Smut or Shakespeare: Kansas Senate Defines What’s Appropriate for the Classroom

science

Smut or Shakespeare: Kansas Senate Defines What’s Appropriate for the Classroom

If you’re a student (or know a student) in Kansas, major changes may be coming to your curriculum. The state’s Senate has recently passed a bill (SB56) removing legal protections for educators in schools for using curriculum methods that may be viewed as harmful to minors. However, the legislation did not remove the same protections for educators at colleges and universities.

kansas capitol

Seen by supporters as a way to protect minors from “offensive content,” the measure gained traction after a poster in a Johnson County middle school spurred some parents’ ire. The poster, displayed as part of sex-education curriculum, asked the question “How do people express their sexual feelings?” Answers to that question included intercourse and anal sex. None of the answers to the question were depicted in any way on the poster other than with words. Some parents were offended by the posters’ content, and it was removed by the school.

The tide then turned to other materials which some could consider inappropriate, culminating in the bill passing in the Kansas Senate. It will now go to the state’s House of Representatives. The bill would allow for teachers, principals and other educators to be charged with misdemeanors for disseminating and/or displaying materials determined to be harmful to minors.

Nathan Whitman, educator from Burrton High School in Kansas, helped clear up exactly what the “offensive content” would be. He said, “inappropriate content called ‘harmful to minors’ as defined by SB56 is ‘any description, exhibition, presentation or representation, in whatever form, of nudity, sexual conduct, sexual excitement or sadomasochistic abuse when the material or performance, taken as a whole or, with respect to prosecution for an act described by subsection (a)(1), that…the average adult person…find[s]…[appeals to a] prurient interest in sex to minors[;]…depicts or describes nudity, sexual conduct, sexual excitement or sadomasochistic abuse in a manner that is patently offensive to prevailing standards in the adult community[;]…lacks serious literary, scientific, educational, artistic or political value.'”

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Curiosity in the Classroom Designed to Get Students and Teachers Excited about Science and Math

If you ask a student if he or she were interested in math and science, statistics say they would more than likely give a resounding no over a yes. However, if you ask them if they are curious, they might be more apt to give a positive answer. A new site, CuriosityintheClassroom.com, capitalizes on this spirit of inquiry that children have by providing engaging learning materials for them, their parents, and their teachers.

Curiosity in the Classroom, a venture between Discovery Education and Intel Corporation, encourages students in grades 6-12 to ask questions and find ways to answer them.

Does our brain store all the memories we’ve ever had?

How many texts does an average teen send per month?

Are robots “intelligent”?

The answers may surprise you, and this website answers all of these questions and more.

This interest in scientific findings is more than just a way for kids to pass the time, it may be essential to their later success in finding employment, a career, and the good of the country as a whole. Resources on the website for teachers include troubling research about students’ perceptions of their science, technology, engineering, and mathematics skills, which are fields in which the demand is increasing, the unemployment rates are low, and the pay is great. Read the rest of this entry »



$20,000 Pay Raises for Math and Science Teachers with Obama’s Master Teachers Program

During a rally in San Antonio, President Obama revealed a new proposal to his supporters for elite master teachers, a billon dollar effort to improve education for students in the science, technology, math, and engineering fields. The new proposal was strategically unveiled months before the November elections.

The program will include a pay raise of $20,000 dollars for each master teacher, but they must remain master teachers for several years. Not only are the master teachers educating students, they will be teaching other faculty members as well. The beginning of the program will start up with 2500 qualified teachers divided across the 50 states. If the program is successful there will be an additional 7,500 teachers over a four year course. The Obama administration will partner with groups, including the Carnegie Corporation of New York, to produce 100,000 math and science teachers over the next 10 years.

However, the federal government has 80 established teacher quality programs implemented already. Why another one billion dollar program? A report found that the U.S. must grow the number of students in science, math, and related fields by 34% to keep up with economic demand. Read the rest of this entry »



Architecture Majors Hit Hardest by Unemployment

Man working on a computerWant job security? Then you may want to consider the following majors: engineering, science, education and healthcare.

A recent report by Georgetown University revealed that if you want to land a job fresh out of college, you have to major in a field that is linked to these fastest growing industries. The study by Georgetown’s Center on Education and the Workforce also reported which majors are failing degree holders.

Architecture grads, for instance, have the highest unemployment rate of their peers. They’ll have to tackle figures of about 13.9 percent due to the decline in housing construction.

The survey also revealed that grads with non-technical degrees are facing tough unemployment rates. Those who majored in the arts have an 11.1 percent unemployment rate. While those with degrees in the social sciences have a rate of 8.9 percent.

Futures look grim for some of those students who want to study their passions in college. “People keep telling kids to study what they love — but some loves are worth more than others,” said one of the study’s authors, Anthony P. Carnevale.

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40 Percent of Students Majoring in STEM Subjects Change Majors

blue printsIn an effort to encourage students to enjoy science, President Obama held the first White House Science Fair last fall in the State Dining Room. During this event, he tested and played with various projects that students had made. This was just one way that President Obama has been trying to increase the USA’s international competitiveness in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) industries.

