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STEM News Roundup: Are Math Skills ‘Harder Than They Need to Be?’

STEM News Round-Up: Are Math Skills ‘Harder Than They Need to Be?’

This week in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) news, some criticize an over-emphasis on math, one public school unveils a one-of-a-kind STEM mobile, a non-profit pushes for robotics in all high schools and TIME magazine weighs in on the STEM toy trend. 

What Kind of Math Best Prepare Students?

As high schools around the country amp up their math requirements in hopes of better preparing students for college and career, some critics wonder if the emphasis is beginning to be too much.

"The dilemma teachers and policymakers face is that people now want to produce more 'college ready' high school graduates with advanced math under their belts. But the result is many students struggle with complex math that, critics argue, they will not need for most college majors or even high-level careers,” says Deseret News.

Some experts, according to the article, also worry that students are learning complex math too soon.

Others find fault not with the complexity of the math, but the subject matter itself.

"Joseph Rosenstein, a math professor at Rutgers University, argues any student who is not going on to calculus does not need complex numbers, rational exponents and cube roots,” the article said.

The bottom line is, many are wondering- especially with the potential overhaul of the Common Core in many states- what kids should be learning in math to reach the illusive “college and career ready” goal.

Read the full story.

Non-Profit Seeks to Make Robotics an Official Extracurricular Sports Activity

The non-profit FIRST is seeking to increase youth participation and interest in STEM by pushing Robotics as an official extracurricular sports activity in high schools.

The organization has increased its movement by finalizing a partnership with the state of Texas, where some 2 million students will now have access to robotics with the launch of a statewide program.

Texas will be participating in a pilot program which will include "opportunities to make robotics a full-fledged sport, accessible to students throughout the state. Texas joins Connecticut and Minnesota in leading the way in this effort,” said FIRST in a statement.

"The Texas robotics pilot program, and similar initiatives in other states, allow for FIRST teams in schools to be recognized as official sports teams and receive similar support of other such activities. These benefits include extracurricular program structures; the active support of school executives, teachers and community leaders; and the opportunity to apply for varsity sports letters for high performance."

Read more about FIRST’s initiative here

STEM Bus Hits the Road with First Public School Ever

The Osceola County School District is leading the nation’s public schools in STEM with the use of a 45-foot motor coach “outfitted with seven interactive hands-on student learning stations,” says the Osceola News-Gazette.

The school district is mobilizing STEM with the $1 million high-teach vehicle, funded entirely through a federal Title I Grant and donations from the community.

"The Mobile Lab will travel throughout the county, stopping at elementary schools for about three days each. One of those nights will be a family night, where parents are invited to join in science learning with their students in the school cafeteria and take their turns in the Mobile Lab,” the article said.

Read the full story.

TIME Magazine Compiles Best STEM Toys

STEM toys are one of the most discussed topics this holiday season, so much so that TIME magazine has released its own list of the best in the category.

Some stand-outs include a handheld 3D printing pen and the STEM box subscription service that delivers experiments for young scientists.

See the full list here.

Compiled by Nicole Gorman, Education World Contributor

12/15/2015

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