Port St. Lucie school gets competitive education grant

Morningside Elementary School students will be designing power plants, thanks to a $5,000 STEM Innovation Generation grant.

The program will allow students to create power plant models, using Legos, that will show the different power sources that create electricity in the U.S.

STEM grant-driven programs are competitive. Only 10 educational programs from a pool of 24 competitors statewide received $5,000 each this year, said Mary Chance, president of the Consortium of Florida Education Foundation in Gainesville.

"It is more than an acronym," Chance said of STEM, which stands for science, math, technology and engineering. "It is the area where we really need to ramp up the people entering the workforce that are STEM-proficient in a variety of areas because that is where the jobs are … that will drive Florida's economy forward."

The consortium, which received a $50,000 Motorola Solutions Foundation grant, awarded the $5,000 STEM grant to the St. Lucie Education Foundation, which will give it to Morningside Elementary for its "STEMulating Models" program. Two teachers, Mollie Mukhamedov and Mar Lou Jennings, will be given a check to purchase supplies for the project, said Jim McKenzie, executive director of the St. Lucie County Educational Foundation.

McKenzie said students will have hands-on exposure to real energy questions through local companies.

"Florida Power & Light has an energy encounter program so they will see and hear from electricians," he said. "They will hear from engineers, planning and design individuals as well. So they will have an awful lot of interaction with the volunteer partners."

Motorola participates in STEM grant writing because the company wants to help students overcome their fear of math and science — especially minority or female students, said Patrick Claeys, grant reviewer at Motorola Solutions Foundation in Fort Lauderdale.

"Engineering, math and technology is kind of a dying field, at least with our (American) students, so we are trying to push anything we can that is helping to that," Claeys said, "but a lot of these jobs are being shipped overseas, so we like to concentrate inner city schools, minorities and females especially."

One way U.S.-based industry will remain competitive is to hire homegrown engineers and scientists, Claeys said, and the only way to do that is through supporting educational programs that develop the needed skill base, and that is why Motorola supports STEM programs.

"Education is a way of training your mind to work a certain way, so being able to know where to find the information you need to know and being able to think through the problems means teaching students analytical skills, and that is the main point of the STEM programs, to teach them how to think through problems and understand how things work," he said.


source: http://www.tcpalm.com/news/2012/nov/12/port-st-lucie-school-gets-competitive-education/

Grant boosts Hollywood school's STEM curriculum

A recently awarded $94,539 grant will help a Hollywood school's efforts to boost science, technology, engineering and math education.

State Farm awarded the grant to Hispanic Unity of Florida, a Hollywood-based nonprofit that operates the Unity 4 Teens program at Apollo Middle School. It will benefit the STEM in the Gardens project.

"This project will expose 1,000-plus youth to science, technology, engineering and mathematics, and it will address the achievement gap for minorities and females for over 120 at-risk youth," said Corey Lewis, Hispanic Unity's chief development officer.

The project was chosen as a recipient by the State Farm Youth Advisory Board.

"They had a great cause," said Ana Bautista, an associate board member. "We are really excited to see all the great work that they will be doing this upcoming year."

Unity 4 Teens, which also is offered at Olsen and New River middle schools, provides youth development services year-round. It provides homework assistance, academic activities, tutoring support, life skills instruction, family counseling, case management, drug, violence and pregnancy preventive education and opportunities to give back to the community.

Lewis said the funds will enhance an already targeted learning experience for those in the STEM curriculum. Those students are encouraged to develop problem-solving skills that will ultimately be applied in technology- and science-related fields.

"Both Hispanic Unity and Apollo Middle School are very thankful to State Farm for this extremely generous grant," Lewis said. "It will allow us to introduce fun and compelling concepts to students that have a strong need for them."


source: http://articles.sun-sentinel.com/2012-11-09/news/fl-cn-statefarm-1111-20121109_1_hispanic-unity-boosts-sergy-odiduro

Florida Virtual School Adopts Adaptive Learning Math Program

Teachers and students with the Florida Virtual School (FLVS) will now have access to an online adaptive learning math program.

The FLVS has announced a strategic alliance with DreamBox Learning, a provider of adaptive learning solutions. The alliance was forged after a decision by the state of Florida to allow students in kindergarten through grade 5 to access part-time online coursework through FLVS. FLVS is the first virtual institution to provide its teachers and students with access to the DreamBox Learning math program as part of an online or blended learning environment, according the company.

DreamBox Learning's math program offers more than 720 lessons at the K-5 level. The program provides lessons and hints, and the level of difficulty, pace, and sequence adapt to each student, with potentially millions of unique paths through the curriculum, according to the company. It aligns with the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in counting and cardinality; comparing; operations and algebraic thinking; number and operations in base ten; and number and operations in fractions. DreamBox also provides academic progress reports measured against the CCSS.

"DreamBox Learning goes to the core of our mission, which is to provide high quality, technology-based, individualized education to every student so they may academically thrive and succeed," said Julie Young, President and CEO of Florida Virtual School. "This alliance provides Florida teachers and students with access to DreamBox Learning Math to help build a strong foundational understanding of elementary mathematics within a robust online blended learning environment."

Further information about the DreamBox math program is available on the DreamBox Learning site.


source: http://thejournal.com/articles/2012/10/25/florida-virtual-school-adopts-adaptive-learning-math-program.aspx

Florida eyes education reforms, tuition incentives

Florida Gov. Rick Scott is proposing numerous changes to statewide education, from increased use of charter schools to raising tuition on college majors that yield low odds of employment.

Scott appointed the Blue Ribbon Task Force on State Higher Education Reform last May to evaluate post-secondary education reforms. The task force has yet to vote on a set of recommendations, but one of its proposals is already getting significant national attention: the plan to set tuition rates based on which major students choose.

Since degrees in science, technology engineering, and math — collectively known as STEM fields — are more likely to employ graduates than degrees in liberal arts, the plan calls for Florida to raise tuition on non-STEM programs.

“These objectives argue for differentiated tuition by degree or program, and perhaps even lowering tuition in certain strategic areas,” according to the report.

Florida universities would not be the first to charge different amounts of tuition depending on a given student’s area of study. But at most universities that charge by program, the STEM majors are more expensive than the liberal arts, because class materials — such as lab fees — run up the costs.

The Board of Governors would have to vote in favor of the proposal for it to take effect.

Dale Brill, chairman of the task force, declined to comment until the final report was finished.

Scott is also pushing mild reforms at the high school and elementary education levels. He announced support for an expansion of state charter school programs and tougher academic standards in a statement last week.

Scott also wants to give teachers state-funded debit cards to purchase school supplies.

Joy Pullmann, managing editor of School Reform News, criticized Scott’s plan as timid when compared with previous years’ agendas.

“Gov. Scott has released a comparatively tame education agenda, which reflects the vitriolic backlash he’s faced from the education establishment, and possibly a bit of “reform exhaustion” in a state that has made continual, serious education changes across the past 15 years,” she wrote in an email to The Daily Caller News Foundation.

The state of Florida has been a leader in education reform in the past, said Pullmann.

“It’s noteworthy that as states across the country seek to emulate Florida education policies — more school choice, test-based accountability, providing parents and taxpayers more and better information, focusing on early readers — Gov. Scott seems interested in taking a breather,” she said.


source: http://dailycaller.com/2012/10/31/florida-eyes-education-reforms-tuition-incentives/

Florida has STEM jobs, but not grads to fill them

Gov. Rick Scott never shies away from an opportunity to tell the state that the unemployment rate is down or that a new company -- no matter how big or small -- is opening a Florida location or that job openings are growing.

