A Push To Boost Computer Science Learning, Even At An Early Age

4457165173_39dbfd101c_oFrom NPR: “A handful of nonprofit and for-profit groups are working to address what they see as a national education crisis: Too few of America’s K-12 public schools actually teach computer science basics and fewer still offer it for credit.

It’s projected that in the next decade there will be about 1 million more U.S. jobs in the tech sector than computer science graduates to fill them. And it’s estimated that only about 10 percent of K-12 schools teach computer science.

So some in the education technology sector, an industry worth some $8 billion a year and growing, are stepping in.”

Click here to read more of this enlightening story.

PNC Foundation Makes $150,000 Grant to Innovate Kentucky

When a challenge is made, WKU is never one to shy away. The University is now one step closer to fulfilling a challenge grant from the James Graham Brown Foundation, thanks to PNC Foundation’s generosity and commitment to education.

The PNC Foundation, through its Grow Up Great program, has awarded WKU a $150,000 grant to support Innovate Kentucky and early childhood education. “PNC offers leadership, advocacy, funding, volunteers and educational resources because we believe that an investment in our children now makes good economic sense and plants the seeds for the dynamic workforce of tomorrow,” said Chuck Denny, Regional President of PNC Bank, Louisville. (WKU photo by Bryan Lemon)
The PNC Foundation, through its Grow Up Great program, has awarded WKU a $150,000 grant to support Innovate Kentucky and early childhood education. “PNC offers leadership, advocacy, funding, volunteers and educational resources because we believe that an investment in our children now makes good economic sense and plants the seeds for the dynamic workforce of tomorrow,” said Chuck Denny, Regional President of PNC Bank, Louisville. (WKU photo by Bryan Lemon)

The PNC Foundation, through its Grow Up Great program, has awarded WKU a $150,000 grant to support Innovate Kentucky and early childhood education. Founded by The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc., PNC Grow Up Great and PNC Crezca con Éxito form a bilingual, $350 million, multi-year initiative that began in 2004 to help prepare children – particularly underserved children – from birth to age 5 for success in school and life.

“PNC offers leadership, advocacy, funding, volunteers and educational resources because we believe that an investment in our children now makes good economic sense and plants the seeds for the dynamic workforce of tomorrow,” said Chuck Denny, Regional President of PNC Bank, Louisville.

Through Grow Up Great, PNC emphasizes the importance of the first five years of life, which research has shown are critical to long-term achievement, by helping families, educators and community partners provide innovative opportunities that enhance learning and development in a child’s early years.

“Since the inception of Grow Up Great, approximately 1.5 million at-risk preschool children have been served through grants and innovative programs emphasizing math, science, the arts and financial education for young children,” Denny said.

“Getting a good start is the key to doing well in school,” said Dr. Julia Roberts, Executive Director of The Center for Gifted Studies and the Carol Martin Gatton Academy of Mathematics and Science in Kentucky.

Innovate Kentucky, a partnership of The Center for Gifted Studies, the Gatton Academy of Mathematics and Science in Kentucky, the WKU Honors College and the WKU Innovation Center, seeks to inspire students of all ages to get involved with science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), but thus far its programming has been aimed at students elementary school age and older. Now the initiative has identified an opportunity to reach children at an even earlier age through the Grow Up Great program.

“The importance is highlighted by the name of PNC Bank’s project title – Grow Up Great,” Dr. Roberts said. “Today there is a major focus on the education of young children.”

Innovate Kentucky is built on the premise that an enthusiasm for the STEM disciplines and the development of an innovative mindset must begin well before the age of 5. Parents and educators must develop a child’s creativity through hands-on, minds-on activities that also encourage the child to be curious about the world around them. Through the PNC grant, The Center for Gifted Studies will develop videos that can be used by parents and educators as guidance in working with their children to develop higher level thinking.

“The future of America’s job marketplace will be defined by STEM,” Denny said. “Kentucky has not risen to the challenge of producing the qualified individuals need to embrace that future.”

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Representatives of WKU and PNC, including Dr. Gary Ransdell, Dr. Julia Roberts and Chuck Denny, got together for a group photo after the Jan. 15 grant announcement. (WKU photo by Bryan Lemon)

Kentucky alone will need to fill 74,000 STEM jobs by 2018, yet only 12 percent of the bachelor’s degrees conferred in the state are in STEM fields. The Department of Early Education and Care’s 2011 report STEM Education and EEC’s Educator Provider Support System states that early exposure to STEM supports children’s overall academic growth, develops early critical thinking and reasoning skills and enhances later interest in STEM study and careers.

“Incorporating STEM in early childhood education and out of school-time settings taps into children’s natural curiosity and sense of wonder,” Denny said. “STEM education broadens children’s experiences and understanding of the human-made and natural world around them.”

