Digital Equity and Social Justice, Digital Divide.. To Grow Our Future in Technology, Look to the Past

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Larry Irving at the Commerce Department helped us get started with his leadership long ago. Today he shared this thought
“Minorities and women, in fact all Americans, who work in or benefit from the technological revolution of the past several decades owe a debt of gratitude to the late Congressman Mickey Leland and the late Secretary of Commerce Ron Brown. As we celebrate Black History Month it is appropriate that we remember their contributions to America’s technological past. They provide us guideposts for our future…”

Here is his article for Black History Month

To Grow Our Future in Technology, Look to the Past
Your Take: The next generation of black innovators needs to continue the work started by two pioneers who worked to ensure digital access for all.

Posted: Feb. 22 2014 1:00 AM

Here is his article for Black History Month

To Grow Our Future in Technology, Look to the Past
Your Take: The next generation of black innovators needs to continue the work started by two pioneers who worked to ensure digital access for all.

Posted: Feb. 22 2014 1:00 AM

History doesn’t just happen. History starts with a vision.

In the early 1980s, Rep. George T. “Mickey” Leland, who was then chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, envisioned a more inclusive telecommunications and media world.

A decade later, the late Secretary of Commerce Ron Brown recognized that the power of the Internet could unlock a brighter future for our children with better economic and educational opportunities.

Today, our leaders are writing history with critical decisions that will affect the future of the mobile revolution and the transition to all-Internet-based networks.
History doesn’t just happen. History starts with a vision.

In the early 1980s, Rep. George T. “Mickey” Leland, who was then chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, envisioned a more inclusive telecommunications and media world.

A decade later, the late Secretary of Commerce Ron Brown recognized that the power of the Internet could unlock a brighter future for our children with better economic and educational opportunities.

Today, our leaders are writing history with critical decisions that will affect the future of the mobile revolution and the transition to all-Internet-based networks.

Mickey was weary of seeing stereotypical depictions of blacks and Hispanics in the media and was disappointed at the low rates of minority ownership and employment in the media and telecommunications industries. He understood that media ownership and employment would determine not just how white America saw black people but how black people saw themselves.

Equally important, he knew that electronic media and technology were going to be among the principal drivers of our economy and would present tremendous entrepreneurial opportunities for decades to come. And, being a great politician, he understood one other thing: He knew that times of great disruption bring great opportunity.

The media and telecommunications landscape was undergoing massive disruption in the 1980s. The historic AT&T was broken up into seven “Baby Bells.” New competitors such as MCI and Sprint were entering the telecommunications marketplace. Broadcasting was expanding from the three historic networks, and media-ownership opportunities were proliferating. And, perhaps most importantly, the cable-television industry was maturing and expanding.

Mickey was a strong supporter of innovation and technological advancement. But he made sure that every industry, even the most innovative industries, knew that his support for their efforts came with a condition: their support for increased opportunities for minorities and women.

Mickey fought for changes in the way minorities were portrayed by television broadcasters and movie producers; he drove the FCC to establish linkup and lifeline programs to increase telephone penetration rates in low-income communities; he fought for and won increased opportunities for ownership of radio and television stations by minorities; and, perhaps most importantly, he wrote legislation codifying increased employment and vendor opportunities for minorities in the cable-television industry. Those equal employment opportunity provisions became the model for other media industries, including the broadcasting industry.

Over the past 30 years, hundreds of thousands of minorities and women employees of media companies, in addition to thousands of cable vendors, benefited from Mickey’s hard work and vision. While the media and telecommunications industries are not as diverse as they could be, vast strides have been made as a result of Mickey’s vision and leadership.

Secretary Brown similarly understood the power of disruptive technology. He was a central figure in the Clinton administration’s policy formulations in the early days of the Internet, and he understood that the Internet was the transformative technology of its day. But he also understood that the Internet would only matter—would only be judged a clear success—if it benefited all Americans.