Last week, he announced the number of open high-tech jobs is up 9 percent from a year ago, with 64,000 jobs available in science, technology, engineering and math fields. It shows, it said, "we're making significant strides and ensuring that Florida is a leader in growing industries."

There is only one problem. Despite the openings and Scott's commitment to bring similar so-called STEM jobs to the state, Florida universities aren't coming close to graduating enough students to fill them.

"We don't have qualified Floridians to fill those jobs," said state Sen. Don Gaetz, a Panhandle Republican who will take control of the Senate following the November election.

This past year, the 11 state universities graduated just 10,273 students with bachelor's degrees in STEM, out of 54,614 total degrees awarded. It also handed out 4,582 STEM graduate degrees out of 18,416 master's and doctoral degrees awarded.

Still, that's up from 8,029 STEM undergraduate and 3,296 graduate degrees in 2005-06.

Scott, legislative leaders and State University System Chancellor Frank Brogan all see increasing the number of STEM graduates as a key component to helping Florida's economy recover.

"I don't think you can talk about jobs and the economy without talking about the disconnect that I think exists between our education system and the realities and opportunities of the economy," Gaetz said.

But how to do that with a tight state budget – and without massive tuition increases -- is one of the biggest challenges the Florida Legislature will be tackling this coming year.

University leaders have repeatedly told lawmakers that educating STEM students requires costly laboratories and far smaller class sizes than are common for liberal arts and even business majors. To boost STEM graduates, they say, they need more money.

Right now, the state university system is collecting data to develop a game plan, Brogan said.

He said planners need to know how many STEM grads are staying in-state or leaving for employment elsewhere. They need to know which fields are anticipating the most growth, so they can focus their efforts on getting more STEM graduates in those specific fields. And they need to know how much it's going to cost.

"At the end of the day, it shouldn't just be a volume game," Brogan said. "We've got to make sure we're putting in the resources and getting a investment so that those who graduate with a STEM degree can not only get a job, but hopefully a job in Florida."

Last year, after lobbying by the University of Florida and Florida State University, lawmakers approved a bill that would have allowed both flagship universities to raise tuition above the state's 15-percent annual maximum.                       


UF President Bernie Machen and FSU President Eric Barron, a climatologist, argued that their research showed universities need more money than the $5,626 a year the state charges undergraduates. They said tuition should rise to approximate the $8,244 national average.

But Scott vetoed the bill, saying he wanted to keep higher education affordable. And he signed a budget that cut university funding by $300 million, though lawmakers said universities could use reserves.

Scott also announced the creation of a seven-member panel led by Florida Chamber Foundation President Dale Brill to look at how to improve the system. But Scott may not be happy with the panel's findings.

In a recently released draft report, the panel concluded tuition is too low and advocated giving universities flexibility to charge more for some degrees than others.

Brogan said he is hopeful the Legislature will invest more in higher education to keep tuition down while enabling universities to ramp up STEM degree production. State funding totals just shy of $3.5 billion this year.

Scott unveiled a K-12 education agenda last week, touting traditional Republican ideas of expanding school choice and testing. A Scott spokeswoman said more policies related to higher education will be rolled out at a later date.


source: http://articles.sun-sentinel.com/2012-10-27/business/fl-scott-stem-grads-20121026_1_job-openings-university-leaders-graduate-degrees

Florida State STEM Institute receives $50,000 grant 

PANAMA CITY — The STEM Institute at Florida State University had a happy Monday morning after receiving a $50,000 grant from the AT&T Foundation.

Ginger Littleton, executive director of the STEM Institute, said the money will be used to expand their target audience.

“One of the areas we’re still working on are juniors and seniors,” Littleton said. “Our original plan was to try to capture or hook the younger students. … We’ve been doing that now for five years. We’re thrilled to have the opportunity to catch those upper level students who more than likely will pursue a STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) career.”

The program geared toward the upperclassmen will be modeled after the current summer programs and Dr. Ken Shaw, FSU PC president, said it will create the opportunity for hands-on experience.

“When you can bring real life math, science and engineering into these students’ experiences, it’s more than just textbooks,” Shaw said. “They’re actually doing things and constructing things. … It’s what engineers do on a daily basis and for them to experience it at an institution like Florida State University is really inspiring.”

The grant will allow purchase of equipment to be used in the STEM summer camps for years to come, he said, and can continue to be borrowed by local teachers for projects in the classroom.

Littleton said the STEM camps so far have affected more than 1,000 students and 150 teachers, including some from Washington and Gulf counties. Most of their work is in Bay County, but surrounding areas have a lot of talent and are part of their mission, too, she added.

Part of the grant application process included detailing the plans for the funding and for the institute that includes equipment and materials with an important purpose.

“A piece of chalk and a pencil is no longer adequate, and unfortunately we tend to leave some classrooms with that,” Littleton said. “We want to put together a program that is fun, the kids love and is engaging. Application, I can’t stress that enough; I think what kids miss out on sometimes is applying their learning.”

Littleton said showing juniors and seniors interested in STEM areas what their future could hold can have lasting benefits. The programs currently use LEGO robotics as part of the curriculum and they hope to expand to bridge kits, civil engineering-style work, circuitry and electrical work, and VEX robotics.



source: http://www.newsherald.com/news/government/stem-awarded-50-000-grant-1.34614

NEEF Announces Winners of the Bartlett Environmental Education Award

After a nationwide search, the National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF) selected Deborah Wasylik, a high school science teacher in Orlando, Fla., as the winner of this year’s Richard C. Bartlett Environmental Education Award. The award recognizes outstanding achievement by teachers in advancing environmental education at their schools.


Wasylik will receive $5,000 and a trip to Washington, D.C. to meet other environmental educators and leaders. The Foundation also recognized two merit winners: Paul Ritter, a science teacher at Pontiac Township High School in Illinois and Kristine Rademacher-Gorovitz, who teaches 10th-12th grade science at Desert Vista High School in Phoenix, Ariz.


NEEF President Diane Wood said, “We are inspired by the work and ideas of these teachers. Their dedication to their students and teaching on the environment are truly outstanding, and we congratulate them on their success. We are also excited to host award winner Deborah Wasylik in Washington, D.C.”


Wasylik teaches juniors and seniors at Dr. Phillips High School, on a campus of 3,600 students who speak 46 languages. Almost half of these students are enrolled in the federal free or reduced school lunch program and, since the school has not had a science budget in recent years, her department operates entirely on donations. Despite these and other challenges, Wasylik’s students have scored over 30 points above the national average on the Advanced Placement (AP) Environmental Science exam for the past several years.


“Students have done tremendously on their coursework. We creatively use our urban school campus for nature observations, and as their teacher I facilitate student-led projects such as the school recycling program,” said Wasylik. “I also meet with faculty to identify environmental topics of interest to students that help them make real-world connections with what they are learning.”


Richard C. Bartlett (1935-2011) inspired environmental educators nationwide, believing that education is critical to preserving the natural world for future generations. His work in conservation and environmental education spanned over four decades. Mr. Bartlett was Chairman of the Board of Trustees at NEEF and served on the boards of the Nature Conservancy, the National Council on Science and the Environment, the Aldo Leopold Foundation and the Center for Big Bend Studies.


The award has been made possible through the support of Baxter Healthcare Corporation.


Merit winners Ritter and Rademacher-Gorovitz demonstrated great skill at engaging students through environmental projects, also referred to as environmental project-based learning.


