What Happened to Sharing Technology for All Across the Digital Divide?

This is an update. We are still trying to solve the digital, the economic, the educational and the technical divide.

Here is the group I am working with now. Digital Equity

If you have never heard of the homework gap , look at this video.

A must read if you are a minority in education is to read

The Missing Voices in EdTech: Bringing Diversity Into EdTech 


The real question is who is gating the inclusion of diverse educational leaders in technology?And why?

Martin Luther King Jr.
“But today our very survival depends on our ability to stay awake, to adjust to new ideas, to remain vigilant and to face the challenge of change. The large house in which we live demands that we transform this world-wide neighborhood into a world – wide brotherhood. Together we must learn to live as brothers or together we will be forced to perish as fools.

We must work passionately and indefatigably to bridge the gulf between our scientific progress and our moral progress. One of the great problems of mankind is that we suffer from a poverty of the spirit which stands in glaring contrast to our scientific and technological abundance. The richer we have become materially, the poorer we have become morally and spiritually.”

Martin Luther King Jr.

Man without identity programing in technology enviroment with cy

This is an important book. It may be that the struggle of those of us who are minorities and leaders in education has gone on without the knowledge of the general public. We are missing by design. On his resignation from the Dept. of Education, Dr. Richard Culatta shot a parting shot sharing his concern about digital equity. Some of what he said

“Yes, students can learn without them. Yes, it’s possible to do great teaching without a digital device. Yes, going overboard with computers is a real and pressing problem. But kids who are forced to make do with decade-old computers and slow Internet networks aren’t growing up in an environment that will spark an interest in computers. That matters.”

                                              Illustrating Now . and Then
Sadly, many children are left outside of the loop of Ed Tech. Many have never purposefully
used technology. Rural, urban, tribal, distant and poor groups including many types of minorities are not being included in the use of technology. Many of us who are minorities have tried to intervene to educate teachers and to involve communities.
There are advisory boards, and influencers, and politicians who can make things happen.
What would happen if we focused on content in education? Just a thought.


Early in the Ed Tech world, Dr. Frank Withrow and Jennelle Leonard helped teachers to explore the uses of technology. He spoke of inclusion for all.
Dr. Withrow was the Executive Director of Presidents Johnson and Nixon’s Presidential National Committee for the Handicapped and was the Chief Technologist for the US Department of Education for a number of years.

Frank Withrow asked ,”How can we change the educational system? What is the Challenge and Charge?

1. Enlist media as an agent of change.
2. Develop town meetings across the nation that explore and foster better learning environments.
3. Recruit corporate support for this campaign.
4. Create a public relations campaign for better learning environments
5. Develop a consortium of national associations
6. Establish in USED an Assistant Secretary for Reform in the Digital Age
The USA should lead the world in education. The greatest resource for peace in the world is an educated population.  In 1990 161 nations at Jomtiem, Thailand agreed to at least six years of education for all children around the world.
Why not make this a reality? ”

Education for All
”    We fall short of our mission if we fail to include all children in our universal learning systems. The United States of America pioneered the concept of universal education for all children.  In the late 1800s and early 1900s we opened a new high school almost every day across this nation.  Horace Mann established that public schools benefit all people within a society; therefore all people should share in the costs of public education.  Not only has the USA created a great K-12 education system we developed under the federal land grant college program a network of outstanding higher education opportunities for all that can qualify.  Too often we separate K-12 from higher education but in reality the system is one from preschool to graduate school. ”

“The struggle for universal education has not been easy. Each generation has had to fight for the right to enter the schoolhouse door.  For years many children of color were provided separate and unequal educations.  It was not until 1954 that the Supreme Court in its most important decision unanimously struck down segregated schools. Unfortunately, there are those who still fight this decision and send their children to charter, church and/or private schools.”

       We do not like to admit our racial biases but they remain. Dr. Frank Withrow

Here is a way to get there for teachers.


Jennelle Leonard. Pioneer

Jenelle Leonard served nearly a year and a half (1997-1998) as an Expert Consultant at the U. S. Department of Education in the Office of Educational Technology. She consulted and advised on issues related to the development and implementation of technology initiatives and national goals, such as professional development, telecommunications technologies, curriculum integration, and instructional applications. She participated in developing long-range, short-term plans, and strategies for implementing Department programs and initiatives including the evaluation of the effect and impact of the use technology in instruction.

Jenelle Leonard has held supervisory and technology related positions in Prince William County Public Schools, Manassas, VA, at BDM Education Technologies Group, a K-12 systems integrator and consulting company, Center for Instructional Technology and Training in the District of Columbia Public Schools and at the Texas Education Agency (TEA). The TEA position provided her the opportunity to work with over a thousand school districts to implement the state’s Technology Initiatives as mandated by the Texas Legislature.

Jenelle Leonard has over twenty-five years of experience as an educator. She has been a public school teacher and administrator, technology implementation and training consultant, college professor, and a regional and state education department administrator.

Her background also includes designing and developing graduate-level instructional technology courses, technology and software procurement and installation oversight in over 400 hundred schools, and software development. Additionally, she has served on numerous technology advisory boards, and served as a contributing editor for an educational technology magazine. Her most important digital inclusion work in my eyes was this.


Jenelle Leonard served at the U.S. Department of Education as Leader of the Technology Innovation Challenge Grant Program (TICG). In addition to managing the TICG Program, which included developing national guideline materials and policies, reviewing and issuing grants, program monitoring, and program evaluation, she served as an agency expert and authoritative consultant, and provided leadership and guidance within Department of Education as well as to State, and local organizations, institutions, and agencies.

She was in a position to understand the challenge of providing for all.All together

“There can be no gainsaying of the fact that a great revolution is taking place in the world today . . . that is, a technological revolution, with the impact of automation and cybernation . . . . Now, whenever anything new comes into history it brings with it new challenges and new opportunities. . . . [T]he geographical oneness of this age has come into being to a large extent through modern man’s scientific ingenuity. Modern man through his scientific genius has been able to dwarf distance and place time in chains. . . . Through our scientific and technological genius, we have made of this world a neighborhood and yet we have not had the ethical commitment to make of it a brotherhood. But somehow, and in some way, we have got to do this.”

That was Rev. Martin Luther King, March 31, 1968.

There has been great political change. The revolution in education for all is still to come.



digital age


Larry Irving  when at NTIA,helped us to understand this problem with the initiation of the idea of the E-rate.

That helps to provide the technology architecture and learning landscape that is needed.

He further said,” Our efforts are needed in at least three areas: what I call “access,” “aptitude,” and “attitude.” It’s a triple-A plan, and we need to begin work in each of these areas immediately if our students are going to win straight As in technological literacy.


StarStuff, StarWars, StarPupils

A friend recently posted a picture of her boy, reading. He was invited by the movie “Star Wars” to read. I loved it seeing that science fiction, the story, has become of interest to students. The Challenger Center , NASA and The Planetary Society have resources to share.

I would start using the Star Wars coding. This is the link, with choices of language and maybe later a bunch of video films. It is fun to build your own game.

The Challenger Center is located in various geographical areas. The curriculum is awesome. I like to teach the curriculum pieces that feature Mars. The movie, The Martian is of interest too, to build on interest. In case you have not seen it , this is a quick synopsis.

When astronauts blast off from the planet Mars, they leave behind Mark Watney (Matt Damon), presumed dead after a fierce storm. With only a meager amount of supplies, the stranded visitor must utilize his wits and spirit to find a way to survive on the hostile planet. Meanwhile, back on Earth, members of NASA and a team of international scientists work tirelessly to bring him home, while his crew mates hatch their own plan for a daring rescue mission. It’s a story.

Build your own Moon

An online game that allows players to build their own moon and sculpt its features has won big praise in science art competition.

The game, called “Selene: A Lunar Construction GaME,” measures how and when players learn as they discover more about how the Earth’s moon formed and, by extension, the solar system. It received an honorable mention in the 2012 International Science & Engineering Visualization Challenge, the journal Science announced today (Jan. 31).

As players experiment with the game, they learn more about one of the easiest heavenly bodies they can study, Selene developers said.

Here is the game.


Group Activities?

As the students explores there are these other sets of information. The Mars Survival Kit 

The kit is for lower grades, …and then there is Marsville . This was so fascinating , a principal who was not in love with hands on science, .. could not resist and joined us in exploring building Marsville. What is Marsville?

Marsville (Grades 5-6) challenges students to create a colony of habitats as they prepare for a simulated mission to Mars.  Academic content including mathematics, science, engineering, communication and the arts is incorporated into a series of individual and group activities as students work through a series of tasks to solve specific biological and social problems in order to design life support systems.


A Marsville Village.

