STEM

Making mushrooms that glow in the dark?  

A new community lab opened its doors Downtown on Thursday to local students and adults to experiment in biosciences.

“We needed a place where citizens, adults (and) obviously high school students and their teachers could go to be able to experience the life sciences -- biomedicine, which is a hands-on activity,” said Alan Seadler, associate provost for research at Duquesne University and director of its biotechnology program.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

Pennsylvania Secretary of Education Pedro Rivera was an engineering major in college – for one semester.

“Then I tutored at one of the local high schools, at Reading High School, and I fell in love with education,” Rivera told a group of high school students at Duquesne University on Monday. “I remember calling my mother and telling her, ‘Hey, I’m thinking about switching my major from engineering to education.’ There was a pause on the phone, and she said, ‘Oh no you’re not.’”

College costs are on the rise and government financial assistance is shrinking, leaving many high schoolers to wonder what they can do to ensure their future success without taking on massive debt.

A recent partnership between the Community College of Beaver County (CCBC) and Lincoln Learning Solutions, formerly known as the National Network of Digital Schools, may make a difference in Butler County and the surrounding region.

Local leaders announced $1.1 million in STEM funding for paid internships benefiting low-income, at-risk youth at a meeting Downtown on Thursday.

The 3 Rivers Workforce Investment Board will manage the pilot in partnership with city and county officials through the Learn and Earn program set up earlier this year. 

The Carnegie Science Center has received a $614,000 grant to promote education in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

The two-year grant, from The Heinz Endowments, will benefit the Carnegie STEM Excellence Pathway, which offers schools resources to improve their STEM classes.

Walt Urbina / Courtesy Photo

With women earning less than 20 percent of all bachelor’s degrees awarded in physics, engineering and computer science, some might consider Becca Volk an anomaly, but among her teammates on Pittsburgh’s all-female Girls of Steel competitive robotics team, Volk fits right in. The 16 yr. old junior at Avonworth High School knows she wants to be an engineer someday.

On March 28, Girls of Steel won the Chairman’s Award at the Buckeye Regional FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) in Cleveland, which qualifies the team to compete in the FRC Championship April 22-25 in St. Louis.

Becky Wetherington/Flickr

In commemoration of World Autism Awareness Day, Lu Randall, Executive Director at Autism Connection of PA and April Artz,Coordinator for the EmployAble program at the Squirrel Hill Career Development Center, are working to place adults with mental health issues in STEM jobs. The EmployAble program, which provides supportive services along with their job placements, acquired the funds to include services for adults on the autism spectrum in 2014.

Asked about the challenges faced by job seekers on the autism spectrum, Artz explains:

"When people go to apply for a job, there's still a lot of concern on their end about disclosing or talking about it to their employer. And I think in some ways that is justified because there is still a lot of misunderstanding despite the fact [that] this is very prevalent, and this is sort of being a human, we still have a lot of stigma and anxiety around this."

Explaining her outlook on helping the people she works with to seek employment, Randall says: 

"I see my role, in particular, as providing kind of a cross-cultural explanation of a group that's really not well understood. And it's very similar, when we listen to the issues, to any other minority groups in the past or currently who have a hard time being taken seriously, being respected, not having stereotypes put out there that are untrue."

Also in the program, Pitt professor Michael Kenney talks about why some Americans become interested in joining ISIS, and travel contributor Elaine Labalme gives suggestions on where to go for some extra March Madness.

 

Carnegie Science Center Talks STEM on Capitol Hill

Mar 19, 2015

With the number of science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, jobs increasing at three times the rate of other industries, the Carnegie Science Center is encouraging schools and Pennsylvania lawmakers to focus on improving the way students learn about STEM fields.

During a Wednesday congressional briefing in Washington, D.C., science center representatives and educators outlined the Carnegie STEM Excellence Pathway, an initiative that launched in October to help schools evaluate and expand the way they teach math and science.

Gateway to the Arts

Early childhood learners outperform their peers when they are taught with an arts-integrated background, according to an independent study of a model used in 11 Pittsburgh area schools.

dansheadel / flickr

In school we were all taught about the number represented by the symbol π. Our understanding of the number might be a bit foggy, but most of us remember it has something to do with a circle and that it is 3.14.  In reality, the irrational number (by definition) goes on forever, but it starts with 3.141592653. 

For the last several years, the popularity of so-called “Pi Day,” or March 14 (3/14), has been growing in the U.S., and Saturday will mark what many are calling “Super Pi Day,” where we can add the next two digits of the mathematical super number (3/14/15). And if you really want to geek out you can make sure you are near a clock at 9:26:53 a.m. (3/14/15 9:26:53).

Kids in the Pittsburgh area have a chance to learn game design skills, and then compete nationally.

On Saturday National STEM Video Game Challenge is hosting a hands-on workshop with game industry professionals at The Ellis School to teach youth how to design video games.

With college costs rising faster than inflation for the last decade, Pennsylvania lawmakers have unveiled a 13-bill package that would make higher education more affordable, especially for students from lower-income families.

Ground was broken Wednesday on a four-story academic building at Central Catholic High School in Oakland that will be devoted exclusively to STEM—science, technology, engineering and math.

According to Brother Bob Schaefer, Central’s principal, the facility will include state of the art labs for traditional sciences with a focus on the “T” and “E” in STEM.  “We’re going to have an entire area of the building that’s dedicated to those kind of pre-engineering and computer science and particularly opportunities for the students to develop some courses with the robotics technology.”

