Science Education in the USA, Japan…

Posted on April 13, 2006  Comments (1)

Press release from the US Department of Education: U.S. Science Lessons Focus More on Activities, Less on Content, Study Shows

A video study of 8th-grade science classrooms in the United States and four other countries found U.S. teachers focused on a variety of activities to engage students but not in a consistent way that developed coherent and challenging science content.

In comparison, classrooms in Australia, the Czech Republic, Japan, and the Netherlands exposed 8th graders to science lessons characterized by a core instructional approach that held students to high content standards and expectations for student learning.

The National Center for Education Statistics in the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences today released these and other findings in a report titled Teaching Science in Five Countries: Results From the TIMSS 1999 Video Study that draws on analysis of 439 randomly selected videotaped classroom lessons in the participating countries.

The results of the newly released science study highlight variations across the countries in how science lessons are organized, how the science content is developed for the students, and how the students participate in actively doing science work.

For example, in Japan, the lessons emphasized identifying patterns in data and making connections among ideas and evidence. Australian lessons developed basic science content ideas through inquiry. Whereas in the Netherlands, independent student learning is given priority. Dutch students often kept track of a long-term set of assignments, checking their work in a class answer book as they proceeded independently.

In the Czech Republic, students were held accountable for mastering challenging and often theoretical science content in front of their peers through class discussions, work at the blackboard, and oral quizzes.

In the United States, lessons kept students busy on a variety of activities such as hands-on work, small group discussions, and other “motivational” activities such as games, role-playing, physical movement, and puzzles. The various activities, however, were not typically connected to the development of science content ideas. More than a quarter of the U.S. lessons were focused almost completely on carrying out the activity as opposed to learning a specific idea.

The science report is the second released by TIMSS 1999 Video Study. The first report, focused on 8th grade mathematics teaching, was released in 2003.

To view the reports and for more information: Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study

via: Study suggests U.S. science teaching falls short on content

National Conference on Service Learning in Engineering

Posted on April 13, 2006  Comments (0)

National Conference on Service Learning in Engineering

Service learning is a rapidly growing pedagogy in engineering, technology and computing that actively engages students in real problems in local and global communities. Research has shown that service learning enhances learning of classroom content. Research and active programs indicate that the community context can help address the under representation of our student populations. This conference will bring leaders from education, industry and government together with service learning practitioners to identify how to capitalize on the current momentum and to maximize its impact.

May 24th and 25th, 2006, National Academy of Engineering, Washington, DC. There is no charge to attend but space is limited.

Singapore woos top scientists with new labs

Posted on April 12, 2006  Comments (3)

Singapore woos top scientists with new labs, research money by Paul Elias:

Singapore’s siren song is growing increasingly more irresistible for scientists, especially stem cell researchers who feel stifled by the U.S. government’s restrictions on their field.

Two prominent California scientists are the latest to defect to the Asian city-state, announcing earlier this month that they, too, had fallen for its glittering acres of new laboratories outfitted with the latest gizmos.

They weren’t the first defections, and Singapore officials at the Biotechnology Organization’s annual convention in Chicago this week promise they won’t be the last.

Other Asian countries, including Japan, South Korea and even China, are also here touting their burgeoning biotechnology spending to the 20,000 scientists and biotechnology executives attending the conference.

In all, the country has managed to recruit about 50 senior scientists — far short of what it needs, but a start for a tiny country of 4.5 million people off the tip of Malaysia.

Another 1,800 younger scientists from all corners of the world staff the Biopolis laboratories, which were built with $290 million in government funding and another $400 million in private investment by the two dozen biotechnology companies based there. Biopolis opened in 2003 and contains seven buildings spread over 10 acres and connected by sky bridges

Rube Goldberg Devices from Japan

Posted on April 11, 2006  Comments (1)

Video of Rube Goldberg devices from Japan (link broken unfortunately)

Great Moonbuggy Race

Posted on April 11, 2006  Comments (0)

Moon Buggy Race Vehicle

Great Moonbuggy Race – Huntsville Center for Technology High School and Pittsburg State University win their divisions.

The two winning teams were among 33 that raced their original moonbuggy designs across a half-mile simulated lunar surface at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville April 7-8.

More from the NASA education site

Previous posts about science fairs, engineering challenges, science competitions, etc.

Sports Engineering

Posted on April 10, 2006  Comments (5)

Wind Tunnel at MIT for sports testing

MIT is not the first school to come to mind when discussing athletics. However, the MIT Center for Sports Innovation (CSI) is making news. The CSI mission is to expand the students’ learning experience by involving them in the development of sports technology and products.

