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STEM News Roundup: Legislators Take Action, Study May Find Way to Close Gender Gap

STEM News Round Up: Legislators Take Action, Study May Find Way to Close Gender Gap

This week in STEM—Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math—education, legislators and educators across the country are trying to find ways to invest in STEM education measures. From Iowa's half-million dollar approval of a STEM Action Center to several Michigan senators' push to create a high school STEM diploma, there's no doubt that legislators mean business. Also this week, a county in Florida prepares for the summer, a successful engineer pays it back, and research gives possible solutions for STEM's gender inequality.

Iowa Approves "STEM" Action Center

Iowa lawmakers approved a "STEM" Action Center in a sweeping measure agreed up by both the state's houses. The budget will allocate over half a million dollars to the center and intends to "identify and coordinate best practices for STEM education in the state’s schools; coordinate STEM professional development efforts for teachers; coordinate with industry on workforce needs and opportunities; give out grants; track progress on STEM enhancement in the state; and coordinate STEM related competitions, fairs, camps and more." Idaho is the only state that doesn't have a statewide science fair, and lawmakers are hoping the center will help the state get better in the STEM areas. Read the full story here.

Study Shows Same-Sex Peers Enhance Student's "General Liking" of STEM Fields

A new study published in the journal Psychological and Cognitive Sciences tested 100 women majoring in engineering and found that they felt more confident in "themselves and their career aspirations" when around the same sex. The study concluded that same-sex peer groups can "enhance a student’s confidence and general liking for STEM fields." Researchers hope it will pave the way for further research on the findings and potentially help get more women involved in STEM studies. Read the full story here.

Michigan Senators Propose Legislation for STEM Certification

Two senators in Michigan are pushing for legislation that would allow for the state's high school students to add STEM certification to his or her diploma upon graduating. "The endorsement would also be visible on student transcripts for future technical training, community college and college application review." As Michigan's economy continues to grow and its unemployment rates drop, legislators are looking to get more students involved in STEM than ever before; "[a]ccording to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there will be more than 250,000 STEM-related jobs in Michigan in the next two years." Read the full story here.

Engineer Gives $50,000 to Library Specifically for STEM Materials

A successful engineer donated $50,000 to the Queens Library in New York this week in order to help get more children involved and committed to STEM studies. Husam Ahmad hopes that getting kids started earlier will get more students into studying STEM. When he was starting his own business in the 1990s, it was the "vital industry resources" he found in the Queens Library that helped him get started and now he's paying it back. Read the full story here.

District Makes STEM Summer Programs Available to Grades 4-8

A county in Florida is thinking ahead by planning STEM programs for students during the summer months. Pinellas County is creating two-week summer programs available to students in grade 4-8 in eight of its schools. The focus of the program is robotics across all grade levels, "with elementary students utilizing Lego WeDo kits and middle school students utilizing a more advanced Lego EV3 robotics." The Pinellas County is responding to the growing desire for STEM education across the country as well as the desires of parents within its community. “We’re hoping to impact about 160 students this year, and we already have parents asking for next year to increase the number of sites we’re offering,” said the district's STEM coordinator, Laura Spence. Read the full story here.

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