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Wednesday, January 6, 2016
Diversity in STEM
Pinterest hires first diversity chief (USA Today)
Pinterest has hired its first diversity chief to help meet its goals to hire more women and underrepresented minorities. Candice Morgan worked for nearly a decade at non-profit Catalyst Inc., where she advised companies in a range of industries on how to build more inclusive work cultures. The hire is notable. While technology giants such as Facebook, Google and Intel have large staffs dedicated to increasing diversity, smaller tech companies have only just begun to hire diversity chiefs to increase the ranks of underrepresented groups, but they are doing so at much earlier stages.

Why STEM’s Future Rests In The Hands Of 12-Year-Old Girls (TechCrunch)
A recent report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) took a comprehensive look at gender differences in student performance based on an exam taken by 15-year-olds. The report found that, although girls often perform better than their male peers — staying in school longer and out-performing them in reading — the top-performing girls continue to lag behind top-performing boys in math and science. The survey report explores possible reasons behind this gap: Importantly, girls report having lower levels of confidence in their math abilities and experience higher levels of anxiety when performing math-related tasks than boys.

Amy Poehler's Smart Girls and 'The Sims' partner to inspire girls with gaming (Mashable)
Sad, but true: There aren't enough women in technology. But maybe a video game can help change that. That's the hope of Amy Poehler's Smart Girls, and the reason the female empowerment-focused organization partnered with The Sims 4 in a video series that highlights teen girls getting inspired by the game — and its creators. The videos introduce Celeste, Tcarla, and Amisha, three teens driven in their own creative pursuits, who are teamed with EA employees who match their creative interests. Tcarla, for example — a 17-year-old who has been playing guitar since sixth grade — is paired with an audio engineer who explains how she created music for the game.
SOTU may feature STEM (Politico)
Advocates are optimistic that STEM education will get a State of the Union mention this year, with several sources telling Morning Education that the White House has been asking groups for success stories that highlight the experiences of underrepresented students in science, technology, engineering and math. Computer science will likely play a part, with the White House expected to announce “a broad set of new commitments” to computer science education in early 2016. While there’s no guarantee that STEM will make it into the address, the STEM Education Coalition is ready with a number of anecdotes.

Revised NCLB Gave Boost to Arts Integration (Huffington Post)
Last month, President Obama signed an education reform bill that revised the so-called No Child Left Behind act. One amendment that hasn't been much talked about - certainly not reported on in the major press outlets-was the language introduced by Congresswoman Bonamici, on behalf of the 67 member Congressional STEAM Caucus she chairs. It calls for "integrating other academic subjects, including the arts, into STEM programs to increase participation in STEM, improve attainment of STEM-related skills, and promote well-rounded education."
Adorable Code-a-Pillar teaches 3-year-olds the basics of coding (Mashable)
An adorable new Fisher-Price caterpillar toy aims to teach kids the basics of coding. The company is showing off at the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show the Think & Learn Code-a-Pillar, a toy that teaches kids ages 3 to 8 problem solving and sequencing. By directing the caterpillar to move in a certain pattern, it reinforces skills associated with writing code. The toy comes with eight segments which feature a unique command icon on its surface. Each command programs the Code-a-Pillar to move in a certain way (forward, left, right, spin, make a noise and so on). The segments hook together via a USB port and the kids can select the order.

Kids Can Learn To Code With Programmable Friendship Bracelets By Jewelbots (TechCrunch)
I have no idea if friendship bracelets are still a thing, but Jewelbots is trying to bring them into the 21st century — and it’s trying to teach kids the basics of programming at the same time. The company ran a successful Kickstarter campaign earlier this summer and today, Jewelbots is competing in our Hardware Battlefield at CES. Three Jewelbots bracelets will set you back $69, and they should ship later this spring. You get a discount for buying a pack with two or three bracelets, too (this is, after all, about sharing with your friends).
K-12 Education
Verizon gives Annapolis school $10K gift for STEM education [VIDEO] (WBAL-TV)
Verizon is donating $10,000 to an Anne Arundel County school to expand [STEM]. The donation to Hillsmere Elementary School in Annapolis comes at a time when local systems are looking for ways to make ends meet. "It helps us build the programs that we can do over time. We would like to increase our STEM in the classroom, particularly on our elementary level," Anne Arundel County Schools Superintendent George Arlotto said.

