Articles in the STEM Education category

National School Boards Association announces “20 to Watch” education technology leaders

The National School Boards Association’s (NSBA) Technology Leadership Network (TLN) announces its “20 to Watch” honorees for 2013-2014. These distinctive education leaders from across the country are being recognized for their ability to inspire colleagues to incorporate innovative technology solutions that contribute to high-quality learning environments and more efficient school district operations.

“The ’20 to Watch’ honorees offer real-world examples of how new technologies are being used to impact learning and how these new tools may influence or inform policy,” said Thomas J. Gentzel, NSBA’s Executive Director. “From ‘BYOD’ and the Maker Movement to virtual schools and the increased use of the cloud, these inspirational pioneers are paving the way.”

Ann Flynn, NSBA’s Director of Education Technology, shared that common characteristics across honorees include their willingness to take risks, share learnings with colleagues, and inspire others to believe that they, too, can effectively use technology. “Their voices and experience will inform local, district, and state approaches to education technology decisions for years to come,” Flynn said.

This is the eighth year of the NSBA “20 to Watch” program, created in 2006. This year’s honorees are being recognized at the 2014 Consortium for School Networking (CoSN) Conference on March 19 in Washington, DC, along with a TLN-hosted luncheon at NSBA’s 2014 Annual Conference in New Orleans this April. TechSmith Corporation is sponsoring the “20 to Watch” celebration events and is providing software scholarships to the honorees.

The 2013-2014 NSBA “20 to Watch” honorees are (listed by state/territory):

Arizona:
John Andrews, Chief Information Officer, Dysart Unified School District, Az.
John Andrews facilitated “BYOD” as a solution for integrating technology at a time of hyper–growth when the district had limited funds for sufficient technology purchases. He led development of iPAL (iPlan, iAssess, iLearn), an assessment and resource software providing teachers with live and historical student data, instructional resources, and professional development opportunities. Andrews provides a combination of technical and pedagogical support for each of the district’s schools.

Connecticut:
Matt Meyers, Teacher, Greenwich Public Schools & CEO, Slate & Tablets, Conn.
In addition to writing his school’s new computer science course, Matt Meyers “changed the high school forever” through his creation of a world-class, mobile app that replaced the traditional paper plan book used by teachers and students. Hailed as beautiful and functional, this popular Planner app was developed by Slate & Tablets, the company Matt started with his brother and where he serves as CEO.

Illinois:
John Connolly, Director of Technology, Consolidated High School District 230, Ill.
John Connolly has transformed District 230 with his ideas, collaborative leadership style, and technology improvements. Setting a vision which includes directing a 1:1 and “BYOD” program, leveraging social media, digital citizenship, Google migration, and website overhaul, Connolly’s energy and passion inspire colleagues.

Indiana:
Brad Hagg, Chief Technology Officer, Warsaw Community Schools, Ind.
As a Certified Education Technology Leader (CETL), Brad Hagg has become an invaluable resource in his district with the introduction of an online data dashboard and tools that enhance student safety. Hagg serves on the Indiana Department of Education’s 2014 eLearning Leadership Cadre to help the state focus on strategic components of 21st century teaching and learning that directly impact student achievement and instructional practice.

Kansas:
Rob Dickson, Director of Technology, Andover Public Schools, Kan.
Rob Dickson’s technical understanding of how technology should support student learning contributed to his district’s ranking among the “top ten” digital districts in the nation four of the past five years. Key among Dickson’s accomplishments are leading the first VBlock cloud data center installation in K-12 education and serving as an advisor of the BLEgroup helping schools across the country with their technology planning and integration.

Dr. Beth Hudson, Associate Superintendent, Geary County USD 475, Kan.
Beth Hudson’s work focuses on understanding the relationship between technology and learning and creating professional development opportunities, including the district’s K-12 Technology Learning Fair, in which teachers acquire the skills essential to effectively use their tools to support authentic learning experiences. Hudson wants teachers to view their devices as a portal to the world.