Ritter’s Operation Endangered Species project was created with the help of National Geographic’s Dr. Brady Barr and focuses on the local alligator snapping turtle. Students in art, English, science and business classes work together to raise the turtles from hatchlings, collect physical data, write teacher and student lab manuals, develop artwork, produce children’s books, satellite tag the turtles and finally release them into the wild.


Rademacher-Gorovitz and her students have focused on a number of topics, such as invasive species. She organizes field trips to local and regional sites that afford in-depth environmental learning, including the Catalina Island Marine Institute. Through a green business project, her students choose a local business and provide consulting to help them improve their ecological footprints. Students assess businesses based on their paper, water, lighting and other energy usage, then come up with goals and strategies to improve conservation or energy-efficiency.


Wasylik will be using the Bartlett Award money to take her daughter, Colleen—a new science teacher in Charlotte, N.C.—with her to the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) conference in Texas. “The experience will help give her the skills to become a leader in environmental education at her school and in her district,” Wasylik said.



source: http://www.equities.com/news/news-headline-story?dt=2012-10-22&val=618236&d=1&cat=headline

Local Education Foundation Awarded Grant for Motorola STEM Solutions Project

The Vero Beach High School Commercial Photography Career Academy will have the opportunity to apply STEM skills beyond the classroom through an Innovation Generation grant from the Motorola Solutions Foundation, the charitable arm of Motorola Solutions, Inc.

The Motorola Solutions Foundation provided $50,000 for a second year to challenge Florida’s district-wide local education foundations to inspire students through projects designed to help them solve real-world problems in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) areas this school year through a grant to the Consortium of Florida Education Foundations (CFEF).

The Education Foundation of Indian River County’s (EF-IRC) project was one of 10 chosen to receive $5,000 through a competitive judging process with each application being reviewed and scored by a panel of STEM industry professionals through CFEF.

The grant, “Student STEM Skills Soar with Piper Aircraft,” is a collaborative effort between the EF-IRC, the School District of Indian River County (SDIRC) and Piper Aircraft. The goal of the project is to give the Career Academy students the real life experience and training of photographing airplanes and aviation equipment at the Piper Aircraft facility.

Piper marketing employees will mentor and train students on the techniques used in aviation photography. Participating students will then get the opportunity to apply these skills. Through this mentoring process, students would learn how to refine their abilities. In addition they will participate in professional photo shoots of the latest private jets that are manufactured at the Piper plant. The photos will be used in two ways: in Piper marketing materials and to create special thank you books for customers who purchase private jets for their own personal use.

The Commercial Photography Career Academy at Vero Beach High School will provide students with instruction geared towards professional digital image capture, digital manipulation, and production of high quality photographic images that adhere to the industry standard, for use in print and electronic media. Students will use current photographic technologies including cameras, lighting equipment, and computer hardware and software. Also, students will focus on producing images using design and compositional techniques for high aesthetic value and effective visual communication.

By combining the fundamentals of photography with professional digital imaging techniques students will gain the skills necessary to meet aviation/industry standards. Through this project students will build on their own creativity and interests. The skills developed will provide students with the experience of aviation photography, entrepreneurial capabilities and future career opportunities.

“Each year, I am truly amazed by the ground-breaking work our grant recipients like the Consortium of Florida Education Foundations accomplish through their Innovation Generation grants,” said Matt Blakely, director, Motorola Solutions Foundation. “These grantees are playing an active role in developing the future of STEM education for our country. As a company dedicated to helping people be their best in the moments that matter, Motorola Solutions could not be more honored to support programs such as CFEF.”


source: http://www.tcpalm.com/news/2012/oct/17/local-education-foundation-awarded-grant-for-motor/

STEM-related job openings on the rise in Florida

The number of available online job openings in STEM-related fields in Florida is up sharply over the previous year, with more than 64,000 postings in September 2012 (the most recent month available). Over-the-year job postings are up almost 9 percent compared to September 2011.

“Jobs in STEM-related fields are high skill positions that are helping to further grow and diversify our economy,” said Governor Rick Scott. “Seeing an increase in the demand for these jobs shows that we’re making significant strides and ensuring that Florida is a leader in growing industries.”

According to the Help Wanted OnLine data series from The Conference Board, the number of STEM-related job postings in Florida in September 2012 increased by over 5,000 from the previous September. Major occupational groups with the most online ads in September were healthcare practitioners and technical occupations; computer and mathematical occupations; and business and financial operations occupations. Hillsborough County led all Florida counties in job postings followed by Miami-Dade, Orange, Broward, Duval and Palm Beach counties.

STEM is an acronym for science, technology, engineering and mathematics, and STEM-related jobs are ones that are considered high wage and high skill. Workers in STEM occupations use science and math to drive our state’s innovation and competitiveness by generating new ideas, new companies and new industries.



source: http://www.winknews.com/Local-Florida/2012-10-16/STEM-related-job-openings-on-the-rise-in-Florida#.UH3ckxzO75l

UF awarded $2 million grant to boost science, math teaching in Florida schools

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Answering a call to ensure Florida has the best-educated workforce for the global knowledge economy, the University of Florida is launching a statewide effort to bolster teaching and learning in science and mathematics in the middle school and high school grades.

Officials with UF and the Florida Department of Education jointly announced today that UF’s College of Education has been awarded a two-year grant worth $2 million to create a research-based, professional development support system for new science and math teachers.

The project’s most noteworthy feature is the creation of prototype “teacher induction” programs to support teachers in their first two years on the job. Induction will involve online and face-to-face mentoring, professional development and networking opportunities with their peers. Center faculty and staff also will assist partnering school districts in creating coaching programs for novice science and math teachers.

To coordinate the project, UF has established a program called Florida STEM-Teacher Induction and Professional Support, also known as Florida STEM-TIPS Center. STEM is a common acronym for science, technology, engineering and mathematics — key technical subject areas that Gov. Rick Scott has declared as a high priority in Florida’s public schools to support the growth of high-wage jobs in the private sector.

Griffith Jones, a UF science education professor and principal investigator of the project, will oversee development of statewide teacher induction activities. Jones said they will start in Dade, Duval and Palm Beach counties, where UF has existing partnerships with the local school districts, and then expand to other interested districts throughout the state.

“The induction support activities will ensure that the training and collegial support of teachers-in-training won’t end at graduation, but will continue into their first two years of teaching,” Jones said. “We aim to work with districts to reverse the lack of teacher induction support that historically drives nearly one-third of new teachers from the classroom by their third year of teaching.”

Jones said induction activities for new math and science teachers will include professional-development training in new curriculum standards and high-engagement instructional practices, on-the-job training programs and grade-specific mentoring.

UF professors with the center also will lead webinars and create a web-based gateway for collaborating and sharing information so science and math educators can network with peers across the state.

The need for reform in STEM teacher education is well documented. In Florida, fewer than half of all eighth-graders have teachers who majored or minored in mathematics, according to Jones. Nationwide projections cite a need for 280,000 new math and science teachers by 2015.

Supported by the DOE grant, UF professors also will visit state universities to share information on a highly touted STEM teacher preparation program called UTeach, which is the model for the University of Florida’s own “UFTeach” program. The UTeach model, created by University of Texas-Austin professors in 1997, recruits top science and math majors into teaching by offering a creative curriculum with progressively complex field experiences teaching those subjects in area schools.

“We are poised to make an important leap in STEM education in Florida,” said Tom Dana, UF professor of science education and co-director of UFTeach. “The STEM-TIPS program will allow us to assist other Florida universities who share a goal of reformed science and math teacher preparation.”

As part of the state grant, UF is providing technical assistance to Florida Institute of Technology in Melbourne in developing a UTeach “replicate” program on their campus, according to Dana.

