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STEM News Roundup: Initiative Aims to Increase STEM in Pre-Kindergarten Years

STEM News Round-Up: Initiative Aims to Increase STEM in Pre-Kindergarten Years

Researchers from Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) are investing their efforts into developing a STEM curriculum for preschoolers.

Martha Cyr, principal investigator of Seeds of STEM: The Development of an Innovative Pre-Kindergarten STEM Curriculum

"STEM education is often perceived as complex and challenging—too sophisticated for preschool, but [Martha] Cyr and Mia Dubosarsky, [principal and] co-principal investigator of Seeds of STEM and director of professional development at The STEM Education Center at WPI, contend that the fundamental core of STEM concepts is simple; problem solving,” says eSchoolNews.

WPI researchers will spend four years testing out how introducing problem-solving-related lessons to the earliest learners can inspire interest in STEM as soon as possible.

"A pilot test of the entire curriculum is planned for September 2017 in Montachusett Opportunity Council preschools. If the lessons continue to prove to be effective, Cyr and Dubosarsky plan to seek additional grant funding to distribute the curriculum to more schools,” the article says.

Read the full article here. 

 

Is Focus on STEM Detracting from Teaching U.S. History?

In this week’s STEM news, David Bruce Smith, co-founder of the Grateful American Book Prize is fighting for a reinvigorated interest in U.S. history after he says a focus on STEM has detracted from it.

He is arguing for the engagement of young learners in history through nonfiction and fiction texts, which he says are becoming more and more scarce in K-12 schools.

"It's not that our teachers are doing a poor job; it's that lesson plans and textbooks simply do not provide the kinds of details that engage young learners,” Smith said in a statement.

In response to this perceived detraction, Smith has helped co-found the Grateful American Book Prize, which you can read more about here.

 

Encouraging Confidence in Math Can Inspire More Women to Stick with STEM

According to a new study from researchers Jessica Ellis, Bailey K. Fosdick and Chris Rasmussen, women are 1.5 times more likely to leave the STEM pipeline after being discouraged when taking advanced math like Calculus.

But researchers say a lack of ability isn’t to blame; rather, women are significantly more likely to lose faith in their math--and consequentially STEM--abilities.

In order to keep women in the STEM pipeline, the researchers argue that instilling confidence in math skills at an early age is an important start.

Read the full story. 

 

Facebook Pledges $1.5 Million to Code.org

Facebook is making another hearty investment into computer science by pledging $15 million to help Code.org inspire people in STEM over five years.

Facebook is determined to increase diversity in the computer science profession and has taken note of Code.org’s efforts to encourage underrepresented groups.

Read the full story.

 

Why Teaching Human Evolution Can Encourage More Students to be Interested in Science

In a blog post for the National Center for Science Education, Lauren Saville, the owner and creator of Primate Tales, discusses the importance of sparking student interest in science by first answering their questions about how humans came to be.

"To skip or minimize discussion of human evolution ... is to miss an opportunity to engage students. From an early age we wonder where we come from; evolution explains that for us,” she writes.

"Tapping into our inherent curiosity about our history and origins is a great way to get students excited about science. Who does not want to know why we do the things we do and look the way we do? Learning about our own evolution helps students feel connected to science.”

Read her full post here.

Nicole Gorman, Senior Education World Contributor

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