This is project based learning. You can add it as a special activity to your curriculum.I like the innovation , the problem solving and the building of habitats. I taught it as a Gifted and Talented unit, but the students decided to share it with the neighborhood. It is a fun  learning activity.315827867_432c1f761b_o

During Marsville Link-Up Day, problem-solving and critical thinking skills are emphasized during the final culminating activity where students physically create their Marsville Habitat.  The crews convene at “Mars” (hosting NJ colleges and/or schools) wearing their uniforms and packing lunches according to specific guidelines.  Teams work within their habitat to cooperatively erect their “bubble” which is made of construction plastic and duct tape and inflated by the air pressure from a floor fan.  Team members share their life systems with other team members within their habitat along with solutions to a crisis to their colony and then, complete a Celestial Questial traveling to other habitats to learn how those life systems operate.  Finally, the teams end the day completing their mission logs and receiving “Astronaut-Candidate” certificates of recognition for their efforts.

If this seems too daunting to you , and you just want to please and have an individual student learn. You can have a student construct a moon habitat.

If you never studied space science education, you can start with students here.



Mars City Alpha is a upper grade event that is great to do, if you have a class to do it with.


Ways to Integrate The Topic Of Mars In Your Classroom ( from NASA)

Use a Mars Mission as a Current Event
Typically, the information sources for current events are printed materials, television, radio, and the Web. Occasionally, teachers are able to schedule presentations by people familiar with or involved in an event, and sometimes students can conduct interviews with such people. Formats to share information include bulletin boards, oral reports, student reports, and current event notebooks. Each of these methods involves students in different ways and at different levels of intensity. Below are several ways the Pathfinder mission could be used in a current events context:

  • The mission’s data and images will be used for decades by scientists researching Mars. Check newspapers and magazines for articles on the science resulting from their work.
  • There is an enormous amount of information about the mission the Pathfinder Web site, everything from the people involved to the current weather conditions on Mars to the latest results based on Pathfinder data and images to the latest images themselves. The Web site will also link you to other sites related to the mission.
  • Shows about Mars air on television or radio, and NASA’s cable and satellite channel, NASA Select, has frequent updates about its various missions. Students can take notes on a show and prepare a report based on the information presented.
  • A bulletin board is a convenient way to organize and prominently display information. You might organize a bulletin board by topics such as:
Mars Pathfinder
Life on Mars
Mars Global Surveyor
Water on Mars
Questions About Mars
Other Space Missions
Human Missions to Mars
Future Missions to Mars


SOURCE: http://mars.nasa.gov/education/modules/webpages/integrationideas.htm


I have done all of these things.So can you!!

I was a Challenger Center Teacher.

My last visit was to the Manea Kea Visitor Center.





Invisible Students


Students at SITE

This article made me think of all of the people in education who have muted voices or no voices at all. It is probably because they don’t have technology, training, money, or time to make the difference that students need. They also can’t answer the experts , or share their sorrows in education. I think of them often. When I propose a workshop or a symposium, people start to tell me about the latest , hottest trend in education. Invisible students and teachers have no power. Even visible bad assed teachers can be shut out of the conversation and shut up.

Why are teachers cloaked in invisibility? Perhaps because we only ask the professors about research and not the working teachers. There are teachers and students in the world, in the US who are still not connected, and the way to get connected in their communities is difficult to find. We talk about the Internet of Things, and they have hardly the understanding of the uses of technology that are beneficial to them. I was told that sponsors don’t really care about digital equity, I don’t believe that.

I think it is difficult to walk in the shoes of those who work in rural, distant, urban, multilingual , and minority areas, but the work is necessary to lift all boats.


The public perception of the job is one thing. Being a good teacher is hard work.

The recent onslaught of attacks on teachers makes some of us like turtles. We withdraw and do our magic in the classroom as we can with what we have. The attacks make us insecure, and gives us feelings of unworthiness, sadness. Joy in the eyes of a child helps to take away the pain, or the discovery that some foundation, some credible agency understands how you feel makes for a quiet smile.

I like it that Richard Cullatta resigned and was not shy in his parting shots. The article is one that most people will never see or understand. But we in tribal. rural, distant, urban, and poor, the communities of those without the access, resources, savvy grant writers, technology trained teachers, and community support know exactly what he is talking about.

In his final public remarks as director of the Office of Educational Technology for the U.S. Department of Education, Richard Cullatta had a few requests.

Please don’t scan in the same old worksheets.

Please don’t record boring lectures and put them online.

Please don’t forget the needs of low-income and minority students, many of whom don’t have easy access to digital devices, speedy Internet service and advanced classes in computer science.

*I would add please don’t forget that there are many students with reading difficulty  who think problem solving is a pain.

Culatta delivered his plea last week at National Education Week, an annual conference that was held this year at New York University’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development. The outgoing federal leader spoke on a panel about teaching coding in schools, and he used most of his time in the spotlight to talk about equality. We must ensure that the rapid march of innovation does not leave certain groups of people behind, Culatta said.

He said    ‘Women and minorities are underrepresented in computer science courses in high school and college. For instance, girls make up 56 percent of all test-takers in Advanced Placement courses, but just 18 percent of students taking computer science tests, Culatta said. It doesn’t get much better in college, where women make up about 57 percent of all undergraduates, but just 14 percent of them major in computer science. ‘

“And the inequality is even more stunning for people of color. In 12 states, zero students of color took the computer science Advanced Placement exam, Culatta said. And a mere 10 percent of people majoring in computer science are black.

“That’s an incredible problem that we need to solve,” Culatta said.

There are a lot of us who are not computer science teachers. But we have had support from the Supercomputing Conference which had an education section and we learned what we could in that precious space. For a while we also learned in the conference and at Shodor.org.  Then I had a remarkable experience in the Atlas Institute , learning with Dr. Alex Repenning. We were learning scalable game design. He knows how to teach teachers who are NOT computer science teachers.  ”

Sadly in the infrastructure of boards, and meetings , and groups who decide what goes on in education and who present in education we are an invisible force if present at all in the education  groups.



IMG_0078I learned as many others did at NASA, with the National Geographic Education Institute and alliances, with Earthwatch and the Jason Project. We teachers got to meet  Bob Ballard, Bill Nye, and a number of astronauts and scientists .


I had the power of the George Lucas Educational Foundation. When people were talking about Star Wars , they did not know that Edutopia is and has been a force in education for all.

We teachers also had the power of the NEA and its advocacies for diversity. McAuliffe, selected from more than 11,000 applicants to participate in NASA’s The Teacher in Space Project, had made plans to provide lessons from the shuttle on the benefits of space travel. Christa McAuliffe was a gifted social science teacher who was dedicated to her students and to the teaching profession.


Many of the projects in coding are absolutely wonderful. I loved weaving the Star Wars coding with reading of the books, and sharing science fiction, and NASA photographs and  art and the movies in a mashup that few children could not be attracted to.

I am pretty savvy, so I did not even break a sweat. I walked into a lab and sat down with children I had never seen. We had a great time coding. We did not limit our time to an hour. We did various things in about 4 hours, and the kids wanted to stay longer.

*I am not in a classroom because I am a very experienced in technology and was asked to leave or give up technology during NCLB. So I left and became a consultant.


And then there is Cyberlearning.   But, but.. without regular access how do we develop the skills, and deep learning. How sad it must be to understand the Internet of  Things and to not have a learning landscape that is even good access.

surface teacher





Some of the teachers need their job so badly that they just go with the flow no matter how terrible it is. It is taken for granted that the experts in the silos of higher ed know the answers. Well, some of those experts are very isolated from the people who really teach.



Austin the Destination, Integrating Computational Thinking Into K-12, Sharing Supercomputing Resources and Education

Austin, Texas

Theme: Teaching in Exponential Times! K-12 to Teragrid  and the Future of Supercomputing!XSEDE

In case you are advanced .. go to https://www.xsede.org/education-outreach-blog

We Raise the Bar for K-12 and Preservice Candidates

Years ago, members of the Supercomputing Conference and the Teragrid allowed us as teachers  to create a window of interest into SC and computational thinking for the SITE members. We had involvement from Henry Neeman and Diane Baxter over the years and support to become a part of the SITE community and to do workshops over several years. We have had incredible support and exposure to the educational activities including the work of Shodor.org  and the resources at that site and their workshops.We learned from the Broadening Engagement community how to share the message.

We learned at the SC Education conference and then disseminated lessons and practices. Ray Rose, ManoTalaiver, Vic Sutton, and I have been quietly integrating the computational sciences and HPC into K-12 practices. Mano works in rural areas to bring the dreams of education into reality with NSF funding. Ray is now a college instructor in technology at an HBCU in Austin. Vic and I are working with a K-12 School, Tracy Learning Center to infuse computational thinking into the curriculum. Bob Plants is the researcher in our group and he has a STEM initiative in Mississippi. He shares resources on line as outreach to teachers too.

Dr. Paul Resta is about Broadening Engagement

Change takes a Visionary!

One of my best friends is Dr. Paul Resta who put ideas of education into reality. We were so proud of his accomplishments and his center that we planned a tour for participants at SITE, Austin. The resources are a great way to create change in the learning landscape. Dr. Resta is a leader in teacher education nationally and internationally. He has worked with tribal groups in the Four Corners Project and works Internationally in education as well.

