Space school: first two days
Apollo 15's Saturn V on the launch pad. A decommissioned Saturn V is on display at Johnson Space Center.
July 25th, 2012
02:03 PM ET

Space school: first two days

by Montse Cordero, Special to CNN

Editor's note: Montse Cordero is a 17-year-old student from Costa Rica participating in the Foundation for International Space Education's United Space School, a two-week summer program in Houston. She'll be blogging about her experiences in the program here. If you missed it, check out her first post: Getting ready to explore space school.

Day 0

All the students arrived today. I was dropped off at a house where I met a few other students from all over the world. There were people from New Zealand, Wales, Canada, the U.S., and Costa Rica. They all seemed really cool! Eventually, my host family picked my roommate Alex (who is American) and I up.

We drove around Houston for a little bit and took pictures with T-38s and other cool things. We had some great food for dinner and discussed what the school was going to be like.

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Filed under: STEM • Summer learning • Voices
July 24th, 2012
02:00 PM ET

Thank you, Sally Ride

By Meg Urry, Special to CNN
Editor's note: Meg Urry is the Israel Munson professor of physics and astronomy and chairwoman of the Department of Physics at Yale University, where she is the director of the Yale Center for Astronomy and Astrophysics.

(CNN) - Sitting in a meeting at NASA's Science Advisory Committee on Monday afternoon, I heard the news that Sally Ride had died. She was important to everyone in that room - mostly space scientists and NASA officials. But for a handful of women like me, she was an irreplaceable leader.

Sally Ride, first American woman in space, dies

Sally Ride wasn't the first woman to go into space, or to want to do so, much less the first woman qualified to do so. She would have been the first to tell you that. But as the first U.S. woman in space, on STS-7, the seventh flight of America's new space shuttle, she was the first woman astronaut most Americans knew about. And she used that fame for good.

Learn the impact Sally Ride had on science education for girls: FULL STORY
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Getting ready to explore space school
July 23rd, 2012
02:54 PM ET

Getting ready to explore space school

by Montse Cordero, Special to CNN

Editor's note: Montse Cordero is a 17-year-old student from Costa Rica, participating in the Foundation for International Space Education's United Space School, a two-week summer program in Houston. She'll be blogging about her experiences in the program here.

In February, I got an e-mail that I’d been hoping to receive for almost three months. It was from Estrategia Siglo XXI, a Costa Rican nonprofit organization that promotes science and technology, saying I’d earned a scholarship for United Space School in Houston. It made me extremely happy, and it began a long period of waiting for July 22.

In November, I was invited to apply for one of two scholarships to attend United Space School. I’d barely even heard of it, so I went online to find out what it was about, and I fell in love. It's a program that invites teenagers from all over the world to Houston.

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Filed under: STEM • Summer learning • Voices
Obama administration announces STEM teacher corps
Secretary Arne Duncan and the U.S. Dept. of Education plan to identify leading STEM teachers for a new national corps.
July 18th, 2012
03:16 PM ET

Obama administration announces STEM teacher corps

By Jordan Bienstock, CNN

(CNN)– President Obama’s administration has announced plans for a national Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Master Teacher Corps. The effort is part of the administration’s plan to recruit, recognize and reward leading educators in these fields.

Plans are for the STEM Master Corps to begin with 2,500 members  - 50 teachers from each of 50 different sites - and then expand to 10,000 master teachers within four years. The Department of Education said it will work with nonprofit organizations, along with business partners and school districts, to identify teachers for the Corps through a competitive selection process.

Membership will require a multi-year commitment from educators, who will receive up to $20,000 in compensation above their base salary, as well as other rewards. In return, these teachers will be required to offer their expertise and leadership to promote and expand STEM education.

Administration officials say STEM Master Corps members will develop new lesson plans and strategies to improve science and math teaching. They will also run mentor programs for fellow STEM teachers and lead professional development programs.


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Filed under: Policy • STEM • Teachers
Want more kids to take calculus? Convince mom first
A new study showed a simple intervention with parents led high schoolers to take more math and science classes.
July 13th, 2012
03:40 PM ET

Want more kids to take calculus? Convince mom first

By Jamie Gumbrecht, CNN

(CNN) - Math and science educators across the country spend their summers learning how to make calculus more engaging and biology more relevant, but there's a problem: What if high schoolers never even signed up for those classes?

What if a tough ninth grade algebra class meant they hopped off the high-tech train, and couldn't find a way back on later? What if nobody answered when kids asked, "But I'm not going to be a chemist - why do I need this?"

For all the reasons teens find to stop taking math, science and technology classes, a study published online in the journal "Psychological Science" found a relatively simple way to make them continue: Convince their parents first.

The study, “Helping Parents to Motivate Adolescents in Mathematics and Science: An Experimental Test of a Utility-Value Intervention,” showed a simple intervention with parents led students to take, on average, one additional semester of math and science in their last two years of high school.

"These are the critical years in which mathematics and science courses are elective, and our results indicate that parents can become more influential in their children’s academic choices if given the proper support," the study says.

How simple was that support? Just a couple of brochures, a web site and a little guidance about how to use the information.

Researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and James Madison University mailed parents of 10th graders a glossy, 16-page, photo-filled booklet touting math and science education. The brochures offered up talking points to parents about how to discuss science and math classes with their kids, and examples of how those subjects might be relevant to their lives now or when they're considering careers. If parents were convinced of the value of science and math for their kids, researchers thought moms and dads could convey that utility value to teens.


