Ed News: Putting the ‘E’ in STEM for the Littlest Learners

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This week in education news, Sen. Lamar Alexander plans to retire; 2018 federal report found that only 18 percent of the innovations funded by the Education Department lifted student achievement; project-based learning has developed a significant following in recent years; Illinois ranks fifth nationally in the number of STEM degrees awarded and has the fifth-largest STEM workforce in the country; federal school safety panel takes no stance on giving teachers guns as a means to protect students; preschoolers are natural engineers with an inclination to design the world around them; and robotics has emerged as the sport of STEM education.

Sen. Lamar Alexander, Capitol Hill’s Top Republican on Education, Won’t Run in 2020

Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., who has been Capitol Hill’s leading Republican on education issues for more than decade, announced Monday that he’s not planning to run again in 2020. Read the article featured in Education Week.

STEM Toys Promise to Turn Kids into Tech Geniuses. Grown-Up Coders are Skeptical

Like many parents, Dave Balter and Sarah Hodges spend hours and hours before the holidays each year puzzling over the array of educational toys that promise to help children develop scientific curiosity and technological skills. Toys aren’t just toys anymore. There’s a growing market for so-called STEM toys, which promise to imbue young minds with science, technology, engineering, and math skills. But for every product that helps kids learn, there are plenty of others that simply cash in on parents’ desire to prepare their kids for a changing economy. Read the article in the Boston Globe.

The ‘Dirty Secret’ About Educational Innovation

As part of the federal recovery effort to boost the economy after the 2008 recession, the U.S. Education Department suddenly had a big pot of money to give away to “innovations” in education. Since then, more than $1.5 billion has been spent on almost 200 ideas because Congress continued to appropriate funds even after the recession ended. Many of the grant projects involved technology, sometimes delivering lessons or material over the internet. In order to obtain the grants, recipients had to determine if their ideas were effective by tracking test scores. Results are in for the first wave of 67 programs, representing roughly $700 million of the innovation grants and it doesn’t look promising. Read the article featured in The Hechinger Report.

Project-Based Learning is a New Rage in Education. Never Mind That it’s a Century Old.

Put the phrase “project-based learning” into a search engine and the results could lead you to think that it is a highly successful approach to learning that is thoroughly modern and even transformative in a way never seen before in American public schools. While project-based learning can indeed be successful and exciting, it is hardly new. It is, in fact, a century old, as education historian Jack Schneider explains in this post. Read the article featured in the Washington Post.

Illinois Second Only to California in Number of Computer Science Degrees Awarded — and More from STEM Survey

Illinois is cranking out science and technology workers, but diversity and inclusion in the fields are still lacking. Illinois ranks fifth nationally in the number of STEM degrees awarded and has the fifth-largest STEM workforce in the country. Read the article featured in the Chicago Tribune.

Federal School Safety Panel, Parkland Commission Hit Similar Notes – Except on Guns

A school safety panel assembled by President Donald Trump took no stance on strapping teachers with firearms as a means to protect students in a report released Tuesday, taking a much softer tone than a Florida commission that recommended the measure last week. Read the article featured in POLITICO.

To Fix the Tech Gender Gap, Fix Computer Science Education

This dearth of women in tech isn’t because women hate computer science or simply due to the widespread harassment that many women experience in the industry. The real reason men dominate the computer science industry is because computer science education is only accessible for a small percentage of students who are disproportionately male. Read the article featured in the Washington Examiner.

Putting the ‘E’ in STEM for the Littlest Learners

Watch 3-year-olds at play and you’ll see them building. On the beach, it’s a sandcastle encircled by a moat. In the classroom, it’s a towering edifice constructed of cardboard or blocks. Yet as natural as it comes to the youngest school goers, engineering hasn’t been incorporated into the preschool and kindergarten curricula the way it has in the upper grades. The “e” in STEM has been largely missing for the youngest learners, at least in any significant way. Read the article featured in Education Week.

Robotics, the Sport of STEM Education

A new sport is emerging in local middle schools — robot battles. St. Mary’s Episcopal School, a private all-girls pre-K through high school, held its first VEX IQ Challenge Tournament at its East Memphis campus last weekend. The event sold out within 30 minutes. If an indication is needed to show how popular robotics competitions have become among kids, that’s it. Read the article featured in the Daily Memphian.

All 50 States Plant a Flag for Universal STEM Education

Those of us who were terribly spoiled by the attention of prior federal administrations that championed science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education went to ground in January 2017. Although the March for Science in March 2017 was a clarion call for action, many feared that the national movement toward STEM literacy for all students was in mortal peril. Read the article featured in The Hill.

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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