Shortly after Secretary Brown took office, a group of White House staffers presented him a list of proposed nominees for a Clinton administration private-sector advisory committee on the Internet. Secretary Brown looked at the list and noted that of the 25 suggested nominees, 22 were white males. He told the White House staff to take the list back and return with a more inclusive and diverse slate of nominees. One of the White House staff said, “But this list has been vetted and cleared by the White House,” to which Brown said, “Yes, and now it’s been vetted and rejected by the secretary of commerce who has to chair and manage that advisory committee.” The list was resubmitted with more diversity and a much-improved ratio of women and minorities on the committee.

The inclusion of women and minorities wasn’t just window dressing. Secretary Brown knew that we were at another technological inflection point. When he took office, fewer than 2 million people worldwide were on the Internet. The secretary knew that the Internet would grow and become ever more important. By ensuring diversity on the advisory committee, he made certain that as this high-powered group of individuals made policy suggestions to the president, they were looking at how this important new technology would affect and benefit all Americans and all American communities.

Secretary Brown was a firm supporter of the e-rate proposal that provided low-cost Internet connectivity to schools and libraries across America. He worked to develop policies and establish grant programs designed to connect schools, libraries, hospitals and rural health clinics. It’s a straight line from Secretary Brown’s commitment to connecting schools to the Internet two decades ago to the ConnectEd program the Obama administration supports today. Secretary Brown understood that, particularly in the early days of the Internet, millions of Americans would have their first experience with the Web in public institutions, and he fought to ensure those institutions had the resources they needed to serve their public.

Perhaps most importantly, he understood that there was a “digital divide,” and that it was the role of government to assist industry in bridging that divide. The digital divide would have been deeper and more pervasive but for Secretary Brown.

It is his signature on the front page of the first report defining the digital divide and stating that we, as a nation, have an obligation to ensure that all Americans have access to essential technological tools. He knew that with government and industry working together and with the formulation of smart policies, we could drive Internet connectivity rates higher. In slightly more than two decades, we have gone from 2 million people with access to the Internet to almost 3 billion people having access worldwide. Much of that growth is the result of the vision and the work of Ron Brown.

Today we are at another technological inflection point, another time of great disruption. The mobile revolution and the so-called “IP transition” promise to be even more disruptive than the cable revolution and the Internet revolution. And they promise to provide great opportunity for the smart and the agile. Women and men of vision must step forward to embrace these twin revolutions and work to ensure that these new technological tools are used to improve education, increase access to health care and fitness tools and provide for greater productivity and economic opportunity for our community.

Rep. Leland and Secretary Brown understood the power of technology to transform our image of ourselves, to enhance economic and educational opportunities and to ensure the future of our children. As we enter this next new phase of technological development, it is our obligation to further their twin visions.

The best way to celebrate Black History Month is to create some history of our own. Fast-tracking the move to modern, high-speed broadband networks, while ensuring that core consumer values are protected, will lay the foundation for even greater progress with education, health care, entrepreneurship, energy and the environment. We must understand and embrace new technologies and the opportunities they provide us. That’s what Mickey and Ron would have done.

Larry Irving, founding co-chairman of the Internet Innovation Alliance, served for almost seven years as assistant secretary of commerce for communications and information and administrator of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). He is widely credited with coining the term “the digital divide” and sparking global interest in the issue.

The original article available at

Pictures from Work in the field, CyberEd , and Teragrid ( my personal photos)Being a Science Teacher with Outside Resources.. Try these NASA resources !!

She and the Sea: and Ocean Literacy?Coastal School for Girls?


The ocean is the defining feature of our planet. Ocean Literacy means understanding the ocean’s influence on you and your influence on the ocean. There are 7 principles of Ocean Literacy — ideas scientists and educators agree everyone should understand about the ocean.

First let’s talk about the ocean.

The ocean is the defining feature of our planet. Ocean Literacy means understanding the ocean’s influence on you and your influence on the ocean. There are 7 principles of Ocean Literacy — ideas scientists and educators agree everyone should understand about the ocean.

