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Monday, November 30, 2015

November Highlights Fun Fall STEM News at Girls STEM Collaborative (GSGSC)

Click here to signup to receive future GSGSC newsletters!
Click here to read the latest GSGSC Newsletter now!

The Garden State Girls STEM Collaborative is the New Jersey initiative of the National Girls Collaborative Project, a program focused on providing high quality STEM activities to girls. Their primary goal is to strengthen the capacity of girl-serving STEM programs to effectively reach and serve underrepresented girls in STEM by sharing promising practice research and program models, outcomes, products and by connecting formal and informal educators, business and industry in order to maximize the resources that can positively influence our girls. Contact Mike MacEwan for more information how you can become involved.

In their latest issue, the Garden State Girls STEP Collaborative Project spotlights:
  • 2015 STEM Video Competition Winners
  • STEM Career Day gives students valuable insight, skills
  • Save the Date & Call for Presentations - 2016 Adolescent Networking Conference
  • 27th Annual National Youth-At-Risk Conference
  • STEM education is hot topic at NJEA
  • Got STEM? Let us Know How You're Supporting STEM or STEAM in Afterschool!
  • Join The Connectory
P.S. If you're interested in additional articles, research and resources, feel free to:
  1. Sign up for our monthly e-mail list here and then;
  2. reach out to us directly via e-mail here.

Wanted: 100,000 new STEM teachers

Written by Parija Kavilanz

In schools across America, there are "Help Wanted" signs advertising jobs that desperately need to be filled.

They're all for teaching positions in STEM fields -- which have 100,000 open positions nationwide.

100Kin10 is a New York nonprofit trying to fill those roles.

Its name reflects its goal: train and place 100,000 new STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) teachers by 2021.

"There's an urgency to meet this target because our schools have to better prepare kids for the future where the economy will largely be driven by STEM-based jobs," said Talia Milgrom-Elcott, executive director of 100Kin10.

Milgrom-Elcott cofounded 100Kin10 in 2011 after President Obama issued a national challenge to recruit and prepare 100,000 STEM teachers over the next decade.

"I saw it as an urgent call to action and a goal that was attainable," said Milgrom-Elcott, who is a lawyer by training.

What started as a group of 28 corporations, universities and nonprofits has since ballooned into a robust initiative with more than 230 public and private partners around the country. 100Kin10, which is funded by grants, acts as a facilitator between partners like AT&T (T, Tech30), Lockheed Martin (LMT) and the American Museum of Natural History.

Lockheed Martin, for example, has pledged $500,000 to help train STEM teachers, while AT&T has put $1 million toward STEM education initiatives.

How's the effort faring? This week, 100Kin10 announced that it s partners have helped train and place 28,000 STEM teachers over the past four years.

Rider University in Lawrenceville, New Jersey, a 100Kin10 partner, launched a nine-month program in 2014 to train new STEM teachers. It targets individuals who want to shift gears in their careers.

"The first cohort we graduated had folks who had worked on Wall Street, the pharmaceutical industry and in the military. But they were all passionate about teaching," said Judith Fraivillig, associate professor at Rider.

Fraivillig said the program partners with a local K-5 school, and its candidates become teachers-in-training for nine months.

"I feel strongly that teachers need both theory and practical training from the start," said Fraivillig, adding that 11 of the 12 participants are already teaching.

Fraivillig hopes the program is replicated by other colleges.

"We have to give kids a solid STEM foundation by 4th grade," she said. "That's typically when they decide they either love or hate math and science."

The American Museum of Natural History has its own masters program to train science teachers.

The 15-month program launched in 2012 to address the critical shortage of STEM teachers in New York public schools. Since then, 47 participants have graduated and are teaching earth science in high-need New York schools, according to Lisa Gugenheim, senior vice president with the Museum of Natural History.

With six years to go, will 100kin10 succeed?

"We have our work cut out for us," Milgrom-Elcott said. "As the economy improves, it will be harder to attract people to teaching. But I'm optimistic that we're building the momentum to get us there."

Click here to read more.

Friday, November 27, 2015

7 Reasons Why You Really Should Work in STEM

Written by Ellie Kaufman

Finding fulfillment in a career path is challenging. It's hard to know what you actually want to do in the first place, and then it's even harder to find something that pays well, makes you feel like you're having an impact on the world and offers some kind of work-life balance. These are all qualities frequently attributed to overall job satisfaction, which is at an all-time low in the United States.

But there's one huge sector of jobs that could offer all of these things. Working in science, technology, engineering or math has never been more appealing, and it's benefits are only growing. Jobs in STEM are not only some of the most lucrative, they're in high demand and they're shaping the future of how we live, work and interact with one another.

Here are seven reasons why STEM is such an enticing path at any age or stage in your career.

1. There are plenty of open jobs, and there will only be more in the coming years.

As of May 2014, there were more than 8.3 million jobs in STEM-related fields in the U.S. By 2020, there will be 1.4 million jobs available for computer scientists alone, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. But, based on how many people are studying these subjects now, only 400,000 people will be trained to fill those roles. This discrepancy between number of people trained and number of jobs available is such a concern that the Obama administration has created an initiative to get more students interested in STEM at a young age.