Kentucky:
Roger D. Cook, Superintendent, Taylor County School District, Ky.
Roger Cook continually pushes the boundaries of how education is delivered, from providing iPads to all high school students to challenging teachers to embrace a Flipped Classroom concept. The district assists students with “24/7” learning opportunities and allows adults who previously dropped out of school to enroll in the Virtual Academy to receive their high school diplomas.

Maryland:
Timonious Downing, Teacher & Technology Liaison, Prince George’s County Public Schools/Walker Mill Middle School, Md.
Timonious Downing pioneered a flipped and gamified English/Language Arts class at his school where Gifted and Talented 7th graders are placed in guilds that engage in academic competitiveness with a leader board to foster comradery and teamwork. He shares his success stories from his paperless classroom with other colleagues through blogging, conferences, and Google Hangouts and provides after school support for the Minecraft Club.

Michigan:
Brad Waid, Teacher, Eastover Elementary, Bloomfield Hills Schools District, Mich.
Brad Waid goes beyond showing his students technology, he lets them explore it and more importantly, have a voice in deciding how they think it could be used in their classroom. His students are using and creating their own Augmented Reality to enhance their learning and deepen their engagement, while utilizing their iPads for various projects. Waid’s contagious passion for teaching and learning has made him a game-changing educator.

New Jersey:
Dr. Barry Bachenheimer, Director of Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment, Pascack Valley Regional High School District, N.J.
Improving instruction, while appropriately promoting the use of technology, drives the work of Barry Bachenheimer. District educators are successfully creating “Virtual Days” to take the place of snow days; creating a hybrid master schedule to maximize student choice that supports individual learning opportunities; flipping classrooms, embracing social media to provide authentic global learning experiences; and focusing on digital citizenship as a result of his leadership.

Laura Fleming, Media Specialist, New Milford High School, New Milford School District, N.J.
Laura Fleming’s blog, Worlds of Learning, shares many of her initiatives including the development of a digital badge program to acknowledge teachers’ informal learning. Her media center, now packed with students every period, has become a makerspace with a 3-D printer, Raspberry Pi and Makey Makey Kits to unleash students’ creativity to construct new knowledge.

New York:
Dr. Luvelle Brown, Superintendent of Schools, Ithaca City School District, N.Y.
Luvelle Brown’s vision is to create a student body of 6000+ Thinkers, encompassing every student in the district. The district’s mission to engage, educate, and empower is supported by ubiquitous wireless coverage and contemporary learning spaces, designed to be responsive to pedagogical shifts influenced by technology tools.

Ohio:
Tracey Dunn, Teacher, Hopkins Elementary, Mentor Public Schools, Ohio
Tracey Dunn pioneered a kindergarten blended learning model in her district’s research and development classroom, Catalyst, focused on small-group instruction. With the support of QR codes and a 1:1 iPad program, students rotate through stations to engage with the teacher, digital content, and digital storytelling. Her enthusiasm is contagious and her humble approach has made it easy for others to want to share in the magic of her success.

Pennsylvania:
Rich Kiker, Director of Online Learning, Palisades School District, Penn.
Rich Kiker designed and built the K-12 blended and online learning program at Palisades School District that established a new relevance for learners and saves the district hundreds of thousands of dollars every year. When his home district needed to replace a school board director, Kiker was unanimously appointed to serve on the Pennridge School Board.

Bradley Wilson, Curriculum Leader of Customization & Instructional Technology, Upper St. Clair School District, Penn.
Bradley Wilson is an innovative 7th grade teacher who leverages technology to customize instruction for his students through flipped learning and “The Explain Everything” app, among other strategies. He demonstrates leadership in both formal and informal settings as he continues to champion district wide initiatives and capacity building activities.

Tennessee:
Dr. Kecia Ray, Executive Director of Learning Technology, Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools, Tenn.
Kecia Ray has been instrumental in lobbying for state laws and policies that facilitate and eliminate barriers to virtual learning after the success of the district’s first virtual school launched under her leadership. In her role as President of the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), the contributions Ray has made to learning technology extend well beyond Nashville borders.

