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Articles: STEM

Neil deGrasse Tyson is an astrophysicist and director of the Hayden Planetarium.

One significant impact of this year’s federal budget sequester is its toll on scientific research, with many organizations and research institutes facing the likelihood of huge cuts to their funding. The American Association for the Advancement of Science, for example, could have $8.6 billion taken from its budget, while the National Institutes of Health anticipates $1.5 billion in cuts. And the National Science Foundation, which faces $283 million in cuts, is under additional pressure from Congress to fund only “approved” scientific research.

Schools are not getting a big enough bang for their education technology buck, according to a new report. While computers and internet access are common in the classroom, students are often using this technology for simple foundational exercises, rather than higher-order data analysis or statistics work that will help prepare them for the modern workforce, the report from the Center for American Progress found. This issue is most prevalent in schools with primarily low-income students, further widening the digital divide.


Shelley Holt, Los Angeles USD instructional director for secondary schools, was named one of ASCD’s 2013 Emerging Leaders for her work helping principals use data to develop plans for monitoring instructional outcomes.

prof opinion science experiment

Education and business leaders, the press, and the president have all called for increased emphasis on STEM in K12 schools, and NGSS, the “Next Generation Science Standards” released in April are a response to those priorities ( The standards do an outstanding job of defining science and engineering for our time.

A student at the Beech Hill School in the Otis (Maine) School Department learns chemistry in a hands-on science lab over Skype.

Four students in Maine had the unique chance to study organisms on their shoreline this past year to help contribute research to a new chemical bond discovery that Vanderbilt University researchers made three years ago.

Students in the Allegheny Valley (Pa.) School District use robotics kits to build moving dioramas that integrate poetry and engineering. Robotics and poetry aren’t an ordinary combination.

It’s not a new reality show: Exploration Nation helps students understand STEM.

In April, three Texas middle school students joined marine veterans and a team of surgeons on a 12-day expedition through the jungles of Central America, learning about sustainable agriculture, reforestation, and ecosystems, and helping create a mobile surgical clinic for an indigenous Nicaraguan tribe that lacks access to medical treatment.

The expedition was part of a science education program called Exploration Nation, featuring real students applying STEM topics to the real world.

With the Next Generation Science Standards coming soon, elementary school teachers need more preparation to effectively teach complex STEM subjects, according to the fifth National Survey of Science and Mathematics Education, released in February. While about 80 percent of elementary teachers feel very well prepared to teach reading/language arts and math, less than half feel very well prepared to teach science, and only 4 percent are prepared for engineering, the nearly 7,800 respondents nationwide reported.


Oceanographer David L. Evans was appointed executive director of the National Science Teachers Association in February, and will work to promote STEM education and professional development for the Next Generation Science Standards.

Since 2004, overall interest in STEM majors and careers among high school seniors has increased by more than 20 percent, according to a new report from STEMconnector, an online STEM news source. And the southern states of the U.S. have the highest concentration of students interested in STEM, at 36 percent, compared to other regions.

Released in February, the “Where are the STEM Students?” report revealed that mechanical engineering was the most popular major or career choice among STEM-interested students, at 20 percent, while biology was second at 12 percent.

A new study found that female elementary students perform as well as their male counterparts in a series of math competitions, versus one-shot contests, refuting some previous studies that show females usually lag behind males.

STEM, or science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education has been a major component to 21st-century learning in K12, but some say the acronym needs to be more inclusive. Several groups created by educators have emerged to support the push for the addition of an “A” to STEM, for STEAM, to represent the disciplines of art.

A pilot solar panel project on the roof of Aiea High School in Honolulu, Hawaii.

The Hawaii State Department of Education has embarked on a first- and largest-plan-of-its-kind nationwide to install solar panels in every school in the state. The plan will reduce the sunny state’s school energy costs from $47 million per year to zero, and generate revenue from extra energy that could go back to schools, school officials say.

Working with vinyl cutters, students in the Mahtomedi School District’s engineering program create their own folder covers.

Students taking the ‘How to Make (Almost) Anything’ class at Mahtomedi High School in Mahtomedi, Minn. can literally make almost anything—from chess pieces to cups to chairs, and DVD cases to clocks to lampshades—right in their classroom. And besides getting a daily dose of amazement, these students are making history in the first public school district with access to such groundbreaking, hands-on STEM education.