For more information, visit the Florida STEM-TIPS website at http://education.ufl.edu/stem-tips.

source: http://news.ufl.edu/2012/10/15/stem-tips/


NSF Awards UCF $1.8 Million to Recruit Freshmen into STEM Majors

The National Science Foundation is investing $1.8 million in a University of Central Florida researcher’s project to recruit students into Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) programs by incorporating career planning as soon as they begin classes at the university.

The project is banking on the notion that there are many future scientists and engineers in UCF’s freshman class even if they don’t know it yet. The program aims to dramatically increase the numbers of STEM graduates by identifying first-year students, enrolling them into a special course designed to introduce them to STEM careers and following up with mentoring, tutoring, and job shadowing as well as the support of a community of like-minded students.

“We will recruit freshmen who are strong in mathematics and have an open mind in terms of career paths,” said Cynthia Young, a professor of mathematics, an associate dean in the College of Sciences and the lead researcher on the project called Convincing Outstanding Math-Potential Admits to Succeed in STEM – or COMPASS for short.

Young and her colleague, Michael Georgiopoulos, interim dean for the College of Engineering and Computer Science, have already shown that early academic intervention can greatly boost the numbers of science, math and engineering majors at the university. They have successfully run the EXCEL program, also funded by the NSF, since 2005.  EXCEL helps increase student success in the first two years of their college career in a STEM discipline. While EXCEL has increased the retention rate of students with those majors by 40 percent, the new strategy (COMPASS) focuses on engaging students who may not think science or engineering is for them.

Young is working with a team including Georgiopoulos, Andrew Daire, an associate professor and assistant dean in the College of Education, Chris Parkinson, an associate professor of biology, and Melissa Dagley, the executive director of iSTEM (initiatives in STEM) in the Colleges of Sciences and Engineering and Computer Science, to identify freshmen who have the propensity to do well in mathematics and invite them to enroll into an Explorations of STEM Careers course during their first year at UCF.

A pilot program is being run this semester before the full program begins in Summer 2013.

COMPASS uses SAT scores to identify freshmen who have the potential to do well in math and inundates them during their first semesters in college with opportunities to explore what a job in a STEM area might look like. As the researchers found in the EXCEL program, that population will include a disproportionate number of groups that have been traditionally underrepresented in STEM.

“There is a whole pipeline we’re not tapping that we need to pay attention to,” Young said.

All freshmen who enter UCF for the first time will be encouraged to register for the career planning course designed by Daire, who specializes in counselor education, which focuses on the Explorations of STEM Careers .

Following the successful advising model used in the EXCEL program, students will be assigned a graduate teaching assistant to support and mentor them as they matriculate through mathematics classes.

Finding an additional pipeline of students is important to keep the U.S. competitive in the disciplines that fuel innovation. Speakers at the recent U.S. News STEM Summit 2012 focused on how the U.S. can improve upon a 50-year decline in U.S. STEM performance.

There are two ways to increase the number of STEM degrees awarded in the U.S.: either retain more STEM majors or recruit non-STEM majors into STEM. This UCF team has demonstrated a national flagship model for retention. The goal of COMPASS is to increase the numbers of non-STEM students who decide to pursue STEM degrees, Young said.

source: http://today.ucf.edu/nsf-awards-ucf-1-8-million-to-recruit-freshmen-into-stem-majors/


New Florida school is high-tech—and eco-friendly

When students entered Palencia Elementary School in St. Augustine, Fla., for the first time in late August, they stepped into a high-tech, futuristic school focused on environmental sustainability.

About 500 kindergarten through fifth-grade students crossed the xeriscaped campus of St. Johns County’s newest school, which will emphasize a science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) curriculum.

“We want to make the building a teaching tool,” Principal Don Campbell said.

Palencia incorporates systems designed to keep energy, operating, and maintenance costs down while protecting the environment. The school is also the district’s pilot site for implementing digital textbooks. It’s expected to serve as a model for schools statewide.

The school’s classrooms are crammed with cutting-edge technology. Students will use computers—both tablets and desktop models, as well as electronic readers—for their class work. About 20 percent of the school’s books will be electronic. Teachers have the latest interactive whiteboard system, as well as other digital instruction tools for their lessons.

“It’s a huge engagement factor for the kids. Keeping their attention, it allows them to practice skills and allows us to assess them individually,” Stephanie Bozard said of some of the digital programs she’ll use to teach her second-grade class. “They think it’s a game, because it’s usually put in game format with kid-friendly graphics and images.”

The school’s biggest innovation, however, is cool. Literally.

Palencia makes ice at night, when energy use and temperatures are lower. During the day, the ice is used to cool the building via a system in which water is pumped through a series of pipes surrounded by the ice. Because it isn’t running its chillers during the day, the school is saving “a huge amount of energy costs.”

Windows in one of the air handler rooms allow students to see how fans blow over the cold water pipes, sending cool air through the vents and into classrooms.

“Part of the project is making sure we are teaching the kids about the environment and how this school operates …,” Campbell said. “And that also plays into the STEM curriculum and also the Common Core standards. It’s real-world experiences.”

The school also will focus on healthy living, said Laurel Madson, a parent of three students at Palencia and the co-president of its Parent Teacher Organization.

The school boasts organic and hydroponic gardens, with rain water collected on the roof to irrigate the plants. All of the cafeteria’s meals will be made from scratch with natural, minimally processed and nutritious ingredients, such as sweet potatoes and whole-grain pasta in the school’s state-of-the art kitchen. They will be serving up lessons on nutrition along with good eats, said Kathleen Damiano, food service manager.

“As a mother, that it is a healthy living school is really important, because the school is preparing the children for a healthy lifestyle for life,” said Madson.

Palencia is the second new school that Campbell has opened in the county. In 2007, he opened Wards Creek Elementary School.

“It is so exciting, because you get to build the culture from the ground up. So, you work with the students, the teachers, the parents and make the school what they want it to be,” Campbell said.



source: http://www.eschoolnews.com/2012/09/24/new-florida-school-is-high-tech-and-eco-friendly/?

Skills gap cripples manufacturing growth in Manatee
An under-skilled labor force has become the top deterrent preventing area manufacturers from ramping up their hiring, employers said.
A widening skills gap between the positions available and candidate qualifications has weighed on the region's recovery by stalling growth in one of the largest employment sectors in Manatee and Sarasota.
The trend has forced manufacturers in recent years to put expansion plans on ice, curbing production and ultimately their bottom line. The same training problems have prevented the area's jobless from reentering the workforce.
Of more than 100 area manufacturers surveyed, 56 percent reported an existing skills gap of three years or longer, according to CareerEdge Funders Collaborative, an employment training agency that receives private and public funding.
The agency has scheduled a panel discussion with industry stakeholders Sept. 27 to fully detail its findings and vet a potential solution.
"We're talking about a lot of jobs," CareerEdge Executive Director Mireya Eavey said. "We have a lot of work to do. We have a lot of marketing to do. This is a call to manufacturers that we understand their challenge. Now we need their commitment."
The agency began talking to manufacturers in May from small three-man operations to publicly traded corporations that employ thousands.
The message from each was the same. There's just not enough skills in the present labor pool to meet the jobs now in demand, even despite the 28,125 jobless workers between Manatee and Sarasota that produced a regional unemployment rate of 9.3 percent in July.
The conversation first started on the U.S. scale six years ago, when the National Association of Manufacturers found that 40 percent of workers in the industry lacked the skills to match their job description. Employers estimate the situation in Manatee likely is more dire.
They point to a mix of a negative misconceptions attached to the industry and a lack of viable training with local institutions.
"Part of it is the industry has done a bad job of marketing itself as a career path, with parents discouraging their children to seek opportunities," said Jennifer Behrens Schmidt, president of Atlantic Mold and Machining Corp. "Most of the workers in the field are getting old, they're close to retirement, and there's no replacements lined up."
More than 500 manufacturers operate between Manatee and Sarasota, employing about 12,800 workers at a median wage of $43,000, records show.
As technology in the field advances and more jobs require high-skilled certifications, Schmidt said area training programs have failed to keep pace.
Most specialized manufacturers offer in-house training on their own facilities and equipment. But companies are looking for workers who have the foundation of how basic manufacturing is done.
Because manufacturing draws outside investment into a region, industry stakeholders stress its importance to the local economy.
Across Florida, the industry contributes about 5 percent to the state's gross domestic product.
They fear if the workforce is not poised for economic progress, Florida will fall behind other Sunbelt states competing for economic development.
"It doesn't take a rocket scientist to look at this and say we need more manufacturing jobs," said Peter Straw, executive director of the Sarasota Manatee Manufacturers Association. "And the trend will only continue."

