This book is for educators, parents, and community partners!

Resources, ideas, examples, for both beginners and experts.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Videoconferencing with S.T.E.M. Professionals

One of the best ways for kids to have a face-to-face experience with professionals in S.T.E.M. fields is through a live, interactive videoconference. Many schools now have room-size equipment and connectivity. The biggest challenge for teachers is finding content and access to people who are willing to participate.

CILC, or the Center for Interactive Learning and Collaboration, is an online, non-profit agency that provides a directory of videoconference content providers from all over the world. These providers are professionals in their fields who have been trained in the art of interactive videoconferencing with K-12 classrooms. There are providers for professional development for teachers and workshops and classes for students at all grade levels.

The CILC organization is offering an extensive S.T.E.M. planning, training, and coaching package for school districts. Most importantly, they offer access to affordable workshops and classes for classroom students. They can, through the magic of videoconferencing, interact with astronauts, surgeons, and scientists in a range of fields, in all kinds of engaging situations. And frankly, students are usually more interested in asking questions about the presenter's did they get to be an astronaut? How do they use the bathroom in space? Once they've had this interaction, the idea of being an astronaut or a doctor or a research scientist is real, not just a figment of someone's imagination.

Are you a classroom teacher introducing a unit on nanotechnology or robotics? It's likely that the CILC directory will offer a workshop or entire curriculum package in that area you could use as an introduction to the curriculum or as a culmination program.

Videoconferencing is one way to use digital technologies to bring S.T.E.M. professionals into the classroom. It's live and interactive and the impact on students is an authentic and memorable experience.

The picture above shows an interactive workshop taking place with a science teacher at the Columbia Gorge Museum, located on the Columbia River in Oregon.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Thousands and Thousands of S.T.E.M. Careers

What's all the fuss about career awareness in science and technology? Did you know that if you start poking around in one area of science, for example, you will find that in that one field alone there are hundreds of career possibilities, and thousands more jobs within those career paths? How are kids who are preparing for lives in a world that becomes more and more competitive supposed to know about these possibilities and opportunities?

In Chapter 7 of Connecting Students to S.T.E.M. Careers I provide sample resources and links to professional science organizations and learning centers. One of those is the National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center (USGS). It's mind boggling how much inspirational and eye-opening information is on their website. One afternoon on that site and a child's perspective might be changed forever. Certainly they will have opened a door to a world. Remember the closet in Narnia?

Who and what is the USGS? They're an independent fact-finding agency that functions as part of the Department of the Interior, specifically the U.S. Geological Survey. They collect, monitor, analyze, and share information about natural resource conditions, issues, problems...such as climate change. If a student is interested in this field, this website will provide them with a closer look at the work that's being done. There are even opportunities to interact with scientists. One of the USGS missions is to partner with the academic community, including K-12. They have numerous programs for K-12 classrooms including social media connectivity. Classrooms and individual students can follow them on Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, and Flickr. They can listen to podcasts on critical issues in biology, geography, geology, water, you name it. If you "like" their Facebook page, you will get regular briefs and announcements,  be able to interact with the scientists, ask questions, make comments.

Other resources they provide for K-12 classrooms include: videos, online lectures, maps, images, and curriculum content, including resources for undergraduate university classrooms. There are so many ideas, and topics to explore on this site, just one visit to the site will broaden a child's understanding of possibilities, of what's out there in the world.

By using social media to learn and interact, students can also learn the rules of the road, how to use the social media tools safely and effectively.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Finding Classroom Partners

In the book, Connecting Students to S.T.E.M. Careers, I stress the importance of laying the groundwork for community and global partnerships to help prepare students for future careers. Mostly kids don't even know these careers exist; what it is they're working toward? They learn in isolation.

To compound the problem, K-12 teachers are strapped to standardized instruction. What time do they have to run around setting up partnerships with S.T.E.M professionals? Where do they find these people? How can they get them to the classroom to talk to students about their careers? This is a huge issue.

One of the many resources and links I share in the book solves this problem in a big way. The Open Source Teaching Project helps students make connections to real-life scientists and engineers, to people working in all kinds of careers and all kinds of jobs. They make use of digital tools to post interviews, conducted by college students, with experts in a variety of fields who share their passions and the realities of their day-to-day lives. They talk about what students can do now to prepare for jobs of the future. The face-to-face interviews, all posted on the website, are free.

Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics professionals answer questions like: How did you become interested in this field? What kinds of tools do you use to carry out your work? What advice do you have for K-12 students who are interested in your subject area? What do you most enjoy about your job?

Each interview is about 30 minutes long and takes place at the interviewee's place of business. There are hundreds of interviews on-hand and one of the best parts of the program is that it includes guidelines for teachers on how to integrate these conversations into the curriculum.

The project benefits both college students and K-12 students. The college students who are conducting the interviews get a first-hand look and a deeper understanding of their field of interest. K-12 students have access to scholars and professionals; they have an opportunity to see the real-world relevance of what they are doing in school.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Connecting Girls to S.T.E.M. Careers

In the process of writing the book, Connecting Students to S.T.E.M. Careers, I interviewed several professionals in the S.T.E.M. fields, professional educators, and a graduate student conducting research at Columbia University. One of my favorites of these conversations was with Dr. Patricia Galloway. The first woman President of the American Society of Civil Engineers, at the time I spoke with her she was the Vice Chair of the National Science Board. We talked about why girls are not interested in becoming engineers. “The women who influence what career paths girls might follow,” she said, “do not understand what a career in engineering looks like or believe that it’s a likely career path for girls.”