Here is a set of ideas about ocean literacy

  1. Ocean life ranges in size from the smallest virus to the largest animal that has lived on Earth, the blue whale.
  2. Most life in the ocean exists as microbes. Microbes are the most important primary producers in the ocean. Not only are they the most abundant life form in the ocean, they have extremely fast growth rates and life cycles.
  3. Some major groups are found exclusively in the ocean. The diversity of major groups of organisms is much greater in the ocean than on land.
  4. Ocean biology provides many unique examples of life cycles, adaptations and important relationships among organisms (such as symbiosis, predator-prey dynamics and energy transfer) that do not occur on land.
  5. The ocean is three-dimensional, offering vast living space and diverse habitats from the surface through the water column to the seafloor. Most of the living space on Earth is in the ocean.
  6. Ocean habitats are defined by environmental factors. Due to interactions of abiotic factors such as salinity, temperature, oxygen, pH, light, nutrients, pressure, substrate and circulation, ocean life is not evenly distributed temporally or spatially, i.e., it is “patchy”. Some regions of the ocean support more diverse and abundant life than anywhere on Earth, while much of the ocean is considered a desert.
  7. There are deep ocean ecosystems that are independent of energy from sunlight and photosynthetic organisms. Hydrothermal vents, submarine hot springs, and methane cold seeps rely only on chemical energy and chemosynthetic organisms to support life.
  8. Tides, waves and predation cause vertical zonation patterns along the shore, influencing the distribution and diversity of organisms.
  9. Estuaries provide important and productive nursery areas for many marine and aquatic species.

In my life I have met Dr . Valerie Chase , Dr. Valerie Chase is an educator with MAMEA. Her work is based out of the National Aquarium in Baltimore. You can take a virtual tour here.

Sylvia Earle and other women who  go down to the sea inspire us. They have been sharing their work with students nationally. Here is a look at Sylvia Earle at work.

There are other photos of Sylvia Earl  at work here.

What makes women study the sea? Art, music, poetry, and sea and she stories,and maybe the coastal school for girls. Their mission is to provides high school sophomores with an opportunity to excel in science and technology in a community defined by academic, experiential and inspirational learning. CSG students engage in scientific inquiry, leadership development, critical thinking and stewardship while developing their educational and career aspirations. CSG strives to create a diverse ethnic, geographical and socioeconomic community for students and staff who celebrate success. What a wonderful opportunity for girls.

But did you know about it? Do you know about Citizen Science? If we involve girls in experiences they will relate and know if they are interested in any of the subjects that are a part of ociean study.

What is an oceanographer? If girls do not have exposure to ocean science they will not choose it as a career track.

An oceanographer can be a biologist, chemist, physicist, geologist, engineer, mathematician, computer scientist, meteorologist, or you! As a relatively new frontier, oceanography is a wonderfully challenging and exciting field of study providing many career opportunities. It’s an important field of study because oceans encompass 70% of the earth’s surface, and they also have an important role in understanding global weather patterns.

Chemical, geological, and physical oceanographers investigate the physical aspects of the ocean, such as salinity, currents, and the ocean floor. Biological oceanographers study marine plants and animals and their processes within the context of their ocean environments. Ocean engineers provide the technology and instrumentation that allows oceanographers to explore questions and solve problems in a variety of ways.

Where can girls learn about oceanography? Ocean Literacy? How can they learn about possible STEM careers?

Student Fellowships

Through the generosity of individual donors and foundations committed to global sustainability and learning, Earthwatch is able to provide sophomores and juniors with fellowship opportunities.

Earthwatch student fellows get to join one of Earthwatch’s expeditions around the world to work with top scientists and other students in the field, fully funded by various funders. On an expedition, students learn how to do field research and help find answers to the most challenging environmental issues of our time — all while making a difference for endangered animals and their habitats. Students use some of the latest technology (like GPS and radio-transmitters for tracking animals), learn about cutting edge research areas (like climate change), and work in places most people never get to see (like an Icelandic glacier or a Costa Rican volcano).

Students don’t need to have done anything like this before, and don’t need to have taken any particular science classes to go. All they need is curiosity, an ability to work hard as part of a team, a thirst for adventure, and a desire to make a difference.

Aquarium Outreach
 Some children have access to after school programs from aquariums.  Some children get to go to Summer camps. But at the high school level, what is there?There is Earthwatch. There is the Sant Hall of Science. Find your Blue in the Sant Hall of Science.