2. The jobs pay really well.

So well, in fact, that they make up the highest paying jobs in 2014, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. There are a number of jobs in STEM-related fields that pay annual salaries in the $100,000 to $250,000 range. The average salary for all STEM occupations is $85,570, which is still almost $38,340 more than the average salary of all jobs.

Overall median salary is high in these roles, and so is the average salary for students just coming out of college. Across the board, college graduates who majored in math, chemistry, computer science or engineering saw salaries in the $50,000 to $65,000 range in their first job, which is higher than the mean salary of $48,127 for all graduates with a bachelor's, according to CBS News.

3. You can find a STEM job in any industry.

Mixing chemicals in a lab and writing lines of endless code may appear to be the only options for a future in this job sector, but as our world continues to become more tech-dependent, STEM jobs are moving into every industry.

Seventy-four percent of college graduates with STEM degrees aren't working in traditional STEM jobs, according to CNN Money, and there are a number of alternative career paths to pursue. If you love music, there are people analyzing music behaviors and patterns for streaming sites like Pandora and Spotify. If you love fashion, there are graphic designers turning ideas into outfits on the runway. Whatever industry you might be interested in, there is some element of computing woven into it that is opening up new opportunities.

Some of the more traditional science jobs are still a pretty solid option too. If you haven't heard, NASA is hiring astronauts.

4. Jobs in technology and science have the power to change the world.

In the coming years, science and technology will be leading the way to find solutions to some of the world's biggest problems, ranging from global poverty to clean water access. From apps that can donate meals to the hungry to technologies that can better diagnose deadly diseases, jobs in these fields have the potential to drastically change our society for the better. Being a part of that is a huge bonus in looking for one of these jobs, and it fulfills the desire to feel like you are making a difference.

5. There are more jobs available than people trained to fill them.

Each year, 3.2 million jobs in STEM aren't filled simply because there aren't enough people trained to work in all of these roles. With such a high demand and so few qualified applicants, if you're searching for one of these positions, and you have the skill set, you're at a huge advantage. You have the abundance of choice and a highly desirable area of expertise and ability. This puts you in a better position to negotiate for a higher salary and choose a job that really fits you best.

6. You'll always learn something new.

If you work in STEM, your field is constantly changing. The technology we use today is drastically different from last month, last year and 10 years ago. Working in a science and tech-focused job means learning to adapt to new technologies and developments all the time. It keeps you learning new things throughout your career, despite staying in the same type of job or company. A main driver of satisfaction in jobs is feeling challenged, and learning new skills keeps your mind sharp and engaged.

7. Your work is shaping the future.

Because jobs in these fields will continue to drive major changes in our world, working in them will make you a part of that change. From medical advances to space exploration and developments in computer technology, all of these areas are going to greatly influence what our world looks like in the coming years. Choosing to work in STEM makes you an immediate part of creating the future.

Click here to read more.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

STEM Education And Equity For Women

Written by Catherine (Kit) Nugent

Why is advocating for STEM education and equity a gender issue? The answer is simple. STEM is where the jobs are, both globally and in my home state of New Jersey.

Culturally, the gender divide in STEM fields arises out of intimidation and the lack of visible female role models. In communities of poverty, this gap becomes an exposed chasm, where there are few advocates and champions who will raise awareness and provide inspiration, motivation, and increased support.

The fact is, as women we tend to live longer and earn less than our male peers. STEM careers are a great equalizer for women. According to, in STEM careers women earn 92 cents for every dollar men earn compared to other fields where the discrepancy is 77 cents to the dollar. Over a lifetime that is the difference of millions of dollars.

New Jersey is rich in STEM employers, headquarters to many major pharmaceuticals, technology corporations and manufacturers. By 2018, New Jersey will rank #12 in STEM employment across the United States and will need to fill 270,000 STEM jobs, according to the Research & Development Council of New Jersey. Yet, according to Dr. Joel S. Bloom, President, of the New Jersey Institute of Technology, "Our state is falling behind in the education of new professionals to take on these jobs. We are 36th among the states in bachelor's degrees in STEM fields and 25th in graduate degrees."

STEM education and participation is especially low among women. Nationally, just 12 percent of engineers are women, and the number of women in computing has fallen from 35 percent in 1990 to just 26 percent today. Black women make up 1 percent of the engineering workforce and 3 percent of the computing workforce, while Hispanic women hold just 1 percent of jobs in each field. With such low representation, role models are scarce.

The Girl Scouts' recent study reports that "fewer than 60 percent of girls have met a woman in a science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM) career, leading to speculation that this might be part of the reason why women represent only 14 percent of the engineering workforce." Good point; we can't be what we don't know or see.

You can make a difference as a STEM advocate and champion:

-Share your commitment to STEM education and alignment with workforce readiness and practical job skill development for everyone, especially women, and communities of poverty.

-Advocate for the greater engagement of corporate mentors as role models and sources of inspiration, internships, job shadowing and more.

-Elevate the need for students' exposure to highly technical STEM skills and careers for the 21st century.

-Align education with high demand careers and encourage young girls and community leaders to petition for gender equity.

As long as women live longer than men and remain the primary caretakers for our children and families, the burden of sustainable wealth must be considered an issue of equality. And this is what we know: STEM careers provide a longer term solution and the jobs are sustainable. Won't you join me as an advocate?