How to Get Your Kids Interested in STEM (Without Forcing It on Them) (LikeHacker)
Hopefully your kids are getting a great education in [STEM] at school, but chances are those classes aren’t enough to instill a lifelong interest in these fields for most kids. As parents, however, there are a lot of easy ways we foster a greater love of learning and exploration in STEM subjects in our children. I recently asked a group of Girl Scouts what they thought about STEM subjects: Did they enjoy them? Did they think they are good at them? I heard a resounding no from the majority in the room. And yet when we did some activities (a real-life Move the Turtle game to mimic programming, for example), each one of them was involved and, yes, interested.
Higher Education
Fresno Pacific University offers new program for STEM community college students (Fresno Bee)
Fresno Pacific University will begin a new 2-year graduation guarantee program, called STREAMS, for community college students planning to get a bachelor’s degree in STEM fields, starting in the fall of 2016. Supporting Transfers in Reaching Educational Aspirations in Math and Science, STREAMS, will help community college students earn a bachelor’s degree in STEM at Fresno Pacific. The program is open to all students in the State Center Community College District who have earned or are completing an associate degree. It is especially designed for students from low-income and/or under represented backgrounds who are the first in their families to attend a college or university.

Hudson County Community College tops off new STEM building (
Despite the chilly weather this morning, Hudson County Community College and elected officials gathered to celebrate the topping off of the school's newest building. The new [STEM] building, which at sits 257-263 Academy Street near Journal Square, is expected to open next year. During a brief ceremony at a nearby school building, college president Glen Gabert said the construction is currently the largest STEM project in the Hudson County. "This is a spectacular $25 million building we are recognizing today," he said. "We are very very excited about it."
Indiana awards $9.6M in grants to stem teacher shortage (AP)
Indiana higher education officials have awarded $9.6 million in grants to stem the state’s teacher shortage. The Indiana Commission for Higher education announced the 13 grants on Wednesday. The money was given to organizations and colleges to pay for programs that recruit, prepare, place and retain teachers in schools with teacher shortages. Specifically schools with a shortage of teachers in [STEM]. Teach for America, Independent Colleges of Indiana and the Woodrow Wilson Foundation were among recipients.
'Middle-skill' STEM jobs could lift low-skilled workers in Baltimore to middle class, report says (Baltimore Sun)
Low-skilled workers in Baltimore are missing growing opportunities for careers in [STEM] because of limited access to and training for STEM jobs requiring an associate degree level of education or less. That's the premise of a report to be released Wednesday by the Greater Baltimore Committee and Associated Black Charities that recommends ways to boost the pipeline of workers in such "middle skill" occupations. More than 50 businesses, nonprofits and philanthropic leaders were interviewed for the report, including leaders at Bank of America, BGE, Lockheed Martin, LifeBridge Health, Maryland Live and the University of Maryland Medical System.

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100 CIO/CTO Leaders in STEM- K Ananth Krishnan, Chief Technology Officer at Tata Consultancy Services
"As the world continues to embrace digital technologies, there is a tremendous opportunity to make STEM education more interactive, interesting and engaging for students around the world. At TCS, we are passionate about STEM and keen to engage with institutions, working towards enhancing STEM education. We are currently exploring how to use gaming and social media to ‘make work more engaging,’ and we are reworking our internal systems to move from traditional ‘workflow-based systems’ to ‘workshare-based systems,’ This enables teams to work together more collaboratively and productively."

National Math + Science Initiative Awarded $20 Million Department Of Education Scale-Up Grant
The National Math and Science Initiative (NMSI) has received a nearly $20 million Scale-up grant from the U.S. Department of Education's Investing in Innovation (i3) 2015 grant competition. The grant will enable NMSI to expand its proven College Readiness Program (CRP) to ten urban and rural school districts across eight states, serving a high proportion of underserved students. CRP dramatically increases the number of students taking and earning qualifying scores on Advanced Placement® (AP®) math, science and English exams, while expanding access to rigorous coursework to traditionally underrepresented students.

LEGO® Education Brings Science to Life for Elementary Students with WeDo 2.0
Yesterday, LEGO® Education announced LEGO Education WeDo 2.0, a hands-on science solution designed for elementary classrooms using a robot-based learning system. The unique solution combines the LEGO® brick, classroom-friendly software and engaging, standards-based projects to teach elementary students essential science practices and skills. With WeDo 2.0, students explore, create and share their scientific discoveries as they build, program and modify projects.

William Broman (Editor, EdTech Weekly Report): Family Friendly Science Film: Encounters at the End of the World
On January 2nd I settled in for a movie night, browsed through Netflix, and came across a 2007 documentary on Antarctica, "Encounters at the End of the World." Director and narrator Werner Herzog reminds you at the beginning of the movie that this is not another one about "fluffy penguins." Which is exactly why this is a perfect film to show young students interested in STEM either in the classroom or at home.