, a highly rated suburban school system. Two of the most important advances are: a new technology-coach position was added to the HS and all students and teachers were issued a chrome book last June. In the library we have a ‘technology help center’ staffed by computer students and computer instructors. The help desk is often used by students having trouble with their chrome book. Besides giving tech support, the desk also lends out chrome books. Read more.