Innovate Kentucky’s goal is to increase the awareness of the importance of creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship. Innovate Kentucky has sponsored classes at VAMPY (a three-week summer program for middle and high school students) that focus on problem solving and creative/critical thinking. Innovate Kentucky has also sponsored a Winter term colloquium on entrepreneurship for students at the Gatton Academy and the Honors College.

Another initiative, IdeaFestival Bowling Green, will be held Feb. 28. “The focus of this day is that it is all about ideas,” Dr. Roberts said. Nine speakers will present for 20 minutes each with opportunities for the audience to ask questions.  One keynote speaker from Disney and Pixar will speak about creativity and innovation.

“PNC Grow Up Great is an investment in the future,” Denny said. “Extensive research indicates that the returns on investments in high-quality early education and school readiness initiatives are significant and long lasting – impacting our children, our society and the health of our economy for generations to come.”

Innovate Kentucky has also launched a public relations campaign that includes a website containing videos and other content, such as career prospects within STEM disciplines and STEM lesson plans for teachers at any grade level. The Innovate Kentucky brand will continue to be promoted through social media channels, a billboard campaign and community-based sessions to better establish a culture that values innovation and STEM.

The grant from PNC is helping meet the match for the $500,000 challenge grant the James Graham Brown Foundation made in 2011 for Innovate Kentucky.

IdeaFestival Bowling Green Promises Creativity and Innovation

IFBG LogoCreativity and innovation will be on display February 28 at the Downing Student Union Auditorium as Innovate Kentucky hosts the inaugural IdeaFestival Bowling Green. The one-day festival features nine of Kentucky’s brightest innovators plus keynote speaker Bill Capodagli, who will present Dreams and Dreamers: How to Innovate Like Walt Disney and the Pixarians.

“From the beginning Innovate Kentucky has wanted to host a speaker series on WKU’s campus,” said Josh Raymer, Executive Administrator of Innovate Kentucky. “When we found out IdeaFestival was looking to expand across Kentucky, we saw a chance to merge two goals into an exciting new event that showcases Kentucky’s innovation.”

IdeaFestival is held annually in Louisville and is described as “a celebration for the intellectually curious.” National thought-leaders from a wide range of disciplines speak to sold-out crowds during the three-day event. IdeaFestival branched out in 2013 with IF Lexington, a two-day event that led to the creation of IdeaFestival Bowling Green.

Kris Kimel, president of the Kentucky Science and Technology Corporation and the founder of IdeaFestival, said the theme of IFBG is relevant now more than it’s ever been.  “IF Bowling Green is delving even deeper into the IdeaFestival mantra of Stay Curious though its twin themes of creativity and innovation, elements that are the new currency for success regardless of ‘what you do,’” he explained.

Creativity and innovation can be found in the behind-the-scenes magic at Pixar, which is the focus of the keynote presentation. Dreams and Dreamers is described as “a tour of the most innovative, creative organization in the world. You’ll learn how to look at the world through a child’s eyes, how to believe in your team, how to jump in and try something different, how to create your own corporate playground, and more.”

The nine session speakers are all superb examples of the innovation that is happening in Kentucky. Speakers from Hitcents, Fruit of the Loom, Kentucky Bourbon Trail, Alltech, Connected Nation, and Kentucky Space will address topics from product innovation to satellite design to economic collaboration. Dana Bowers, founder of iPay Technologies, will explore her entrepreneurial journey and urge the dreamers in the crowd to start their own businesses. Chris Young and Andrew Swanson are the director and executive producer, respectively, of a Kickstarter-funded TV pilot called Alone Down There and will explain how a TV show gets made in 2014. Kim Huston, author of Small Town Sexy, will touch on the movement back toward smaller towns like Bardstown, KY, which was named the “Most Beautiful Small Town in America” by USA Today and Rand McNally.

The festival will have several interactive features, including question and answer panels at the end of each session where participants can tweet or text questions and a large mural created by artist Andee Rudloff that will evolve throughout the day with help from audience members. WKU Forensics team members will serve as emcees for IFBG.

“Ideas galore!” said Julia Roberts, executive director of The Center for Gifted Studies. “Don’t miss IdeaFestival Bowling Green. In fact, we hope it is a new tradition for you.”

Festival passes are $10 for students and $20 for the general public. For more information visit www.ideafestivalbg.com.

OCTC Awarded Almost $620,000 in STEM Funds

octcFrom SurfKY.com: “Owensboro Community and Technical College has received a $619,500 grant award from the National Science Foundation’s Scholarships in Science,Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics program.

The project, entitled the OCTC Achieving Community College Educational Success Scholarship to STEM (OCTC ACCESS to STEM) is designed to increase the pool of skilled technicians in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics from which to hire the next generation workforce.”

