Stories tagged STEM


Matthew Beattie-Callahan is another senior at 'Iolani School in Honolulu, Hawaii. He also participated in outreach for his final project for AP Biology. He wrote this blog post describing his experience being the teachers, not the students, to promote environmental sustainability in the next, next generation.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was an anti-Nazi dissident during World War II and was executed by the Gestapo for his involvement in plans to assassinate Adolf Hitler. A Lutheran Pastor, Bonhoeffer said, “The ultimate test of a moral society is the kind of world that it leaves to its children.” Since World War II, the world has made great strides in working to promote peace and stability as well as prevent the types of atrocities that were committed by the Nazis. Yet, now the world is faced with a greatly different problem: a rapidly disintegrating environment; and this time children are not only passive receivers of the problems of earlier generations, but also the potential solution to these problems.

Often it seems that education and lifestyle changes on an individual level are as necessary and effective, if not more so, at promoting environmental sustainability as sweeping governmental legislation can be. This is the fundamental reason that youth are such an essential part of the solution to our environmental problems; it is in the younger generations that new lifestyle practices and social norms can and must be established to promote environmental sustainability. The first step to accomplishing those goals is environmental education. This past February, a group of my AP Biology classmates and I had the opportunity to engage in this environmental education; however this time we weren’t the students, we were the teachers.

We made the short walk over to Ala Wai elementary school to meet and teach a group of extremely energetic and bright fifth graders on a range of environmental topics: bacteria, water chemistry, weather, big animals, and small animals. Each of the topics was related to the neighboring Ala Wai Canal and the ecosystem of the area. We hoped that by teaching the fifth graders more about their environment and the fragility of ecosystems they would be more aware of their own actions and impact on the environment.

I think we were all a little nervous about trying to keep the fifth graders interested and engaged during our presentations. However, it quickly became apparent that the problem was instead trying to answer all of their questions in the time we had been allotted. The students were fascinated by everything from plankton under a microscope, to crabs they could hold, to the colorful bacterial colonies of a water sample from the Ala Wai.

Our experiences at Ala Wai Elementary show that environmental education can be fun, enlightening, and valuable. Hopefully, after seeing the bacterial samples from the Ala Wai, the animals that live in the canal and understanding the nature of the ecosystem, the students will be more aware and conscious in their efforts to maintain a clean environment both at school and at home. Furthermore, there is always the hope that by exposing students to biology and other science fields early in their education, they will develop a love for science and go on to make even greater contributions to environmental science and sustainability. It was an amazing experience to be able to teach the Ala Wai Elementary students, but my greatest takeaway from the experience was hearing the shrieks of laughter as the students held a crab or helped assemble a weather station and the knowledge that we had hopefully created a group of students who are more aware of their environment.

Here's a long, but very inspirational, report on a 14-year-old Michigan girl who is rebuilding a Pontiac Fiero car all on her own. Her goal, to drive it on her 16th birthday.


Why robotics is important

Our first National Robotics Week (April 10 - April 18) ends today. Created by congress just last month, the National Robotics Week celebrations will help inspire students of all ages to pursue careers in robotics and other STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) related fields.

During National Robotics Week, a week-long series of events and activities is aimed at increasing public awareness of the growing importance of “robo-technology” and the tremendous social and cultural impact that it will have on the future of the United States.

How robotics effects our society

This blog,, has dozens of entries about how robotics are used in healthcare, manufacturing, transportation, and national defense.

Check out these links to robotics events

Hard to watch: Will science education take another hit?
Hard to watch: Will science education take another hit?Courtesy Annie in Beziers
In an effort to cut costs the powers that be at Michigan State University are considering shutting down the Department of Geological Sciences. The vote to close the department could come as soon as December 1st. This is not good. Read about it here. Dinochick Blogs has posted a reaction to it from paleontologist Chris Noto. Also, you can sign an online petition against it.


Information and communications technology
Information and communications technologyCourtesy edans

Tech trio wants to change what is tested

Three tech giants, Microsoft, Intel, and Cisco, have banded together to develop new ways of measuring skills and competencies that current and future generation of students will need for successful and prosperous lives in the 21st century.

Changing global educational systems

Based on extensive research, they concluded that most education systems have not kept pace with the skill sets that are required for students to succeed.

Barry McGaw will serve as executive director over leading experts and innovators from both academia and government.

“Reforming assessment is essential to enabling any systemic change in education. And change on a global scale is required to equip students of today with the skills they need to succeed in the workforce of tomorrow,” he says.

McGaw and his team of researchers, especially John Bransford and his working group on learning environments, will look into innovative classroom practices globally and identify those practices that support 21st-century skills.

"In many classrooms, the teachers teach what is measured," said Gupta. "By influencing international assessments, and working with countries to influence their policy and approaches to national assessment, we believe this project will have a direct and large-scale impact on what is taught and how it is taught in schools across the [world]. In this way, it is our hope that this project will help schools move to the style of learning environment that engages the current and future generation of students and delivers to students the skills and competencies they need for successful and prosperous lives in the 21st century."

Skills tech leaders recommend

  • to think critically and creatively
  • to work cooperatively
  • to adapt to the evolving use of information and communications technology (ICT)

Learn more

Tech giants vow to change global assessments
Measuring 21st-century skills

The PBS TV show "Design Squad" is doing a casting call. You have to be 18-19, passionate about engineering, and excited to spend the months of June through August in Boston (and traveling) tackling design challenges and competing for the $10,000 prize. The program's goal is to get viewers excited about engineering and the design process. Apply by Friday, April 11.