stem-education

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Top 5 misconceptions about evolution: A guide to demystify the foundation of modern biology.

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Here is an infographic to help inform citizens.  From my experience most people who misunderstand evolution are actually misinformed about what science is and how it operates.  That said, here are five of the biggest barriers faced when one explains evolution - I have faced these and they are documented in the literature.

I hope you can build on my work and improve the communication between the scientists and the public.

Want to do more?  If you want to donate to the cause of science education I suggest the National Center for Science Education http://ncse.com, your local university, or an equivalent organization.  Volunteering at schools and inviting scientists into classrooms are two ways to encourage an informed society.  Attend hearings if school boards start questioning evolution’s role in public curriculum.  Raise a storm if anyone tries to ban science.  Plus, it never hurts to reblog a well made evolution post.

Thank you followers for all your support!
Love, 
molecularlifesciences.tumblr.com

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The Only Woman in the Computer Science Department

Irene Greif always thought she’d be a teacher. “For one thing,” she told me, “I’d been told by my mother that it was good to be a teacher because you just worked the hours your kids were in school and you could come home.” It had just always been the profession in the back of her mind, the default.

So then it must have been a bit of a shock when, after becoming the first woman ever to receive a Ph.D. in computer science from MIT, Greif discovered that she didn’t really enjoy teaching—she much preferred research. And so eventually she left teaching as a professor and did what she did best: studying, thinking, and figuring systems out. She founded a research field, computer-supported cooperative work, and has spent her life figuring out how to build better systems for humans to work together.

Greif recently retired from IBM, where she’d been since the mid-‘90s, and is hoping to devote some time to encouraging young women to go into STEM fields and coaching them to stick with them—a twist on teaching that she does genuinely like.

Read more. [Image courtesy of Irene Greif]

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These 6-Year-Old Girls Stage a Revolution in the Aisles of Toys R Us
WomenYSK shared in Video, Stem Education and Engineering

This video is brought to us by GoldieBlox, a toy company creating engineering toys for girls founded in 2012 by Debbie Sterling, a female engineer from Stanford University.

“It’s 2013. It’s about time we opened our girls’ minds beyond the pink aisle at the toy store. It’s time to build a new story so our girls can help build our future.”

Continue to womenyoushouldknow.net

Math and Science Educational Tip of the Week: Having Convos about STEM with your Child

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to be a STEM professional to have conversations about STEM with your child. STEM is all around us and is a part of our everyday lives, so it can be easy to have conversations about STEM. It can be as simple as talking about STEM in your home, from the electronic devices, electrical and plumbing systems, recycling and composting that may take place in your neighborhood. You can have great discussions about how things work in society such as cars, planes, bridges, weather, pollution etc.  For all your kids, you can discuss things that happen in the news that may be related to STEM and read articles about STEM. For your older kids that are on social media, you can have them follow STEM related pages such as CDC, Scientific American, Engineering Go For It, among others and discuss what comes in their Facebook Feed and/or Twitter Timelines. Whether your child is interested in STEM or not, it is an important skill set for them to have the ability to be able to talk about STEM. The ability to talk about STEM is a key component of being scientifically literate.

To teach evolution at the University of Kentucky is to teach at an institution steeped in the history of defending evolution education. The first effort to pass an anti-evolution law (led by William Jennings Bryan) happened in Kentucky in 1921. It proposed making the teaching of evolution illegal. The university’s president at that time, Frank McVey, saw this bill as a threat to academic freedom. Three faculty members—William Funkhouser, a zoologist; Arthur Miller, a geologist who taught evolution; and Glanville Terrell, a philosopher—joined McVey in the battle to prevent the bill from becoming law. They put their jobs on the line. Through their efforts, the anti-evolution bill was defeated by a 42­–41 vote in the state legislature. Consequently, the movement turned its attention toward Tennessee.

Rachel and I both went to high school and undergraduate in Kentucky schools. This article is a great read about some of the difficult aspects of teaching evolution in a not so receptive classroom. 

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Top 5 misconceptions about evolution: A guide to demystify the foundation of modern biology.

Version 2.0

Donate here to support science education.  
National Center for Science Education http://ncse.com

Thank you followers for all your support!
Love, 
molecularlifesciences.tumblr.com

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Listen to yourself and don’t worry what others think. Be who you want to be.

– Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell’s ‪#‎DearMe‬ video advice to her 13-year-old self.

Get your groove on for science! This little robot is helping kids get amped for science and engineering as part of a Long Island education program where students learn programming. Brookhaven is part of the Long Island STEM Hub, which celebrated its first anniversary last year with a robot dance party and a display of student research and local STEM career opportunities. And we’re hoping to dance right into a future where New York becomes the next Silicon Valley.

Marilyn Reece, Civil Engineer

What do you do when you like math but don’t want to become a teacher? You could be a civil engineer, like Marilyn Reece.

She was the first woman to be a fully-licensed civil engineer in California and she’s featured in our May calendar of women trailblazers in science, tech, engineering and math.

Perceived hiring biases against women working in science, technology, engineering, and math have been around as long as women have been graduating from STEM programs. From 2008 to 2010, women received the majority of doctorate degrees in life and social sciences but only 32 percent of the open assistant professorships.