Helios Invests Over $1.4 Million In STEM Education in Tampa Bay
Recognizing the critical role STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education plays in better preparing students for postsecondary education and career success, Helios Education Foundation is investing over $1.4 million in two new Tampa Bay programs focused on teacher quality and content knowledge in STEM in Polk and Citrus counties.
Through these investments, middle school teachers in Polk County will earn professional development credits toward a graduate certificate in STEM education, and in Citrus County, 6th through 8th Grade teachers will bring real-world applications of math and science into the classroom by teaching students how to analyze local water management issues using math models.
$950,000 in Polk County
The Foundation is investing $950,000 over three years to provide 96 middle school teachers in Polk County with a graduate certificate in Integrative STEM Teaching and Learning. This graduate certificate is being provided in partnership with the University of South Florida-Polytechnic, Polk County Public Schools, Lake Wales Charter School and the Lakeland Chamber of Commerce.
Teachers participating in the program will receive 12 graduate credits of professional development in STEM content knowledge, applied problem-based learning, inquiry-based activities, content literacy strategies and performance and standards-based assessments.
$495,000 in Citrus County
As part of providing more teacher professional development opportunities, Helios is investing $495,000 over two years to offer all 6th through 8th Grade math and science teachers in Citrus County the opportunity to increase their knowledge in integrating math, science and computing.
In partnership with Florida State University, Citrus County Public Schools and the Southwest Florida Water Management District (SWFWMD), this program will offer 120 hours of teacher professional development in integrating math and science instruction through real-world applications of water resource management, math modeling through Excel to deepen student understanding of math and science concepts and lesson study teams for STEM teachers.
Teachers participating in this program will learn to use Excel to generate and analyze mathematical models provided by SWFWMD. In applying this knowledge in the classroom, middle school math and science teachers will help students examine water management issues directly relevant to their lives, further underscoring the real-world use of computational science.
"Studies show us that one of the most influential ways to improve student achievement in the classroom is to improve the quality and effectiveness of teachers in those classrooms," said Helios Education Foundation President and CEO Paul Luna. "We are equipping middle school teachers with a higher level of content knowledge and teaching skill in STEM, and that combined with ongoing school and classroom initiatives, works to increase student achievement."
Helios is making these funds available through a request for proposals process aimed at generating innovative professional development initiatives for middle school STEM teachers in Tampa Bay. The Foundation received 13 applications from a variety of groups, including higher education institutions, school districts and national organizations, serving an eight-county region of Tampa Bay.
The initiatives serving Polk and Citrus counties met the Foundation's funding requirements by deepening teachers' content knowledge, strengthening effective instructional skills, utilizing engineering design principles and integrating technology into the classroom.

FPL energizes STEM education in Florida schools
As students and their families enjoy the final weeks of summer vacation, the new school year beckons and Florida Power & Light Company has announced its plan for supporting STEM (science, technology, energy and mathematics) education in Florida schools for the 2012 - 2013 academic year.
FPL's commitment to STEM education has led the company to develop a comprehensive inventory of tools and programs to help schools provide excellent and dynamic STEM education to students.
"Research shows that STEM education is critically important to ensure that today's students are prepared for tomorrow's competitive economy," said Pam Rauch, FPL vice president of Development and External Affairs. "We know that many teachers reach into their own pockets to supplement their teaching and to help bring lessons to life. It is our hope that these programs will inspire additional creativity, ease burdens on our teachers and make a lasting impact on Florida's students."
Here is a brief overview of the various programs:
New traveling school assembly program, offered to schools at no charge
* Designed for kindergarten through fifth grade in schools throughout FPL's service territory.
 * "Men in Black: The Kilowatt Connection" is a live drama that will delight students, while teaching them all about energy conservation.
* Show is produced by the National Theatre for Children.
* To schedule a show, call 800-858-3999, ext. 1.
Adopt-A-Classroom Matching Donation
* FPL will offer 1,500 classrooms $25 donations through Adopt-A-Classroom (organization links teachers with community partners and funds to purchase supplies for the classroom).
* Middle and High School teachers working in STEM subjects in the 28 school districts FPL provides service may be eligible for a matching donation.
* To qualify for the match, a teacher must receive at least a $25 donation through www.AdoptAClassroom.org/fpl.
Teacher Grant Programs
* All public, private and charter school teachers in FPL's service territory are eligible to apply for grants to create classroom projects focused on any form of energy education.
* Grants are awarded in increments of $500 to $2,500 and the application deadline is November 15, 2012. Winners will be announced by the end of this year.
* For more information, please visit www.FPL.com/community/learning/solarstations.shtml.
Teacher Workshops
* Teachers in FPL's service territory are invited to attend one of three, full-day workshops to learn how to incorporate energy technology into their teaching plans.
* Workshops will include lessons on how solar energy works, hands-on activities, and curriculum materials related to energy.
* FPL will provide a $125 stipend to attending teachers to fund their travel and meals for the day.
* Workshop space is limited and offered on a first-come, first-served basis.
Upcoming workshops include:
* Oct. 4: Turner Agri Center (tour of FPL DeSoto Solar Plant included) in Arcadia
* Oct. 17: Florida Solar Energy Center in Cocoa
* Nov. 7: FPL's Energy Encounter on Hutchinson Island


source: http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/fpl-energizes-stem-education-in-florida-schools-165999636.html


