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Tuesday July 28, 2015
Girls in STEM
University of Akron Employs Critical Thinking to Present Successful Kids’ Career Day (ASME)
The ASME Student Section at the University of Akron (UA) knows firsthand how important critical thinking is to ensuring the success of an event from start to finish. Since 1999, the university has been hosting an annual Kids’ Career Day which targets young girls in grades 1 through 6 (as well as their parents) to encourage them to consider careers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). “The purpose of the event is to help these girls identify their interests early in life,” describes Heidi Cressman, a mechanical engineer and Director of the Women in Engineering program for the university’s College of Engineering.

Winthrop helps women, minorities succeed in STEM careers (The Herald)
Thanks to a Winthrop University program seeking to create more diversity in the science and math fields, a faculty member in charge of one of the school’s research labs was himself in the minority this summer. Four students – all young women participating in Winthrop’s STEM Scholars program – joined chemistry professor Nick Grossoehme in the lab last week as part of an effort to help more minority students progress to Ph.D programs. Grossoehme mentors several students in the Winthrop STEM Scholars program. Winthrop is the only school in South Carolina and one of about 10 nationwide with a diversity STEM Scholars initiative.

As Tech Booms, Workers Turn to Coding for Career Change (NYTimes)
After Paul Minton graduated from college, he worked as a waiter, but always felt he should do more. So Mr. Minton, a 26-year-old math major, took a three-month course in computer programming and data analysis. As a waiter, he made $20,000 a year. His starting salary last year as a data scientist at a web start-up here was more than $100,000. “Six figures, right off the bat,” Mr. Minton said. “To me, it was astonishing.” Stories like his are increasingly familiar these days as people across a spectrum of jobs — poker players, bookkeepers, baristas — are shedding their past for a future in the booming tech industry. The money sloshing around in technology is cascading beyond investors and entrepreneurs into the broader digital work force, especially to those who can write modern code, the language of the digital world.

Government and Public Policy
Duncan: Colleges are falling short for millions of students. Debt-free degrees are just part of the solution. (Washington Post)
Education Secretary Arne Duncan argues that higher education is falling short for millions of students, failing to give them “what they need and deserve” — quality degrees at a reasonable cost. In prepared remarks for an event Monday at the University of Maryland Baltimore County, Duncan argued that “debt-free degrees” are “only part of the solution” for reform of colleges and universities. The other part, he said, is outcomes. Sometimes, he said, politicians focus too much on what college costs and not enough on what it delivers.

Biden: Photonics' 'science of light' to brighten region (Democrat and Chronicle)
A new manufacturing institute for integrated photonics will give Rochester's optics businesses the space and capability they need "to generate the next great breakthrough," Vice President Joe Biden will say Monday in formally unveiling plans for the institute. Biden also will say the Integrated Photonics Institute for Manufacturing Innovation will help "secure U.S. leadership in the manufacture of next-generation Internet, health care and defense capabilities," according to excerpts of his speech released in advance. Funded with a $110 million startup grant from the Defense Department, the integrated photonics institute will be the sixth of nine manufacturing institutes the Obama administration has in the works.

Microsoft grant to help Volusia, Flagler youths hone computer skills (Daytona Beach News Journal)
The Children's Home Society of Florida has been awarded a $7.3 million grant from Microsoft that will help 7,000 disadvantaged kids across the state gain the computer knowledge they need for a brighter future. Locally, the program should help 100 kids in the first year and grow in subsequent years, according to Kim Pleasants, executive director of Children’s Home Society for Volusia, Flagler and Putnam counties. “We think this can give our at-risk youth a great opportunity,” said Pleasants, whose office is based in South Daytona.

Fort Worth district to get up to $2 million for teacher training (Star-Telegram)
Teachers at three high schools and their feeder campuses could get up to $2 million worth of training this school year in math and science. The district is expected to set aside $350,000 in federal money to train and offer instructional resources to teachers at Southwest, Diamond-Hills Jarvis and Western Hills high schools science, technology, engineering and math or STEM. Lockheed Martin Corp. Foundation has pledged to donate up to $1 million in a dollar-for-dollar match if a partner, such as a private foundation, chips in. The money will go to pay for math and science curriculum developed by Project Lead The Way, a nonprofit organization that provides professional development and real-life STEM education to the nation’s kindergarten through 12th-grade classrooms.