Middle School

East Austin Academy College Prep
 – This middle school is designed to help low-income minority inner city students prepare for college and success in the future. All students participate in an innovate program known as Globaloria. Globaloria is a social network for learning, in which they learn to create educational web-games for social change. East Austin College Prep Academy is the first charter school to integrate the Globaloria network and curriculum as a school-wide teaching and learning opportunity, and offers required daily curriculum to all students starting at 6th grade.

Project on Games and Workforce Readiness. Globaloria.org

Idit Harel Caperton works in areas of need with her Globaloria project. Ray, Vic and I also encouraged her to share her project, Globaloria.org with the SITE membership. We , Ray, Vic and I also were involved with the group in training and research as learners in professional development.

We have come of age. Look at the tours and the participants of SITE who were involved in thinking , learning, planning, and being involved in a special resource for educators at UT. The university of Texas.


Manor New Tech High School (NTHS) This high school is a technology-rich learning environment using a constructivist approach to learning. It has become a model NTHS site and educators from newly established NTHSs come to Manor for orientation and training. Participants will meet with the district superintendent and the director, faculty and students at the school. (Limit 30) Depart 9:30 AM, Return 1:30 PM

View the Student-Generated Video for a Preview of this tour!

Education Visualization Lab and Visualization Center, The University of Texas at Austin – The Learning Technology Center Educational Visualization Lab is focused on the use of visualization technologies to understand patterns and relationships in massive education data sets. The visit will include a tour of the Learning Technology Center and

also a visit to the TACC Visualization Center that includes, Stallion, the highest resolution tiled display in the world; Longhorn, the largest hardware accelerated, remote, interactive visualization cluster. Was used by NOAA in predicting path for Katrina. » Newsletter

The Learning Technology Center in the College of Education at The University of Texas at Austin supports the instructional and research activities of the College’s students and faculty by providing computer facilities, telecommunications services, and digital media production equipment. The LTC also participates in projects that advance the use of technology to meet the educational needs of learners throughout the state and nation, and around the world.

You can check equipment out to use.

You can take your laptop to be checked.

You can work in the lab.

You can sit with professionals who can help you plan your lessons to be technology integrative.

Teachers can plan to be in workshops to enhance their knowledge .

I have many photos , and I am sure that I am only sharing a bit of what is possible.

Learning at the University of Texas

There are links and resources that have been created for teachers in this center for national, regional and local learning on the website

The information here comes from the newsletter and information gathered during the tour.

Kelly Gaither, Director of Visualization for the Texas Advanced Computing Center, describes the information conveyed in a simple mapped visualization.

Kelly Gaither, Director of Visualization for TACC, led the workshop, which included an overview of information visualization and visual analytics concepts and how they apply to educational data. Attendees learned the basics of Processing, a popular visualization programming language, to develop information visualizations with their own data. They were later able to view their work on the EdVisLab’s large display.

A participant learns Processing, a visualization programming language.

Both Google Apps for Education and visualization techniques for educational research represent new directions for the College of Education and its use of technology in education. The LTC is constantly exploring new technologies and their benefit to education, and has led the way in bringing these new technologies to the College. The apps will be part of the online tools that are replacing TeachNet and will allow student groups to have increased online collaboration, including co-creation of documents, presentations, and Web sites. The EdVisLab will allow faculty to better analyze large and complex data sets, more easily seeing and understanding patterns, trends, and relationships. For more information about the Google Apps for Education pilot, contact Karen French. Contact Ken Tothero to learn more about the EdVisLab. ( If you live in Tcxas)


The LTC equips teaching professionals with new knowledge.

 COE Education Visualization Lab

LTC Director Paul E. Resta speaks to those gathered for the EdVisLab grand opening.

The College of Education (COE) community, staff of the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC), and many others interested in visualization on campus gathered Friday, in early February 3 to celebrate the Learning Technology Center’s grand opening of the COE Education Visualization Laboratory (EdVisLab). The event culminated more than a year of planning the lab and designing its equipment and software systems.

Brandt Westing, TACC Research Engineer, shows visitors how visualization can help researchers detect trends and patterns in large amounts of data.

The lab is a joint project with TACC, which provided technical assistance and will help run the lab. The new facility will allow COE researchers to use visualization techniques to better analyze large data sets. The lab features a 15-monitor high resolution tiled display, a 3-D visualization system and a workstation with specialized visualization software.

COE Dean Manuel Justiz spoke first during the opening, praising LTC Director Paul Resta for all his efforts over the years to make the LTC a top-notch, nationally recognized learning technology facility. Dr. Resta then spoke, thanking the Dean for the lab’s funding and thanking all the LTC and TACC staff for the long hours spent creating the lab. Finally, Jay Boisseau, TACC Director, described how the process of adapting TACC visualization programming for use in the EdVisLab led to the development of an improved version of the software.

Texas Advanced Computing Center – Texas Advanced Computing Center is a leading resource provider in the NSF TeraGrid and operates two of the most powerful high performance computing systems in the world, which are used by thousands of scientists and engineers each year to perform research in nearly every branch of knowledge. TACC’s largest supercomputer, Ranger, can perform 579.4 trillion operations per second (or teraflops), and is nearly 30,000 faster than today’s desktop computers. TACC’s newest system, Lonestar 4, which went online in Feb. 2011, clocks in at more than 302 teraflops and offers nearly 200 million computing hours per year to researchers around the world.

The Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education is an international association of individual teacher educators, and affiliated organizations of teacher educators in all disciplines, who are interested in the creation and dissemination of knowledge about the use of information technology in teacher education and faculty/staff development.

The Society seeks to promote research, scholarship, collaboration, exchange, and support among its membership, and to actively foster the development of new national organizations where a need emerges. SITE is the only organization that has as its sole focus the integration of instructional technologies into teacher education programs.

As the official blog of SITE, this website exists to promote dialog and interaction among SITE members as well as non-members about a variety of issues relating to our mission.

Bonnie Bracey Sutton

How Do We Involve Girls in STEM? What would make them be able to say, “I Got This!!!”for STEM

In the media, we hear Jennifer Hudson say, ” I got this! ” She muses about building her first mansion.  Similarly, we hear about Beyonce and the birth of her child. I guess it could be jealousy, that I pay so much attention to it. But then JLo.. we see her and some other women splashed about the media. I guess except for Hillary Clinton , and a few astronauts, girls don’t see accomplished women or successful STEM people. They see Angela Jolie, or Snookie,Lady GAGA or Nicki Minaj, and  Paris Hilton coms to mind. So what does that tell girls about thinking about the future? You tell me. What do they see on television? You know, it certainly is not role models for STEM. I am not jealous, been there done that. I stated my adult life as a model. But academics lured me away. Teaching was what I loved.

I remember seeing an icon of supercomputing in my community. Grace Hopper used to visit Arlington Schools. All I knew was that she was an older woman that the Navy seemed to worship and I kept thinking, what is it that she does? She wore a wristlet and told us about a nanosecond, but I did not have a context in which to place her outreach. This is the story of  a computer pioneer. I only knew that my mother did card punch at the Navy Annex and she thought Grace Hopper was really smart. Grace Hopper

NASA empowered Christa McAuliffeto mesmerize another generation of students and teachers and to engage them in space science education . I was lucky enough to be a Christa McAuliffe Educator, for the NEA, NFIE and we did transformational teaching and created a seminar at Stanford. We got some headlines and inspired some students boys and girls. It may have been the astronaut suit or the frequent visits that scientists made to my classroom.

Boys and Girls learned from a teacher who had great professional development and resources,

There were also astronauts who worked with teachers, and students in the Christa McAuliffe Center and my kids and I were excited to work those programs.  Mae Jemison may now be the person that girls could pay attention to , if they knew who she is and what she does.

Mae Jemison Wikipedia/NASA

A project to pave the way for humanity’s journey to the stars will be helmed by a former astronaut, Mae Jemison, already a pioneer in her own right. She will lead DARPA’s 100-Year Starship project, the BBC says, citing DARPA documents.

Jemison, the first black woman in space, was one of scores of people to submit proposals for DARPA’s ambitious project. It doesn’t seek to build an actual starship per se but rather a program that can last 100 years, and might one day result in one. As DARPA told us last summer, it’s more of a thought experiment than a construction project. The idea itself sparked some other pretty audacious proposals, including one by J. Craig Venter to send human genomes toward the stars and reconstruct them.

For all girls there is this,

Talking Points
Comparing U.S. K-12 Students’ Math
and Science Performance Internationally
What are the facts, what do they mean for educational reform,
and how do I talk effectively about the issues?
In the popular press and in public debate, one ofte

AAAS , Teragrid, AAUW and the NCWIT groups help teachers to lead STEM initiatives

There are groups who work to trnasform education

hears that U.S. students are performing poorly in math and science in comparison to other countries. What is the basis for these claims? What are students’ actual scores and rankings? How should we interpret and use these scores? A better understanding of the evidence is important for making effective policy decisions that affect computer science and other STEM fields.