Click here to read more.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

'STEM Museum' comes to St. Vincent Martyr School in Madison

Written by Madison Eagle News

St. Vincent Martyr School at 26 Green Village Road in Madison hosted a mobile “hands-on” science, engineering and robotics “museum” for its grades K-8 students on Oct. 23.

Students participated in 10 science, engineering, and robotics interactive learning stations and demonstrations at the mobile Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) museum. Principal Sister Noreen Holly said the program is part of the school’s commitment to STEM curriculum training for all students.

Highlights included three robotic stations — one in which students learned how to program a robot, which then carried out student-programmed commands. Another robot, which employs the same technology as the Tappan Zee Bridge movable barricade device, followed color-coded lines drawn by students. The spotlight robotics presentation featured a humanoid robot that could speak, dance and express various emotions.

A 3D printer replicated the St. Vincent Martyr School eagle mascot into a 3D statue. Other exhibits included a structures-building station where participants assembled a six-foot arch, demonstrating the engineering facets of a typical archway. In a bicycle generator lab, students generated their own electricity by peddling on a bicycle generator that displayed the amount of electricity produced. Additional interactive displays featured scientific demonstrations of Newton’s Third Law of Motion, principles of friction, and working gear mechanisms.

The science curriculum at St. Vincent Martyr School follows National Science Standards and the New Jersey Core Curriculum Standards. Principal Holly noted the school’s STEM initiative “teaches independent innovation and offers students the skills needed to develop into tomorrow’s global leaders.”

She added that the school’s science and mathematics teachers are STEM-certified and receive continuous education and training by the Stevens Institute of Technology, Picatinny Arsenal and the University of Arizona.

St. Vincent Martyr School is 450-student Roman Catholic school directed by the Parish of Saint Vincent Martyr in Madison, and is the oldest Catholic school in New Jersey. A building expansion is expected to break ground in November.

Click here to read more.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Ancient Board Game Found in Looted China Tomb

Written by Owen Jarus

Pieces from a mysterious board game that hasn't been played for 1,500 years were discovered in a heavily looted 2,300-year-old tomb near Qingzhou City in China.

There, archaeologists found a 14-face die made of animal tooth, 21 rectangular game pieces with numbers painted on them and a broken tile which was once part of a game board. The tile when reconstructed was "decorated with two eyes, which are surrounded by cloud-and-thunder patterns," wrote the archaeologists in a report published recently in the journal Chinese Cultural Relics.

The skeleton of possibly one of the grave robbers was also discovered in a shaft made within the tomb by looters. [See Photos of the Ancient Tomb and Board Game Pieces]

Dead game?

Twelve faces of the die are numbered 1 through 6 in a form of ancient Chinese writing known as "seal script." Each number appears twice on the die while two faces were left blank, the researchers noted.

The artifacts seem to be part of a game called "bo," sometimes referred to as "liubo" the archaeologists said. Researchers who have studied the game of bo are uncertain exactly how it was played. People stopped playing it around 1,500 years ago and the rules may have changed during the time that it was played.

However, a poem written about 2,200 years ago by a man named Song Yu gives an idea as to what the game was like:

"Then, with bamboo dice and ivory pieces, the game of Liu Bo is begun; sides are taken; they advance together; keenly they threaten each other. Pieces are kinged, and the scoring doubled. Shouts of 'five white!' arise" (translation by David Hawkes).

Massive tomb

The tomb itself has two large ramps that lead to a staircase descending into the burial chamber. Five pits holding grave goods for the deceased are located beside the tomb. In ancient times, the tomb — which is about 330 feet (100 meters) long — was covered with a burial mound (now destroyed).

At the time the tomb was built, China was divided into several states that often fought against each other. Archaeologists believe that this tomb was built to bury aristocrats from the state of Qi.

"Despite the huge scale of the tomb, it has been thoroughly robbed," the archaeologists wrote. "The coffin chamber was almost completely dug out and robbed, suffering severe damage in the process."

Archaeologists found 26 shafts dug into the tomb by looters. One of the shafts "yielded a curled-up human skeleton, which might be the remains of one of the tomb robbers," wrote the archaeologists, who said they don't know when this person died, why he or she was buried in the looting shaft, or the person's age or sex.

Winner takes all

During the third century B.C., a state called Qin, ruled by a man named Qin Shi Huangdi, gradually conquered the other states, including the state of Qi.

Qi itself survived until 221 B.C., when Qin Shi Huangdi conquered it, unifying all of China and becoming the country's first emperor. Qin Shi Huangdi then began construction of his own tomb, which was guarded by a terracotta army.

The tomb near Qingzhou city was excavated in 2004 by archaeologists from the Qingzhou Municipal Museum and Shandong Provincial Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology. The finds were first reported in Chinese in 2014 in the journal Wenwu. Recently, the Wenwu article was translated into English and published in the journal Chinese Cultural Relics.

Click here to read more.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Deaf singer 'hears' music with help from 'Not Impossible' tech-hackers

Written by Gabriel Noble

“I’m a storyteller and a hacker and a maker,” Mick Ebeling explains to Yahoo Global News Anchor Katie Couric at his company headquarters in Venice Beach, Calif. “I look at the world and look for things that we think are impossible. And then we just figure out, come hell or high water, how to make it possible.” With the mission of using technology for the sake of humanity, Ebeling founded Not Impossible Labs.

