Mars Rover: High school students simulate Mars expeditions

Photo credit: Aprile Rickert
Photo credit: Aprile Rickert

From the News and Tribune: Sixteen-year-old Meghan Sturgeon already has a handle on what she wants to be when she grows up: an engineer.

Although her high school doesn’t offer much in the way of engineering exposure outside of some math and science classes that may be required for it, she got the opportunity —along with 44 other students from across Southern Indiana and parts of Kentucky — to get an up-close look at what engineering can be about Friday at Purdue Polytechnic Institute in New Albany.

“Purdue: Mission to Mars” was a daylong event which was part of the school’s K-12 STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) outreach program. The students were grouped according to complementary skills and tasked with using several of the disciplines to get Lego robots, in the style of Martian rovers, to navigate the surface of Mars, built by staff, faculty and students of the school.

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Is STEM education being left behind?

Photo credit: Susan Walsh/AP
Photo credit: Susan Walsh/AP

Just last month, President Obama had this to say during the second annual White House Astronomy Night:

“Some of you might be on your way to Mars,” the president told the crowd of future astronauts and scientists. “America can do anything! We just gotta keep on encouraging every new generation to explore and invent and create and discover. We got to keep encouraging some young kid in Brooklyn or a budding rocket scientist in Alabama or that young girl who’s dreaming to become an astronaut.”

Then why, some would argue, is action not measuring up to words?

“People like to talk, but the actions don’t measure up to words,” says City College of New York physics professor Michael Lubell. He’s also a fellow at the American Physical Society, which has long sounded the alarm on the need to bolster physics, science and math education. “STEM today is the child left behind. And it’s being left behind at the juvenile level,” Lubell says.

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Education secretary highlights importance of STEM

Arne_Duncan_at_National_Teacher_Hall_of_Fame,_Emporia_State_University,_Emporia,_KansasFrom Valley Central: U.S Secretary of Education Arne Duncan visited the Rio Grande Valley to speak to students at Student Leadership Day at HESTEC in Edinburg.

Duncan highlighted the importance of STEM education and reminded students that technology helps mold the future.

“I want all of you to think not just about Apple products but creating Apple products and working for Apple, and think about all the great technology that you’re working on today and have found ways of enjoying. Think about creating all of that. And the jobs of the future, so many of them, not all of them, are in the STEM fields,” Duncan said.

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Scientists Successfully Create Brain-to-Brain Link

brain-770044_1920Imagine a future where you could transmit a unique feeling, a hard-to-translate thought process, or precise motor movements via a neural pattern from your brain to someone else’s brain, sharing what can’t otherwise be easily communicated. This is the goal of new research conducted at the University of Washington (UW).

In the UW experiment, published in PLOS ONE, subjects played a 20 Questions–style game through a direct brain-to-brain connection, and accurately guessed what object was on the other person’s mind 72 percent of the time.

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Water on Mars? NASA set for big announcement

From CNN: NASA says it has big news for us Monday. “Mars Mystery Solved,” the agency’s news release touts without offering even a hint as to what mystery they mean.

For those who just can’t wait, a little Googling may solve the puzzle — and it’s not Matt Damon, little green people, or any other clear indication of life. It appears to be a confirmation of periodically flowing water on the planet’s surface.

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Would virtual reality classrooms help STEM education?

16475420268_4b6528b0ca_bFrom the International Business Times: Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson made a play for Silicon Valley support Thursday by calling for more science and math education. Tech itself, he said, can be used to spur interest in those fields.

How so? Using “Internet-based virtual-reality classrooms where we can put the very best teachers in front of a million students,” Carson said in a prerecorded video message played at the CloudFlare Internet Summit.

Do you think this kind of high-tech classroom could boost STEM education?

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Drones increasingly becoming common part of education

In this Aug. 25 photo, from left, fifth-grade students Parker League, Zane Flores and Brendan Albers reassemble their drone after it took a spill during an experiment at Whitetail Elementary in Gretna, Neb. (Megan Farmer/Omaha World-Herald via AP)
In this Aug. 25 photo, from left, fifth-grade students Parker League, Zane Flores and Brendan Albers reassemble their drone after it took a spill during an experiment at Whitetail Elementary in Gretna, Neb. (Megan Farmer/Omaha World-Herald via AP)

From the Omaha World-Leader: Ingraham is a technology specialist with Educational Service Unit 3, a political subdivision that provides technology support to 18 eastern Nebraska school districts.

The organization bought 25 drones, including the Phantom, as part of its mission to seek out emerging technologies that might be important to schools in the future, he said.

“It just seemed to be an incredibly compelling way of engaging students, specifically in STEM concepts — science, technology, engineering, math — that is so important for the future of our nation,” Ingraham said.

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STEM Should Broaden, Not Narrow, the Curriculum

String MachineFrom Education Week: What we call a STEM shift—a movement toward comprehensive and fully integrated STEM education throughout a school or district—is the first real and promising development with the potential to re-envision educational orientation from the bottom up. A STEM shift encourages the reimagination of schools, from kindergarten through the 12th grade, including the way curriculum is designed, organized, and delivered. Done well, this includes the learning processes of inquiry, imagination, questioning, problem-solving, creativity, invention, and collaboration—and certainly learning, thinking, and writing.

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Google’s Education on Air

hAsu0slVMay 8 & 9, 2015

Join us for a free online conference. You have the best seat in the house (your own!) to learn with other educators. Explore the conference schedule below.

Day 1

Panel: What are the skills of the future? (9:00 AM CDT)

LeVar Burton: Inspiring learners with the power of storytelling (10:25 AM)

Lord Puttnam: Getting our priorities straight (10:35 AM)

Lisa Bodell: Making change happen: three tools for better creative problem solving (10:55 AM)

Michael Fullan, OC: Three ways to drive system-wide change (11:05 AM)

Q&A: Ask the keynote speakers (11:15 AM)

Laszlo Bock: Making work rule (11:30 AM)

Sir Michael Barber: How to run a government (11:40 AM)

Jennie Magiera: Power to the pupil (11:50 AM)

Brittany Wenger: Student curiosity can help save lives (11:55 AM)

Q&A: Ask the keynote speakers (12:05 PM)

Panel: Transforming learning with technology (12:20 PM)

Panel: Empowering students (1:20 PM)

Look ahead: Preview of Day 2 (2:25 PM)

Click here to see the schedule of Day 2 and register for the conference.

The Science of Star Wars

May-The-Fourth-Be-With-You-1To celebrate Star Wars Day (May the Fourth be with you), dive into the science behind this iconic franchise with questions like:

Could the Death Star really destroy a planet?

When the Death Star fires, six laser beams are generated around the circumference of a circular depression on the exterior of the space station. The six beams meet at the center of the circle and head down toward the planet as a single, huge beam. What would actually happen…

Would the Sarlacc really 1,000 years to digest its prey?

We can’t be sure how big the Sarlacc is, but it must be fairly large to have such a huge appetite. While burrowing seems limited to smaller animals on Earth, the Sarlacc somehow manages to…

Would jumping to light speed kill you?

It’s no problem for Han to accelerate the Falcon from zero to 60 miles per hour in five seconds. Inertia will push him slightly back in his seat. But accelerating from zero to 186,000 miles per second in five seconds will…