Here is the place to analyze the informaiton and to be educated about the reality of these
What is the basis for the
international comparisons?
The source for these comparisons is the Trends in International Math and Science Study (TIMSS), an international test administered every four years to 4th and 8th graders.* The test was first given in 1995 in approximately 20 countries. The most recent test was administered in 2007 to 4th graders in 36 countries and to 8th graders in 48 countries. The average score for each country is determined and used to rank all participating countries.
*The Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) is a similar international test given to 15-year-olds. While PISA is less frequently cited, it also has limitations similar to TIMSS.

Jemison apparently won a contract for her proposal titled “An Inclusive Audacious Journey Transforms Life Here on Earth & Beyond,” BBC said. Her organization, the Dorothy Jemison Foundation for Excellence, is already a partner on the project with a non-profit called Icarus Interstellar and a group called the Foundation for Enterprise Development.

To Engage Girls in STEM, Include Role Models and Watch the Messaging

Posted: 11 Jan 2012 05:19 AM PST

Two recent stories illuminate the benefits of after-school STEM programs for girls. Plus, teachers go back to school to learn how small classroom changes can improve girls academic achievement in STEM subjects.


Girlstart   http://www.girlsinstem.org/

LEGO has released a new line of building toys called LEGO Friends aimed at bringing in more of a female based audience. This line has miniature figurines of girls that come with “girlish” accessories like lipstick …NJ.com · 1/3/2012
This new project was not so well received, but at least to me it was a start.
Some parents and educators think LEGO could attract more female users if the company featured more girls in its general products and advertising, instead of dividing boys and girls into different markets. Even Riley Maida, who is 4, has questioned why toys for girls seem to come in only one color, and she has garnered much attention for her tirade against the pinking of toy aisles: “Why do all the girls have to buy princesses? Some girls like superheroes, some girls like princesses. Some boys like superheroes, some boys like princesses. So why does all the girls have to buy pink stuff and all the boys have to buy different color stuff?” (Diane Sawyer was impressed.)Peggy Orenstein, author of “Cinderella Ate My Daughter: Dispatches From the Front Lines of the New Girlie-Girl Culture,” recently wrote anop-ed in The New York Times on the nature vs. nurture debate as it relates to children’s toys. Orentstein notes that while research shows that boys and girls generally have different playing styles and gravitate toward different toys (though they unite around stuffed animals and books), that’s not justification for enforcing a divide. In fact, there are many good reasons to do the opposite:

The Future of Education and its Technology ( Guest Post)

The Future of Education and its Technology

Posted by Ebonstorm on April 27, 2009  snagged to share with those who think about these things

Imagine the Future

We like to see the future filled with possibilities. Education would be freely available to everyone and would come in a variety of new experiences; students using their telephones to attend classes online, while they are on their way to work, content management technologies connecting classmates from areas of the world once considered unreachable, and interactive 3D environments replicating real-time classrooms with tele-presence students and real students in the same lecture hall. In this new world, education would enhance the lives of the people who use it and they are able to freely interact with universities and business organizations instantly, in real time, to find collaborative answers to pressing and difficult questions and having the best sources to choose from all over the planet. Such collective efforts will permeate all areas of business, art and engineering, harnessing the power of multiple minds in a way never conceived of in earlier periods of history. They are sending video messages, having tele-presence conferences, storing and accessing data, and sharing results with the best and brightest of their generation regardless of their social status, race, creed or color. Computers and robotic machines handle the grunt work of society keeping us in the electronic tools and devices we will one day take for granted. Meaningful work is plentiful, no one works doing anything that doesn’t mean something to them. Some work on reclaiming the Earth from earlier generations of abuse, others are organizing the planet’s resources for better accessibility, many are managing the remaining plants and animals of the world for future generations. Businesses of all sizes are handling tasks and filling the needs of a happy and industrious planet. Sounds nice, doesn’t it?

Learning from the Past

Building that future is much more difficult. Any responsible advocate of higher education must address the nature of change in our society. Change is unavoidable. All institutions experience it, and some weather it better than others. The education engine of America has failed to maintain pace with the changes in society and the economic realities faced by people working today.

This is not a new problem. Its echoes can be traced back to the end of the Agricultural Age. During the late 1800’s as mechanization overtook the worker-heavy farming industry (i.e. the cotton gin), education became the means for people to transition to life in the cities with non-farming jobs, crafts and work in the industrial guilds. By the advent of the Industrial Age in the early 20th century, education was used to prepare workers to be absorbed into the new factories and industrial engines of that period’s productivity. Note there was an economic collapse during that period of transition. Like a computer after a crash, the societal infrastructure needed a restart to handle that transition. This was a second opportunity to recognize the imminent threat to American culture.

As the Industrial Age began to wane, again due to mechanization and process improvements in the early 1970’s (i.e. factory robotics and better information management) more was able to be done with less input by workers. This transition began to move people into the Service Industry as the birth of the Information Age began to create more advanced calculation devices to aid in the development of new sciences. Computers would change the landscape of the working world in ways unseen even by their creators.

We are at that crucial point again. An economic collapse has made it clear that business as usual has ended. The Information Age has made new waves of unemployment as factories close down and the service industry burgeons with the masses of workers displaced from the only life many have ever known. There is more information available than can be managed effectively by any single individual but the educational engine is still the one from the 1950’s, with its emphasis on individual achievement, its designated work periods and repetitive mind-numbing tasks, ready to churn out people to work in factories that no longer exist.

Now people are relegated to an overburdened service industry that employs them poorly and wastes their human potential. No matter the rhetoric spoken in government, education cannot continue to be last of our social priorities, if for no other reasons than, without quality education and its reform, the fabric of society continues to erode and tatter. The resource of the future will be innovation and problem-solving ability. Our only path to innovation can be found in the development of the human capital through education. Welcome to the Innovation Age.

At the Crossroads

Community college campuses are uniquely positioned to capture the population of the future workforce and direct it into one of the most economically powerful areas of the world today. California, being the world’s fifth largest economy will need a workforce constantly updating its skills, its knowledge and its capabilities to continue to compete in a more aggressive, world-wide, world-wise, and diverse economic structure.

In addition, students will need access to the most advanced concepts possible. Cooperative thinking, adaptive reasoning, an understanding of natural law and scientific thinking will be the keys to the workforce of the future. It will not be enough to simply memorize rote facts, the employees of the future need to be able to link those facts, find hidden relationships and solve problems from those facts, with skill and alacrity. They will need to have greater facility with language, mathematics, analysis, cultural awareness, and environmental consequences than any humans in history. A community college’s ultimate goal should be to allow its location at the center of the information technology, bio-technology and new sustainability revolutions to prepare its students for opportunities as members of a future when the synergistic explosion of these technologies co-mingle and improve each other.

Technology’s advance in our society has continued to change how workers and employers interact and provide services for each other. This constant growth and evolution has removed more workers from the workforce than it has employed, thus creating a form of ‘technological unemployment’ or unemployment created by the success of our technology! Fewer workers, armed with technology and technological concepts (robotics, development protocols, software and hardware) are producing more goods than ever in history. This fact has not been lost on governments concerned with educating and employing their populations. Unfortunately, the solution cannot be addressed without planning for future periods of unemployment, similar to what we are experiencing now. This problem can only be addressed with innovation, new ideas, and a revolution in the educational process.

A Modest Proposal

I propose Community College Districts nationwide begin to prepare their technological future to address the issues of a workforce whose path has become uncertain. The future of community colleges is to prepare for this new model of work by assisting students (who will eventually become employees and later employers) in the development of smaller, problem-solving enterprises. Ideally, these enterprises will be staffed by individuals who can see a way to improve society’s ills with the application of reasoning skills, technological acumen, attention to detail and access to a nexus of resources available to them, before, during and after they leave college. The future of education revolves around teaching people that they will perpetually be scholars, and their livelihood will revolve around their ability to creatively solve problems and promoting innovation in all that they do.

We can ill afford to throw money at problems hoping for a solution. We cannot expect the issues of Oakland, or of California or of the United States to be solved by people who do not live here. Nor do we have the luxury of time to resolve issues such as global warming, population overcrowding, and disease management. These problems need solutions now. People are disheartened with the recent economic collapse and many Baby Boomers struggle with their own obsolescence and the realization that their work lives have left them no better off than indentured servants. Society’s security blankets (Medicare, Social Security, 401K, IRA) have continued to lose value in the face of economic collapse. It is likely that older workers will continue to have to support themselves long after they expected to retire. Generation X and Y see little value in aspiring to the same fate as their parents. They view their parent’s dilemma as a systemic failure of our educational model; hence their lack of trust in society and their indifference to education.

A community colleges goal should be no less than the development of a way of thinking that allows its students to constantly be willing and able to adapt new ways of interacting with the world and to be a resource to the workforce no matter where they may be, since with the breadth of the Internet, that workforce can and will likely be anywhere (that also means that students may also be anywhere). The same way FaceBook, Twitter and MySpace have invaded the lives of young workers, community colleges and other organizations promoting education will need to perpetuate a love of continual learning in their students and to be a resource for them to make data-driven decisions no matter what career they are involved in; any place able to define itself as an always available resource will not lack for returning students, seeking an environment that promotes intellectual advancement and continues preparing them for the constantly changing workforce.