Educators aim to excite students in science


Some Pierce Middle School sixth-graders are scared when they first step inside Jim Della Sala's classroom.
Science can conjure fears of boring lectures, intimidating theories and endless note taking.
By the end of the school year, though, the students become the teachers, explaining complicated concepts like cell structure, kinetic energy and erosion.
"By the time they leave me,'' Della Sala says, "they are excited about science.''
The trick is keeping them excited.
It's a struggle in Florida and nationwide, evidenced by the growing number of students unable to keep up with their foreign counterparts in science, technology, engineering and math — better known as STEM education.
Florida education leaders tried to address the problem when they revised science standards in 2008, but a national report released earlier this year gave the state a "C'' for its curriculum.
The Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a national education think tank in Washington, D.C., found Florida's standards did a good job at the primary level. But they were weak in the higher grades as a result of "poor organization, ambiguous statements and basic errors,'' the report said.
More criticism has followed since the recent release of results on a national science test for eighth-graders that showed Florida lagging behind the national average.
The findings have some local education advocates calling for the state to join the national effort to develop Common Core State Standards in science.
Florida Department of Education officials, however, recommend sticking with plans to adopt the state's Next Generation Science Standards in 2013-14.
"A lot of assessments and curriculum are already built around it,'' said Gerry Meisels, director of the Coalition for Science Literacy at the University of South Florida.
It would be too costly, officials said, to rewrite instructional materials and retrain teachers — especially since the two standards are so similar.
"And, frankly,'' said Meisels, a chemistry professor who helped write Florida's standards, "teachers and students need some stability. You can't keep changing things every year.''
Instead, more time and effort should go toward providing teachers with the skills they need in the classroom, said Robert Potter, the coalition's associate director.
"Kids are naturally curious and they are natural scientists,'' he said. "If you teach science with that sense of discovery, then you keep them engaged.''
Middle school is an especially crucial time for students, educators say.
"Here, this is where they start to get the basics,'' said Pierce math teacher Brian Noce.
Then it's like a ladder, he said, where students build upon skills each year.
Getting them interested is the first step.
Della Sala tries to hook his sixth-graders on science with hands-on, interactive lessons that promote collaboration and critical thinking.
"I tell them science is all around us,'' he said. "A scientist is anyone who studies science.''
Once his students get comfortable, Della Sala gets their parents and other teachers on board, promoting how science incorporates arithmetic, writing and reading comprehension skills.
The sixth-graders released their inner scientist with an annual fair in May that spilled over with cross-curriculum in geography and language arts classes.
The event attracted other sixth-grade students and even other schools, including Leto High science department head Roohi Abidi and Principal Victor Fernandez.
Pierce is one of Leto's feeder schools.
"When you see some students enthusiastic about science, it's good,'' said Abidi, who will sponsor Leto's STEM Club in the coming school year.
But for some, she lamented, the interest will wane by the time they get into high school.
"It's very easy to lose focus,'' Abidi said. "There's so much going on in their lives — the phone, music, TV, computer.''
Luis Santos doesn't think that will be a problem for him. At 11, he already knows he wants to be a U.S. Marine.
Yet, Mr. Della Sala has opened up other possibilities.
"He has inspired me to study science and know all the world around me,'' Luis said.
Plus, there are the cool labs. Luis' favorite: looking at pond water under a microscope.
"You could see the cells moving around. They were alive!'' the sixth-grader said, before launching into a 15-minute explanation of cell structure.
It took Rachel Cardenas about a week to complete her science fair exhibit, a safari zoo that illustrates the classification of animals from domain and kingdom to genesis and species.
"I love this class,'' said the 11-year-old, who wants to be a pediatrician. "I've never been in a class where we've done so many projects.''
That didn't happen in elementary school, Rachel said. It took middle school to make science click for her.
"I'm amazed,'' she said.



Summer STEM Camp 2012 Wraps Up

Research shows by the time students reach the 4th grade, 1/3 of boys and girls have lost interest in science, that's according to a recent report by the National Science Teacher Associations. That same report says by 8th grade, almost 50% find it irrelevant to their education and future. But the STEM Summer Camp is trying to turn that statistic around, one student at a time.  



Inside FSU-PC's Holley Academic Center stands the future scientist and engineers of Northwest Florida as they take part in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Summer Camp, also known as STEM.  


"Some classes that are regular class can be boring, where you are just doing textbook and work and these are actual hands-on activities and it makes it really exciting," said 9th grader Reilly Thomes.  


The camp is designed to reignite the passion of these subjects among students.  


"The U.S. falls behind in the number of scientist and engineers that are graduated from colleges every year," said STEM Coordinator and Outreach Coordinator for the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Ed Linsenmeyer.


It's a statistic that worries Linsenmeyer.  


"We have been playing catch up with those students as they go through middle school and high school, as we are trying to reinstall an inertest in science," he added.  


For many students going into STEM careers can be intimidating but this camp shows by building and programming their own robot, that they can be successful. 


"It's a little bit difficult in a way but I feel like if I really want to do it I could do it," said 10th grader Midrell Pittman.  


"It shows you that you actually get to start it and do it from scratch and at the end of the week you actually get to do it yourselves and your teachers didn't tell you how to do everything," said 10th grader Zane Shafer.


At the camp this week, the 100 high schoolers built robots and programmed missions, researched marine life in the bay and built a solar LED light that will ultimately be shipped off to countries like Haiti and Honduras.  


School Board Member Ginger Littleton is heavily involved with STEM at FSU-PC. She is a strong advocate of pushing teachers to incorporate STEM inside the classroom.  


"Students don't lose that passion, adults sometimes suck it out of them and we have to stop doing that," Littleton said.



source: http://www.wmbb.com/story/18909658/summer-stem-camp-2012-wraps-up

Editorial - Local lessons for Florida's STEM challenges



 The recent discussions across Florida around science, technology, engineering and math education have been healthy and important for our state's future economic competitiveness. Like the rest of the country, we are feeling the effects of a lack of so-called STEM skills. Students are not graduating in science, technology, engineering and math in the numbers needed to drive the innovation economy Floridians aspire to.

Much of the debate has been focused on our university system. Fact is, the system also needs some attention with only 20 percent of students sitting in Florida's universities studying STEM as a major. I would argue that we have an opportunity to get students interested in STEM before they set foot on a higher education campus via pre-kindergarten-through-12th-grade math and science education.

I'm not alone in my view. Florida's Statewide Strategic Plan for Economic Development identifies the need to build world-class talent as a top priority for the state's continued development and diversification. It specifically recommends strengthening PreK-12 math and science education.

They need to look no further then Lake Brantley High School in Altamonte Springs for ideas. In just three years, Seth Reichelson — an Advanced Placement computer-science teacher from the school — has increased enrollment in Brantley's AP computer-science program from zero to 294. Even more exciting is 48 percent of the students in Brantley's program are females or minorities, compared to the national average of 18 percent.So the big question the numerous committees and groups focused on this issue are asking themselves is: What is the best model for our students?

The secret to Reichelson's success focuses on masterly learning. Under this model, students are helped to master each learning unit, building confidence before proceeding on to a more advanced learning task.

One way they have put this to work and built confidence is by competing in a national contest run by IBM along with college students in the U.S. and Canada. In 2011, 220 students from Lake Brantley's Advanced Placement computer-science program took part in the IBM Master the Mainframe Contest. More than 70 students completed the challenging second part of the competition, completing extensive systems programming and application-developing tasks.

I hear many of the students cite this as one of their greatest achievements to date. Reichelson says his students' success has helped attract even more students to his class.

This model of learning can also be extended to higher education. For example, a University of South Floridaprofessor engaged his commerce students in a project to assess the impact of social tools on the business of an IBM business partner. The students learned about the characteristics of a social business, then developed a prototype social network to demonstrate how the organization could improve their social strategy to drive efficiency and performance.

This is part of IBM's "The Great Mind Challenge," a global academic initiative focused on providing students with an opportunity to develop their collaboration and problem-solving skills while working on real-world business challenges submitted by global corporations, entrepreneurs, community leaders and nonprofit organizations.

It behooves Florida's business community to get involved in helping to drive STEM education. By doing so, businesses can advocate for specific curriculum and skills so they have access to the talent they need to drive their own competitiveness and Florida's.

The business community also has the unique ability to provide the hands-on experience students need to stay motivated to pursue a career in math or science and prepare for the work force.

To reach its goals to revamp the economy, Florida needs the partnership of its business community to drive quality K-12 and college-level STEM education.