Texas:
Joli Barker, Elementary Educator, Slaughter Elementary, McKinney Independent School District, Texas
Joli Barker is leading the way in game-based, project-based learning in her Fearless Classroom where lessons include real-world, global-minded empathy games. The Fearless Classroom movement she started is inspiring educators world-wide to change the way they approach lesson design, pedagogy, and the art of teaching.

Elaine Plybon, Instructional Resource Trainer, Keller Independent School District, Texas
Elaine Plybon’s motto of “relevant and meaningful” is reflected across all aspects of her work as an Instructional Resource Trainer whether she is delivering professional development, serving on the Leadership Council of the Discovery Education Network, or exploring ways to address gender issues. As co-founder of Girls of Technology (GOT), she has inspired girls interested in STEM to pursue career opportunities in that field.

Virginia:
Dr. Barbara Gruber, Technology Resource Specialist, Loudoun County Public Schools, Va.
As a true champion of 21st Century Learning, Barbara Gruber’s schools are thriving environments where students become excited about STEM through collaborative projects with peers, both locally and overseas, as they work on solutions for relevant projects. Students are supported through videoconferencing with field experts; NASA-guided simulations, and the opportunity to create 3-D objects through Makerspace Centers (or innovation labs).

Jennifer Maddux, Assistant Principal, Byrd Middle School, Henrico County Public Schools, Va.
As an assistant principal, Jennifer Maddux has brought life and energy into her school’s culture using skills she honed as an Instructional Technology Resource Teacher to facilitate process change and coach teachers in student-centered, engaged instruction. The suite of resources and training portals she developed support the delivery of high-quality, 21st century instruction.

Alexis Rice|March 7th, 2014|Categories: Educational Technology, STEM Education, Student Achievement, Student Engagement, T+L, Teachers, Technology Leadership Network|Tags: , , |

Watch NSBA discuss digital learning at Discovery Education’s Future@Now

National School Boards Association (NSBA) Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel is a featured panelist at Discovery Education’s second annual Future@Now forum, where he and other K-12 education leaders will discuss the transition from traditional classrooms to digital classrooms and the critical steps necessary to successfully implement digital learning.

E931FA4B-6A7C-4150-ACBF-6A983511A493-1Future@Now: Roadmap to the Digital Transition is designed to give educators the opportunity to hear practical advice and real success stories from K-12 and technology educators. This event takes place Feb. 26 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST.

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, U.S. Rep. George Miller, Broad Prize Winner Superintendent Alberto Carvalho of Miami-Dade County Public Schools, and leaders from other national education groups will participate as well. Duncan will lead attendees on a live visit to a digital classroom in Washington D.C. Panels will include student discussions of technology, how to transition to digital learning, creating a culture and community of change, developing teacher leaders, and integrating digital resources into the classroom.

The free event also will be live-streamed at Discovery Education. Register today to watch.

Joetta Sack-Min|February 21st, 2014|Categories: Curriculum, Data Driven Decision Making, Educational Technology, STEM Education, Student Achievement, Student Engagement|Tags: , , , |

At international technology conference, NSBA discusses potential to improve U.S. schools

Ann Flynn, Director of Education Technology for the National School Boards Association, was invited to participate in the recent World Innovation Summit for Education, known as the WISE conference, in Doha, Qatar. This is the second time Flynn has been invited by the Qatar Royal Family to participate in the initiative by the Qatar Foundation. In this video, she describes her experience, the potential of technology to improve the U.S. education system, and the plights of countries with far fewer resources than the U.S.

Joetta Sack-Min|December 9th, 2013|Categories: Conferences and Events, Diversity, Educational Technology, Governance, Leadership, Online learning, STEM Education, Technology Leadership Network, Uncategorized|Tags: , , , |

White House announces new career education program

The White House announced a new $100 million competitive grant program this week that will help educators redesign high schools to better prepare students for high-tech and STEM careers.

The U.S. Department of Labor is collaborating with the U.S. Department of Education to give 25 to 40 Youth CareerConnect grants, part of President Obama’s State of the Union and budget proposals to provide industry-relevant education and skills high school students will need for successful careers. The funding comes from the H1-B visa program.