IT Challenges of Higher Education

With all of these things as challenges, the question is asked, what part does Information Technology (hereafter, IT) play in this? The developed world has to adopt a more global paradigm that inter-relates all manner of human endeavor, science, technology, education, environment, physics, psychology, sociology, and medicine shifting from the archaic industrial age to the advanced technology of the information age. Our educational model must be revamped, retooled and re-energized, in order to prepare our students to meet the challenges of the new global paradigm. IT is the architect of that paradigm.

Learning institutions need to empower our students to address issues based on information-based decision making using reason, training and problem solving skills enhanced by technology. IT is a vital element in that ability to solve problems by potentially providing ready access to real-time information for decision making; However, a real-time monitored and data-driven environment has not been created (unless you work at the Pentagon) and will be the first real challenge of the proactive organizations of the future. The ability to get digital information regarding resources available to solve problems is the first step to being able to direct human capital, energy, manpower and training toward those issues.

A community college’s goal is the same as any organization that manages information. To create a unified information data complex that allows fast, easy and yet secure access to any information required by any user of the data complex. This simple sounding idea is years away and paving the road to that ideal will require us to have information organized and categorized in such a fashion that it can be understood, transmuted, and translated while maintaining its accessibility to a variety of future users.

Defining the Problem

Organic (non-structured, non-intentional) development of IT within most college campuses has caused a divergence of standards and technologies resulting in a lack of uniformity of services, overlapping educational programs (i.e. business and IT classes), and a lack of ability to effectively manage or identify different technologies district-wide. All campus IT has been relegated to localized management, under the supervision of various IT support staff of widely differing capabilities. Organic IT development is not unique to a particular district; as both UC and California State University systems are battling this same conundrum. This does not imply those managing these IT resources are in the wrong, however, without a guiding set of principles for the purchase, maintenance and development of IT data structures and resources, such multiplicity of systems is bound to occur prohibitively increasing the complexity and the costs of those services. This decentralized management of IT systems, has resulting in an increasing cost of IT overall, a lack of standardization and poorly centralized management and coordination between the groups managing the many resources including IT classrooms, computer labs, library technology, and student service programs (EOPS, DSPS, career centers) across the district.

There are two primary challenges facing any educational facility with advanced technological capabilities. The first is hardware/software interface and infrastructure. What hardware should we use? What software should we use and support? What is the best way to reach our respective goals using what technologies? How do we effectively connect our staff and students to the internet in a secure, effective, and stable manner but not slow as a snail or overburdened with security software? How do we organize our administrative technology so it provides high quality service and is still relatively easy to use? Technology continues to grow and evolve at a prodigious rate, how do we know if we are keeping pace and providing the workforce of the future with the tools it needs? There are six major dynamic forces opposing the creation of any IT infrastructure, service or device. These forces are responsible for all decisions made on any hardware, software or service used in IT.

They are as follows:

Technological Standardization vs. Autonomy/Experimentation

Service innovation vs. Stability/Reliability

User friendliness/Accessibility vs. Security/Privacy

Consensus in decision making vs. Efficiency in decision making

Centralized management of services vs. Distributed services

Proprietary software vs. Open source software

The second challenge facing any educational facility with advanced technological capabilities is resource management. IT is a collection of diverse resources accomplishing a variety of objectives. How do we manage, control, maintain and organize an amazingly complex series of network services to make it possible to administer, educate and enhance the educational experience of our students now and in the future? How do we effectively train staff, faculty and administrators to think progressively with an eye toward future needs? How do we maintain a leading edge without losing our financial shirt maintaining this gigantic infrastructure of hardware and staff?

In addition to those six dynamic forces there are two additional meta-concepts to be considered along with a number of pertinent questions. Those two meta-concepts are Operational IT and Organizational IT.

Operational IT: comprised of educational, infrastructure and administrative services these are the physical hardware and software tools utilized to create the IT environment in total.

  1. Educational IT – Primary reason higher education exists. These are the tools used in the dissemination of information and education and in the development of learning resources for students.
  2. Infrastructure IT – Tools used to maintain the IT infrastructure including telecom services, network services, datacenters, classrooms, wireless, research facilities and labs.
  3. Administrative IT – Tools used by the administration to organize and maintain university information; HR database services, ERP and other student databases, financial services databases, student aid services, administrative and faculty offices.

Organizational IT: the organizational and management protocols, procedures and processes required to effectively manage, lead and organize IT services in any environment

  1. Governance – How the IT organization is managed i.e. Governance Committee, Technology Committees, and Division IT leaders and whether IT management is centralized or decentralized or some combination thereof.
  2. IT Resource Organization – best practices, SLAs (service level agreements), Staff management, training and retention, asset management, asset retirement and replacement schedules, policy creation and management
  3. Operating Costs – Management of the costs of IT: Who is responsible to determine the budget for IT resources campus-wide? Chancellors, Deans, Division Chairs, IT Staff? How are these long term costs computed? What are the hidden costs of inefficiencies in the IT structure?

A Path to Greatness

Developing IT for any environment is a constantly evolving organism. Clearly defined principles, committed staff, considered metrics for success and a well developed plan of action are the elements of a successful IT group. This path requires an honest and forthright assessment of all of the IT resources available to the district office and the attendant campuses. Blame is not being sought, but answers to the question of how to realize the potential of the IT infrastructure. For a community college’s IT to develop toward the ideal described in my opening paragraphs, we must devise a plan that integrates stability (ensuring service operation by trained and qualified staff), reliability (ensuring operation by industry established standards), security (the reasonable assurance of a secured data structure and policies) and scalability (the ability to add and extend the growth and development of the network without compromising its performance or operation).

An outline of that plan follows:

  1. The first step is to establish IT as an integral element of the any college organizational structure. IT must be seen as a member of the Administration, complete with its own resources (i.e. budget, staff development resources), support teams and autonomy to solve problems that may have lingered for years without effective resolution. IT management must be given the authority to resolve issues, as anything less will ensure the failure of IT projects in the future.
  2. Create a unified help-desk system to manage workflow and document change orders to improve service and to monitor costs. Include a knowledgebase and information wiki able to be updated by any in the IT workforce.
  3. Review the major themes to be covered by the district’s strategic plans and look at how technology can be directed toward those business ideals. This requires a review and a breakdown of the district office and the local campuses strategic plans to determine how those plans for future development can be supported by IT infrastructure at the strategic and operational levels. Meet with the technology committees already in existence and review previous successes and current challenges.
  4. Create a unified IT strategic plan document which encompasses the business ideals, IT development plans and the educational technology requirements of the district office and each campus.
  5. Document and build a model of all IT existing infrastructure, mapping hardware, software and services; this will ultimately require a grand re-organization of the network at all levels (from largest to smallest). However, this restructuring will pay off with the development of future services, allowing for remote management, remote deployments of new technology and standardization across the district. Standardization reduces costs, increases efficiency, and improves management of technology across an environment.
  6. Ensure the stability of those networks by establishing the guidelines and policies for their economic, technological and security requirements to be met on an agreed upon level (determined by Service Level Agreements). Those requirements need to be reviewed regularly to ensure they are as effective as when first established.
  7. Review and monitor all IT business structures and projects, services, vendor cost allocations, vendor-managed projects, IT budgets, and district-wide funding for IT.
  8. Develop an ERP Portal. The creation of an IT Steering committee and the installation of a project manager who is aligned with the needs of the staff, faculty, and administration’s will help to complete migration to this portal technology. Because of the portal’s ubiquitous nature and presence on all college campuses, this should be one of the highest priorities of the district, and for the same reason, the portal needs to hold to the highest standards of service.
  9. Define a technology path or potential specialization for each campus. This would reduce redundancies and improving coverage of technologies by the district. This would be done in accordance with educational development plans already in place.
  10. Craft an outline for a technology development plan for the campuses. Integrate technologies and develop economies of scale to reduce costs and to improve performance and services to all campuses. This step will take into account new technologies including secured wireless technologies, biometric security, new laptop and netbook hardware, server virtualization (where responsible and effectively improving services), imaging and print management, document and information management systems, centralizing networks and network security and fail-over firewall technologies.
  11. Redefine IT staff development processes (standardizing job descriptions, redefining duties of IT staff across the district) to determine staffing requirements for each campus and the district office. Consider models to improve performance for each campus, including the options of centralizing or decentralizing management of technology resources. The rule is: centralize for control, decentralize for innovation. This is likely to include the hire of new staff where appropriate and the training of current staff to improve their ability to function with the increase in technological development and complexity.
  12. Review, recommend and standardize on information management, content management and educational support technologies. These include reviewing open source programs for web content management including Drupal, WordPress, Joomla, Blackboard, Sakai and Moodle.
  13. Develop conceptual models such as the Information Technology and Infrastructure Library (ITIL, CMDB). This includes the creation and use of process and project management tools to promote the successful implementation of IT infrastructure, development, and operations. Utilize project management techniques (perhaps even hire a dedicated project manager) to get a handle on outstanding or underperforming projects in the district and prioritize resources to improve their completion and success rates.

