Sylvia Acevedo grew up on a dirt road in New Mexico. Her family was poor, living “paycheck to paycheck.”
After a meningitis outbreak in her Las Cruces neighborhood nearly killed her younger sister, her mother moved the family to a different neighborhood. At her new school, young Acevedo knew no one. Until a classmate convinced her to become a Brownie Girl Scout.
And from that moment, she says, her life took on a new path.
On one camping trip, Acevedo’s troop leader saw her looking up at the stars.
“I didn’t know that there were planets,” Acevedo remembers, “I didn’t know there were constellations.” Her troop leader pointed out the Big Dipper, the Little Dipper and a few planets. Later, when the girls were earning badges, Acevedo’s leader remembered her fascination with the stars and suggested she try for her science badge.
If you have any desire to be a math or science teacher in California, there is no shortage of programs to help you achieve that goal.
In an effort to lure more people to the profession, the California Department of Education, California State University, the University of California and nonprofits such as 100Kin10 have all created programs to entice college students and mid-career professionals – especially those in the math and science fields – to become teachers.
100kin10 has a web site, “Blow Minds: Teach STEM,” that connects undergraduates with teacher preparation programs in the so-called STEM subjects: science, technology, engineering and math. And college campuses are plastered with “Teach Math!” and “Teach Science!” posters aimed not just at those majoring in math and science, but students interested in social justice as well.
The Trump administration today unveiled its “America First” budget — a plan that would make deep cuts to some student aid programs and science agencies on which colleges, their students and their researchers depend.
In the U.S. Department of Education, the budget pledges level funding for Pell Grants, the primary federal program to support low-income students. Funding for historically black colleges and other minority-serving institutions would remain at current levels under the budget. The Trump administration has pledged to provide help for historically black colleges, and some leaders of HBCUs have been hoping for increases.
Texas students will continue to learn theories that challenge the scientific understanding of evolution after the State Board of Education signed off Wednesday on a preliminary version of the state’s pared-down biology curriculum.
The board, made up of 10 Republicans and five Democrats, is in the middle of whittling down the state’s voluminous curriculum standards, starting with science. Last month, a committee of mostly school district officials appointed by board members recommended paring down the language of, or removing, four standards that require the state’s high school biology students to learn about scientific phenomena that evolution can’t readily explain.
The U.S. Department of Education today issued a Dear Colleague Letter to states, school districts, schools and education partners on how to maximize federal funds to support and enhance innovative science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education for all students.
The letter serves as a resource for decreasing the equity and opportunity gaps for historically underserved students in STEM and gives examples of how federal funds—through formula grant programs in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act—can support efforts to improve instruction and student outcomes in STEM fields.
“Too often many of our students, especially those who are most vulnerable, do not have equitable access to high-quality STEM and computer science opportunities, which are part of a well-rounded education and can change the course of a child’s life,” said U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. “We are committed to ensuring that all students have the same opportunities to access a rigorous and challenging education. This letter will help states and their school districts use their federal funds to close opportunity gaps and improve educational outcomes for all students.”
The U.S. Department of Education announced today two grant awards totaling $25 million to Twin Cities Public Television and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting for the development of television and multimedia programs that will engage preschool and young elementary school children and their families in science and literacy-themed learning.
The awards, made through the Ready-to-Learn Television program, support the creation of television shows, games, websites and apps for young children and families to play and explore, with a particular focus on science and literacy. The grantees—two award-winning public telecommunications entities—will create digital experiences for children that teach the content and skills needed to succeed in elementary school. Today’s awards build upon the successful 2010 Ready-to-Learn competition, which facilitated the launch of the Emmy-award winning show, Peg + Cat.
It is a well-known fact: The percentage of women in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) disciplines and careers is disproportionate to the amount of men in those same fields. As jobs in the 21st century become more technologically based, it is imperative that capable creative minds from diverse backgrounds integrate themselves into these STEM arenas. From leaders in government and industry who understand the critical shortage of STEM workers (especially females) on the far end of the pipeline to educators of all levels on the near end of the pipeline, there needs to be a concerted effort to bridge the gap between these two seminal points. Enter the STEM Mentoring Café, a unique pilot program in Washington, DC, the brainchild of AnneMarie Horowitz of the Department of Energy and Camsie McAdams of the Department of Education.
The mentoring event, hosted by the U.S. Department of Education, took place on May 19, 2014 from 4:30pm-6:00pm. Thirty female STEM professionals from 16 different government agencies arrived with their “tools of their trade”, ready to interact with eighteen (18) teachers and thirty-eight (38) 5th-8th grade students to share their passion for their STEM careers. The participants assimilated quickly to the “speed-dating” format, with STEM professionals moving from table to table during the five rounds of 10-minute intervals, enabling students and teachers to ask questions and learn about STEM professions during each roundtable discussion.
Recently I stood in the East Room of the White House as President Obama welcomed and congratulated recipients of the 2012 Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST). This immense honor made me feel very proud, and I experience pride by reflecting on the people who have guided me toward an accomplishment.
I began to reflect about how I came to study, teach, and love science. I recalled a friend, braver than me, who encouraged me join her at the remote scientific station where I learned to love fieldwork. And I thought of professors whose contagious enthusiasm got me excited about photosynthesis. But I suddenly realized that the reason I saw myself as capable in science at all was because a teacher once told me, “You might be the first woman to walk on Mars.” I was surprised to discover how much my identity as a scientist was largely shaped by his belief in me.
There was some good news today for New York City high school students interested in computers — the city’s Department of Education announced it would spend $1 million in public and private money to train 120 teachers in computer science and coding. Dozens of new computer science classes taught by newly trained teachers will open in high schools across the city next fall, and Chancellor Dennis Walcott said they would eventually expand to elementary and middle schools.
That’s exactly the kinds of hands-on exposure to real-world jobs that is lacking in thousands of school districts across the country. As the first editorial in our science and math series noted on Sunday, only 19 percent of American high school students have taken a computer science course. Many students who might have excellent coding abilities are never exposed to the subject, missing out on promising career paths.
That’s often because teachers themselves have no idea how to write a computer program. Many educators who commented on the editorial said they wanted better preparation for the math and science courses they teach.
“I know firsthand that underprepared teachers is a HUGE issue,” wrote Beth Z., a math teacher in Alaska. “We have a ‘math’ teacher right now who majored in HISTORY. How do you get people who major in mathematics to go into teaching? The job is often thankless and quite stressful. Plus, other people are always telling you how to do your job.”