But that may be changing, thanks to the Girls RISE Museum Network (RISEnet). They are working with a network of regional science centers to strengthen the professional capacity of informal science educators to engage and motivate girls to explore and pursue science and engineering careers. They are building a national network of science museums to contribute to the development of a diverse pool of young female engineers.

Girls RISEnet organizes around a train-the-trainer model, and regional science centers such as the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI), located in Portland and serving Oregon, Washington and Alaska, host regional workshops for classroom teachers in grades 6-12 and other leaders of programs for girls and underserved minorities. The program includes travel grants to ensure that everyone who wants to participate from throughout the vast, rural region is able to attend.

The Girls RISE website features resources and research on engaging girls in S.T.E.M. careers. They even offer a network of engineering mentors, professionals who have already committed to sharing their expertise with schools. The mentor database can be cross referenced by location and discipline.

I believe it’s true that just one interested and caring role model can be the first step to inspiring a young girl to reach for the moon. Dr. Galloway’s advice to girls is to never let anyone convince them that their dreams can’t come true.

Website of the week:  Engineer Girl

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Author Interview- I.S.T.E.cast

I.S.T.E., the pubisher of Connecting Students to S.T.E.M. Careers, Social Networking Strategies, presents regular live interviews with their authors via podcasts. These can be accessed any time on the I.S.T.E. website.

Listen to me in conversation with I.S.T.E. staff as we talk about job shadowing, teacher certification in S.T.E.M. education, and other topics related to providing insights for K-12 students about career opportunities in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

Questions were posted by interested educators prior to the interview on the I.S.T.E. Connects blog. These podcast interviews are a regular feature on the I.S.T.E. website, providing followers with a deeper insight into the thoughts and personalities of I.S.T.E. authors.

Find my interview here:

Monday, November 14, 2011

Global Education and other favorite blog sites

As I begin to develop my new education blog about connecting students to career information and options in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), I realize there's so much to share, so little time...

From time to time I'll share some of my favorite blogs,  and on the day I post a new link in the sidebar here, I'll share in a post a little about the blog and why I like that one over all the others. Not that I've read all the others, because who can keep up? Networking in this way might help some of us slog our way through it all.

The first blog site I'd like to pass along is Dr. Laurence Peters' "Global Education." I happen to believe that global awareness is an important element of career awareness for K-12 students. I believe most scientists, for example, would agree that research and development is in fact not so much of a race as it once was. In order to deal with the world's problems--communicable and degenerative diseases, global warming and the array of environmental issues that threaten our health and safety,  the energy crisis--STEM professionals around the world  have to work together. We can no longer isolate our classrooms from cultural differences, engage students in superficial examinations of histories and cultures of people with whom they will one day need to collaborate.

Dr. Peters was born in the UK and has lived and worked in the U.S. throughout his adult life. His enthusiasm for Global Education in  K-12 classrooms culminated in a book published by I.S.T.E., Global Education,  and on his blog: Global Education.

I like this blog because it's filled with well-written briefs on a wide range of global issues of which students and teachers should be aware and might incorporate into a cross-curricular global education strategy.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

What is the new Digital Divide?

The Digital Divide, not so long ago, represented the dichotomy between the haves and the have-nots: who had ownership and/or access to computer technologies and who did not. The divide was generally economic. Those who could afford computers, had them in the home. School districts whose budgets allotted for technology, had it.

This divide still exists to some degree, though most schools and most homes have some sort of connectivity and some sort of device....Today's Digital Divide is not only about access for students, it's also about teacher skills and training. As educators, our charge is to prepare students to make use of emerging digital technologies in meaningful and in safe ways. Educators have opportunities to join their students in cyberspace and help them use the tools effectively to prepare for their futures. Students whose teachers lack training in the effective use of digital technologies and in the requirements of those technologies for the workplace of the future are today's "have nots."

Teachers need training and support. They need access to resources. NASA's Endeavor program offers teachers fellowships through their Science Teaching Certificate Project. Highly competitive, about 50 teachers across the country are currently involved. The program is administered by the U.S. Satellite Laboratory, Inc. and provides graduate credit courses through regional higher ed partners and participation in the NASA Endeavor Certificate in S.T.E.M. Education from the Teachers College at Columbia University.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

About the publisher

I'd like to make my first post about my publisher, the International Society for Technology in Education (I.S.T.E.). The flagship professional organization for technology in the classroom for over 30 years, they have helped revolutionize education around the world. With 20,000 members, they provide a myriad of services including the publication of hundreds of titles of books for educators, journals, and website applications. They have a global impact with educators and education leaders who are engaged in improving learning and teaching by advancing the effective use of technology in PK-12 and teacher education at the university level.

ISTE represent more than 100,000 education leaders throughout the world and their membership also includes affiliate organizations and corporations.

They provide forums where educators connect with peers to share ideas and emerging trends in digital technology and instructional strategies.

ISTE and their partners and members created the National Education Technology Standards, NETS, providing roadmaps and proficiency measurement goals for students, teachers, and administrators.

ISTE sponsors and presents an annual conference and exposition. The conference, once known as NECC, the National Education Computing Conference, is now simply the ISTE conference. ISTE 2012 will be held in San Diego. People attend from all over the world: teachers, technology coordinators, administrators, library media specialists, teacher educators, and policy makers.

The foundation of their mission, according to their most recent annual report, is to "share a common passion: a desire to see very student realize his or her potential through a vibrant and innovative learning experience."

The book, "Connecting Students to S.T.E.M. Careers, Social Networking Strategies," is available through their online bookstore and other book retail outlets such as