Is this all it takes?

Not even close. I won’t lie to you. Implementing this will likely take some time. Designing the priorities will be the first step toward the development of IT at any Community College District. Nothing written on five pages can prepare you for the scale of the undertaking. But I have a plan. The principles outlined here are solid and tested. Best of all, they are scalable, so they can be adapted the concepts to any size organization. What you have here is not just a plan but a vision of the future. I will leave you with my favorite quotation. I hang it on my wall wherever I work. It inspires me to always do my best and reminds me that nothing I attempt is impossible.

“Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.”

– Johann Wolfgang von Goethe


LELAND, JOHN. “Skills to Learn, to Restart Earnings.” The New York Times Online 01-04-2009¬ 2 Apr 2009 http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/02/business/retirementspecial/02reskill.html?em

University of California, Berkeley Strategic Planning Task Force, UC Berkeley Strategic Academic Plan, 2002, Page 22, http://spc.vcbf.berkeley.edu/document/AcademicStrategicPlan.pdf

You can find links to a lot of my writing in all of these places: http://myonepage.com/ebonstorm

Google+: http://gplus.to/ebonstormTwimagination: http://twimagination.com/user/ebonstorm (short story collection)

A Matter of Scale: WordPress – http://ebonstorm.wordpress.com/ (technology, politics, commentary, writing)
Mediasphere Curation: Tumblr – http://mediasphere.tumblr.com/ (news curation site: technology, science, politics)
Tales of the Twilight Continuum: Weebly – http://ebonstorm.weebly.com/ (author’s website, excerpts, science articles)
Hidden Realms: Posterous – http://hiddenrealms.posterous.com/#!/68615711 (webfiction site)

Hayward’s Reach – My recently published Sci-fi and fantasy short story collection

The Smithsonian, the Nation’s Attic , A Favorite Learning Place of Mine

 I must confess that I have been learning at the Smithsonian museums forever.
My mother went to the Baptist Church which started at 10 A.M. p on Sunday, and I was getting on the bus at that time to get to Washington DC, to be at the Smithsonian when it opened on Sunday. There are many Smithsonian Museums  so I would do the dance of which one before I departed from Alexandria , Virginia , and run happily to the museum of my choice. Mind you there is one Smithsonian museum I have never been to, but it is in New York. I intend to go there to it some day. I have former students working in the Cooper-Hewitt Museum NYC and of the museums in New York, I have never visited the American Indian Museum Heye Center (NYC)
I live within walking distance of the Mall , and so I rarely need to think about parking , weather
exceptions for that statement.
Learning Abour the world at the Smithsonian Summer  Camp

Smithsonian Summer camp

I used to have a funder who like me LOVED museums. But Jack Taub was in New York with a lot of different museums. Before he passed, we often shared the wonder of what museums can do as teaching institutions. I also had a friend John Scully who was at that time in charge of Apple and we thought a lot about museums as schools. What a wonderful thing that is. Often there are many people who never get to go to museums, or who get involved in the learning that is sustained , cultivated and nurtured by groups within the museum.
I attended the Summer Folklife Fesitval and found a way to infuse myself into a group going to India, on a Fulbright. Who knew a museum was a place to further learning and that it might be possible for me to go to India. I did and we visited about 26 cities officially, we also took a side trip to Nepal.
We were a group of teachers learning about the country of India. What a wonderful experience and extension of the exhibit that was about India on the mall. I think it was what made me geographically
interested in the rest of the world and it gave me a new perspective on cultures. We visited schools, and communities in many cities in India. We also absorbed the culture. In the mornings we read the newspapers and learned what was important in the news in India. We studied religions, yoga, the food and drink, and clothing. We learned history of India that is not a part of regular school teaching.
The Tiger of Mysore? The British influence on India. We visited museums and archeological places.
it was the experience of a lifetime for me. It is a huge country and transportation then was sometimes a bit difficult. Technology was not so widespread then. India
Our task was to collect information about the games and education in India. We visited many cities in various parts of India. I cannot tell you which was the most interesting part of India, and I cannot share my photos because I have not converted them into modern images. I was carrying a Nikon with eight lenses. I loved getting up in the morning early to go take photos before our classes, lectures and excursions. A group of us had guidebooks, and resource and we studied each city in depth before we arrived there. India is bigger than the imagination from the caves, to the architecture to the intricate weavings and the many religions.  I found the markets intriguing , and the things to buy amazing, arts and crafts, so intricate and beautiful.
The Smithsonian Taught me about Seeds of Change, two old worlds coming together.
Another stunning example of how the Smithsonian educates is the work that was done around the Columbus Quincentennary.

October 26, 1991 – May 23, 1993

Museum: Natural History Museum, Studying Seeds of Change

Examined the exchange of plants and seeds between the Old and New Worlds following Columbus’s discovery of America in 1492. Themes include the introduction of horses, sugar, and disease to the New World and the introduction of potatoes and corn to the Old World. Introductory film, on first floor, What a joy it was to be on a committee and work with Smithsonian researchers and to go to the Smithsonian for updates and involvement. Just the information about the origin of foods in the world  was quite interesting.  I even had a chance to teach and cook with kids in the museum as a teacher in the summer program and we actually had a garden, we were helped by gardeners , but we tended to the garden on the Smithsonian grounds raising traditional crops during that summer.

THere was history too, so exciting. There were real emeralds brought in and gold from the conquistadors, and the examination of the diseases that weakened the natives of America,

[Learning About Each Other]

Sharing Our Differences;
Learning From Each Other

From Two Worlds to One World

“In fourteen hundred ninety-two,
Columbus sailed the ocean blue…”

So what does that mean to people living in the world today? Why is Columbus an important person? Why do we celebrate something that happened over 500 years ago?

Here is a place that is of the Smithsonian, and is probably a surprise to most people the SERC Learning Lab. Parents and children happily studied on the dock, we were real scientists at work.

The Sant Hall of Science 

SERC  Smithsonian Research Center

The Smithsonian Information Center in the Castle is centrally located at 1000 Jefferson Dr., SW, Washington, D.C. Ten of the Smithsonian museums in Washington, D.C., span an area from 3rd to 14th Streets between Constitution Avenue and Independence Avenue, approximately 1 mile (1.6 km)
There are convenient places to rest, to picnic to , eat,  and to learn on the outside of the museums too. I was educated by Smithson’s legacy. My schools were not so good , but the museum staff people and their work gave me a world wide education.
There are busses to the far museums, but you have to metro to the Zoo.National Zoo
The National Zoo is at 3001 Connecticut Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C., approximately 30 minutes by car or public transportation from the National Mall. Public parking is available for a fee.
Zoo directions »Anacostia Community Museum
The Anacostia Community Museum is located in Fort Stanton Park at 1901 Fort Place, SE, Washington, D.C. Free public parking is available.
Anacostia Community Museum directions »Air and Space Museum Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center
The Air and Space Museum Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center is located at 14390 Air and Space Museum Parkway, Chantilly, Virginia, near the intersection of Rts. 50 and 28. Public parking is available for a fee.
Udvar-Hazy Center directions 
The mall is this wonderful green expanse of lawn that stretches from the Capitol to the Lincoln Memorial and I have footsteps all over that Mall. There are besides the museums, special events, and classes and outeach to teachers. So I was there a lot.  Sometimes I would go in and gaze at the tomb of the founder of the Smithsonian , James Smithson in the castle.
Here is the website to the Smithsonian. http://www.si.edu/ It has always been the A in STEM for me. So when people ask me what about the Arts in STEM I know that they have no idea of my background. The Smithsonian Museums are my learning landscape. I have taken countless children to the various exhibits, workshops and demonstrations at the museums.
My favorite thing to do in the summer used to be to take the workshops that are so powerful that they
give for teachers.My mother used to tease that she saw me standing in line in the snow for various exhibitions. Not true. Parent thought that I worked for the Smithsonian to get kids interested in traveling there. I did teach using the resources of the Smithsonian. Here is a link to the study of air and space by very small students who loved the whole experience.Air and Space

The Smithsonian seeks to bring content experts and educators together to help strengthen American education and enhance our nation’s ability to compete globally. The Smithsonian serves as a laboratory to create models and methods of innovative informal education and link them to the formal  education system.

Fixing the STEM Problem by Asking the Right Questions-Don’t ask “Who, What, When, Where”; ask, “Why, and How?”

Fixing the STEM Problem by Asking the Right Questions 

Essay by

Allan C. Jones, President

Emaginos Inc.- Engaging Every Child Through Customized Education

Don’t ask “Who, What, When, Where”; ask, “Why, and How?”

Education in the No Child Left Behind era is all about answering “who, what, when and where” (4W) questions. But the questions that really matter are why and how. In a European history class, students are asked, “Who fought at the battle of Hastings?”, “What armies fought in the battle?”, “When was it fought?”, and “Where is Hastings?”. I can still remember that the English fought the Normans led by William the Conqueror in 1066. I don’t remember where Hastings is, if I ever did know it. What I don’t know is why it was fought and how it affected history. In considering what I know and don’t know, it seems like the stuff I know doesn’t matter and the stuff I don’t know does matter. In general, what matters is the stuff you learn by asking why and how.