Now comes a study that offers something of a counter-narrative — that, given the chance, universities would rather hire women for STEM tenure-track positions.

Could It Be? Researchers Find A Hiring Bias That Favors Women

Illustration Credit: LA Johnson/NPR

Karly’s experiences illustrate how the nexus of low expectations, as well as college preparation and course programming hurdles can combine to derail the most motivated science students. She describes battling with her school counselor to be programmed into the elite AP Biology and Physics courses that have become virtual gatekeepers for future college science majors. She remarks that “some counselors believe that you might not succeed. They say maybe it might be a little too hard for you.” In many instances parental intervention is mandatory for black science students at every step of the way. Although conventional wisdom holds that class status and income dictate interest and academic success in science, Hanson concluded that social capital by way of family support and investment in the community were the most compelling factors. Girls whose parents (regardless of income levels, education and family composition) were supportive and engaged in their educations were more likely to pursue science. In addition, girls who had higher levels of community involvement, volunteerism and participation in religious activities were also more likely to pursue a science major and have high achievement in science.

Some area schools are not receptive and fail to see the potential in their students [the program’s founder said]. ‘I get responses like, ‘You know, the type of students you’re looking for, we just don’t have…That is just not right.’ Chuck Uzoegwu, 19, participated in the program in 2010 and is now studying business and is pre-med at USC. He first noticed a slow attrition of fellow African American classmates when attending King Drew Medical Magnet High School. In the summer program, he was one of only a few African American students. He returned to the hospital this summer to volunteer in the lab and said he has yet to meet a role model there who looks like him. ‘It disturbs me. It’s nice to come into a place and see other people that are like you,’ he said. ‘It definitely feels like the higher up you go in education, the higher up you go in any organization, the less African American males you see.

Uzoegwu’s experiences reflect the hard reality of many high schools where the number of African American students who are encouraged to pursue science is criminally low. At the elite level of enrollment in Physics and Advanced Placement (AP) science courses the numbers thin out even more. Nationwide, African American students are underrepresented in AP course enrollment and exam taking. At 14% of the U.S. student population they comprise only 3% of those enrolled in AP courses or taking AP exams. Native American students are also underrepresented. With the exception of a few states like Hawaii and South Dakota, there has been greater success in closing the AP gap for Latino students than Black or Native American students. In addition, some schools don’t even have AP courses, placing students who want to go to college at a significant disadvantage. According to the Harvard Education Press, “students who took AP math or science exams were more likely than non-AP students to earn degrees in particular physical science, engineering and life science disciplines.” Jacqueline Hernandez, a Watts resident enrolled in the Children’s Hospital internship program, decries the lack of AP classes at her school. Hernandez once feared her college dreams would be derailed by teenage pregnancy like those of her three sisters. In 1999 students from the Inglewood Unified School District in Los Angeles successfully sued to get more AP courses at their schools. The suit charged that Black and Latino students were systematically denied access to college preparation courses that were standard fare at white schools in Los Angeles County.

Conservatives who disdain “liberal multiculturalism” in higher education dismiss such concerns about diversity in hiring as handwringing. According to this view there is only one standard academia should use; objective and unbiased, untainted by affirmative action. Yet white students are beneficiaries of cradle to grave affirmative action. White students grow up seeing the dominant image of rational, trailblazing scientific discovery (from films like Dr. Strangelove to 2001: A Space Odyssey to Close Encounters to The Right Stuff, etc.) as spearheaded by courageous rugged individualist white males. They are socialized to believe in a template of “purely” meritocratic success and individual achievement. Meritocracy becomes gospel and lucre. They can take it to the bank and use it to repel the less qualified savages. Racial or gender others who make it into science’s inner sanctum are either interlopers scrounging for handouts or shining exceptions bootstrapping up from the inner city wilds. At the insular level of college Physics and Engineering white male dominance is perpetuated by “boy’s club” peer groups, networks, faculty and administrative support systems that facilitate access for the racial majority. While she was at UCLA Devin Waller was the only African American woman in the Astrophysics department. On the first day of her upper division classes she recalls being asked by male students befuddled by her presence whether or not they “were in the right class.” Since peer networking and study groups in some science departments are largely white and male, white academic success and scholarly legitimacy in science become a self-fulfilling prophecy. For black women in white male dominated professions, showing vulnerability and having any kind of public failure are simply not options. Like many women of color Devin’s approach was that “You kind of go in there and set a precedent. Everything you do is watched. You have to establish yourself as intelligent. There were no black women in my classes. No one who looked like me.”

—  Sikivu Hutchinson, “Beyond Starship Enterprise: Racism, Sexism, And The Sceince Pipeline,” Feminist Wire 8/15/12
The roots of gender and racial bias run deep. While a lot of progress has been made in the last few decades, we still have a long way to go until all people—including women and people of color—are perceived as equals, and until that happens, we need to continue the conversation of gender and race.
—  Brookhaven scientist Jessica Metcalfe in an interview with the U.S. Department of Energy on diversifying Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM). She has more to say on opportunity and equality, and she also gets into the thrill of hunting for new physics inside the subatomic maelstroms of LHC collisions. Go read it.