In 2007, Ebeling was inspired by renowned graffiti artist Tempt One, who had developed ALS and was paralyzed from head to toe. He made a promise to Tempt One’s father and brother that he would commit to finding a way to enable Tempt One to not only communicate again, but also to practice his art again.

With no previous experience in ocular recognition, Ebeling said the promise was like “signing a check that he had no idea how to cash.” But together with a community of other passionate and fearless innovators and “hacker programmers” from around the world, Ebeling was able to keep his promise. The device they created, called the Eyewriter, allows paralyzed individuals to use eye movements to communicate with others and create art. The device is now part of the permanent collection at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Ebeling then found himself in the Nuba Mountains in war-torn South Sudan, making a 3D prosthetic limb for a boy named Daniel he had read about just 4 months before who had lost his arms after a bombing in a field outside his village. Daniel, upon learning that he was armless, was quoted in Time magazine as saying, “If I could die today, I would, so I will not be a burden to my family.” A father of three boys himself, that was enough to motivate Ebeling to find a creative solution and thus initiate Project Daniel. In November 2013, Daniel fed himself for the first time in two years with his new, 3D printed prosthetic arm. “That was just one of those moments that was — I will never forget that for as long as I live.” When Couric asks him about his views on the potential of 3D printing in health care and beyond, Ebeling explains, “Essentially, it’s the printing press in a box, right? It’s… it is a renaissance device. It’s revolutionary.”

When Couric asks Ebeling what’s next on his list to make “not impossible,” he takes her to the small cottage-turned-lab in the backyard of his office to reveal his latest endeavor called Music: Not Impossible. Mandy Harvey, a jazz singer who has been profoundly deaf for the past eight years (since she was 18 years old) is in the lab with Not Impossible lead developer Daniel Belquer, who is putting a device prototype on the singer’s body. The straps, each carrying tiny motors, will send different aspects of the recorded music to various parts of her body. “Today she’s actually going to sing, and it will be the first time that she’s felt her own voice on her body,” Ebeling says. Upon singing, perfectly in tune with the programmed instrumental of her original song, Harvey is overwhelmed with emotion and, using sign language, says, “That was cool! I can feel the bass, the drums, the piano.” She predicts this will drastically improve her capabilities to perform her music with a live band, for a live audience. “That was amazing!” the humble yet immensely proud Ebeling says to Harvey as he gives her a hug of gratitude. “This is just the beginning.”

Having already made his mark in Hollywood as a successful film producer, creating animation and visual effects for such films as “Stranger Than Fiction” and “Quantum of Solace,” Ebeling is now fully committed to finding creative solutions to tackle social needs of the world, one person at a time. He was recently named as a 2015 Agent of Change by WIRED, honored by Advertising Age on its “Creativity 50” list, and he was the recipient of the 2014 Muhammad Ali Humanitarian of the Year Award. Describing it as his “personal manifesto,” Ebeling’s first book, “Not Impossible: The Art and Joy of Doing What Couldn’t Be Done,” traces his journey of creating both the Eyewriter and Project Daniel and is meant to inspire everyone to challenge what has been deemed too expensive, too complex, or simply, impossible.

“I just need to decide to do it. And then figure out how to do it,” Ebeling says. “It’s definitely addicting.”

Click here to read more.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Join NJSACC & the Garden State Girls STEM Collaborative at the SciGirls Screening Event

Fields like engineering, mathematics, and computer science are dominated by men. How do we as parents, caregivers, and educators encourage girls in STEM careers for the future? What are the keys to success?

"SciGirls," an award-winning PBS KIDS series, website and national outreach initiative, is changing how millions of tween girls think about science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM. In each episode, animated characters Izzie and her best friend Jake find themselves in jams only science can fix. To set things right, Izzie calls on bright, curious real-life SciGirls, who put STEM to work and save the day.

Izzie also invites viewers to hang out on the website - - a safe, social networking environment where girls can play games, connect, create personal profiles and avatars, share projects and watch every episode.

Please join NJSACC and the Garden State Girls STEM Collaborative as we screen an episode from the NEW season of SciGirlsand offer fun activities for kids and families!*

* While the focus is on girls, boys are welcome and will have fun too.

When: Saturday, November 21st from 2-4pm
Where: Tulpehaking Nature Center, 157 Westcott Ave, Trenton, NJ 08610

Pre-registration is required to attend this event, and space is limited. Snacks provided! Children must be accompanied by an adult.

Click here to pre-register today!

Thursday, November 12, 2015

New Jersey Center for Science, Technology, and Mathematics celebrates 10th Anniversary at Kean University

Written by Suburban News

Kean University's New Jersey Center for Science, Technology and Mathematics (NJCSTM) celebrated its 10th anniversary on Saturday, Oct. 24, during Kean's Homecoming Weekend. Approximately 30 alumni came together at Kean's state-of-the-art STEM Building on Morris Avenue in Union to honor a program that trains exceptional educators and research professionals, supports and advances scientific and technological innovation, and prepares scientist-physicians to pursue the study of medicine in New Jersey.