NSBA is reviewing the details of the programs to assess the operational impact on states and local school districts. Additional comments will be provided as the information becomes available.

According to the White House, the Youth CareerConnect schools will strengthen America’s talent pipeline through: Integrated academic and career-focused learning; work-based learning and exposure to the world of work; robust employer engagement through mentoring and engagement; individualized career and academic counseling; and integration of postsecondary education and training into the high school curriculum.

 

Joetta Sack-Min|November 21st, 2013|Categories: Educational Research, Educational Technology, Federal Programs, Policy Formation, STEM Education, Student Achievement, Student Engagement|Tags: |

NSBA’s 2014 Annual Conference offers new site visits, workshop opportunities

As you make your plans for the National School Boards Association’s 74th Annual Conference, be sure to carve out time for a pre-conference workshop, site visit or special luncheon event as part of your experience.

Preconference workshops will cover topics such as school law, school safety, curriculum and assessment, leadership skills, and other topics critical for school board members. These half-day and full-day workshops are a great opportunity to learn about an issue in depth.

The site visits show firsthand some of the latest education technology innovations, and you can interact with experts to find ways to replicate successful programs in your schools.

Listen to an inspiring speaker and meet colleagues from around the country at the luncheons and other meal events. Each of NSBA’s three caucuses, which examine issues facing African-American, Hispanic and Native American children, host meal events with premier speakers and information about their work.

Keep in mind that most of the site visits sell out—some months in advance–so be sure to book your optional tours and meal events now.

Here is a list of some of the offerings for site visits and meal events at the 2014 conference, to be held April 5 to 7 in New Orleans. Check the registration website for more information on pricing and details of each event.

Friday, April 4

  • Preconference workshops: Check the 2014 Annual Conference website for a comprehensive list.
  • Site visit: Louisiana Lagniappe (lan-yap)–Lagniappe means a little something extra, which is exactly what you’ll experience during your day in St. Charles Parish Public Schools, one of the state’s top districts. Visit a newly renovated, technology rich, community-oriented elementary school and immerse yourself in the Wetland Watcher experience, a nationally recognized service learning program for wetlands conservation managed by middle school students. After a taste of south Louisiana cuisine, conclude your visit at the district’s unique Satellite Center, where cutting-edge technologies create an authentic learning environment for students to work alongside actual clients as they explore future careers.

Saturday, April 5

  • Site visit: National World War II Museum–Much of today’s technology had origins in World War II. Learn how the National World War II Museum staff created education resources available to districts across the country that bring the science and technology of War II to life for students. Plus, hear the latest about the museum’s photo and oral history digitization project and efforts to involve students in the collection of oral histories in their hometowns.
  • Best Practices for School Leaders luncheon–Learn about leadership and district best practices with the winners of the 2014 Magna Awards, the American School Board Journal’s annual awards for school districts’ most innovative programs. Sponsored by Sodexo, the Magna luncheon celebrates the spirit of innovation and excellence in public education. Attend this special event and be inspired to take what you hear and learn back to your districts.

Sunday, April 6

  • National Hispanic Caucus of School Board Members Breakfast–Speaker Maria Hinojosa, anchor and managing editor of her own long-running weekly NPR show, Latino USA, and anchor of the Emmy Award-winning talk show Maria Hinojosa: One-on-One, has informed millions of Americans about the fastest growing demographic in our country. Throughout her career, she has helped define the conversation about our times and our society with one of the most authentic voices in broadcast.
  • National Black Caucus of School Board Members Luncheon–Speaker Wil Haygood , an acclaimed Washington Post reporter, journalist, and biographer, has explored the social and historical dynamics of this country as few modern chroniclers have done, in books, magazine articles, and award-winning newspaper coverage. His most recent project, The Butler, which stars eight Oscar-winning actors, is the story of White House butler Eugene Allen, who had served no less than eight presidents, from Harry Truman to Ronald Reagan.
  • Education Technology Luncheon, School 2.0: Building the Schools We Need–Chris Lehmann, Founding Principal of the Science Leadership Academy in Pennsylvania, will share his insights.
  • Site visit: STEM in Action — Pumping Up the Students! After Katrina, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers built the world’s largest pumping station. Tour this amazing structure and hear how the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is investing in science technology, engineering, and math (STEM) curriculum materials to engage your students and support the emerging field of Geomatics that combines high tech tools with remote sensing.
  • Site visit: Southeastern Louisiana University–Explore the wetlands by boat with the Southeastern’s Turtle Cove Environmental Research Station that provides educators and students with problem-based, real-world science learning opportunities. Experience firsthand how instruction must change to support next-generation science standards.

