MIT Stem Pals
May 2014
Please forward this to friends and colleagues interested in STEM

STEM: Think of a Cube, Three Elements to a Side
Irene Smalls STEM, STEM, STEM, everyone is talking about STEM. But look at STEM more closely and we find all sorts of diversity. Consider diversity of production of STEM graduates: We find that PhDs in life sciences are being overproduced, so in that domain there is no STEM crisis. Or, if there is a crisis, it is one of overproduction and underemployment. In computer science and other IT fields, it seems there is still a growing need for more STEM graduates. So “STEM” does not fully describe Science, Technology, Engineering and Math any more than “Humanities” describes literature, history, art and anthropology. We need to split the word apart and understand its constituent pieces. Read more.

The “How To” of Deeper Learning
Elizabeth MurrayThe term “Deeper Learning” is thrown around a lot in educational circles and sounds like an excellent teaching goal. But just what does it mean and how is it actually achieved? I recently came across a video series on Deeper Learning produced by the Teaching Channel, in partnership with the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. This series includes more than 50 videos and examines the programs of 10 deeper learning networks that are preparing students for success. The entire video series takes 4 hours and 15 minutes to watch. I highly recommend it as a way to restore, renew and re-ignite one’s commitment to education over the summer break.

The series opens up with a 12-minute introduction video presented by Tony Wagner, the Harvard education specialist and Deeper Learning advocate. Read more.


Don’t Leave Analytical Thinking Behind!
BelenkyEvery American wants her/his children to be well educated, and today, almost everyone agrees that studying mathematics successfully is the key to achieving this goal. Indeed, mathematical studies develop analytical thinking, the most critical ingredient to successfully studying any other subject.
Yet, the existing system of teaching school mathematics mostly prepares students for passing tests, which doesn't necessarily develop analytical thinking in students, and may even cripple their ability to ever develop it. The existing system follows a traditional approach to solving new problems. That is, first, people try to find whether they've faced similar problems. Second, they try to solve new problems based on the past experience. The stronger the ability to recognize problems as already known, and the more the past experience in solving known problems, the better are the person's chances of handling new problems successfully.
Read more.

T-Summit 2014 – a brief report
Rick McMasterIn March, a wide range of interested individuals from around the world assembled at the IBM Almaden Research Laboratory to discuss how we “Cultivate Tomorrow’s Talent Today”. The conference was co-sponsored by Michigan State University and IBM and included participants from academia, foundations, government, industry, and professional organizations, all focused on how to encourage the growth of the T-shaped professional, “... characterized by their deep disciplinary knowledge in at least one area, an understanding of systems, and their ability to function as ‘adaptive innovators’ and cross the boundaries between disciplines.” Read more.