The country’s leaders constantly complain about today’s students not learning enough about Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM). STEM topics are boring if you focus on the 4W questions.  But if you focus on “why and how” they come to life. Eli Whitney invented the cotton gin in the southern US before the civil war. Boring! Why did he invent it? How did it work. How was it powered? Why was it important? What recent inventions have had a similar impact on a nation’s economy? The last is a “What” question, but not a recall question. These are the interesting questions about the cotton gin – and they lead to a rich discussion of STEM.

Let’s make the issue more contemporary.

We tell children to use soap when they wash their hands. When they ask why they need the soap, the typical response is that soap gets the hands cleaner. This is usually where inquiry stops and authority takes over – just do it! But any healthy, curious child is thinking, “How does soap work?” The answer is, “Soap makes water wetter.” What does that mean? Soap breaks down the surface tension bonds between the water molecules. So the next obvious question is, “Why does that matter?” Because it allows the water to penetrate the dirt better to float it away. It also emulsified the grease molecules; allowing them to detach from the object and rinse away. I like to give the students another use for this piece of knowledge so I tell them that the next time they find a tick and are trying to kill it, the easiest way is to drop the tick into a cup of tap water. Initially, the tick will appear to float. (The little suckers are really hard to kill.) But ticks are not buoyant. They are not floating. They are standing on the surface tension. Add a drop of dishwashing liquid to the water and the tick will sink like a stone and drown.

We were recently at yet another STEM meeting where the people were all excited about an excellent robotics activity that they were proposing to engage more girls and minorities in STEM. Robots are cool; and designing and playing with them can be engaging and instructional. But why go the expense of creating an artificial world for STEM learning? Students are surrounded by STEM every minute of their lives. Some questions they might enjoy answering could include:

  • How do they get stone-washed denim to look that way? Do they really stone-wash it?
  • Why do the tires on a mountain bike look so different from the tires on a racing bike? Do car and truck tires have the same or different tread designs? How do they decide what is the best tread design for different uses? How does changing the amount of air pressure affect the performance of the tires? When do you use low tire pressure and when do you use high pressure and why?
  • Why does it get easier or harder to pedal a 12-speed bike when you shift the gears? How does the Derailleur work? How is the Derailleur different from a manual transmission on a car? Why does a manual transmission need a clutch and an automatic transmission does not? How does the clutch work? Why does a clutch burn out?
  • How do iPods store all that music? What other options are available to store it? Why was the one they use chosen? What may be the next better storage mechanism?

If you want to tie it into history, ask how people 200, 400, 600, 800, and 1,000 years ago did what we do routinely today. What did tires and treads look like at those different time periods? How were vehicles propelled? How was music stored and enjoyed? How does communications technology affect social unrest? Which technologies that were originally invented for military uses have become everyday household products? Did you know that microwave ovens came from radar technologies developed for guiding missiles?

The list of fascinating STEM topics is endless. More importantly, they are an integral part of everybody’s world. All of the inventions and the underlying technologies were designed and built by engineers and technologists based on work by scientists and mathematicians. STEM is not some remote esoteric set of knowledge reserved for nerds. It’s a fascinating set of knowledge and skills that make up the world we live in. The 4W questions are only interesting if they are used in the context of why and how.

Dropout prevention is another big issue in education. Because understanding why and how something happened are much more interesting than the 4W questions, students get more engaged in their learning when seeking answers to why and how. We need to get away from the model where the teacher asks the 4W questions and students answer them. We need to pose problems that require the students to determine what the questions are that they need answered in order to solve the problem. If you put the students in small ability-level based groups and frame the questions as problems to be solved, every student is actively engaged in learning. This student-centered learning environment also allows the teachers to work individually with every student and customize the learning for each of them.

Going back to the battle of Hastings, knowing why and how it was fought and how the result of the battle impacted the subsequent history of England might be of use in looking at the US invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. Can we learn any lessons from Viet Nam, Afghanistan, and Iraq that will enable us to make better decisions about the value of those strategies?

We need to change the questions we ask our students and the way we pose them, not only in class, but also on assessments. There is an old axiom that applies; “You get what you pay for.” Since educational institutions get ‘paid’ for good assessments, they will structure the teaching and learning activities to produce what is assessed. So we need to do less assessing of who, what, when, and where; and start doing a better job of assessing students’ mastery of why and how.

Passport to the World, Geography! Are you Up to Date?

On the Great Wall

No one has ever described the Great Wall in the media to my satisfaction

There are children who do not know the intersection of geography, history, story and maps.

Actually there are lots of people reporting the news to us from various media platforms who have little in the way of geography education or real knowledge. It is a national shane.

There is a tool that we can all use at http://www.mywonderfulworld.org.

There are resources for teachers that are incredibly wonderful at the National Geographic Society.

There are also alliances, that you can join in your state. The alliancesare here.. More resources are here. Resources

The Alliances

Geography Education Alliances connect K-12 teachers with university faculty, offering professional development opportunities and promoting improvements in geographic education at state and local levels.( http://education.nationalgeographic.com/education/program/geography-alliances/) The alliances breakj the silos of education , you have the professors, researchers, professional photographers, teachers , all working for change in a state. The resources and the opportunities are many.. My principal joined the alliance and went to some conferences with me.  I love going to Geographic conferences. They are an experience to learn a LOT from.!!! Geography is an adventure.

Vendor solutions for Geography? Well there is a lot that is free on the National Geographic Education site.

Classroom materials have been developed by geographers and geographic educators to teach the field as a discipline rather than through fact and recall. I was lucky enough to be a geographic educator a teacher, before technology called me to national service with the White House for a long term initiative. NIIAC.

Cast the students as researchers who use geography to solve real world problems. Each activity:introduces a skill for analyzing data geographically provides information about a specific place employs a specific kind of map (isoline, choropleth, profile, etc., illustrates a useful explanatory theory of modern geography. What is geography? See this cartoon for a visual definition

The 21st Century Partnership has added geography to their skills bank.

Here is a philosophical discussion about geography. Title:

Reconceptualizing Geography as Democratic Global Citizenship Education

Find the reference here in a PDF

(Bednarz, 2002)

Teaching geography in this manner is far better than didactic traditions if one values critical thinking and the development of transferable student insight about spatiality. Yet this still falls short of what we have described as democratic citizenship education.

As a teacher, I was lucky enough to be involved in a National Summer Workshop from the National Geographic Society. I was teaching in Virginia and there was a great Alliance that I was able to learn from and work with. My mentor was killed in the (/11 crash at the Pentagon. They were taking students to a meeting in California. The Virginia Geographic Alliance was a rich resource for me and other teachers.

History can be boring, but not if you use the resources available to make it real. GIS, GPS, Stories and pictures , the Internet and You Tube, enhance a lot of what you THINK you know.

In reality do you know place geography? Interactive Maps?

What is Geography?

Children, parents and the media audience see the world without really knowing much about the cuture of the groups that we talk about. A real friend of mine has NO understanding of the cultures that are in the Middle East. He told me that “we” liberated Arab women? I was too challenged to peacefully explain that he did not know the culture to reply. I think that also such misconceptions are best solved by the person with the misunderstanding. But what would lead him to such a misunderstanding. What does he read? What did he learn? What is his guide to the world? Perhaps some one of the many media minute mavens. Those reading the scripts on TV. often have no geographical idea of where the place is that they are talking about.

Maps. Maps. Maps. are here.

I like the articles that talk about geography education. Many school systems do not use geography as a subject of interest, because it is not tested. It may be offered after the fact. That is because of the politics of education, and the lack of knowledge of those with the power to make a difference in real world education.

My husband and I have traveled to many places in the world. Vic has lived in Africa, and started his career teaching English as a foreign language in Africa. His parents were missionaries to China,

I have lived in Greece. I thought I knew Greek History and the literature. I thought I did. I only touched the surface of the information available at the time. I loved living in Athens, and studying various elements of the Greek History. I particularly loved the  studying in the museum in Thessalonki, Greece.

All Roads Lead to Rome

I started my world ttravels late, on a Fulbright to India . Travel experiences, seeing your own country from afar are also quite an education. You can believe we have some very interesting discussions in our household about various elements of culture in the places we have lived and worked.

Earthwatch was a project related to something I was doing in the geographic. It was my first scientific study sponsored , to learn archaeology , of the Beaker people. But what little real history of the area of the Med did I have. Not much. That experience was eye opening to me.

But the definition geo-literacy probably is best for us in a media centric world. You will love the visualization of the topic on the page. You might also like the longer definition and explanations by Dr. Danny Edelson Photo: Daniel Edelson.

A geo-literate population can make far-reaching decisions about their health, their environment, and their community.


National Geographic Society Education Network www.ngsednet.org 

For updates and newletters, sign up here.

This is a beta site


Do you know Science on a Sphere. It is a transformative use of media to teach. It is awesome.