Phoenix engineering firm invests in high-school students (Az. Central)
Assured Engineering Concepts designs utilities-distribution plans for large companies, but founder Patrick Ramirez wants to do more than lay the groundwork for delivering natural gas and the Internet. He also wants to provide opportunities for high-school students in underserved communities who may have never given a thought to a career in STEM — science, technology, engineering and math. Ramirez last spring started an internship program to help young people discover what they’re passionate about, much like the Air Force helped him discover his passion for engineering when he was a 20-year-old without a plan.

Gilbert local participates in NASA aviation challenge (East Valley Tribune)
Just in time before the school year begins, Nicholas Cain participated in a week-long NASA Aviation challenge. It was a camp that fueled Cain’s appreciation for aviation, in which he has had a passion for the field for some time now. Cain, who will be a seventh-grader at Cooley Middle School in Gilbert, was given the opportunity to attend the camp by his mother and father, who wanted to increase his passion for aviation. “It would be one of my choices if I had to choose a career,” Cain said. His mother, Dawn, said Cain has shown interest in science and math at school, and believed that the camp would increase his interest in both subjects.
STEM Innovation
Robots Might Take Your Job, But Here's Why You Shouldn't Worry (Fast Co. Exist)
Take a look around any workplace, and it’s hard not to see the radical transformations revolutionizing the way we work. One of those major changes is the evolution of modern robotics, or artificial intelligence (AI), which has made our lives easier but also stirred some worries as to how human workers will be affected. It’s easy to see why we might have cause to worry. Visit the futuristic Henn-na Hotel in Japan, which opened its doors this month, and you’ll be greeted by a robotic staff that’s said to run 90% of the hotel's operations. The other 10% is handled by the hotel's only 10 human employees. The robots, called "actroids," manufactured by robot maker Kokoro, will be responsible for greeting and checking in guests, all the while establishing eye contact and responding to body language—and three of the 10 robots are multilingual.

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STEMconnector and MIND Research Institute to Host Town Hall on Game-Based Learning
STEMconnector®, in collaboration with MIND Research Institute, will host a STEM Town Hall on August 25th entitled "Leveraging Game-Based Learning to Increase STEM Engagement." The Town Hall will take place from 2-3:30 pm, and will be hosted via Google+ Hangouts On Air. Further details and a link to the event page are provided upon registration. For this event, we look beyond the achievement gap and into the "experience gap" where too many students are lacking the rich mathematical experiences that lead to deeper mathematical understanding and greater joy in the learning process. In a STEM-focused world, students of all backgrounds need these experiences to see themselves as capable mathematical thinkers and problem solvers. Find out about how a new MathMINDs movement is bringing hands-on mathematical experiences to families and communities, through activities including the National K-12 Game-a-thon and Math Fair. Game-based learning is now widely used in classrooms to engage students while fostering deeper learning that meets educational goals. See how this power can be multiplied when students build their own math games - taking ownership of their learning experiences, honing their social skills, and using collaborative learning techniques.

Summer Time is STEM Time with the STEM Activity App!
Before this summer, I was not at all familiar with the term STEM, or its relationship to every child’s education both inside and outside of the classroom. More importantly, I did not fully realize the level which parent engagement is essential to children’s learning success. Not only does parent engagement support academic gains, increase motivation, and reduce behavioral issues, it also excites children about learning and a future in STEM careers. I know that my love of reading and writing grew from my parents’ love of both of those things. So how can we help families excite their children about learning, and especially STEM? This is the question the STEM Activity App was designed to answer. The STEM Activity App is a free, open-source tool created by the Wheelock College Aspire Institute (“Aspire”) three years ago that provides families and teachers with the resources they need to help integrate STEM education into their everyday lives. This summer Aspire launched a 6 week program which started on July 8th. Every week we release two wonderful activities. Since re-launching the project, more than 200 new users have signed up for the App, giving us almost 3000 users. Users span all grade levels and all 50 states, and 12 countries. Our twitter following and emails have spiked as well. The feedback has been overwhelming: the STEM Activity App is being put to good use and in demand!