Blog: The Educated Reporter

Thursday STEM Express–Manufacturing on the Rebound, Finland on the Decline?

Manufacturing jobs making a comeback in southern U.S.–“Apple CEO Tim Cook’s announcement earlier this month that the company will start building Macs closer to home in 2013 was seen as a milestone that could help jump-start U.S. manufacturing.

But over the past few years, factories in the American South from the Carolinas to Alabama to Kentucky have already experienced such a rebirth.

Both U.S. and foreign companies have opened plants in southeastern states in recent years, many since the end of the recession. Others are expanding existing plants or have plans to break ground in 2013.”

BMW, Lenovo, and Australian shipbuilding firm Austal have added positions to various Southern plants in recent years. (Michelle V. Rafter , NBC News)

The science class of the (not too distant) future–“If you step into a high school chemistry class late next year, the students might be learning the same thing. But they could be manipulating foam or paper mache models to show how bonds are made, or moving electrons around on a computer screen, testing what happens when a transfer occurs.

Science classrooms in America will begin to change next year, when 26 states are expected to adopt the Next Generation Science Standards. How those students learn will often differ from the education their parents, or even their older siblings, had.

Twenty-six states helped develop new science standards.

Whatever they’re doing, they won’t just be reading science translated into kid-speak by adults. They’ll be making models, solving problems and getting messy, the standards developers said. They’re expecting the next generation to gain an understanding of science and engineering that makes them competitive on a global scale.” (John Martin, CNN)

International Tests Spark Questions on Finland’s Standing–“The most striking contrast is in mathematics, where the performance of Finnish 8th graders was not statistically different from the U.S. average on the 2011 TIMSS, or Trends in Mathematics and Science Study, released last month. Finland, which last participated in TIMSS in 1999, actually trailed four U.S. states that took part as ‘benchmarking education systems’ on TIMSS this time: Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, and Indiana.” (Erik Robolen, Education Week)

STEM school pioneers tablets for all in Hamilton County–“And district leaders hope that all 42,000 Hamilton County students will get a chance to experience what’s already working for the 75 students in the district’s new science, technology, engineering and math school.

Superintendent Rick Smith said his recent push to bring an iPad to every student in the county isn’t just about getting technologically prepared for new online state tests. It’s about enhancing the quality of everyday instruction.” (Kevin hardy, Chattanooga Times Free Press)

Nonprofit NextEd gets big grant for science, math education–“A Sacramento nonprofit has received a $5 million federal grant to help this region’s schools boost their efforts in science and technology and in career education.

The grant will help NextEd work to improve the effectiveness of programs in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, also known as STEM. Specifically, the grant will be used to evaluate Project Lead the Way, a nationally used program that offers engineering as an elective class to high school students. That in turn will help NextEd evaluate science, technology, engineering and mathematics pathways for high school students.”

The money was awarded by the US Department of Education through its I-3 grant. (Kelly Johnson, Sacramento Business Journal)

With 5M Downloads To Date, MindSnacks Brings Its Addictive Educational Games To The iPad—“In the same way those of my generation were spurred to learn basic math concepts from desktop “edu-tainment” classics like Number Munchers, MindSnacks set out to leverage the mechanics (and popularity) of mobile gaming to teach anyone and everyone the fundamental building blocks of the language of their choice.

The startup’s portfolio of games now consists of 14 language acquisition and test preparation apps — that range from SAT help to French and Mandarin — all of which have collectively attracted over five million downloads.” In August the company completed a round of venture funding that netted over $6 million from Sequoia. (Rip Empson, TechCrunch)