"Since our founding 10 years ago, we have seen 93 percent of the students in our program go on to complete their degrees and start careers in science, math, and education," said Keith Bostian, Ph.D., NJCSTM dean. "The mentoring and relationship-building that happens between our faculty and our students is largely responsible for this."

Two recent NJCSTM initiatives are serving to encourage more students—particularly those from underprepared communities—to pursue STEM education at the university level. The Group Summer Scholars Research Program is a pre-college program at NJCSTM offering a hands-on, immersive research experience for talented New Jersey high school students interested in pursuing education in a STEM field. And the Institute for Life Science Entrepreneurship is a life sciences incubator designed to foster collaboration between entrepreneurs, industry scientists, business leaders, and STEM students and faculty.

Several of the returning alumni spoke at the 10th anniversary celebration about their satisfaction with their NJCSTM education and how it translated into professional success. Adam Moskowitz '09 '10, who majored in biology in NJCSTM's five-year combined bachelor's/master's program, is currently a science teacher at the Union County Magnet High School in Scotch Plains, New Jersey.

"I felt that NJCSTM prepared me very well for the job I'm doing now," he said. "As a student, I was part of a small, close group of people in my program, and I'm glad to be able to see some of them back here today." Moskowitz is currently pursuing a post-master's certification in Educational Administration at Kean's Nathan Weiss Graduate College.

Kayla Lott '11 '12, another graduate of the five-year combined bachelor's/master's program, is a middle-school mathematics teacher in Iselin, New Jersey. Lott remembered the shock of receiving a failing grade on one of her first tests in chemistry—a test she thought she had aced—and realizing how challenging the NJCSTM program was going to be.

"Many times after that, I wanted to quit, but each time I decided that I couldn't give up, I had to keep pushing through," she said. "And I made it in the end, because I worked hard, but also because I received so much support and encouragement from the faculty and administrators."

Judy April, NJCSTM coordinator of recruitment and student services, concluded by congratulating the NJCSTM alumni and encouraging those who are educators to recommend the program to their own students.

"You are the best product of Kean University and the best commercial we have," she said. "Keep doing the great things all of you are doing."

Click here to read more.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

27th Annual National Youth-At-Risk Conference



Professional Credit: Earn the following professional credits pending approval: PLU, CEU, POST, LPCA, GAMFT, NASW.

Conference Objectives: See how the conference objectives and strands are aligned with national objectives for Title I & Title IIA and also Georgia objectives for TKES & LKES.

Professional Learning to Serve Youth in Poverty: Obtain professional learning from nationally recognized presenters on how to serve youth in high-poverty schools and communities.

Research-Based Programs and Best Practices: Choose from over 120 training sessions providing research-based programs and best practices to empower the school and life success of youth at risk.

Professional Networking Opportunities: Network and exchange useful educational information with over 1200 conference attendees across the nation.

Conference Audience: Designed for all school and community personnel interested in fostering the well-being of youth at risk.

Hosted by: The National Youth-At-Risk Center, College of Education and The Division of Continuing Education at Georgia Southern University, Statesboro, GA

View the Complete Schedule At-A-Glance Online at Digital Commons!

Click here to read more.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

STEM education is hot topic at NJEA

Written by Diane D’Amico

ATLANTIC CITY — The Convention Center exhibit hall was packed with technology Thursday as about 30,000 teachers arrived for the annual New Jersey Education Association Convention.

But it was a box of popsicle sticks that had the full attention of 12-year-olds Liam Hogan and Brian Millward, of Plumsted Township, who created catapults from the sticks and some rubber bands, then gleefully shot plastic eyeballs across the exhibit area.

“This is what they are interested in,” said Liam’s mother, Renee, a teacher. “They need hands-on learning, too.”

The catapults were part of a Makerspace exhibit created by the NJEA this year to promote STEM — science, technology, engineering and math.

“Dollar Store Science” was Mantua Township teacher Meredith Martin’s effort to show that STEM can be taught on a budget.

“You don’t need to go out and buy robots,” she said. “People will say they don’t have money to go out and buy 3D printers, but you don’t need them to teach STEM. STEM is about problem-solving, not buying things.”

Teachers at the annual event had their choice of hundreds of workshops, many having to do with the new state PARCC tests.

New Jersey Education Commissioner David Hespe is scheduled to speak Friday morning and will likely outline the recently released statewide PARCC results and talk about how teachers can use the results to improve learning. School districts are expected to get their students’ PARCC results this month.

Testing aside, teachers focused on how to make lessons effective and interesting for students.

“The challenge is to get beyond the fun factor,” said Northfield Community School computer and technology teacher Kevin Jarrett, who watched as Matthew Malespina, 12, of South Orange, used the Tickle app on an tablet to program a Sphero robot. When it ran off on him, Jarrett challenged Matthew to figure out what went wrong and how to fix it.

“This is a great way to learn programming,” Matthew said of the app.

Over in a corner, Steve Crawley, of Piscataway, used an old cardboard box, some dowels and clothespins to create a foosball game for his children, Aidon, 7, and Kathryn, 5, who twirled the dowels to make the clothespins strike a pumpkin-shaped candy. Other families built a maze out of cardboard pieces and created electrcial circuits.