Coastal Studies for Girls is the country’s only residential science and leadership semester school for 10th grade girls. CSG is dedicated to girls who have a love for learning and discovery, an adventurous spirit, and a desire to challenge themselves

Coastal Studies for Girls is the country’s first residential science and leadership semester school for 10th grade girls.  We are the only single-gender residential semester school and the only semester school that focuses on science and leadership.  That intersection of science and leadership opportunities for girls is particularly valuable to our students and to society.  The mission of Coastal Studies for Girls (CSG) is to inspire, train, and empower girls to be scientists, environmental stewards, and leaders.

WCSH video

CSG girls featured in Portland, Maine television program

Why science and leadership?
Building on research in girls’ development, gender issues education, and best practices in pedagogy, CSG has been carefully designed to promote girls’ aspirations in the sciences and leadership.  On a societal level, we aim to help close the gender gap in science and to feed the “pipeline” that leads to qualified scientists in the workforce.  On an individual level, we aim to raise career aspirations for girls to pursue STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields and make it more likely that young women can achieve economic self-sufficiency in the future.  Yet regardless of career choices, the confidence and the ability to transfer their learnings in leadership is what makes the science powerful – or possible. There is also a strong emphasis on how girls view themselves, how they interact with others, and how they care for and steward the world. It is the intersection of all of these things that creates the magic here.

Why only girls?

Research has demonstrated the effects of societal beliefs and the learning environment on girls’ achievements and their interest in science and math and CSG provides an option that reverses negative trends.  Girls need supportive, stimulating programs and women role models that foster inspiration, self-confidence, concrete skills, as well as a strong understanding of science and the range of careers that involve science.  Our campus on a 626 acre salt water farm is a safe and supportive  place to explore the complexities of teenage life and to grow intellectually, to find their voices, and develop self-confidence.

What is the program?
The primary CSG program is either a fall or spring semester, (16 weeks) translating into 448+ academic hours of study and residential time.  The curriculum centers on three strands:  (1) science—classes on coastal marine ecology with significant field work and a major independent research project] (2) leadership—adventure-based, experiential learning opportunities to promote personal growth and engage students in physical activity; and (3) core academics—history, English, math, and languages.  During a typical week, a girl may have core classes in the mornings, and focused science and leadership classes in the afternoons.    On Fridays and weekends, students have academic field trips or enjoy the outdoors through kayaking, camping, snow shoeing, rock climbing, and other activities that teach leadership skills.  Students are exposed to a multitude of women scientists and leaders through our visiting guest and  lecture series.

Why sophomore year?
This is a pivotal time as girls are mature enough for a residential program, yet we hope to influence them early enough in their high school experience to impact decisions they make in their junior year about college and study options.  They return back to their home communities with enhanced leadership skills to make positive contributions.

Who attends?
CSG students attend the 16 week term during either the fall or spring of their 10th grade year.   Our first three terms have drawn students from 14 states, from rural Maine islands to the urban centers of New York City, Boston and Los Angeles, from the mountains of Vermont and North Carolina, to the heartland of Minnesota and the southern region of Tennessee. Whether they come from public, independent and home schooled environments, they are united in their love of learning and desire for challenge. We strive for a community that is ethnically, geographically, and socio-economically diverse; our first three terms represent have represented over 30% students of color.   Over 90% of our applicants have requested financial assistance and we have supported a significant number of applicants.

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.

What Science Pipeline? Making Sense of STEM Offerings! Part One

Family Outreach Days at AAAS Family Days  - Teragrid Booth

Students explore visualizations of the oil spill.

We all know that many students are not anywhere near talented teachers who can give them the information they need to be curious, understanding, interested and involved in the STEM initiatives. For many there is no pipeline, no indepth knowledge of any of the subjects that will create workforce, or future readiness for careers.

As a career STEM teacher, I was teaching science, math, problem solving, engineering and the use of technology early, i caught a lot of flack.  There were helpful groups of people and organizations that  reached out to me, to others and who helped us to become the teachers that need to be STEM educated. There were these teachers an d we were ridiculed during the Bush administration for teaching science. It was the bottom of the needs totem pole for M. Spellings. So we were not groomed, by our school systems or regarded in a good light. Political winds blew us away.

