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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 »



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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Motion Math Zoom Helps Children Learn Basic Math Skills

When my mom first introduced me to numbers with decimal points, I was overwhelmed. “What is a thousandth? Shouldn’t it be bigger than a hundredth? Argh!!!!” Finally, my mom made a number line that helped me understand where the numbers belonged and everything started to make sense.

Fast forward twenty years or so and the hand-drawn number line of my childhood is being replaced with a much more interactive and fun way for kids to learn numbers and their place value: Motion Math Zoom.

Motion Math Zoom features an interactive time line that is illustrated by animals to help children learn basic math skills. For example, when students are learning about very small decimals, the numbers are represented by amoebas. Slightly larger whole numbers are represented by animals like ants and frogs, while really big numbers, like thousands, are represented by dinosaurs.

“It’s what you want to do, but also helps you learn,” said one child who has played the game.

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Bard College Math Camp Helps Middle Schoolers Stay Sharp Over Summer Break

Can you imagine going to a “summer camp” only to find that the daily itinerary consists of spending six hours each day studying math? To me, this sounds absolutely awful, but for Mattie Williams and the 16 other students who are attending the Summer Program in Mathematical Problem Solving at Bard College, this is a reality they are very excited about. These 17 students view math as a competitive sport and enjoy spending their days solving complicated problems.

Williams and her fellow campers will all be starting eight grade in the NYC public school district in the fall, where 75 percent of the students receive free lunches due to financial need. So, when Williams was offered the chance to spend a few weeks of her summer studying math at Bard College, she jumped on the opportunity that might not have been available to her if it was not being financed by the Art of Problem Solving Foundation. This foundation is a nonprofit program that promotes math education for gifted students.

“These are students who have a tremendous amount of potential and are really ready for a lot more than they’re able to get in schools,” said the camp’s director, Daniel Zaharopol, who is a math teacher and has earned his master’s degree in mathematics. Zaharopol feels that this summer camp is a very valuable resources for this students. “If these students had just gone to the New York City Math Circle this summer, they would have felt like a fish out of water. They wouldn’t have the same mathematical background and experience as their peers.”

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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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Become a Superhero and Learn Math with the Numbers League

For most young kids, superheroes are cool. Math is not cool. If only math were fun and could save the city from bad guys. Well the Numbers League app for iPads has used superhero powers to make basic math problems fun and entertaining, while also teaching children basic math skills.

The Numbers League game takes place in Infinity City, a futuristic world where bad guys lurk and the only force strong enough to stop them is the Numbers League. This team of superheroes uses the sum of their powers and strengths to fight the bad guys in a way that children are sure to enjoy. Parents can also get in on the fun because Numbers League allows up to four players to play at the same time.

Numbers League has three difficulty levels: simple addition, complex addition and basic subtraction, and negative numbers and simple multiplication. The different levels make it possible for both a five-year old child and a teenager to improve their math skills while still having fun.

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RegaNumberPlay Offers a Lesson in Counting

iPhone counting appThe RegaNumberPlay game from Rega Interactive is an iPhone app that can be used to teach preschoolers and young children how to count, and can help non-native speakers to learn English numbers.

The app is extremely simple and easy to use. It has three features: “Learn,” “Play,” and “Quiz.” The “Learn” feature consists of numerical buttons. The user can press a button to hear that number said aloud. Users in the U.S. may find the non-American accent of the speaker jarring or funny, although there is nothing incorrect about the pronunciation.

The “Play” feature is a game that challenges users to identify the sequence of numbers as fast as possible. The “Quiz” feature asks users to identify the number of objects in an image. There are three levels of difficulty, the more difficult levels use bigger numbers.

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Free Math Program from TenMarks Now Available for Teachers

tenmarksThe online math program TenMarks announced yesterday that they will now offer a free online program to schools. TenMarks is an online educational service that allows students to learn math at their won pace with a customized curriculum. Founded in 2009, TenMarks offers problems sets, hints and tips for when students get stuck, and video lessons for learning and revision.

Teachers can sign up for the new free TenMarks program online, and use its materials to supplement their curriculum. “TenMarks is excited about opening up our offering to schools and bringing quality supplemental math learning to the masses,” said Rohit Agarwal and Andrew Joseph, co-founders of TenMarks in a press release. “The free offering for schools was a result of feedback from many of the 6000 teachers who use our math video lessons—they said a practice environment would be a perfect complement to the videos. We believe we’ve designed a program that is super-easy to use for teachers and students, and delivers immense value.”

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