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Math meets art -- are you inspired?


That math and music are closely related has been known forever. Music symbols (not cymbals) read like strangely designed math symbols -- or maybe the other way around depending on your orientation. A musical piece divides into measures and bars, which are further delineated by beats, and fractions are used to indicate the length of individual notes. What isn’t as well known is the relationship between math and the graphic arts. That math can be beautiful...

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Google and Lego want to send kids to the moon!



Forty-two years have passed since Gene Cernan was the last man to walk on the moon. I think it is way past time that we went back and I am pleased to find I'm not the only one who thinks so...

It's called the 2014 Moonbots Challenge. Sponsored by Google and LEGO for 9 through 17 years olds, its goal is to stimulate interest in young people about returning to the moon. First the kids are asked to form teams and produce a video that answers the question “Why should we go Back to the Moon for Good?” Twenty-five teams are picked from all over the world based on their answers in their videos. Each of the twenty-five video winners will then get a LEGO MINDSTORMS robotics toolkit, a lot of LEGO bricks and some other as yet unspecified materials (faux moon rockst?) with which to build a robot capable of surviving in a simulated moonscape.

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Silicon Valley stars put up $15 Million in prize money to inspire future mathematicians


After very little deliberation I have decided to forgo the Nobel Prize in Physics and work on the less well-known but better funded Breakthrough Prize in Mathematics announced just last year by Mark Zuckerberg, Yuri Milner and their respective wives. The aim of the prize is to help make mathematics a more appealing career course. It’s discovery certainly did wonders for my view of the subject!

My interest in a Nobel had been waning since 1980 anyway when they debased the Nobel Prize Medal by cutting the gold content from 23 to 18 carat. But what really decided me was learning that the Breakthrough Prize this year was 3 million dollars, 2 1/2 times the Nobel’s measly 1.2 million. This year's five winners will take home a total of...um, let’s see...that’s fifteen million dollars (I obviously need to practice more).

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Chevron invests in bringing more girls into STEM


Some argue against the intrusion of big business into education. Critics left and right have what they consider good reason to fear the beginning of a “slippery slope” leading us toward disaster. President Obama seems to have no such fear as in his February 12, 2013 State of the Union Speech he asked for the creation of manufacturing hubs, where businesses will partner with the Department of Defense and Energy to turn regions left behind by globalization into global centers of high-tech jobs.”

Energy giant Chevron is forging ahead with plans to assist educators of students who will become the tech sector's skilled STEM-educated employees. In the next three years Chevron intends to invest more than 30 million dollars in STEM learning in this country.  Blair Blackwell, Chevron’s manager of education and corporate programs tries to alleviate the fear of big business intrusion by admitting that “We recognize we’re not education experts. We have to partner with the education experts, with officials on the ground.”

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The US needs more programs to expose students to computer science


The long and the short of it is simply this: the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that in the next six years the demand for computer programmers will exceed the supply by at least one million. That’s one million jobs that will likely go to individuals from outside the US. These will be some of the best paying jobs around and the segment of our society that will lose the most will be women, students from rural areas, and students of color.

Why is that? Colleges across the country are flooded with requests for an education in computer science in numbers that would meet that and any future demand. Simple answer: there are not enough classes, teachers or equipment to meet that enormous demand. And there's not much chance that will change anytime soon. Colleges and universities have simply been caught flat footed after cutting back in their computer science departments.

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court ruling gives teachers even more incentive to challenge students

Teaching has always been a tough, thankless job. Back before the teachers’ unions managed to give members of the profession some degree of security it was a job that allowed hiring and firing at the whim of the educational powers-that-be. In recent years there have been complaints that teachers’ unions have taken the system too far the other way and that it is now impossible to get rid of bad teachers, thereby making it impossible for students--particularly minority students--to get a good education. That was the argument made by the nine students before Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Rolf Treu in Vergara vs State of California. Judge Treu saw it their way. Plaintiff Julia Macias, entering high school this year, said Judge Treu’s decision proved “students have a voice and can demand change when we stand together.”

This is one of those rare times when we can say with no attempt at flippancy, that we feel strongly about both sides of this debate. How can we not sympathize with students who feel their futures have been jeopardized by poor teachers and entrenched bureaucracy? And how can we ignore the feelings of those good teachers -- certainly the vast majority -- who believe their careers and their family’s future is now in jeopardy from over-zealous politicians, looking for quick fixes to complex funding problems? We can’t…

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STEM + (EdTech x Hands-On Learning) = An Equation for Engaged Students


A recent yahoo story disclosed a growing chorus of parental complaints about the difficulty of the new Common Core standards for math. Having trouble with the math themselves while trying to assist their children with homework,  parents complain that the standards are simply too difficult for their children.  Adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing they say is now as difficult as calculus. “Satan’s handiwork,” cries one rattled parent.

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MakerBot and RobotsLAB want to put a 3D printer in every US public school


We all need to think creatively about giving our young people the tools to be 'the makers of things, and not just the consumers of things.

The above quote is by Tom Kalil, Deputy Director for Technology and Innovation within the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, following up on a statement by President Obama in his 2013 State of The Union speech where he said "3D printing has the potential to revolutionize the way we make almost everything. The next industrial revolution in manufacturing will happen in America."

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MakerBot Announces 3D Printing Innovation Centers for Universities


The nation’s first Makerbot Innovation Center opened February 11, 2014 at SUNY New Paltz in New York. Being a denizen of the heartland a thousand miles and more from either coast, my first thought was, “What in the world is a ‘SUNY New Paltz?’”  A quick trip to Wikipedia  answered that question:The State University of New York at New Paltz, known as SUNY New Paltz for short, is a public university in New Paltz, New York.”

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Improving gender and ethnic diversity in STEM jobs


stemsolAs everyone in the field is well aware, women and ethnic minorities are not sufficiently represented in STEM careers and in learning programs nationwide. Increasing their participation in a field that is fast becoming an important job provider in this country was the subject of a recent “Creating a Sustainable Commitment to STEM” session at U.S. News & World Report's STEM Solutions Conference in Washington, D.C.

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