There was

NASA has many resources that a teacher can personalize and share with no cost.

Astronomy , space science education, the Chalenger Center Programs, so many offerings

,  NASA’s Education Materials Finder will help teachers locate resources that can be used in the classroom. Users may search by keywords, grade level, product type and subject. With hundreds of publications and Web sites indexed, the finder is the best way to locate NASA educational resources.

›  Find Materials Now

We meet the world on the news , but do students know where in the world the news is coming from?

The National Geographic Society and its Outreach to Teachers

Community, Education, and Student Outreach,  

Most remarkable in the way of transformational and experiential teaching was the experience offered by the National Geographic. It was not just an experience for me. There are Alliance groups within the Geographic. There are opportunities. I had a month of involvement in all things geographic. What they have to offer changes as the programs expand. There is a section on education, there are special programs, , there are lesson plans and there are mentorships to be had in the AAGE.

National Geography Standards

The first ever national geography standardsGeography for Life, were published in 1994 and are being voluntarily adopted around the country. These geography standards are benchmarks against which the content of geography courses can be measured. Standards will affect the education of all children in the United States, and they should be part of the program of instruction of schools in your community. Copies of Geography for Life are available for purchase from the NCGE store.

The Geography Standards Framework consists of two levels. At the first level, the subject matter of geography is divided into six essential elements. By essential we mean that each piece is central and necessary; we must look at the world in this way. By element we mean that each piece is a building block for the whole. At the second level, each essential element contains a number of geography standards, and each geography standard contains a set of related ideas and approaches to the subject matter of geography.

National Geography Standards

The first ever national geography standards, Geography for Life, were published in 1994 and are being voluntarily adopted around the country. These geography standards are benchmarks against which the content of geography courses can be measured. Standards will affect the education of all children in the United States, and they should be part of the program of instruction of schools in your community. Copies of Geography for Life are available for purchase from the NCGE store.

The Geography Standards Framework consists of two levels. At the first level, the subject matter of geography is divided into six essential elements. By essential we mean that each piece is central and necessary; we must look at the world in this way. By element we mean that each piece is a building block for the whole. At the second level, each essential element contains a number of geography standards, and each geography standard contains a set of related ideas and approaches to the subject matter of geography.

 Earthwatch Education

Earthwatch fellowships enable critical partners to participate in research expeditions worldwide. Each year, Earthwatch’s Fellowship Programs enable hundreds of studentsteachersconservation professionals, and corporate employees to join expeditions at little or no out-of-pocket expense. Earthwatch Fellows are emissaries of the Earthwatch mission, sharing their experiences and new knowledge with thousands of students, teachers, and colleagues upon their return.

Educator Fellowships

Summer Fellowships
Get out of the classroom and head into the field to learn about cutting edge research and conservation efforts, to develop professional skills, and to make a difference for our shared environment! As a summer educator fellow, you’ll spend 1-2 weeks of your summer recess on an Earthwatch expedition alongside a diverse team of volunteers led by prominent field researchers. After your expedition, you’ll bring the world back into your classroom and to your students as you’ve never done before.

Learn more about our Summer Fellowship program.

Live From the Field
Live From the Field educator fellows join Earthwatch research teams during a brief portion (7 to 10 days) of their school year and share their experiences with classrooms at home using blogs containing, photos, videos, lessons, and activities. Live From the Field educator fellows also connect with students through live video and phone conferencing at scheduled times during their expedition.

I joyously participated with other teachers in Earthwatch Outreach.  It was fun to be an Earthwatch fellow. Working with a scientist in the field using technology to share the archeological findings was hard work, but rewarding. I learned the culture of the island, the history of Mallorca, I learned about archeological excavation , and how we could use technology to map the site and the finds. Many teachers have been Earthwatch Fellows. The experience can be a life -changing event. Who knew about the other history I learned so much about . The cultures of the Med were unknown to me. Dr. William Waldron was the PI at the time. I participated in a further grant, we mapped the Mongoose popution of St. Martins .. and then volunteered to do Turtle nests , at night , another project. Nothing in a textbook can match the experience. Nothing!

