Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching

Posted on April 29, 2006  Comments (0)

President George W. Bush has announced that 100 educators will receive the annual Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching for 2005. The award was established in 1983. This year, the White House recognizes the best of the Nation’s 7th – 12th grade mathematics and science teachers.

A national panel of distinguished scientists, mathematicians, and educators recommends teachers to receive the Presidential Awards which are administered by the National Science Foundation.

Awardees receive a $10,000 educational grant for their schools and a trip to Washington, D.C., to accept a certificate. The teachers will be in the Nation’s capital from May 1-6, 2006, to receive the award and participate in a variety of educational and celebratory events.

During the week the teachers will tour the White House and be honored in an awards ceremony hosted by Dr. John H. Marburger III, Science Advisor to the President and Director, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. They will also meet with members of Congress and the Administration to discuss the latest issues in mathematics and science teaching.

For a complete listing of the 2005 awardees visit the Presidential Awardees for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching web site.

Study on Minority Degrees in STEM fields

Posted on April 21, 2006  Comments (1)

The American Council on Education has published a study: Increasing the Success of Minority Students in Science and Technology.

Key Findings:

  • In the 1995-96 academic year, 18.6 percent of African-American students and 22.7 percent of Hispanic students began college interested in majoring in STEM fields compared with 18 percent of white students and 26.4 percent of Asian-American students.
  • By the spring of 2001, 62.5 percent of African Americans and Hispanics majoring in STEM fields attained a bachelor’s degree compared with 94.8 percent of Asian Americans and 86.7 percent of whites.

Students who graduated in STEM fields (by spring 2001) were:

  • better prepared for postsecondary education because a larger percentage took a highly rigorous high school curriculum.
  • nearly all were younger than 19 when they entered college in 1995-96
  • more likely to have at least one parent with a bachelor’s degree or higher.
  • came from families with higher incomes.
  • more likely to work 15 hours or more a week.

Full press release on the study.

How a Microwave Heats

Posted on April 19, 2006  Comments (2)

Measuring the speed of light with Chocolate Chips

The waves in a microwave oven are standing waves. These waves are stationary in space with an amplitude changing over time.

With this demonstration, it is obvious that particular sections of the chips are heated more than others. In fact, these locations are located half of the wave’s length apart.

Antibiotic Discovery Stagnates

Posted on April 18, 2006  Comments (1)

Bad Bugs, No Drugs As Antibiotic Discovery Stagnates . . . A Public Health Crisis Brews by the Infectious Diseases Society of America. The site includes a 37 page white paper.

A multi-pronged approach is needed to limit the impact of antibiotic resistance on patients and the public. These efforts include educating physicians, patients, and parents about the appropriate use of antibiotics, developing and applying infection control and immunization policies and practices to prevent transmission, surveying clinical and prescription data, and developing safer alternatives to antibiotic uses in agriculture.

The purpose of this document, however, is to call attention to a frightening twist in the antibiotic resistance problem that has not received adequate attention from federal policymakers: The pharmaceutical pipeline for new antibiotics is drying up.

Facts About Antibiotic Resistance:

The total cost of antimicrobial resistance to U.S. society is nearly $5 billion annually, according to the Institute of Medicine (IOM). Treating resistant pathogens often requires more expensive drugs and extended hospital stays.

More on the overuse of antibiotics – which creates drug resistance
Previous posts on antibiotics

What’s so Exciting About Engineering?

Posted on April 18, 2006  Comments (0)

What’s so exciting about engineering? by Leigh M. Chowdhary:

“I thought it was really great,” says Hannah M., an 8th grader at Sacred Heart Middle School. “I liked the experiments.”

A crew of 150 girls age 10 to 14 from four Chicago area schools were scientists for a day. Some kids used static electricity from balloons to move sticks through a racecourse. Others watched videos of female inventors–who created things such as smear-proof lipstick and Kevlar (a substance used in bullet-proof vests).

This article discusses a Wow! That’s Engineering event.

Previous post on Science for Kids – learning through action.

Women in engineering change the world around us for the better every day! Tell us in 100 words or less about a promotion that you would create to make the world a better place and you could win one of these prizes. Deadline is April 19th!

Feynman on Discovery

Posted on April 17, 2006  Comments (1)

The pleasure of finding things out a video interview with Richard P Feynman (Google Video broke the link so I removed it).

A great mind expands upon our recent post: Science for Kids. He provides some good insight into learning.