Click here to find out if you’re eligible for scholarship money.

What 3 New Kentucky Districts of Innovation Plan To Do With Schools

education-generic-istock-350w_3From WFPL News: “Three new Kentucky school districts have received District of Innovation status—meaning they can get waivers for a handful of state education department regulations.

The Kentucky Board of Education has approved Owensboro Independent, Owsley County and Trigg County school districts, all of which were rejected in the first group.

Kentucky school districts submit proposals to the state education department, and this District of Innovation proposal process gives us an idea of what sorts of things public school educators would like to do, if they could.

Now, these three districts will work with the Kentucky education department to figure out how far they can take their plans.”

Click here to read what stood out about the state-approved waivers for these schools.

Kavli “Science in Fiction” Video Contest: Call for Entries!

2014_Kavli_Science_Video_Contest_Science_in_FictionThe USA Science & Engineering Festival, in association with the Kavli Foundation, has launched the Science in Fiction video contest.

Using scenes from popular science fiction movies and TV shows, and video games, grades 6-12 students will create :30-:90 videos that investigate how science fictional scenes could be realized using current and developing technologies. The video contest culminates in a popular awards show, hosted by Bill Nye, as part of the Festival, which returns to Washington, D.C. on April 26-27, 2014.  The contest officially opens for entries on Nov. 1, 2013 and closes March 21, 2014. First prize is $2,000 cash prize and a travel stipend to travel to Washington D.C. for the Expo. The second prize is $750 and the third prize is $500. The People’s Choice Award prize is $250.

Visit the contest website for more information.

 

Science and engineering of the Olympic Winter Games 2014

winter_olympics2014From the National Science Foundation: “The National Science Foundation has partnered with NBC Learn (the educational arm of NBC News) to release the “Science and Engineering of the 2014 Olympic Winter Games”–the latest installment in the Emmy Award-winning “Science of Sports” series. This enlightening 10-part video collection, narrated by NBC Sports’ Liam McHugh, delves into the physics, engineering, chemistry, design and mathematics behind the world’s foremost sporting event.

The segments feature a variety of sports stories, as told by some of the world’s top athletes and record holders, along with perspectives and innovative research from leading NSF-supported engineers and scientists.

The series’ diverse topics reveal how key engineering and science concepts and cutting-edge technology play an integral part in each athlete’s respective sport and help maximize their performance at the 2014 Sochi Games.”

Click here to see these amazing science videos.

IdeaFestival Bowling Green presents Bill Capodagli

Bill Capodagli – author of Innovate the Pixar Way

Dreams and Dreamers: How to Innovate Like Walt Disney and the Pixarians

Pixar is the benchmark of innovative success. With numerous Academy Awards under their belts, they keep breaking the mold on creativity and taking it to the next level. From Toy Story to Up, Pixar never settles for what they’ve done but continues to look forward to the future.

Bill takes you on a tour of the most innovative, creative organization in the world. You’ll learn how to look at the world through a child’s eyes (and why it’s important). You’ll learn how to believe in your team, how to jump in and try something different, how to create your own corporate playground, and more.

Among the key points you’ll learn: Dream Like a Child, Believe in Your Playmates, Dare to Jump in the Water and Make Waves, Do Unleash Your Childlike Potential, and Make a Dent in the Universe.

Episode 26: IdeaFestival Bowling Green

podcast featured imageCreativity and innovation is the theme of IdeaFestival Bowling Green (IFBG), a one-day speaker series that will take place Friday, February 28 at the Downing Student Union on WKU’s campus from 8:30 am – 4:15 pm. Sponsored by Innovate Kentucky, IFBG will spotlight innovation happening in Kentucky with nine speakers from organizations such as Hitcents, Alltech, SKyPAC, Kentucky Space, Fruit of the Loom, and the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. Other speakers include noted author Kim Huston, who’ll be speaking on the movement back toward small towns, and Dana Bowers, the only female member of the Kentucky Entrepreneur Hall of Fame and founder of iPay Technologies. In this episode of the Innovation Update, Josh is interviewed by Zack Ryle of The Center for Gifted Studies about IFBG.

Play

Close Encounters of the KYSpace Kind

Photo courtesy of Insider Louisville
Photo courtesy of Insider Louisville

From IF University: “Perhaps the best IF University class under the stars: Space Systems Engineer Twyman Clements (Kentucky Space LLC) discusses KentuckySat-2, with a live satellite feed as it orbits the earth over Kentucky. Recently, Kentucky Space launched a small satellite, KentuckySat-2 (KySat-2), as part of NASA’s ELaNa’s program. What is Kentucky Space? And what does it do? What can we learn from space exploration? Join us for a close encounter with a small satellite … of the Kentucky Space kind.”

Sign up for this amazing class here.