MIT Stem Pals
Back to School
September 2013
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STEMxCON Brings Educators Together from Across the World!
VanidesMore than 3700 educators from 108 countries signed up to attend STEMxCON, the world’s first Massively Open Online Conference for STEM Educators. The excitement began on Thursday September 19th at 8am Pacific Time, running around the clock with over 180 online interactive presentations, concluding with a closing keynote on Saturday September 21st 5pm Pacific Time.

What made this event so exciting is that it offered an opportunity for educators across the world to learn from one another. One participant even called it “Professional Development in my PJ's” (@LynnKoresh via Twitter). Best of all, if you missed the event, the archives are available for free, too.

With support from sponsors that included HP, iEARN, Adobe, and more, the entire event was offered at no cost to attendees. STEMxCON was coordinated by and was managed and run by co-chairs Lucy Gray and Steve Hargadon, founders of the Global Education Conference. A host of volunteer moderators from around the world supported presenters and attendees. The result was a rare confluence of ideas and sharing among STEM educators: Read more.

Updates from D.C.: STEM Legislation and Changes in STEM Funding
Mike KasparThe 13th annual Triangle Coalition for STEM Education Conference was recently held in D.C. Advocating for the improvement of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education in the U.S., the Triangle Coalition is a membership organization that represents business, education, and STEM societies nationwide.

At the conference, representatives from the legislative offices of Klein, Gillibrand and (Joseph) Kennedy reported on STEM as related to the reauthorization of ESEA (the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, aka “No Child Left Behind.”) Of note was a discussion around the loss of AYP (annual yearly progress), as well as the loss of the designation of the “highly qualified teacher” in Klein’s House bill. In addition, they highlighted their attempts to include and incentivize STEM programs in ESEA and other bills as the 113th Congressional session comes to a close. Read more.


Where is the “CS” in STEM?
TeamTo many people, STEM is defined simply as four subjects: science, technology, engineering and math. To others, STEM is a mind-set, a way of thinking and doing that is not limited to four subjects, but is incorporated into both teaching and learning. STEM is critical thinking, it is problem-based learning. STEM is collaboration. STEM is learning skills for the 21st century workplace. Despite the range of definitions, it may surprise some of you to know that computer science – a discipline crucial to our increasingly technological world – is not often included in STEM.

Most critically, there is no shared understanding of what computer science is, within the field of computer science, within the field of computer science education, or even within the field of education. Read more.

Catalyst 4 Success: Students Engaging Students in STEM
Rick McMasterYou meet interesting people while standing in line. In July I attended the San Diego Comic Convention with my daughter. It is the biggest gathering of pop culture in the world and it goes well beyond just comics to TV, movies, video games, and more. You need only look though the long list of sessions to find STEM topics like “The Nerd in the Classroom: Sci-Fi as an Education Tool”. If you visited the exhibit floor, you would have found the the American Physical Society handing out their comic books, with the most recent issue using a dilatant material to defeat the villian.

The lines at SDCC form early for the big halls and my daughter and I joined at 7:00am for a panel that started at 10:00.  (We never got in.)  There we met Jake Zemper who was attanding with his sister and dad.  We got to the topic of STEM at some point and Jake offered that he was a member of the recently formed Catalyst 4 Success at Westview High School. (Jake is the Vice President of Magic Shows.) The goal of the organization is described best in their own words “Our goal is to promote STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) for young students in order to inspire them to become the world's future scientists and innovators.” This is very similar to the mission of our own local Central Texas Discover Engineering. Read more.