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STEM News Roundup: Why Pokemon GO Interferes With Students' Understanding of Evolution

STEM News Round-Up: Early Understanding of Numbers in PreK Leads to Better Math Skills in Kindergarten

National Center for Science Education team member Stephanie Keep has finally checked out the phenomenon that is Pokemon GO--and she’s not exactly happy with what she’s found.

According to Keep, the game perpetuates many common misconceptions about evolution that Keep and her team actively work to break down.

The app "involves a pretty common set of misconceptions about evolution—that individuals evolve, sometimes dramatically, often in response to a pressing need (I need to swim to evade predators; go go gadget fins!).”

Keep has some advice for teachers who are also committed to helping their students understand evolution despite being increasingly exposed to misconceptions.

"My suggestion would be to elicit the definition of ‘evolution' in the Pokémon universe from the students, and then ask them whether that agrees with how biological evolution works,” she said.

"Find case studies in evolution to help them compare and contrast, or come back to the question after a few days of studying of evolution. Once students can describe the differences between biological evolution and Pokémon evolution, challenge them to come up with a better terminology to describe what happens to Pokémon monsters.”

Read Keep’s full post here.


Early Understanding of Numbers in PreK Leads to Better Math Skills in Kindergarten

According to a study conducted by researchers at the University of Missouri, focusing on certain skill sets while a child is in preschool could help them succeed in math throughout their student careers.

To start, “[p]reschoolers who are more successful in understanding words associated with numbers, such as ‘three’ or ‘four’, are more likely to have success with math when they enter kindergarten,” said The Tribune India.

Further, a basic understanding of how numbers represent quantity by grasping "that addition increases quantity and subtraction decreases it” in preschool is indicative of math success in subsequent grades, the study found.

The study involved 112 children between the ages of three and five who were all identified as at-risk students for school failure based on parental background and other factors, the article said.

Read more. 


More Virtual Reality Learning Opportunities Coming to Schools This Back-to-School Season

A partnership between Silicon Valley-based company zSpace and Google Expeditions is bringing even more virtual reality options to schools this year.

zSpace, a Silicon Valley education company that has created an all-in-one screen virtual reality desktop, is partnering with Google Expeditions this upcoming school year to create "an end-to-end virtual reality experience” for America’s classrooms.

zSpace representatives will be traveling to schools across the country in a mobile classroom to explain the potential of its technology to help students learn STEM concepts like never before.

Read more.


Summer Workshop Helps Teachers Learn More About Climate Change

Teachers take advantage of many different kinds of professional development opportunities over the summer. A handful of teachers participated in a workshop this summer to learn more about climate change, a subject that surveys continually support more training is needed in.

According to the Centre Daily Times, The Arctic Plant Phenology Leaning through Engaged Science--or APPLES--"gave 15 middle and high school teachers the chance to participate and collaborate with polar research scientists, educators and more.”

Read more about the PD opportunity here. 


Verizon Now Accepting Applications for App Challenge

From now until November 18, students have the opportunity to enter the fifth annual Verizon Innovative Learning app challenge to win up to $20,000 for their school or organization.

National winners of the challenge will receive the grand prize of $20,000 while one middle school and one high school from every state and the District of Columbia will win $5,000 for the same purpose as well as a tablet for every team member.

Verizon touts its challenge as accessible to everyone as “absolutely no coding is required.”

Team members are encouraged to create the app in response to a problem within their community. Past apps have helped the visually impaired, students with depression and students in underfunded school districts.

Read more about the challenge and how to enter here. 

Nicole Gorman, Senior Education World Contributor

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Read about the latest news in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.
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