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STEM News Roundup: A DIY Computer and ‘SMASH’ STEM Art Contest

This week in STEM Education news, a Texas-based start-up introduces young girls to a computer they can build on their own, while 3D printers in classrooms are transforming the way STEM is taught in K–12. Teachers are using art to engage students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Student artists are invited to submit to the "SMASH" competition, which involves an artistic depiction of STEM principles in sports and students are using LEGOs to explore their interests.

Girlstart Offers STEM Programs with DIY Kano Computers 

The pioneering STEM education program Girlstart, based in Austin, Texas, has purchased 40 Raspberry Pi-based ‘Kano’ computers to give the 1,000+ girls it reaches each week a new way to engage in computer science and technology.

“The devices, designed as a fun but powerful platform for kids to learn computer programming, also require assembly before they can be used, providing ample opportunity for early engagement with computer science,” Tamara Hudgins, Girlstart’s executive director, told Design News in an interview.

“What the Kano does is it provides a guided sandbox whereby you learn computer programming skills at the same time you’re not intimidated you're going to blow something up or break it by poking around in it,” Hudgins said. “It’s real computer science and it’s also fun. There is no reason you can’t have both.”


Student Artists Inspired to Adopt STEM Themes in “SMASH” Competition

Students K–12 in Virginia are invited to participate in the 2015 “SMASH” (Sports, Math and Scientific Hypotheses) competition, “which encourages students to create pictures illustrating the connection between the world of sports and the principles of science, technology, engineering and math.”

Five divisions of the contest are based on grade level, and entries can be made with pen, pencil, crayon or other media. An example of an entry “could show how a baseball player transfer energy to a bat, and how the energy is used to hit the ball out of the park.”


Pitsco STEM Curriculums Paving Way For STEM Learning

Pitsco, a leader in STEM curriculums for K–12 schools, has been successfully implementing 3D printing in classrooms throughout the US.

“The curriculum was developed to meet Next Generation Science Standards, a new common core set of standards that reflects major advancements in science that 26 states have implemented so far,” reports Tech Republic.

Trudi Lawless is an engineering teacher at a junior high school in Orange Park, Florida, who uses a 3D printer in her classroom. “It’s very cathartic,” she says. “A kid who can’t sit still, has the wibbly wobblies, you sit them in front of the 3D printer and they’re sitting there for 10 to 15 minutes watching it. It lulls them into some kind of calm zone.”

“She is convinced that 3D printing is here to stay,” Tech Republic reports, “and it will only be a matter of time before more classes utilize the technology. It’s new, cutting edge, and kids are reading about it online and seeing it on television. They know people are using 3D printers to do important things like make prosthetics.”


2nd Grade Student Wins First WV STEM Challenge

Marshall Gray, a second-grader at West Liberty Elementary School in West Virginia, won the first WV STEM Challenge, hosted by The Education Alliance, for a LEGO project featuring a character taking flight in a spaceship.

“The winner was selected by a random drawing,” reported The State Journal. “According to The Education Alliance, LEGO projects are used in elementary and middle schools to encourage hands-on, mechanical STEM education.” The WV STEM Challenge was created to “motivate interest in STEM learning, to enhance student’s creativity and to encourage their participation in STEM education fields.”


Compiled by Samantha DiMauro, Education World Contributor


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