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NASA Launches Students into Orbit

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In a 20-foot vertical spin tunnel at the NASA Langley Research Center, aerospace technologist Steve Riddick tests free-flying models of fighter aircraft, transport vehicles and capsule vehicles to see how they perform under different conditions.“It’s one of the better places to give a tour because there’s a lot of visual stimulation with that tunnel,” Riddick said. “You get to actually see something going on, as opposed to some computer collecting data.”And that’s what STEM is all about. As the United States focuses more on these academic subjects, NASA is on a mission to engage students, educators and families in STEM fields, as well as to strengthen the future workforce of the organization and the nation.Almost half of NASA’s current workforce consists of baby boomers, and by the end of fiscal year 2010, more than 20 percent of the organization’s workers will be eligible to retire, according to a 2008 presentation by Toni Dawsey, assistant administrator for human capital management …

STEMtech Promotes Interactive Learning

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The League for Innovation's annual Conference on Information Technology (CIT) is transitioning into a new conference envisioned as an interactive learning experience with a strong focus on:science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines in general education and workforce training; and uses of technology across the institution.“Excitement is building about the new STEMtech conference,” said League Board Chair Jackson Sasser, president of Santa Fe College in Gainesville, Fla. “STEMtech provides an opportunity for community college technology specialists, CIOs and other educators who use technology to continue gathering around topics of specific interest to them, while acknowledging the growing importance of STEM disciplines in community college education.”

STEMtech will be available to participants in two formats: on site and online. The 2010 on-site conference will be held Oct. 31-Nov. 3 at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. Online …

Grant Attracts Minorities to STEM Fields

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The University of Texas at El Paso has received a five-year grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for nearly $2.9 million.

The “Science for a Sustainable Future: Developing the Next Generation of Diverse Scientists” award will provide fellowships to minority graduate students in NSF-supported disciplines such as science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). The doctoral students will build their science and teaching portfolios and bring their leading research findings into K-12 learning settings in an effort to inspire the next generation of scientists.

The fellows will serve as a STEM resource for El Paso’s Early College High School (ECHS) science teachers and as mentors for the students, helping them build practical understandings of science.“This success in securing federal funding from the National Science Foundation is a good example of the quality of competitive proposals UTEP faculty generate, integrating education and research benefiting our students and c…

Technology + Perseverance = Innovation

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Dean Kamen is an inventor, an entrepreneur and a tireless advocate for science and technology. His passion for technology and its practical uses has driven his personal determination to spread the word about technology’s virtues, and by so doing, to change the culture of the United States. In addition to founding DEKA Research and Development, one of Kamen's proudest accomplishments is founding FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), an organization dedicated to motivating the next generation to understand, use and enjoy science and technology.How did you get to where you are today?Necessity is the mother of invention. As a young kid, I decided I didn’t like being told what to do. I liked to understand the problem at hand and decide how to go about solving it myself. I also decided early on I didn’t like being judged by people. It occurred to me as a kid, “Wow, if I can’t deal with this, and deal with somebody judging me as a kid when I’m in school and i…

Literacy Learning with Electric

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Editor’s Note: It’s amazing how “at home” two adults can feel sitting in Oscar the Grouch’s shadow as he lounges in his iconic garbage can. As Converge Editor in Chief Marina Leight and writer Mark Gura were waiting to enter the offices of Sesame Workshop, they saw no point in putting on their game faces while Oscar stared them down: Everyone around them was smiling as broadly as red-furred Elmo and the other "The Electric Company" cast members. Marina and Mark also smiled broadly as they sat down for an in-depth discussion with the show’s creative team leaders.

The opening sequence of “The Electric Company” always presents a literacy learning problem and concludes with one of the characters shouting, “Hey you guys!”

That iconic signal, kept from the original series of the 1970s, is a clarion call to begin each episode’s 30 minutes of fun and learning.

"The Electric Company," produced by the nonprofit Sesame Workshop, formerly Children’s Television Workshop, broadcast…

Media Tools Boost Literacy

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In the classroom, public television shows, such as "Sesame Street" and "Between the Lions," and interactive games help preschool children develop critical literacy skills and better prepares them for kindergarten, according to a new study conducted by Education Development Center, Inc. (EDC) and SRI International. The study analyzed literacy skills in young children, including their ability to name letters, associate sounds with the letters and understand story concepts and printed words.

"Many studies have shown that computer technologies can improve learning for students in kindergarten through grade 12, but using digital media in preschool has been controversial," said lead researcher Shelley Pasnik, director of EDC's Center for Children and Technology.

Commissioned by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), the study examined 398 low-income children in 80 preschool classes in New York City and San Francisco. For 10 weeks, these students, most…

Partnership for 21st Century Skills Releases State Implementation Guides

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The Partnership for 21st Century Skills (P21) released the State Implementation Guides – which offer best practices on building standards, assessments, curriculum and instruction, professional development and learning environments – to help integrate skills (such as critical thinking, problem solving and communication) more purposefully into core academic subjects (such as mathematics, reading, science, history and others).“I hope to encourage more states to join the 21st century learning movement to ensure our next generation of leaders are prepared for and inspired to achieve careers in innovative, inventive areas that might not even exist today,” said Kathy Hurley, P21 executive board and strategic council chair, and senior vice president of strategic partnerships for Pearson. “With these new guides, P21 provides support for educators nationwide who are integrating skills like critical thinking and problem solving into their education frameworks. Knowing the critical role teachers …