K-12 classroom educators of any subject(s) from public or private schools nationwide are eligible to apply for Earthwatch fellowships. The strongest applicants are those who are passionate about teaching, excited about making a difference with their time and talents, and committed to engaging their communities using their knowledge, passion, and energy.

A starting point is the Education Department of the National Geographic. I don’t remember why I knew about them, or what I saw that made me apply to a summer institute.

, NSTA and their workshops, NCTM and their initiatives , and their free resources, the Fish and Wildlife Service, 4H and the SET program, the Exploratorium, and wait there are more, but I won’t name them all.

There is a digital divide, and there are resources everywhere, if teachers can access them, but given the state of broadband, in many areas that are rural and distant , the people who are concerned about STEM , are creating a false illusion that teachers create the problem.

There is also the knowledge that we in the classrooms have a mandated methodology which we can tweak but the management, ie the school boards and policy people make most of the decisions. So, what ‘s a teacher to do? Stay tuned. The age of Sputnik is over!!

The age of Transformation , has begun in Education.

Exploring the Teragrid

Outreach to the public sharing research = Oil Spill simulation

Michael Morgenstern for The Chronicle

By Hal Salzman and B. Lindsay Lowell
The strength and size of the nation’s science-and-engineering work force are the subject of much concern, following the Obama administration’s education initiatives; international testing that shows students in Shanghai at the top of the world; and, last year, an update of the influential report “Rising Above the Gathering Storm.” That report finds the deterioration of America’s competitiveness so severe that it is likened to a Category 5 hurricane. It calls for the United States to create a “New Sputnik” education initiative and expand our science-and-engineering work force. It reinforces a common worry over American students’ lackluster international standing compared with those in several Asian nations and in a handful of small European nations.

We believe that those concerns are overstating and misidentifying America’s challenges in science and engineering, and that they are missing the real opportunities for improving the nation’s education and work force. As we examined the evidence, several points became clear: The United States needs to improve education broadly rather than expand particular fields of study; look inward rather than abroad for exemplary educational models, in light of the limits of international comparisons; and focus on the core lessons about improving the lowest-performing group of students. There is actually no compelling evidence that, over all, the educational pipeline is failing to meet demand.
Our recent analysis of Department of Education data for three decades followed students from high school to the job market. We found little in the way of overall change in students’ pursuit of science-and-engineering studies or their entry into those careers over the past 30 years. We found that while a steady proportion of college students graduated in science and engineering, no more than half of them landed jobs in a formally defined core science or engineering occupation.
So, given a steady supply, why do companies report difficulty in finding ideal workers? Listen carefully and it sounds as if the employers would like entry-level workers to have skills not typical of newly graduated students. Leading engineering companies seek technologists with a depth of skill in a technical area combined with a broad education across technical fields, business, and the social sciences. Colleges find it difficult to develop all of that in only four years. So the hiring difficulty may reflect problems with pedagogy, the structure of higher education, the unwillingness of some employers to train new workers, and a lack of collaboration between academe and industry. It does not, however, indicate a loss of student interest or a shrinking pool of science-and-engineering graduates.
Nevertheless, some policy makers and industry leaders believe that to meet the demands of our knowledge economy, more such education is needed. They even think it is preferable to other fields of study. While acknowledging the value of science-and-engineering knowledge, we find that it is but one of many forms of valuable knowledge. Moreover, the science-and-engineering managers we interviewed expressed dissatisfaction with the “soft” communication, or teamwork, skills of their new engineers. And changes in hiring patterns suggest that the nation’s economic future depends on developing a balanced portfolio of well-educated workers across the spectrum of skills, knowledge, and disciplines.

Finally, some industry lobbying groups and high-tech companies seek to augment the supply of domestic workers by importing foreign labor on temporary visas. But this confuses the purpose of those programs with the country’s immigration policy for citizens-in-waiting. Immigration policy is driven by a long-term vision and a wide range of social and political objectives. The original intent of temporary-visa programs, on the other hand, was to meet short-term, not structural, labor shortages. Ensuring that labor markets are not distorted by short-term visas, which in their current form lead to a number of labor-market and social problems, is not anti-immigrant, and does not undermine the strength of U.S. science and engineering. In fact, raising the numbers of temporary visas for foreign workers during cyclical talent shortages can distort labor markets and discourage domestic students from careers in engineering and the sciences.