Monday, April 7

  • Site visit: Building for the Future: Going Green–After the devastation of Katrina, Global Green, in partnership with Brad Pitt, made a commitment to sustainable building as the city recovered. Tour the Holy Cross Project Visitor Center, a home in the lower Ninth Ward, to learn about its green elements and systems. Get ideas for your own district with a school visit that incorporates “green” strategies to support healthier classrooms, protect the environment, reduce carbon emissions, and save the district money.
  • Site visit: NOAA Tour–Tour the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), a federal agency focused on the condition of the oceans and the atmosphere, and discover the multitude of resources they have developed to support K–12 education. Plus, hear a presentation by school leaders about the technology policies and practices they put in place to successfully weather storms that have struck their districts.

 

 

 

Joetta Sack-Min|November 20th, 2013|Categories: Announcements, Conferences and Events, Data Driven Decision Making, Educational Technology, NSBA Annual Conference 2014, NSBA Recognition Programs, STEM Education|Tags: , |

U.S. students doing quite well compared to international peers, CPE director writes

Even though the United States does not rank number one—or even close—in subjects on international tests, that doesn’t mean that our schools are failing, Patte Barth, director of the National School Boards Association’s Center for Public Education, writes in an online column for the Huffington Post.

In “The Kids are All Right-er,” Barth analyzes recent international test results to show that U.S. students, particularly in the early years, are doing quite well. It’s adults, actually, who really could use some improvement.

“In many ways, the popular storyline that U.S. students get crushed in international comparisons is a distortion of the actual record,” she writes. “Truth is, our fourth- and eighth-graders consistently score above average, and do especially well in reading and science. Even our high school students are slightly above average in those subjects, falling below in math only.”

She notes that the recent NAEP-TIMSS Linking Study also found that if Massachusetts and Vermont were their own countries, they would stand with the highest-achieving nations.

Read more of her analysis in the Huffington Post.

 

Joetta Sack-Min|November 12th, 2013|Categories: 21st Century Skills, Assessment, Center for Public Education, Curriculum, Diversity, Mathematics Education, Policy Formation, STEM Education, Student Achievement|Tags: , , |

School boards call on the FCC to strengthen E-Rate

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) recommends that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) modernize the E-rate program, increase the quality and speed of Internet connectivity in our nation’s schools, and address the technology gaps that remain.

NSBA urges the FCC to address the funding needs of schools’ and libraries’ Internet connectivity. In comments to the FCC on proposed rules to modernize the program, NSBA notes that, other than inflationary adjustments authorized in 2010, there has been no increase in the $2.25 billion cap on E-Rate resources since the program’s inception in 1996, and demand has consistently been much higher than the available funding. The current demand is $4.9 billion.

“The E-rate program is critical to schools and libraries to maintain their internet services, and Congress must address this program’s unmet needs before expanding its eligibility to other areas,” said NSBA Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel. “E-rate has greatly expanded the use of internet connectivity and services in schools and libraries throughout the country, particularly those in rural areas, and the FCC should build on the E-rate program’s tremendous success by permanently increasing funding to meet the need for schools and libraries.”

NSBA recommends streamlining the administration of the program through multi-year applications, electronic filing and other improvements to increase its cost-effectiveness. NSBA also cautions the FCC against phasing down some of the longstanding components of the program, particularly telephone services, because universal Broadband has not yet been achieved. And NSBA urges the FCC not to mandate district-wide eligibility or applications.

“E-Rate has been successful largely because it allows school boards and other district and school leaders to make decisions based on their students’ and local communities’ needs,” said Michael A. Resnick, NSBA’s Associate Executive Director for Federal Advocacy and Public Policy. “Any changes to the E-Rate program should not undermine innovation by local school districts through mandates and should maximize local flexibility.”

Alexis Rice|September 19th, 2013|Categories: Educational Technology, Federal Advocacy, Federal Programs, STEM Education, Student Achievement, Technology Leadership Network|

Tech-savy school districts honored in 2012-13 Digital School Districts Survey

Top-ranked school districts have been announced in the ninth annual Digital School Districts Survey by the Center for Digital Education (CDE) and the National School Boards Association (NSBA) as part of NSBA’s Annual Conference in San Diego being held through today. The survey showcases exemplary school boards’ and districts’ use of technology to govern the district, communicate with students, parents, and the community and to improve district operations.

Innovations by this year’s winners touched all facets of education. Board members at Geneseo Community Unit School District #228, Illinois, are now allowed to use Skype or iChat to access important meetings if off site and can even be projected via live-cast onto the screen in the board room. Teachers in Roanoke County, Virginia, public schools are using dashboards to measure assessments, teaching with mobile-friendly digital curriculum and using e-textbooks. Marietta City Schools, Georgia, requires students to take online classes for graduation and, beginning in the sixth grade students build and maintain a college and career-ready e-portfolio.

“It’s really exciting to see the unique and creative ways districts are using technology,” said Cathilea Robinett, Executive Vice President for the Center for Digital Education. “These outstanding innovations are moving us forward. We see these leaders as an inspiration to other school districts to continue leading education into a digital future. Congratulations to this year’s winners!”

“Through the leadership of local school boards, we continue to see that technology tools and practices are transforming America’s public schools,” said Thomas J. Gentzel, NSBA Executive Director. “The school districts honored in the 2013 Digital Districts Survey serve as national models for education technology innovations.”

The top ten rankings are awarded to those school boards/districts that most fully implement technology benchmarks in the evolution of digital education, as represented in the survey questions.

The first-place winners in each classification are:
•Roanoke County Public Schools, Va. (12,000 students or more)
•Marietta City Schools, Ga. (Between 3,000 and 12,000 students)
•Geneseo Community Unit School District #228, Ill. (3,000 students or less)

All U.S. public school districts are eligible to participate in the survey with the three classifications based on size of enrollment. The full list of winners are:

Large-sized Student Population Districts Category (12,000 students or more):

1st Roanoke County Public Schools, Va.
2nd Forsyth County Schools, Ga.
3rd Fayette County Schools, Ga.
4th Township High School District 214, Ill.
5th Northwest Independent School District, Texas
5th Prince William County Public Schools, Va.
6th Rowan-Salisbury School System, N.C.
7th Clark County School District, Nev.
7th Colorado Springs School District 11, Colo.
7th Savannah-Chatham County Public School System, Ga.
8th Cherokee County School District, Ga.
9th Richmond County School System, Ga.
9th Frederick County Public Schools, Md.
10th Littleton Public Schools, Colo.
10th Klein Independent School District, Texas

Mid-sized Student Population Districts Category (Student population 3,000 – 12,000):
1st Marietta City Schools, Ga.
2nd Decatur City Schools, Ala.
3rd Clarkstown Central School District, N.Y.
4th Harrisburg School District 42-1, S.D.
5th Fayetteville Public Schools, Ark.
6th City Schools of Decatur, Ga.
7th Saint Charles Parish Public School District, La.
8th Oconomowoc Area School District, Wis.
8th Bergenfield Board of Education, N.J.
9th Andover Public Schools, Kan.
10th Monroe County Schools, Ga.

Small Student Population Districts Category (Fewer than 3,000 students):

1st Geneseo Community Unit School District #228, Ill.
2nd Carroll County School District, Ky.
2nd Springfield Public Schools, N.J.
3rd Jefferson City Schools, Ga.
4th Regional School Unit 21, Maine
5th Gooding Joint School District #231, Idaho
6th Mexico Academy and Central School District, N.Y.
7th Orange City Schools, Ohio
8th Chickamauga City School System, Ga.
9th Hanson School District 30-1, S.D.
10th Lindop District 92, Ill.