One project at the Center is a wind tunnel used for bicycle testing:

The design and construction of the bike test stand was Brian Hoying’s senior thesis project. The data acquisition software upgrade was Mark Cote’s freshman term project. The resulting test system was deemed “the best cycling test system I’ve ever seen” by Phil White, owner of Cervélo Cycles, and sponsor of the CSC professional cycling team.

It is great to see student projects with such success.

Mark Cote, a researcher at the MIT Center for Sports Innovation, has an impressive list of clients — from Tour de France stage winners to some of North America’s leading bicycle manufacturers. Now the wind tunnel specialist plans to use his expertise in fluid dynamics to develop and, he hopes, patent his own advances in aerodynamic cycling gear.

Not bad, considering that Cote, 21, is still an undergraduate.

Companies Hunting for Engineers to Fill New Jobs

Posted on April 10, 2006  Comments (1)

Increase in work has companies hunting for engineers by Molly McMillin:

In 2007, Airbus’ North America Engineering Center in Wichita must hire an additional 150 engineers because of new work it is getting. Bill Greer, Airbus North America’s vice president and general manager, said he will hire as many engineers locally as he can for the wing design center, which now employs 207 engineers.

But if he can’t find enough high-quality, experienced engineers in Wichita, Greer said he will contract with engineering companies outside Kansas.

Cessna Aircraft hired 150 engineers last year and plans to hire 100 to 120 more in 2006.

Raytheon Aircraft expects to add more than 100 engineers in the next year.

Right now, both say they are finding the engineers they need.

WSU, which has 155 to 160 engineering graduates in a year, is not graduating all the engineers Wichita needs, Toro-Ramos said.

Those who are graduating are getting multiple offers of employment, she said.

Nobel Laureate Discusses Protein Power

Posted on April 9, 2006  Comments (0)

Nobel Laureate discusses protein power – Podcast

Nobel Laureate Professor Robert Huber visited the The University of Queensland – Brisbane to discuss the future of biomedicine.

He presented the studies that earned him the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1988 and discussed the future of protein crystallography to reduce several diseases such as influenza and cancer.

Nobel Prize

$1 Million Each for 20 Science Educators

Posted on April 7, 2006  Comments (0)

Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) Names 20 New Million-Dollar Professors – Top Research Scientists Tapped for their Teaching Talent:

“The scientists whom we have selected are true pioneers—not only in their research, but in their creative approaches and dedication to teaching,” said Thomas R. Cech, HHMI president. “We are hopeful that their educational experiments will energize undergraduate science education throughout the nation.”

The Institute awarded $20 million to the first group of HHMI professors in 2002 to bring the excitement of scientific discovery to the undergraduate classroom.

The experiment worked so well that neurobiologist and HHMI professor Darcy Kelley convinced Columbia University to require every entering freshman to take a course on hot topics in science. Through Utpal Bannerjee’s HHMI program at the University of California, Los Angeles, 138 undergraduates were co-authors of a peer-reviewed article in a top scientific journal. At the University of Pittsburgh, HHMI professor Graham Hatfull’s undergraduates mentored curious high school students as they unearthed and analyzed more than 30 never-before-seen bacteriophages from yards and barnyards. And Isiah Warner, an award-winning chemist and HHMI professor at Louisiana State University, developed a “mentoring ladder,” a hierarchical model for integrating research, education, and peer mentoring, with a special emphasis on underrepresented minority students.

Google Announces 2006 Anita Borg Scholarship Winners

Posted on April 7, 2006  Comments (3)

Google Announces 2006 Anita Borg Scholarship Winners

The Google Anita Borg Memorial Scholarship was established to honor the legacy of Anita Borg and her efforts to encourage women to pursue careers in computer science and technology. The award is a $10,000 scholarship for outstanding female undergraduate and graduate students completing their degrees in computer science or related fields.

More on the Google Anita Borg Scholarship.

Previous posts:

Virus-Assembled Batteries

Posted on April 7, 2006  Comments (2)

Virus coated polymer dipped in battery material

Virus-Assembled Batteries by Kevin Bullis:

More than half the weight and size of today’s batteries comes from supporting materials that contribute nothing to storing energy. Now researchers have demonstrated that genetically engineered viruses can assemble active battery materials into a compact, regular structure, to make an ultra-thin, transparent battery electrode that stores nearly three times as much energy as those in today’s lithium-ion batteries. It is the first step toward high-capacity, self-assembling batteries.

One of the ways they have done this in the past is using a process called “directed evolution.” They combine collections of viruses with millions of random variations in a vial containing a piece of the material they want the virus to bind to. Some of the viruses happen to have proteins that bind to the material. Isolating these viruses is a simple process of washing off the piece of material –only those viruses bound to the material remain. These can then be allowed to reproduce. After a few rounds of binding and washing, only viruses with the highest affinity for the material remain.