While we do not maintain that our study, or any one study, is definitive, we do believe that influential groups should consider new evidence in their quest to advance science, technology, and economic growth. When we look at the past three decades, the data support a far more favorable set of conclusions on student performance and supply than those promulgated by critics of the so-called STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) pipeline. At the same time, our research supports the widely recognized fact that women and minorities are the most likely future source of STEM workers, and, discouragingly, that where the education system is most clearly failing is precisely for those populations. Of course, focusing on the big picture leaves out clear-cut examples of unfilled shortages of workers in esoteric but crucial occupations.
The classic tried and true formulation is that supply follows demand or, less sanguinely, that depressed wages and discouraged workers result if supply outstrips demand. To avoid those problems, a number of demand-side policies should receive support from all quarters. These policies include stable and increasing government financing for research, reinvigoration of lagging private-sector investments in research, tax breaks and other incentives for research-and-development activities, and the creation of an environment that encourages entrepreneurship. In terms of education, however, the evidence clearly points to improving basic education for low-performing students, schools, and populations—not an attempt to artificially inflate the number of science-and-engineering degrees awarded.
Hal Salzman is a professor of public policy at Rutgers University at New Brunswick. B. Lindsay Lowell is director of policy studies at the Institute for the Study of International Migration at Georgetown University.


No Gifted Child Left Behind?  First, the good news: It turns out, millions of kids from low-income families are acing standardized tests. Now, the bad news…

With the tests we find that there are many who have the capacity to learn, to create to innovate, but, sadly nothing happens.  Download the report, here is the summary.

Today in America, there are millions of students who are
overcoming challenging socioeconomic circumstances
to excel academically. They defy the stereotype that poverty
precludes high academic performance and that lowerincome
and low academic achievement are inextricably
linked. They demonstrate that economically disadvantaged
children can learn at the highest levels and provide hope
to other lower-income students seeking to follow the
same path.
Sadly, from the time they enter grade school through
their postsecondary education, these students lose more
educational ground and excel less frequently than their
higher-income peers. Despite this tremendous loss
in achievement, these remarkable young people are
hidden from public view and absent from public policy
debates. Instead of being recognized for their excellence
and encouraged to strengthen their achievement, highachieving
lower-income students enter what we call the
“achievement trap” —
educators, policymakers, and the
public assume they can fend for themselves when the facts
show otherwise.
Very little is known about high-achieving students
from lower-income families — defined in this report as
students who score in the top 25 percent on nationally
normed standardized tests and whose family incomes
(adjusted for family size) are below the national median.
We set out to change that fact and to focus public attention
on this extraordinary group of students who can help
reset our sights from standards of proficiency to standards
of excellence.
This report chronicles the experiences of highachieving
lower-income students during elementary
school, high school, college, and graduate school. In
some respects, our findings are quite hopeful. There
are millions of high-achieving lower-income students
in urban, suburban, and rural communities all across
America; they reflect the racial, ethnic, and gender composition
of our nation’s schools; they drop out of high
school at remarkably low rates; and more than 90 percent
of them enter college.
But there is also cause for alarm. There are far fewer
lower-income students achieving at the highest levels than
there should be, they disproportionately fall out of the
high-achieving group during elementary and high school,
they rarely rise into the ranks of high achievers during
those periods, and, perhaps most disturbingly, far too few
ever graduate from college or go on to graduate school.
Unless something is done, many more of America’s brightest
lower-income students will meet this same educational
fate, robbing them of opportunity and our nation of a
valuable resource.
This report discusses new and original research on
this extraordinary population of students. Our findings
come from three federal databases that during the past 20
years have tracked students in elementary and high school,
college, and graduate school. The following principal
findings about high-achieving lower-income students are
important for policymakers, educators, business leaders,
the media, and civic leaders to understand and explore as
schools, communities, states, and the nation consider ways
to ensure that all children succeed: