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STEM News Roundup: How Will Betsy DeVos Impact STEM Education?

STEM News Roundup: How Will Betsy DeVos Impact STEM Education?

Now that Betsy DeVos has been officially confirmed as secretary of education despite a tumultuous confirmation process, many questions remain about how she will affect various aspects of education in the U.S.

One of those big questions is: How will she impact STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education?

The STEM Education Coalition released last month a series of questions it has for DeVos regarding the subject of her intentions for STEM ed. 

These questions attempt to assess her level of commitment to STEM, her plans to work with business and industry STEM leaders to identify workforce needs, how she will continue to work on diversifying the STEM workforce with minority and female candidates and more.

Unfortunately, questions about her views on the federal role in improving STEM education were not asked during the confirmation process and, as of right now, one can only assume.

Since DeVos has said that she will standby President Trump in his beliefs, it might make sense to first look at how Trump's presidency as a whole will impact STEM ed.

Trump has indicated on several occasions that he will not be approaching STEM education like his predecessor Barack Obama.

"Our top-down-one-size-fits-all approach to education is failing and is actually damaging educational outcomes for our children," Trump's campaign said.

Trump plans on changing this "top-down" approach by giving more power and decision-making capabilities back to state and local governments, meaning there is a big chance that STEM-related federal initiatives are a thing of the past.

Obama, on the other hand, made federal STEM initiatives a priority of his. He established the first-ever annual White House Science Fair, the White House Council on Women and Girls and a $4 billion Computer Science For All Initiative just to name a few. 

Trump, who has said he wants to do away with the trend of schools being "flushed with cash" will likely not be as inclined to steer federal funding in the direction of STEM initiatives.

DeVos, then, is likely to follow the president's orders.

Underrepresentation of Women in Science is an International Problem

As an article from the Malaysian Sun points out, the underrepresentation of women in science, particularly engineering and computer science, is an international problem.

"According to the UNESCO Science Report: towards 2030, women now account for 53% of the world's bachelor's and master's graduates and 43% of PhDs but just 28% of researchers. Whereas women have achieved parity in life sciences in many countries, they still trail men in engineering and computer sciences. The situation is particularly acute in many high-income countries,” the article points out.

"In Europe and North America, the number of female graduates in engineering, physics, mathematics and computer science is generally low. Women make up just 19% of engineers in Canada, Germany and the USA and 22% in Finland, for example. There are some bright spots, though: 50% of engineering graduates are women in Cyprus, 38% in Denmark and 36% in the Russian Federation, for instance."

Figuring out how to decrease the gender gap in these fields on an international level should be a global goal.

"This should be a wake-up call. Female participation is falling in a field that is expanding globally as its importance for national economies grows, penetrating every aspect of daily life. Could this be a symptom of the phenomenon by which 'women are the first hired and the first fired?' In other words, are they being pushed out once a company gains prestige and raises the remuneration of staff, or when companies run into financial difficulties," the article notes.

Read the full story.

Challenge Looks to Inspire Next Generation of Space Travelers

For students interested in science beyond the Earth's borders, this contest is for them.

From now until March 15, 2017, students from the ages of 8 to 17 can register to compete in the sixth and final MOONBOTS Challenge created by Google Lunar XPRIZE. The challenge is intended to involve students in Google Lunar XPRIZE, a global competition designed to "ignite a new era of space exploration."

Winning students will be eligible to win a series of prizes, including the Grand Prize, which includes traveling abroad to meet the winners of Google Lunar XPRIZE.

Read the full story.

Virtual Reality App Brings Aquarium to Mobile Devices

Don't have time for a field trip but want to help students see marine life up close while learning about it?

EON Reality, a leader in VR software, has created a VR Aquarium App that lets teachers do just that.

"EON Reality's belief is that knowledge is a human right and Aquarium VR is one way to help educate the public. The application allows users to experience what it’s like to swim with fish, sharks, and dolphins using a google cardboard or similar device. By experiencing their subject matter, students have a stronger connection to what they’re learning and are more engaged resulting in faster learning and better retention," said EON Reality in a statement.

Read more about the app via EON Reality's website.

Apple Releases Video Education Bundle with Generous Education Discount

Students can take video production to a new level thanks to a new bundle released by Apple that provides the education community with Final Cut Pro X, Logic Pro X, Motion 5, Compressor 4 and MainStage 3 for just $200.

To give some context into how great this deal is, Final Cut Pro X is sold for $300 by itself.

If you're an educator of student interested in taking advantage of this deal, see here.

Nicole Gorman, Senior Education World Contributor

2/10/2017

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