Martin said the most important word in STEM education is FAIL, which for her stands for First Attempt In Learning. She expects students to fail. Then she expects them to figure out why they failed, and how to fix it.

“Too often kids shut down if they fail,” she said. “I actually do projects designed to fail so they have to think about what do they do next.”

Click here to read more.

Friday, November 6, 2015

South Jersey students target STEM gender gap

Written by Matt Flowers

Gabrielle Rochino didn't grow up with any real women engineering role models.

She did, however, have supportive family members push her toward her passion.

"I love engineering because I am able to think and work creatively and am challenged to optimize my designs to be the best they can be," Rochino said.

Once Rochino began studying engineering at Rowan University, she found women engineers to look up to and try to emulate. She began to feel more passionate about her work.

The senior mechanical engineering major is using her passion to inspire young girls to learn about STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) at a young age with her "Think Like a Girl: Engineering Kits."

Over the summer, Rochino proposed her own two-credit section of Engineering Clinic, a required course in the Rowan engineering program. She received funding and was given the opportunity to create a team of students to work on market research and development of her product and business.

Rochino is the team lead of the project, and has five other students working with her to develop prototypes, conduct focus groups, gain a network of advisers made up of women who are STEM/engineering leaders or in the engineering or entrepreneurship industries, and develop "Think Like a Girl: Engineering Kits."

Each kit aims to teach young girls engineering fundamentals, Rochino said.

"Because girls generally enjoy storytelling and role-playing, each activity is guided by an illustrated short-story booklet that acts like an instruction manual."

Rochino says the kits are made to instill confidence in young girls.

"The stereotype of an engineer is a nerdy guy who solves complex math and design problems. When girls have more female role models to look up to, they'll look toward engineers with more confidence."

Rochino, like other women in New Jersey, has felt the profound gender gap in STEM fields.

Women under-represented

Historically, women, along with other groups, have been under-represented in STEM employment. Research finds that women are less likely to be in a science or engineering major at the start of their college experience, and less likely to remain in these majors until graduation.

According to the 2013 United States Census report on "Disparities in STEM Employment by Sex, Race and Hispanic Origin," women’s representation in overall STEM occupations has increased since the 1970s, but they remain significantly under-represented in engineering and computer occupations — which make up more than 80 percent of all STEM employment.

The report also concludes that women’s representation in computer occupations has declined since the 1990s.

The most recent decades show less growth in STEM employment among younger women. Most of the growth in women’s share of STEM employment among those under the age of 40 occurred between 1970 and 1990.

In New Jersey, the percentage of men interested in a career in STEM outpaces the percentage of women who say they'd like a career in a STEM field.

According to New Jersey's 2015 STEM Report Card, published by The Alliance for Science & Technology Research in America, 15.7 percent of high school females graduating in 2016 surveyed said they were interested in a career in STEM, compared to 41.1 percent of 2016 male high school graduates.

Fixing the gender gap

Rowan University Provost James Newell said the goal of getting women and other under-represented groups involved in STEM-related education is to get them involved at an early age.

"We know that far too many girls lose interest in STEM areas in middle school, so if we are going to have significant impact we must reach them there," Newell said.

Rowan offers a host of initiatives to address the issue, including Attracting Women into Engineering (AWE), which brings dozens of area middle school students to Rowan for a week of activities, including making their own lip gloss, designing bridges with Jenga pieces, and designing and launching rockets from soda bottles.

The school also offers a Mathematics, Computer and Scientific Instructional Improvement Program (McSIIP), funded by the Eisenhower Higher Education Professional Development Program. McSIIP provides high-quality professional development activities for more than 5,000 elementary, middle and high school teachers to ensure they cultivate both an interest and aptitude for STEM education.

"The goal is to get as many STEM-interested students from under-represented groups engaged in a meaningful, STEM-related project so they can begin to visualize themselves in STEM careers and to counter-program the negative messaging that they are getting from retailers and too much of the media," Newell said.

Embracing opportunities

Rowan University isn't the only place where women can get a STEM-related education in South Jersey.

STEAMWorks (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) is a collaboration between the City of Bridgeton and Cumberland County College to establish a viable presence in the local community. It is a hybrid of school, laboratory and factory. Study and experimentation are meant to mix as student, hobbyist or entrepreneur pursue multiple technologies and arts.

Despite recent studies indicating that women leave STEM career paths at particularly high rates, STEAMWorks Director of Operations Merritt James Gant does not see that trend in his facility.

"None of the courses or programs offered at STEAMWorks are gender specific," Gant said.

"We have a recording studio where more than half of our clients are female. Our robotics division is comprised of all age groups, run by females, and more than half of our robotics teams are female. The mini courses we offer also serve all ages, and genders. Fabric cutting on our laser, engraving, cutting, 3-D modeling, photo editing, and web design also contain a variety of ages and genders," Gant added.

While offering new ways to get involved with STEM at a young age helps draw interest, having industry role models to look up to is important to keep women on the path to success.

Making an impact

As an assistant professor of physics at Rutgers University-Camden, Grace Brannigan doesn't spend time thinking of herself as a role model to young women STEM students.

"The truth is, that's kind of up to them," Brannigan said.