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Filed under: High school • Practice • Research • STEM
My View: What a 21st-century science classroom should look like
July 9th, 2012
04:10 PM ET

My View: What a 21st-century science classroom should look like

Courtesy From the Partnership for 21st Century SkillsBy Tim Magner, Special to CNN

Editor’s note: Tim Magner is the executive director of the Partnership for 21st Century Skills (P21), a national organization that advocates for 21st-century readiness for every student. He has had an extensive career in education, serving most recently as the vice president of Keystone for KC Distance Learning (KCDL) as well as the director of the Office of Educational Technology for the U.S. Department of Education.

(CNN) – Whether it’s technology, the global economy or the changing nature of work itself, we are tasked with preparing our children for success in college, career and citizenship in a world that looks very different from the one we grew up in.  I’ve had the privilege of collaborating with P21’s members, partners and leadership states to help educators embed key 21st-century skills – like the four Cs of communication, collaboration, creativity and critical thinking – into the educational experiences of all children.

Our children need these 21st-century skills not simply because employers are looking for them (they are), or because they are essential for success in college (they are), or because other nations are also recognizing this skills gap (they are), but because we want our children to not just survive in this new millennium, but to truly thrive. 

21st-century readiness – having the knowledge and skills to pursue further education, compete in the global economy and contribute to society – demands much more of all of our students, and our education system must change to meet these demands. Recognizing this fundamental shift, the ongoing Common Core State Standards initiatives are embedding these skills into the new standards frameworks.


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Filed under: Common Core • Curriculum • education • Practice • STEM
June 29th, 2012
11:14 AM ET

Opinion: Why teachers should put students to work

Editor's note: Simon Hauger started Philadelphia's "Sustainability Workshop," a program for inner-city high school seniors that's organized around projects rather than traditional curriculum. Students build electric go-karts and solar charging stations. CNN's "The Next List" will feature Hauger on Sunday at 2 p.m. ET.

By Simon Hauger, Special to CNN

(CNN) – Working with teenagers is wonderful. They are a joy and a challenge. They are youthful optimists who believe in their power, and have boundless energy. Young people don’t know what they don’t know, and rather than making them arrogant, it fills them with hopeful idealism. As teachers, it is our job to make direct and audacious demands on their idealism.

My journey began 14 years ago in an after-school program I created at West Philadelphia High to engage kids around math and science. My students entered and won the Philadelphia Science Fair, something kids from West Philly weren’t supposed to do. Then we grew the program into the Electric Vehicle (EVX) Team. We built a full-size electric vehicle that outperformed top universities in the nation’s largest alternative fuel vehicle competition, the Tour de Sol. We went on to create the world’s first hybrid super-car: an awesome hybrid vehicle that was fast and environmentally friendly. At a time when most people had never heard of hybrids, West Philly students were building cars that were greener than the Prius and hotter than the Corvette. The EVX Team was gaining traction and recognition.

Our team of urban students won multiple national titles putting us in position in 2008 to be the only high school in the world to enter the $10 million Progressive Automotive X PRIZE.  Although we didn’t win, we made it to the semi-finals of the competition. We built and raced two cars surpassing 90 of the original 111 entries. It was a wild ride that won us a trip to the White House.

But what does this have to do with education?

Read the full post on CNN's What's Next blog

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Filed under: Extracurricular • STEM • Voices
June 19th, 2012
02:05 PM ET

Revenge of the Nerds: The best jobs

Engineering and IT professions have achieved rock star status. Ainissa Ramirez explains how to get children interested. From Smart is the New Rich with Christine Romans.

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Report: U.S. science students run simple experiments, but can't explain results
Students competed at the Google Science Fair last year -- but in schools, many struggle to explain experiment results.
June 19th, 2012
12:23 PM ET

Report: U.S. science students run simple experiments, but can't explain results

By Sally Holland, CNN

Washington (CNN)  - American students can successfully conduct simple science experiments at school, but aren't able to explain the results, a new report from the National Assessment of Educational Progress shows.

Results released today reveal that America's fourth-, eighth-, and 12th-graders struggled when investigations had more variables to manipulate or required strategic decision-making while collecting data. Many weren't able to explain why certain results were correct.

It's the first time the National Assessment of Educational Progress, known as the Nation's Report Card, measured how students performed on hands-on and interactive computer tasks like a professional scientist might. While traditional standardized tests grade students on what they know, people in the workforce are measured on how they apply what they've learned in school. This analysis moves away from "paper and pencil" tests and should allow for a different type of analysis by education experts.


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Opinion: Why the Chinese are flocking to U.S. colleges
William Bennett says many Chinese want their children to attend U.S. universities, like Princeton.
June 1st, 2012
06:28 PM ET

Opinion: Why the Chinese are flocking to U.S. colleges

Editor's note: William J. Bennett, a CNN contributor, is the author of "The Book of Man: Readings on the Path to Manhood." He was U.S. secretary of education from 1985 to 1988 and director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy under President George H.W. Bush.

By William J. Bennett, CNN Contributor

(CNN) - American higher education is in the cross hairs of a heated national debate over the value and cost of a college degree. Yet in China, our fiercest global economic competitor, the popularity of American colleges and universities might be at an all-time high.

I just returned from a trip to Beijing, where I spoke with Chinese parents about the value of American education, where we excel and where we fall short. Not surprising was the extent to which the Chinese value education, especially primary and secondary education, and yearn for their children to attend American universities, and if possible, stay in America.

When I engaged Chinese parents about their children, they would often say, "My son (or daughter) is going to Princeton (or fill in the elite American university)." I would respond, "Great! What year is your son or daughter right now?" And they would say, "Three years old."

This passion for education starting at such an early age is powerful. After meeting with Chinese teachers, parents and children, three differences were immediately clear.

First, their children are better educated than American children in the STEM fields - science, technology, engineering and math. High standards and high expectations are the norm in China, not the exception, as is often the case in the United States.

Read William J. Bennett's full column

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