Story by Ernes Jones, IBM's senior location executive for Orlando and a mechanical engineer.



source: http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/opinion/os-ed-ibm-stem-lake-brantley-062612-20120625,0,2463658.story


Northrop Grumman awards grants to central Florida teachers to support STEM Education


Northrop Grumman Corporation has provided grants worth a total of $1,800 to support science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) educational initiatives in schools in Central Florida.

Northrop Grumman awarded six individual grants of $300 each to teachers in local elementary, middle and high schools to fund projects that increase student awareness of opportunities in STEM fields. The grants were open to teachers at any public or charter school with an open enrollment policy. Selection was based upon the proposed activity's potential to engage students and the level of STEM focus.

The grant program was announced in recognition of National Engineers Week in mid-February and winners were notified in May. Grants must be used in the current calendar year to purchase equipment, supplies, publications or transportation related to the proposed STEM project.

The following teachers received the Northrop Grumman National Engineers Week STEM grants:


          --  Paul Ackerman -- East River High School (Orlando)

          --  Julian Rivera -- Orange Grove Middle Magnet School (Tampa)

          --  M'Lisa Thompson -- Wicklow Elementary School (Sanford)

          --  Philippe Gamain -- Astatula Elementary School (Astatula)

          --  William Mays -- Evans High School (Orlando)

          --  Harlan Thrailkill -- Conway Middle School (Orlando)

"Northrop Grumman is strongly dedicated to promoting STEM education in schools," said Gordon R. Stewart, vice president and general manager of Northrop Grumman's Laser Systems business unit. "Getting more students interested in studying technical subjects in college will serve our nation's business and economic success for years to come."

The teacher grants reinforce Northrop Grumman's commitment to STEM activities and educational initiatives. The company annually sponsors Worthwhile to Help High School Youth (WORTHY), a Northrop Grumman High School Involvement Partnership (HIP) program, and the Northrop Grumman Engineering Scholars program, which provides academic-based scholarships to promising high school seniors who plan to pursue a career in engineering. Additionally, the company has sponsored outreach events, including a robotics competition, for local high school students during National Engineers Week.



source: http://www.marketwatch.com/story/northrop-grumman-awards-grants-to-central-florida-area-teachers-to-support-stem-education-initiatives-2012-06-12

Robotics challenge teaches, engages, rewards


Tampa area math and science teachers are using LEGO robotics and friendly peer competition to engage fifth-grade students more fully in their classes.

Students from 18 Hillsborough County Title I schools designed and built robots out of LEGO bricks, and using LEGO Mindstorms software, programmed them to accomplish specific tasks. Then they got together to show off their creations at the third-annual Hillsborough County Robotics Challenge in Plant City May 25.

Students from three Plant City schools — Lincoln, Cork and Burney elementary schools—won awards.

Through these exercises, the children learn not only traditional math and science curriculum concepts, but also how to use them to solve real-world problems, said Larry Plank, director of STEM — science, technology, engineering and math education K-12 in Hillsborough County.

At Schmidt Elementary School in Brandon, math teacher Eric Law, and science teacher Catherine Lucas, use LEGO robotics daily to reinforce math and science ideas in their all-boy classes.

Students are taught a concept, apply it by using the robots to solve a problem and then write about what they've learned, said Lucas.

Lucas and Law also have been coaching a competitive robotics club team twice a week after school since January, in preparation for the Robotics Challenge.

The day before the competition, Schmidt Elementary robotics students hoped they were going to do well in the competition, based on what they considered their team's greatest strengths: communication, patience, partnership, and cooperation.

"Good teamwork … if both of you are stuck, you can both figure out how to find a solution to your problem," student Dennis Orellana said.

"You have the team right beside you, so if just those two people can't figure it out, you can all take little pieces here and little bits there and put it all together and make something awesome," fellow student Ryan Bezaury added.

The Robotics Challenge awarded points to each team for demonstrating its preprogrammed robot's ability to place a solar panel, sort trash, close a dam and deploy a new smokestack on the NXT "Green City" challenge course in two and a half minutes.

Two pairs of children from each school also had to beat the clock to solve spontaneous challenges, such as programming a virtual carnival ride to spin, or getting a dancing bird to turn on cue.

Team members were interviewed individually to prove their comprehension of the math and science concepts the robotics program was designed to impart.

"What's wonderful about the robotics program is, unlike traditional science fair or higher-end competitions like Science Bowl, the robotics program allows students who aren't used to being the rock stars in the classroom to express themselves in a new way and become the rock stars, become the champions. It brings the kids together," Plank said.

The robotics program's emphasis on teamwork is having a constructive impact on students and builds community, said John Honey, a teacher at Yates Elementary School in Brandon.

"We see average students blossom over time and become critical thinkers," he said. "It's very endearing for me to see them so positive, upbeat and having fun learning."


source: http://www2.tbo.com/news/education-news/2012/jun/06/pcnewso14-robotics-challenge-teaches-engages-rewar-ar-411652/

Volusia STEM puts 'Whooaa' into learning math, science 
DAYTONA BEACH -- For a furious five minutes or so, the parking lot next to the science building was a flurry of cutting and taping, refitting and adjusting and, finally, rocket-launching.
A paper rocket -- a few moments ago, it was just a sheet of paper -- sat tight on the end of a long, plastic tube. On the other end, an eighth-grader's foot stomped down on a fat plastic soda bottle, flattening it, forcing a stream of air through the pipe and sending the paper missile soaring into the air.
And for a second, all the bustling activity on the ground froze as the other rocket-builders looked up to see what the competition had just accomplished.
That was the scene and the sound Saturday at Daytona State College, where hundreds of middle school students from across Volusia County gathered for Volusia STEM -- a day of science, technology, engineering and math activities designed to help illustrate how those school subjects apply in real life.
"The nature of this day is hopefully to give them a lot of exciting and thought-provoking activities," said Jeremy Blinn, a Volusia School District teacher on assignment who's part of the district's efforts to prepare students for future STEM-related careers. Teachers like Blinn don't stay in one classroom year-round but work across the district, interacting with hundreds of students from all of the area's schools.
"I help out a good 100 to 200 kids in the classroom," Blinn said, "but in this position, you get to help out teachers who are reaching 100, 200 kids each."
The paper-rocket exercise was one of Saturday's most popular events -- along with the egg drop and the large slingshot. Not long after that first impressive launch that set the day's record, another launch from another group of students broke it. That prompted the first group to rush back to its launcher shouting, "Fire!" in an attempt to retake the lead.
The students had built the launchers themselves with materials laid out by Blinn, although he'd rearranged them into the wrong order. That's because the STEM program is emphasizing problem-solving and design thinking skills, allowing students to "actually pick up skills they can use in their future careers," Silver Sands Middle School teacher Charlotte Besse said.
"It's really the new way to teach," she said.
The organizer of the day, STEM coach Amy Monahan, said close to 400 students came to campus for the day, and they were joined by almost 100 teachers and parents (mostly teachers) who ran the events.
"It's the whole initiative to get kids more science- and math-motivated to see what science is really about," Monahan said. "Worksheets are a thing of the past."
Even the activities that looked like pure fun had a lesson involved. The slingshot, for example -- although it was being used part of the day to launch fruit into the air -- was a math lesson. By measuring the distance and time it took something to fly out of the pocket and hit the ground, students could calculate the high point of the object's arc.
"Even if they don't take any math or science away from it, it helps," said Brandon LeClerc, a math teacher at Heritage Middle School in Deltona, who was manning the slingshot. "Later on, they're going to see a test question or they're going to be at a job, and it's going to hit them, whether they realize it or not. That's the goal."


source: http://www.news-journalonline.com/news/local/east-volusia/2012/04/15/stem.html


Bulking up STEM comes with a price tag, educators say

It's the jumper cables to America's dead battery, they say, the lighter fluid to a cooling economy.

