MIT Stem Pals
March-April 2015
Please forward this to friends and colleagues interested in STEM

Orders of Magnitude
Irene Smalls STEM education should include a healthy dose of students learning to estimate orders of magnitude in various settings. And it’s best if these estimates are with pencil and paper, not calculators, since experience has shown that relying on calculators reduces a student’s intuition for identifying decimal placement errors.

We have BLOSSOMS lessons that feature orders of magnitude, including “How Big Is a Mole? Do We Really Comprehend Avogadro’s Number?”, and “The Power of Exponentials, Big and Small”.

Any teacher who reads the news can find examples from daily life that bring up orders of magnitude. And the math of daily life can often lead to related aspects of science and then to serious policy discussions. Read more.

Using Technology to Reshape STEM Education
Kim SpangenbergAt the Virtual High School (VHS), we’ve heard the call loud and clear - we need to change the way we approach teaching science, technology, engineering, and math. We’ve seen the shift in student expectations from content acquisition towards skill development and application of knowledge, thanks to Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards. How do we reimagine classrooms to better prepare students for college and careers in STEM and to encourage students to pursue interests in these areas? Part of that answer is using technology to rethink how we deliver STEM education, breakdown classroom walls, and provide new and exciting opportunities for our students. Read more.


Moving STEM to STEAM @ the MIT Museum
Faith Marie DukesThe MIT Museum provides a space where the general public can learn about current and past research at MIT. Its vast collections include everything from nautical plans to stroboscopes. The historical robots currently on display exhibit more than 50 years of innovations in computer science and artificial intelligence at MIT. However, when we solely focus on the traditional science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) offerings of the Museum and MIT, we miss the wonderful connections of art, science and technology that have been created on campus and displayed at the Museum. The MIT Museum’s collection of holograms and strobe photography by Doc Edgerton and Berenice Abbott excite both the scientific mind and the artistic eye. They are valuable examples of how art and science can be equally incorporated. Read more.

STEM Garden Institute: Learning Hydroponics
 Janet LordenWe Have All Heard The Sobering Facts...

Fact 1 – the more years our young students spend in school, the more their science and math scores drop compared to students from other industrialized countries.

Fact 2 – While nearly 71 percent of ninth-graders graduate high school, that figure drops to 58 percent for Hispanics and 55 percent for African- Americans.

Fact 3 – One in three American children are overweight or obese, nearly triple the rate in 1963. Read more.