Instead, Brannigan spends her time thinking about her interactions with people (men and women alike) who are surprised to meet a woman who is a physics professor, and what she can do to make that discovery less of a surprise.

Brannigan recalls when she was introduced to a male Rutgers staff member as the new physics hire.

"His mouth literally dropped open and he did a cartoon-like double take," Brannigan said.

"Others would have been upset by the man's reaction, becoming discouraged, but personally, I appreciated getting to expand his viewpoint just by standing there."

Since taking the role of assistant professor in 2011, Brannigan has made an impact on the scientific community through innovative computational biophysics research. Recently, she was a recipient of a 2015 Cottrell College Science Award — given to only 33 early career scientists around the country — and is part of collaborative research effort funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to better understand general anesthetics.

Brannigan didn't decide to become a physics professor because she wanted to increase representation of women in STEM or be a role model. She says she did it because of a love for physics and research and has been unaffected by social cues on "acceptable" gender roles.

"When I was younger, I heard 'You don't look at all like a physics student' really often and I would literally think to myself, 'What a strange thing to say. I am a physics student, so of course I look like one.'"

Brannigan added, "I think a lot of women who have 'made it' in science are those that are less tuned in to social pressure on gender roles for whatever reason. That's kind of unfortunate, because such immunity doesn't have anything to do with being a good scientist."

'Why not me?'

Rutgers biology student Timnit Kefela works as a graduate fellow at LEAP Academy Charter School's Fabrication Laboratory in Camden.

The "Fab Lab," as it has come to be known, provides students with hands-on experience in STEM-related technologies and devices, including 3-D printers, laser cutters, and biochemistry and chemistry equipment.

The school-based makerspace responds to the critical need for diversity in STEM fields, aiming to jump-start not only the growth of LEAP students, but also the growth of a city that has been left underdeveloped.

In her role as fellow, Kefela devises, organizes and spearheads projects that stir students' curiosity and mentors them in the pursuit of science in application.

Kefela's experience as a woman in STEM has been filled with endless perseverance.

Curious about the environment she grew up in, the Camden resident became fascinated with science. However that fascination was short-lived as she perceived science and mathematics as obstacles her mind could not wrap itself around.

"It was not until my physics teacher in high school, in a class of two girls and 12 boys, told me that I would not amount to anything due to my 'inadequate' grasp of concepts," Kefela said.

Being told you would not amount to anything could be destructive for some, but not Kefela. She continued her journey, participating in research inside a Rutgers-Camden science lab.

Under the supervision of Rutgers-Camden assistant biology professor Simeon Kotchoni and with the help of senior biology major Aisha Dorley, Kefela began creation of a thriving ecosystem filled with wildflowers and pollinator insects in place of a polluted lot on Market Street in Camden.

“There’s land here that you can make beautiful,” Kefela told the Courier-Post in July.

Kefela says she likes mentoring students in the Fab Lab because it exposes them to science in an applied form, presenting an opportunity for them to determine whether they are interested in STEM or not.

"The Fab Lab presents these opportunities to these budding women without the dizzying hullabaloo of self-righteous declaration that this indeed is what you want to do."

Camden-based Campbell Soup Co. also does its part in getting children excited for STEM.

In early October, 30 Camden Academy Charter High School students got to play that role during Campbell's second annual STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Career Accelerator Day.

Career Accelerator Day was presented by STEMconnector — a national initiative that maps out STEM education and activities in organizations throughout the state.

The program aims to expose 10,000 high school students to engage in STEM careers through a hands-on and observational visit and interaction with professionals. Each student used his or her culinary skills to make a product, package it, and learn how to sell it to hungry consumers.

Carlos Barroso, senior vice president of global research and development, said professional and personal reasons made him want to get involved with STEM outreach.

"From a professional standpoint, we need more scientists, engineers, not only here but in the country. We want to make sure aspiring STEM engineers and scientists know that we do science here, not just making food," Barroso said.

Hitting the road

While the Fab Lab and Campbell's aims at increasing STEM interest to students in Camden, one company is taking its efforts on the road, coast to coast.

Roadtrip Nation, a company that helps people figure out what they want to do in life, is launching the STEM Roadtrip.

The STEM Roadtrip is part of AT&T's signature education initiative, AT&T Aspire, and will connect three young women to inspiring mentors this summer, as they drive cross-country in a bright green RV to ask important questions of STEM professionals. Footage from the road trip may become part of Roadtrip Nation's annual television series on public television, which will highlight the women chosen for the journey.

"Roadtrip Nation will provide not only inspiration to participants and viewers through the powerful storytelling of some of the most influential female STEM leaders in the country, but it will also provide the much-needed exposure to the diverse and distinct career options available to women in the field of STEM, with a focus on empowering under-represented communities," said spokeswoman Loureen Ayyoub.

The show is looking for women between 18 and 24 who are available for four weeks in June or July.

"A passion for STEM is not something embedded in your genome," Kefela said. "You are not born with it, you develop it."

"When you see someone like you making it, especially as a child, you think to yourself, 'Why not me?'" Kefela added.

Kefela noted that the visibility of women in STEM is growing, but she says we are not quite there yet.

"Frankly, role models are of utmost importance."