STEM education — science, technology, engineering and math — is being touted by lawmakers and business people as the key to future job creation and international competitiveness.

In Florida, the pressure is on to push more kids into STEM. This session, lawmakers are considering a bill that would reward schools when students graduate with more math and science credits than currently required.

But as campuses move to aggressively bulk up their STEM programs, they are grappling with a perpetual question in K-12 education:

How to pay for it?

Schools are shifting resources, scrambling for grants and trying to secure willing business partners. Last week, the presidents of the University of Florida and Florida State University suggested charging STEM students higher tuition.

Amid sharp budget cuts, the hunt for dollars could put some schools ahead of the pack — and others way behind.

"Science and technology are very expensive," said Larry Plank, director of the Hillsborough County School District's K-12 STEM education, whose job it is to find those dollars.

This year, Hillsborough pulled together $835,740 specifically for STEM. The dollars came from a federal grant and organizations such as Lego Education Smart Schools and the Helios Education Foundation, district spokeswoman Linda Cobbe said.

Over the last two years, the district has spent roughly $330,000 to help keep Middleton High equipped with state-of-the-art STEM offerings.

Pinellas County's Countryside High School started its new Institute for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math program this fall with 44 ninth-graders.

The district allocated $220,000 for iPads, SMART boards, professional development and more at the Clearwater school in the first year. But when teachers went to check out biotechnology programs elsewhere, they knew the school had some work to do.

"Any of our labs that we have in the school right now do not meet the needs of a biotech lab," said Cindy Saginario, assistant principal who oversees the ISTEM program.

Next year, Pinellas expects to spend $20,000 to $30,000 in federal grant money on a laboratory redesign, according to Bill Lawrence, associate superintendent of curriculum and instruction. That's in addition to about $12,000 for instructional materials and other expenses such as teacher training.

Dan McFarland has long advocated for more STEM courses in Florida's high schools. "Do kids need STEM courses in order to compete in the workplace of tomorrow? Almost certainly," said McFarland, high school science supervisor for Hillsborough County. "We've only been saying that for 15 years."

He and other supporters are hopeful that a bill by Sen. Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, will take schools in that direction after years of what they consider rhetoric without action.

Gaetz has proposed giving high schools bonus points in the state grading system, based on the percentage of students who earn credits in math and science courses that are more advanced than those mandated for a diploma.

"With 60 percent of jobs in Florida requiring STEM skills and only 17 percent of the college degrees being granted by our state universities in STEM fields, we need to do a better job to allow high school students to pursue higher level STEM coursework," said Gaetz, a former Okaloosa superintendent.

Mark Rosenberg, president at Florida International University, said that with STEM at the forefront, the university has worked hand-in-hand with the Miami-Dade school district to bulk up dual-enrollment courses for high school students seeking college credit. The program has grown from 500 course enrollments in 2010 to more than 3,000 now.

Part of the program's strength is that many of those dual enrollment courses are offered inside traditional classrooms at the local high school site, he said.

"Here's the challenge," Rosenberg said, "in the science area, many of our high schools are not outfitted with laboratories for college level courses."

Once STEM students arrive at a state college, they could pay more than students in other disciplines.

"If you look at return on investment after graduation, look at the pent-up demand for STEM hires, you can make a good case that since that program costs more you ought to have a (higher) tuition for those programs," University of Florida president Bernie Machen told a House Education Committee last week.

James Brown, executive director of the STEM Education Coalition in Washington, D.C., said that when educators and policymakers consider the costs involved in implementing stronger math, science and technology courses, they should consider the payoff in reducing unemployment and encouraging innovation.

At the same time, Brown argued, the strongest STEM programs don't necessarily require a hefty financial public investment in facilities and equipment. The number one ingredient, he said, is strong teachers able to inspire the scientists and engineers of tomorrow.

Brown suggested that some of the very best STEM programs exist in places that you wouldn't expect, largely because of a strong, creative teacher who can look beyond limitations.

"The minimum requirement for doing hands-on science is running water," he said. Still, "you'd be surprised how many schools don't have running water in their classrooms."


source: http://www.tampabay.com/news/education/k12/bulking-up-stem-comes-with-a-price-tag-educators-say/1210889

 The TEAMS Model: Unifying Arts, Academics, and Career and Technical Education

TEAMS in Florida

"We are witnessing a new Renaissance," Bob explains, "where TEAMS work and disciplines are the key to Florida's creative enterprise from film to educational technology to medicine." On Friday, June 18, 2010, Bob Allen spoke to the Florida Association of Arts Education (FAAE) about the importance of integrating technology, engineering, arts, mathematics and science (TEAMS). To Bob, integration of STEM and the arts is a no brainer. Bob is the chief storytelling officer of IDEAS, an innovation studio that was spun out of Disney in Orlando.


Florida is a critical state in terms of TEAMS-based education because cultural and technical arts industries accounted for $28 billion dollars in revenue in 2007 with forecasted job growth exceeding biomedical and defense (as a percentage) between 2008 and 2018 (Harper, 2008). The arts are also viewed systemically in Florida across many STEM high technology industries.


TEAMS programs underway in Florida include: (1) the Florida High Tech Corridor Council techPATH program, (2) the Orlando Science Center's Otronicon video game initiative, (3) University of Central Florida's Interactive Entertainment Academy (FIEA) and (4) coordination across Career and Technical Education (CTE) industry advisory boards for STEM, Information Technology (IT) and Arts, A/V Technology and Communications (ARTS).

Texas TEAMS Developments

On April 7, 2010, Texas Governor Rick Perry launched GameOn! Texas to discuss video games, film, new media and educational strategies for the state. Dr. Peter Raad from the Guildhall at Southern Methodist University (SMU) stated, “STEM and arts are two sides of the same coin.”

Texas projects integrating STEM and the arts include: (1) spaceTEAMS, a P-20 STEM-ARTS-IT diversity initiative feeding San Antonio's emerging national cyberspace defense and hacker competition Cyber Patriot sponsored by the Air Force Association, (2) the Guildhall Academy and its masters program in game design and summer camp for K-12 game designers, (3) Spencer Zuzolo’s Game Camp for middle, high and college students, (4) P-20 initiatives being staged by the Texas State Technical College System Associate Vice Chancellor of STE(A)M and (5) CTE-academic integration across all Texas high schools supported by the Texas Education Agency.

New York Embraces TEAMS

New Visions for Public Schools launched Quest to Learn in New York City. The sixth-to-twelfth grade school is designed around theories of engagement and learning embedded in the arts, play, games and creativity. In 2008, New York City launched a bold initiative to make career and technical education (CTE) innovation a city-wide priority.

CTE programs in New York City and the state are supported by an emphasis on the arts including standards that support arts inclusion, while the grand CTE experiment in the city redefines traditional “vocational education” and “general education” by integrating arts, academics and career education for all students in select schools.

A Quiet Revolution

What is common across Florida, Texas and New York is an emerging model that unifies arts, humanities and career and technical education (CTE) to redefine “general education” and the idea of a “well rounded student.” The well rounded student of the 21st century is academically prepared and also able to put knowledge into action to solve real world problems and opportunities.

In these states, legacy general education is giving way to a quiet revolution. The revolution consists of technologies that once cost hundreds of millions of dollars now available for thousands and courageous teachers who dare ask: “What kind of world do you want to live in today and can you imagine and design it?” Stay tuned for Part 3 of 5 – A TEAMS Model School - Glendale, California’s Clark STEM Magnet School.