Ed News: Modern Classrooms Energize Students & Teachers

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This week in education news, a modern learning environment could be the key to making any space the right space for innovative thinking; Microsoft invests $2 million in Computer Science Teachers Association; the increased use of industrial robots has enhanced the efficiency of manufacturing, but it has also fueled a skills gap in the field; NGSS could change elementary science education; “Peanuts” and NASA partner again to inspire a passion for space exploration and STEM; survey finds that weaker math students who choose to take calculus in high school actually get the most benefit from the class; new report suggests that many graduate programs do not adequately prepare students to translate their knowledge into impact in multiple careers; and study finds science degree holders more likely to use inquiry-based teaching.

Modern Classrooms Energize Students And Teachers

Flexible workspaces that allow teachers to manipulate the classroom for changing needs can help to keep students engaged and enthusiastic. Read the article featured in Ed Tech Magazine.

Microsoft To Invest $2M In Computer Science Teachers Association

The Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA), a 25,000-member professional association dedicated to K-12 computer science education worldwide, will receive $2 million in funding over the next three years from Microsoft Philanthropies, the tech company announced Monday. Read the article featured in edScoop.

Bridging The STEM Skills Gap Involves Both Education And Industry Commitments

While the increased use of industrial robots has enhanced the precision and efficiency of manufacturing, it has also fueled a skills gap in the field. According to a study by Deloitte Consulting LLP and the Manufacturing Institute, there are an estimated 3.4 million jobs to be filled in manufacturing from 2015 to 2025 – and only approximately 1.4 million qualified workers to do so. Schools and industries try to bridge this gap and find ways to best prepare students for workforce requirements – one in which science, technology, engineering and mathematics play a major part. Read the article featured in U.S. News & World Report.

Will New Standards Improve Elementary Science Education?

Science could be considered the perfect elementary school subject. It provides real life applications for reading and math and develops critical thinking skills that help students solve problems in other subjects. Plus, it’s interesting. It helps answer all those “why” questions — Why is the sun hot? Why do fish swim? Why are some people tall and other people short? — that 5- to 8-year-old children are so famous for asking. But science has long been given short shrift in the first few years of school. Most elementary school teachers have little scientific background and many say they feel unprepared to teach the subject well. Read the article featured in The Hechinger Report.

‘Peanuts’ And NASA Are Collaborating Again — Five Decades After Snoopy’s Moon Mission

Even before man had landed on the moon, Snoopy had landed his name on NASA equipment. Now, “Peanuts” and the space agency will launch a new phase of partnership. Peanuts Worldwide and NASA will announce on Tuesday that they have entered into a multiyear Space Act Agreement, executives at Peanuts tell The Washington Post’s Comic Riffs. The partnership is engineered “to inspire a passion for space exploration and STEM” education among students, according to Peanuts Worldwide. Read the article featured in The Washington Post.

Study Finds That Mastering Prerequisites—Not Taking Calculus In High School—Better Predicts Success In College

Contrary to widely-held opinion, taking high school calculus isn’t necessary for success later in college calculus—what’s more important is mastering the prerequisites, algebra, geometry, and trigonometry—that lead to calculus. That’s according to a study of more than 6,000 college freshmen at 133 colleges carried out by the Science Education Department of the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. In addition, the survey finds that weaker math students who choose to take calculus in high school actually get the most benefit from the class. Read the article featured on Phys.org.

Why Corporate America Is Recruiting High Schoolers

With more job openings than unemployed workers in the US economy, companies are finding it hard to fill jobs. One solution is for corporations to train high school students with the skills needed in the labor market. Sometimes, they start as young as kindergarten. Since 2011, more than 400 companies have partnered with 79 public high schools across the country to offer a six-year program called P-Tech. Students can enroll for grades 9 to 14 and earn both a high school and an associate’s degree in a science, tech, engineering or math related field. Read the article featured on CNN Money.

What’s The Way Forward To Reform Graduate Training?

A report, issued by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, offers a bracing alternative vision of the student-centered “ideal graduate STEM education” that aspiring scientists should, by rights, experience. It fails, however, to show a path toward producing the reforms that would make the current system provide what students need. It thus presents an implicit warning for anyone currently contemplating or pursuing graduate study that big changes are unlikely anytime soon. Nonetheless, it succeeds in offering an outline of the treatment that students ought to receive—and therefore ought to press for. Read the article featured in Science.

Science Degree Holders More Likely To Use Inquiry-Based Teaching. But There Aren’t Enough Of Them

This is what you want to see in a science classroom: Less memorizing. Fewer ready-made science experiments. Students designing their own hands-on investigations in pursuit of scientific questions. Educators most likely to teach this way hold science degrees, a new study finds. Nationwide, that includes just half of all science teachers. Read the article featured in Education Week.

When Form Follows Function In Classroom Design, The Learning Ramps Up

Studies show that active learning — group work, activities and discussions — increases student performance in STEM. Architects and others who design learning environments can improve student performance by keeping knowledge about student learning — and flexibility — in mind, according to a piece in Building Construction and Design. Read the brief featured in Education DIVE.

Stay tuned for next week’s top education news stories.

The Communication, Legislative & Public Affairs (CLPA) team strives to keep NSTA members, teachers, science education leaders, and the general public informed about NSTA programs, products, and services and key science education issues and legislation. In the association’s role as the national voice for science education, its CLPA team actively promotes NSTA’s positions on science education issues and communicates key NSTA messages to essential audiences.

The mission of NSTA is to promote excellence and innovation in science teaching and learning for all.

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