I was working with NTIA, NOAA, when I was pulled away from Geography as my main sphere of Interest.
NOAA is a federal agency focused on the condition of the oceans and the atmosphere. It plays several distinct roles within the Department of Commerce with a broad mission. Some of NOAA’s more widely-known divisions include the National Weather Service, The National Hurricane Center, and the National Marine Fisheries Service.

Science On a Sphere (SOS)® is a room sized, global display system that uses computers and video projectors to display planetary data onto a six foot diameter sphere, analogous to a giant animated globe. Researchers at NOAA developed Science On a Sphere® as an educational tool to help illustrate Earth System science to people of all ages. Animated images of atmospheric storms, climate change, and ocean temperature can be shown on the sphere, which is used to explain what are sometimes complex environmental processes, in a way that is simultaneously intuitive and captivating.

Science On a Sphere® extends NOAA’s educational program goals, which are designed to increase public understanding of the environment. Using NOAA’s collective experience and knowledge of the Earth’s land, oceans, and atmosphere, NOAA uses Science On a Sphere® as an instrument to enhance informal educational programs in science centers, universities, and museums across the country. Science On a Sphere® is available to any institution and is currently in operation at a number of facilities in the US.

See if you can get a kid to move, when there is this exhibit to learn from. It is mostly in museums or may be coming to a conference near you.

FInally, the 21st Century Partnership now shares the ideas of geography, and they have involved schools in the blueprint. Here is their set of resources.

   Games in Education , yes, yes and yes,

Featured Games

  • Photo: A screen from the games Lost Chronicles-Fall of Caesar, showing Brutus walking through an ornate hall

    Lost Chronicles: Fall of Caesar

    Reveal the conspiracy behind Caesar’s murder in this hidden object investigation. Meet historical figures, including Marc Antony, and learn of their role in the conspiracy.  Explore historically-detailed locations in Rome and Greece, searching for clues, as you follow the path of Marcus Brutus after he murdered Caesar.  Play various mini-games, puzzles, and more, and access informative articles courtesy of National Geographic in this compelling game.


  • salem-game.jpg

    Lost Chronicles of Salem

    Help a mother and daughter who have been accused of witchcraft escape superstitious mobs in this captivating hidden object thriller. Explore 1692 Salem in richly detailed screens, and play mini-games like word jumbles, puzzles, and more.


  • Photo:  A photo montage of migrating animals--zebras, crabs, butterflies

    Great Migrations

    Based on the breathtaking National Geographic Channel miniseries Great Migrations, this game challenges you to protect and guide your animals on their dangerous migration journeys. Select a leader, collect your herd, evade predators, and heal all wounds!


  • Photo: Logo of the game Build It Green--Back to the Beach

    Build It Green: Back to the Beach

    You love this tropical island, and now it is up to you to protect it and everything around it. Build it green

    I cannot share everything that is of the National Geographic. Go to the home page, sign up, sign in and get working.

    Bonnie Bracey Sutton

    Victor Sutton


Teachers ask about STEM, is it a Flower? No , It is the flowering of new ways to teach Science, Technology , Engineering and Math

Family STEM Learning

AAAS Science Days

Science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) workers drive our nation’s innovation and competitiveness by generating new ideas, new companies and new industries. However, U.S. businesses frequently voice concerns over the supply and availability of STEM workers. Over the past 10 years, growth in STEM jobs was three times as fast as growth in non-STEM jobs. STEM workers are also less likely to experience joblessness than their non-STEM counterparts. Science, technology, engineering and mathematics workers play a key role in the sustained growth and stability of the U.S. economy, and are a critical component to helping the U.S. win the future.

In 2010, there were 7.6 million STEM workers in the United States, representing about 1 in 18 workers.

STEM occupations are projected to grow by 17.0 percent from 2008 to 2018, compared to 9.8 percent growth for non-STEM occupations.

STEM workers command higher wages, earning 26 percent more than their non-STEM counterparts.

More than two-thirds of STEM workers have at least a college degree, compared to less than one-third of non-STEM workers.

 • STEM degree holders enjoy higher earnings, regardless of whether they work in STEM or non-STEM occupations.

application/pdf iconstemfinalyjuly14.pdf

Robert Ping, sharing visualization and modeling images from the Teragrid

STEM Initiatives,, Outreach, Teragrid , Family Science Days

What is a girl to do, earn and learn!!
Just a few NCWIT resources for your perusal
NCWIT Resources

NCWIT offers a range of resources to suit your needs.  All of our resources are FREE, easy-to-use, downloadable, and printable.

  • Practices NCWIT promising practices use social science research as a foundation for advice, case studies, and activities that are proven to attract, retain, and advance girls and women in IT.
  • Talking Points NCWIT Talking Points are a series of easy-to-use conversation cards designed to promote the involvement of women in IT by helping people talk about the issues.
  • Programs-in-a-Box NCWIT Programs-in-a-Box offer turnkey solutions to pressing issues facing the IT community. Programs-in-a-Box provide all the components necessary for quick and strategic action, right out-of-the-box.
  • Workbooks & Guides NCWIT workbooks and guides provide you with practical, hands-on steps for changing your recruitment and retention practices and implementing institutional reform.
Never too early to learn to love science!

Family science days at AAAS in Washington DC

Women in STEM: An Opportunity and An Imperative

Today Commerce's Economic and Statistics Administration released the second in a series of reports on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). This report, entitled Women in STEM: A Gender Gap to Innovation (PDF), looked at women and STEM. The results offer an opportunity and an imperative for women and America. The results showed that women are vastly underrepresented in STEM jobs and among STEM degree holders despite making up nearly half of the U.S. workforce and half of the college-educated workforce. That leaves an untapped opportunity to expand STEM employment in the United States, even as there is wide agreement that the nation must do more to improve its competitiveness.

Other key findings are:

Although women fill close to half of all jobs in the U.S. economy, they hold less than 25 percent of STEM jobs. This has been the case throughout the past decade, even as college-educated women have increased their share of the overall workforce.
Women with STEM jobs earned 33 percent more than comparable women in non-STEM jobs–considerably higher than the STEM premium for men. As a result, the gender wage gap is smaller in STEM jobs than in non-STEM jobs.
Women hold a disproportionately low share of STEM undergraduate degrees, particularly in engineering.
Women with a STEM degree are less likely than their male counterparts to work in a STEM occupation; they are more likely to work in education or healthcare
For more information on this topic, read Chief Economist Mark Doms's blog post about the report and ESA's first report on STEM: Good Jobs Now and For the Future.
Women in STEM: An Opportunity and An Imperative

Although women fill close to half of all jobs in the U.S. economy, they hold less than 25 percent of STEM jobs. This has been the case throughout the past decade, even as college-educated women have increased their share of the overall workforce.
Women with STEM jobs earned 33 percent more than comparable women in non-STEM jobs–considerably higher than the STEM premium for men. As a result, the gender wage gap is smaller in STEM jobs than in non-STEM jobs.
Women hold a disproportionately low share of STEM undergraduate degrees, particularly in engineering.
Women with a STEM degree are less likely than their male counterparts to work in a STEM occupation; they are more likely to work in education or healthcare
For more information on this topic, read Chief Economist Mark Doms's blog post about the report and ESA's first report on STEM: Good Jobs Now and For the Future.

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Women in STEM: An Opportunity and An Imperative

Submitted on August 3, 2011 – 11:30am
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<a href=”http://www.commerce.gov/sites/default/files/images/2011/august/stem-totalworkforcetotalste.jpg&#8221; rel=”lightbox[field_photo][Gender Shares of Total and STEM Jobs, 2009Download Original]”>Gender Shares of Total and STEM Jobs, 2009

Today Commerce’s Economic and Statistics Administration released the second in a series of reports on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). This report, entitledWomen in STEM: A Gender Gap to Innovation(PDF), looked at women and STEM. The results offer an opportunity and an imperative for women and America. The results showed that women are vastly underrepresented in STEM jobs and among STEM degree holders despite making up nearly half of the U.S. workforce and half of the college-educated workforce. That leaves an untapped opportunity to expand STEM employment in the United States, even as there is wide agreement that the nation must do more to improve its competitiveness.

Other key findings are:

  • Although women fill close to half of all jobs in the U.S. economy, they hold less than 25 percent of STEM jobs. This has been the case throughout the past decade, even as college-educated women have increased their share of the overall workforce.
  • Women with STEM jobs earned 33 percent more than comparable women in non-STEM jobs–considerably higher than the STEM premium for men. As a result, the gender wage gap is smaller in STEM jobs than in non-STEM jobs.
  • Women hold a disproportionately low share of STEM undergraduate degrees, particularly in engineering.
  • Women with a STEM degree are less likely than their male counterparts to work in a STEM occupation; they are more likely to work in education or healthcare

For more information on this topic, read Chief Economist Mark Doms’s blog post about the report and ESA’s first report on

STEM: Good Jobs Now and For the Future.http://awesome.good.is/transparency/web/1107/stem-education/flash.html

Engineering new ideas at Tracy Sdhool, Tracy Learning Center, Tracy, CA.

Girls can learn to engineer.