Related book: Classic Feynman: All the Adventures of a Curious Character packaged with an hour-long audio CD of the 1978 “Los Alamos from Below” lecture.

Solar Eruption

Posted on April 16, 2006  Comments (2)

photo of Solar Prominence

A Solar Prominence from SOHO – NASA photo of the day.

How can gas float above the Sun? Twisted magnetic fields arching from the solar surface can trap ionized gas, suspending it in huge looping structures. These majestic plasma arches are seen as prominences above the solar limb. In September 1999, this dramatic and detailed image was recorded by the EIT experiment on board the space-based SOHO observatory in the light emitted by ionized Helium.

It shows hot plasma escaping into space as a fiery prominence breaks free from magnetic confinement a hundred thousand kilometers above the Sun. These awesome events bear watching as they can affect communications and power systems over 100 million kilometers away on Planet Earth.

Previous post on solar storms and the affect on communications and power systems

10 Science Facts You Should Know

Posted on April 16, 2006  Comments (1)

Why is the sky blue? Facts you should know (sadly phb’s broke the link so I removed it)

  • What is it that makes diseases caused by viruses and bacteria hard to treat?
  • Why do we put salt on sidewalks when it snows?
  • Why is the sky blue?
  • Did dinosaurs and humans ever exist at the same time?

Read answers to these questions (phb broken link), and others, by leading scientists. For example:

Influenza viruses and others continually change over time, usually by mutation. This change enables the virus to evade the immune system of its host so that people are susceptible to influenza virus infection throughout their lives. Bacteria mutate in the same way and can also become resistant if overtreated with antibiotics.

by Helle Gawrlewski, Johnson & Johnson (and the article author’s mother)

According to a recent National Science Board survey, 90 percent of Americans are interested in science, but only 15 percent consider themselves well-informed. In high schools, only 60 percent of students complete a general biology class, while only 40 percent complete a general chemistry class and a scant 27 percent complete a physics class, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

Nanospheres Targeting Cancer at MIT

Posted on April 15, 2006  Comments (1)

Nanospheres targeting cancer cells

Single-Shot Chemo – Nanospheres that target cancer cells and gradually release drugs could make treatment safer and more effective

Photo – Three prostate cancer cells have taken up fluorescently labeled nanoparticles (shown in red). The cells’ nuclei and cytoskeletons are stained blue and green, respectively. By Omid Farokhzad and Robert Langer at MIT.

A key to the nanoparticles’ effectiveness is the ability of their RNA strands to bind to a cancer cell membrane. The cell then pulls the particles inside. Having the particles inside the cell has two advantages: it gets the drug where it needs to be to kill the cells, and it decreases the concentration of the drug outside the cancer cells, thereby decreasing toxicity to healthy tissue. The fact that the polymer releases the drug gradually also helps — the drug is released over the hours or days it takes for the particles to be pulled into cells, where it continues to be released, killing the cells.

Eventually, the MIT-Harvard researchers hope to design nanoparticles that can be injected into the bloodstream, from which they could seek out cancer cells anywhere in the body, making it possible to treat late-stage metastasized cancer. “Even though this represents a small percentage of patients that actually have the disease, these are the ones that have no therapeutic option available to them,” Farokhzad says.

More life science related posts and medical related posts.

Science for Kids

Posted on April 15, 2006  Comments (3)

‘Sciencing’ with kids by Prakash Rao:

Let us understand well that science is better learnt through activities, experiences, experiments and projects.

Children’s experiences need to be real, concrete and [tangible]. We should never get carried away by just contents and facts. Link experiences to children’s life. Then they will feel a desire to know.

Children are naturally inquisitive. Mainly we need to provide opportunities for them to do what they would do naturally. In previous posts we have highlighted many ways to give kids the chance to learn and figure out how things work.

Technology Education: USA and India

Posted on April 14, 2006  Comments (1)

US wants to replicate India’s technology education success by Bibhu Ranjan Mishra:

Sources say that over 70,000 Indian students are undergoing higher studies in the US, which is the highest anywhere in the world. In contrast, there are just 780 US students presently undergoing studies in some Indian universities, mainly in IT, agricultural sciences and working with high schools to understand the pattern of higher secondary education in India.

Both Spellings and Enzi, who were the part of a delegation comprising some leading US Senators that visited Bangalore recently told Business Standard that the way India was churning out over 200,000 engineering graduates every year, while at the same time maintaining quality, really baffled them.