For years, politicians and educators have been trying to think of ways to increase the level of interest that their students have in science. This is even more important today than it has been in the past, as Americans are competing with people from other countries for jobs in the international marketplace.

Sadly, it seems like most Americans are still losing interest in this fields shortly after their days of science fairs end. Why? According to David E. Goldberg, an emeritus engineering professor, it is because when they get to college, they face “the math-science death march.”

Recent studies show that 40 percent of college students who plan to pursue a major in the engineering or science fields change their majors or do not earn a degree at all. If you include pre-med students in this figure, the percentage jumps up to 60 percent. This is twice as much as the attrition rate of all other majors combined.

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Education Stereotypes Are Dangerous for Girls’ Self Esteem and Academic Achievement

By Carmen Staicer

“I’m with Stupid.”

“Math is Hard.”

“Future Trophy Wife.”

For years, parents have been up in arms over smarmy and suggestive slogans on their daughters’ t-shirts. Many of the most polarizing slogans emphasis beauty over brains and youth over wisdom, and J.C. Penney premiered a doozy last week, just in time for back to school shopping.

The long sleeve shirt reads “I’m too pretty to do my homework so my brother has to do it for me.” Paired with the description of the shirt on the J.C. Penney website—”Who has time for homework when there’s a new Justin Bieber album out? She’ll love this tee that’s just as cute and sassy as she is.” Well, many parents and teachers alike are outraged.

Heather Krys, M.Ed, a middle school teacher in Virginia, is one such person. “My parents taught me, that above everything else, I should make the time to educate myself. I have a great husband who is supportive – financially and (usually) emotionally and was all for me getting that Master’s degree. I was driven primarily by the desire to be a good role model for my 2nd grader (also a girl) who happens to be smart AND cute. But she could have some unfortunate happening and lose the cute- then she’s left with the brain- and she knows how to use it.”

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Cell and Cell Structure App Makes Biology Fun

I hated my freshman biology class! My professor was a billion years old and she made biology seem about as interesting as watching paint dry. Actually, one day, I did literally watch the paint dry on the wall across the hall instead of actively listening to my professor. Sadly, there were very few fun, interesting, and actually educational resources available in my classroom. If only my professor had an iPad.

Brand new to the Apple iPad, Cell and Cell Structure has been named one of the New and Noteworthy apps. So what is this app? Well, the name basically sums it all up. Cell and Cell Structure is a science-based app that teaches users about cells and their various structures through interactive activities, videos, and diagrams.

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Girls Shy Away from Math Because it’s not “Feminine”

Have you heard the old “fact” that boys are better at math and science than girls, but girls are better at reading and writing? For a long time, I thought this really was the truth. However, in reality, the two genders are actually equal in all fields when they begin elementary school.

Sadly, by the time the students are in 8th grade, boys are twice as likely as girls to be interested in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education and the careers that can be formed from these education tracks. By high school, many girls are even less interested in these subjects and, therefore, are less likely to take AP classes while also more likely to have lower SAT scores on the math section of the tests.

So why do girls seem to have less of an interest in these subjects? According to True Child, it is because “these trends are connected to girls’ perception of STEM as masculine and their internalization of feminine norms. Girls are caught in a ‘double conformity’ bind, in which they must opt out of femininity or opt out of STEM.”

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Health Education Exhibit to Open at the Pacific Science Center in Seattle

For nearly 50 years, Seattle’s Pacific Science Center has been making science fun for families. To celebrate their half-century birthday in 2012, the Science Center will be unveiling a new exhibit. Although the Science Center houses numerous exhibits each year, this will be its first permanent exhibit in over a decade.

Professor Wellbody’s Academy of Health & Wellness is scheduled to open sometime in the fall of next year. The Science Center describes Professor Wellbody’s Academy as a place that will, “Bring guests of all ages into the imaginative world of Professor Wellbody, demonstrating how personal choices can positively affect our health and well-being. Six- thousand square feet of hands-on inventions, gadgets, activities and experiences will present health as a life-long process of balancing exercise, diet, proper rest and hygiene. These tools and resources for managing health and well-being will help guests discover the control each of us has over many aspects of our wellness.”

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Frog Dissection Goes Digital in High Schools

High school students in California have turned in their scalpels to go digital. Conservations groups Animal Welfare Institute and Save the Frogs have made a deal with Rancho Verde High School by offering digital anatomy programs in return for giving up the traditional biology assignment of frog dissection in class. The groups are offering similar deals to high schools who are willing to ban dissection for 5 five years.

Digital Frog 2.5 is a virtual program teaching students about anatomy, dissection, and ecology. A virtual scalpel allows students to practice the same cuts they would in class but focuses on the anatomy of the frog by providing comprehensive videos and lessons. The digital program also permits students to practice often without wasting frogs and racking up classroom costs.

Conservation groups argue that using digital dissection lessons is a more humane, cost effective and educational tool for science students. Beyond the virtual scalpel, the Digital Frog 2.5 program offers comprehensive vocabulary, assignments, quizzes, conservation and ecology lessons. Ditching the traditional wet lab frog dissection was found by one study to accomplish the same amount of learning in 44% less time.

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