Go to the Center for Digital Education to view survey results.

Additionally, attend the webinar on Wednesday, April 24, 2013 at 2pm EDT to get more insight into survey results and hear from some of the innovative districts that participated in the 2012-2013 Digital School Districts Survey that will share how their district is utilizing technology to more effectively serve students, educators, and the community.

Alexis Rice|April 15th, 2013|Categories: Educational Technology, NSBA Annual Conference 2013, STEM Education, Technology Leadership Network|Tags: , |

deGrasse Tyson: STEM illiteracy will affect economy

Neil deGrasse Tyson did not want to talk about Pluto with the audience of NSBA’s Second General Session Sunday. Yes, the New York astrophysicist, author, television commentator, and conference key speaker did have a hand in demoting Pluto from its planetary status (Tyson says he was an “accessory” in the demotion). And yes, he has a cabinet full of hate mail, mostly from third-graders who were irate about the Pluto situation.

However, what Tyson really wanted to talk about was American’s apparent fear of numbers. He pointed out that many New York City high rises skip the number 13 on their floors. “People are afraid of the number 13, and we want to lead the world in what?” he asked. And when we get to the ground floor, we are reduced to using letters, not numbers.

“Why? We have a good system for representing numbers below ground,” he said. “Negative numbers. But I think we fear them for some reason.”

One country, known for its engineering prowess, uses negative numbers for its below ground floors: Germany. Tyson sees a connection between the common use of this mathematical term in Germany and the country’s production of superior engineers.

And the U.S. is not just afflicted with fear of numbers; it also has seen a rise in math and science illiteracy. Tyson used a recent newspaper headline as an example: “Half of the schools in the district are below average.” He said: “That’s kind of what average means.” Another example: A congressman who said he had changed his position 360 degrees.

Tyson, who is a proponent of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) in schools, told the audience that this illiteracy was going to start affecting our economy.

He acknowledged that some school boards are struggling with the conflicting religious beliefs in their communities. However, he said, “The real issue is not religion in schools. There is a science classroom and there’s a religion class. There’s no history of scientists and atheists telling preacher what to teach. It’s odd that religious people are trying to tell the science teacher what to teach. It’s an odd thing. “

Tyson pointed to a six-year-old New Jersey case that turned into a church and state dispute. A teacher told her students that evolution and the Big Bang was not scientific. Some people said it violated the teacher’s First Amendment rights to make her stop making these statements in her classroom. “If we have a teacher who says this, it’s not about the need to separate church and state. It’s about separating ignorant and scientifically illiterate people from the ranks of teachers, he said. “If you are scientifically illiterate, someone needs to call that out.”

There are some promising signs, however, including the plethora of popular television shows based on science: “NCIS,” “CSI,” “Breaking Bad,” and Fringe.” And of the most popular sitcom right now, “The Big Bang Theory,” is about a group of scientists (and featured Tyson in a cameo in one episode, where he talks about Pluto). “More people than geeks have to be watching it,” he said.

He ended his talk about urging his audience to keep STEM in the classrooms, but also make sure the arts are emphasized as well.

“Our country is shrinking in relevance,” he said. “Make sure we keep STEM subjects there because it’s the future of our economy.”

Kathleen Vail|April 14th, 2013|Categories: 21st Century Skills, NSBA Annual Conference 2013, STEM Education|

NSBA’s Annual Conference Exhibit Hall offers one of the largest national showcases of education products and services

One of the most exciting places to be at the Annual Conference is the Exhibit Hall. This year, more than 290 exhibitors are waiting to show you their latest services and products, including more than 100 first-time exhibitors.

This year’s Exhibit Hall hours are Saturday, April 13 from 11:30 am to 4:30 pm, with exclusive hours from 11:30 am to 1:30 pm, and 2:45 to 3:45 pm. The Exhibit Hall will reopen Sunday from 11:30 am to 4 pm, with exclusive hours from 11:30 am to 1:30 pm.