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Thursday, November 5, 2015

Storyz.Pub Illustration Contest for Children & Young Adults Kicks-Off Nov. 3

Raleigh, N.C. (October 29, 2015) – In an effort to foster imagination in children and young adults, the Raleigh-based Storyz.Pub, an innovative company that has combined original children’s stories with original music, has announced an illustration contest.

The brainchild of Amanda Carlson and Joe Myers the artwork will be used to illustrate the short story Convoluted from the audio book "Cinemagine, Volume I."

Artists and illustrators age 18 and under may submit original artwork beginning November 3, 2015 - December 3, 2015 online at

A total of four judges from Marbles Kid's Museum, Raleigh, N.C., Burt's Bees, Durham, N.C., and, Raleigh, N.C. will select the illustrations best depicting the story's narrative and music. The illustrations will be compiled into a video for the general public to enjoy on-line. Winning artists and their sponsoring facilities will receive credit in the film, as well as a Certificate of Achievement.

“We envisioned the illustration contest as a way to interest children and young adults in the creative process, but also wanted to combine the magic of storytelling with music so that the listener can take a moment to experience the beauty of words and sound together, and enjoy listening together with others,” said Amanda Carlson, Storyz.Pub founder.

“Our goal is to reach out to sponsoring facilities like children’s hospitals, clinics, daycares and after school programs/groups where the children and young adults might find the process of illustrating not only engaging but also work as a mechanism to build a greater sense of trust and connection with their sponsoring facility.” Carlson said.

70 Winning Illustrations will be chosen by a panel of judges to illustrate the children's story "Convoluted" from the Audio Book "Cinemagine." (6 Minutes in Length) Convoluted is the story of a young man named Antoine who is sailing on the ocean alone. At night when all the stars appear, he imagines that his boat is a star ship which he flies to various planets and has a special encounter. Convoluted can be listened to for free at:

Below are the illustration contest details:

Contest Description:

Storyz.Pub Children & Young Adult Illustration Contest 2015 is open to all children and young adults, ages 18 and under, who would like to submit artwork to illustrate the short story Convoluted from the audio book Cinemagine, Volume I.

Submissions at the Storyz.Pub website,, will be accepted Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2015 – Thursday, Dec. 3, 2015.

Winners: Will be awarded a Certificate of Achievement after the release of the film, and be listed in the credits along with their sponsoring facility.

Submissions: Storyz.Pub will post all submissions received in a Gallery Page at the main website:

Judging: Begins Friday, Dec. 4

Announcement of Selection: Friday, December 18

Release of the Convoluted Film/Video online: Monday, December 21

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

iPiggiBank Money Management for Kids Winter ASE Series

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Here’s a sneak peek of the action. Led by a certified teacher using art, writing, literacy, activities and experiential play, kids will learn how to:

1. Earn extra cash from chores or projects to learn responsibility.
2. Save for something special for themselves, friends and family.
3. Share with a charity of choice.
4. Shop wisely on a budget.

We provide all the material. Kids bring a superstar attitude and a big appetite for learning a fun, smart, new way to think about responsibility & money!

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Tuesday, November 3, 2015

STEM Career Day gives students valuable insight, skills

Written by Wilford Shamlin

Schools and businesses are working together to expose students to in-demand careers in science, technology, engineering and science, or STEM.

That was obvious during a career day recently hosted by Girard College and that engaged students with such attractions as a laser show, three-dimensional printing and the designing a prosthetic dolphin fin. Student participants also walked away from the STEM Career Accelerator Day with experience at applying ‘soft skills,’ which according to organizers, can make them more competitive as job candidates.

More then 200 students attended the Day, with 50 parents assisting 15 employees from Deloitte, a global business analytics firm with offices in Philadelphia. In neighboring New Jersey, Campbell’s Soup, headquartered in Camden, was a lead sponsor for STEM Career Accelerator Day, which was also organized in schools in more than 18 states.

The STEM Career Day Accelerator initiative is aimed at high school and middle school students, particularly females and minorities who are under-represented in STEM fields. Girls made up more than half of the participants at last week’s event with minority participation exceeding 75 percent of those in attendance, event organizers said.

For Sheila Boyington, creator of Learning Blade software, the event was a chance to inspire a younger generation.
“For me, this is, personally, a passion,” she said. “Having a STEM background gives you the ability to follow any career path you want.” She said she created the STEM-related software because she felt it would appeal to students and extend her reach across the country.

A 12-week program geared for Girard College’s extended-day students launched on the same day, Oct. 23. Part of the interactive, science-based academic exercises called for dividing students into teams and working as engineers and scientists who handled different phases of the group project.

“An integrated task force focuses not only on STEM disciplines and activity that amplifies the STEM skill sets, it introduces critical thinking, soft-skill collaboration such as team work, innovation and leadership,” said Tonie Leatherberry, of Deloitte Consulting LLP. “That’s what we’re really trying to do at these sites. The number one reason kids don’t go into STEM careers is they don’t know about them. We’re trying to expose as many kids to as many career options as we can.”

The structured day of hands-on activities included work on computer software, solving business problems with such technology as 3-D printers used in manufacturing, and learning about light and laser in the application of other technology. Students worked to solve issues related to water irrigation and involving turbine wind. They also designed a prosthetic device for a dolphin with a damaged fin.

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