“Even if you are a conference veteran, we’ve added some new features to the 2013 Exhibit Hall that you will not want to miss,” says Karen Miller, NSBA’s Exhibit Director. “Each year dozens of our conference attendees find new products and services from our exhibitors that save their school districts money and help streamline their operations, so we hope everyone will take advantage of the Exhibit Hall time.”

Be sure to take in a Learning Lounge session while you are here. Sponsored by OdysseyWare and Pearson, these informal 20-minute sessions give you a quick briefing on hot topics, from social media to legal issues and leadership skills. Check your conference schedule for a list of events and times.

The NSBA booth–No. 943–also has been expanded to show you the full range of NSBA services. You can meet some of the experts on NSBA’s staff, have your picture taken with a sign supporting school boards and public education for your social media account, and pick up some great deals on NSBA merchandise. Also, the booth is hosting book signings by authors Diane Ravitch, Neil deGrasse Tyson, and Stacey Bess.

Don’t miss the new Technology Showcase Pavilion at Booth No. 543. This exhibit showcases the six winners of NSBA’s first Technology Innovation Showcase.

The NSBA Health Fair is back, and will be featured once again in the Health and Wellness Pavilion (Aisle 1500) Demonstrations are scheduled for both days, from 12:30 to 3:30 pm, on topics such as Nutrition, exercise, tobacco use, and relaxation. You can also have your blood pressure checked and speak with health-care professionals.

The Green Zone (Aisle 500) will show you how to advance green initiatives in your schools and improve student achievement.

Music & Arts Main Street (Aisle 200) is one of the most popular features, with numerous exhibitors showing ways to strengthen your schools’ music and arts programs. Be sure to stop by and see a student performance at the designated times, below:

  • Saturday, noon: McMichael Phoenix Singers, Dalton L. McMichael High School, Mayodan N.C.
  • Saturday, 3 pm: “OPUS” – San Diego Youth Symphony, 4-5th grade String Ensemble, San Diego
  • Sunday, noon: McKay Chamber Orchestra, McKay High School, Salem, Ore.
  • Sunday, 1 pm: Mariachi Chula Vista, Chula Vista High School, San Diego

Look for the NSBA Exhibit Exam Challenge inside the Exhibit Hall Addendum/Pavilion Guide or at the NSBA Information booth. Visit the participating exhibitors, get the answers to questions about their companies, then drop your “exam” in the raffle bin in the Health and Wellness Pavilion (located in Aisle 1500) by 3 pm on Sunday for the chance to win exciting prizes!

The NSBA Marketplace is a special area in the rear of the hall where exhibitors are allowed to sell their products and services.

And when you need a break, stop by the upscale College Board Lounge, at Aisles 300-400. The lounge features comfy seating, refreshments and even a TV.

NSBA Booth Schedule (# 943)

Saturday

11:30 am -2 pm – Take your picture and stand up for public education!

2:30 – 3:30 pm – Kathryn Wege– Healthy students, healthy schools;

2:45-3:15 p.m.– Kathleen Branch, Reggie Felton, Deborah Rigsby – Legislative advocacy at the federal level;

3:30 – 4:30 – Marie Bilik and Debbie Finkel – Meet NSBA’s new Chief Operating Officer.

 

Sunday

11:30 am – noon – Patte Barth — Learn the latest findings from The Center for Public Education;

12:30 – 1:30 pm – Kathleen Vail and Glenn Cook – Meet with NSBA publications staff;

2 – 4 p.m.– Take your picture and stand up for public education!

3 – 3:30 pm – Kanisha Williams-Jones answers your questions about NSBA Caucuses and Leadership Services.

 

Joetta Sack-Min|April 12th, 2013|Categories: NSBA Annual Conference 2013, Nutrition, Online learning, School Boards, School Buildings, School Security, STEM Education, Student Achievement, Student Engagement, Teachers, Technology Leadership Network, Urban Schools|
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