A ninth grade Pittsburgh-area student is the 2014 winner of the national 3M Discovery Young Scientist Challenge. He won this week for a prototype new generation battery called the PolluCell.

“My innovation is a battery that uses carbon dioxide and recycled materials such as aluminum and silver to generate electricity,” said Sahil Doshi.

The 16th annual competition has a goal of reaching a new generation of scientist at an age when interest in the subject largely begins to wane – middle school. Doshi entered the competition as an 8th grader.

AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar

A recent story about the disparity in Boy and Girl Scouts course offerings at the Carnegie Science Center caught fire online. The outrage was made all the more contentious because the seemingly single course offered for Girl Scouts centered on creating beauty products.

When surveying a room of teachers, parents, and students about the significance of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education, and the results can vary with a mixture of answers filled with uncertainty often dominating the conversation.

The Carnegie Science Center is trying to emphasize the impact of STEM learning through the results of a survey, “Work To Do: The Role of STEM Education in Improving the Tri-State Region’s Workforce.” 

The Corbett administration is hoping that a statewide competition to allow students to showcase their skills in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) will further spark interest in STEM learning and related jobs.

“STEM jobs are the jobs of the future, and that will be what our economy will be based on, so it’s important that we train the workforce to be ready for the new jobs,” said Acting Secretary of Education Carolyn Dumaresq, who unveiled the competition Friday.

There are 2.4 science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) jobs available for every unemployed person in Pennsylvania with STEM skills, according to the national science education advocacy group Change the Equation.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Education reported that in 2013, low-income students in Pennsylvania scored about 9 percent lower on standardized math tests, and 20 percent lower on standardized science tests.

Westminster College in Lawrence County, about 60 miles north of Pittsburgh, has just announced a new program that aims to address both of these issues.

IQ STEM includes an undergraduate scholarship component and a professional development component, both of which focus on four high needs school districts in the region surrounding Westminster: Sharon City School District and Farrell Area School District in Mercer County, and Union Area School District and New Castle Area School District in Lawrence County.

High needs schools are defined by the Higher Education Act of 1965 and by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 as schools with high teacher turnover rates, a high percentage of out-of-field or uncertified teachers, a high number of unfilled teaching positions and/or a large percentage of students whose families fall below the poverty line.

President Barack Obama wants some advice from Pittsburgh’s “maker” community.

That’s why Mayor Bill Peduto hosted a roundtable Monday afternoon to discuss the achievements and future of the city's “Maker Movement,” which refers to using tools such as 3D printers and computer-aided designs to build everything from circuitry to jewelry.

The World Science Festival might be in New York City, but science enthusiasts can still take part without leaving Pittsburgh because Carnegie Science Center is live streaming two programs that align with its mission.

For the last two months, more than 20 students at Winchester Thurston School in Shadyside have been building drones.

Part of a cross-curricular project led by science department chair Graig Marx and computer science department chair David Nassar, students were divided into seven teams and tasked with building a “quadcopter” with the ability to measure, report and analyze natural gas levels.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

Gov. Tom Corbett was in Pittsburgh Monday, touring the Carnegie Science Center and touting his 2015-16 budget proposal, which he says includes funds mean to boost student achievement in STEM fields.

“It’s vital to make sure that every child today … has a full productive life for tomorrow, and (is) being exposed to science, technology, engineering, and math,” Corbett said.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

Students from three dozen middle schools across the region gathered at Carnegie Music Hall Saturday for Pittsburgh’s 15th annual Future City competition.

Coordinated by the Carnegie Science Center, the competition challenges students to imagine and build the cities of the future.

Linda Ortenzo, director of STEM programs at the science center, said getting to the actual competition is a semester-long process.

Flickr user albertogp123

The stereotypes about adults seeking GED certification can be ugly and simplistic. But the reality is that many lack a high school diploma for reasons largely outside their control: health problems, family issues and immigration status, just to name a few.

Some, like Rebekah Petrakovits, were home-schooled without proper oversight from school officials who were supposed to monitor their progress.

As new options for energy production become available, it's increasingly important for informed decision-making by the public regarding energy production.

The Carnegie Science Center’s Chevron Center for STEM education and career development will host high school students from across the region Friday to educate them in a wide variety of technologies used for energy production.

The Student Energy Summit will give 9th through 12th graders the chance to learn about wind, solar, nuclear, coal, natural gas and hydropower energy from industry professionals.

The Business of Manufacturing With Rebecca Harris

Jul 16, 2013
Amy Buser / Flickr

The resurgent manufacturing sector has been a boon in America’s struggling economy, but women are being left out of the action. In her second segment on the upswing in manufacturing jobs in the US, business contributor Rebecca Harris talks about the way that the new world of manufacturing is keying off of cutting edge innovation to create jobs.

Twenty-five school districts in southwestern Pennsylvania are receiving grants of $20,000 apiece to create digital learning spaces for students of all ages. 

“My heart was filled with joy,” said Rosanne Javorsky, assistant executive director of the Allegheny Intermediate Unit, reacting to the 80 proposals for grants to create innovative spaces to engage students in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math).

The AIU’s Center for Creativity is distributing the grants, which are funded by the Benedum and Grable Foundations.

Terry O’ Neill, president of the National Organization for Women, was in Pittsburgh on Wednesday to tour STEM education facilities at Community College of Allegheny County, deliver a speech and participate in a panel discussion with women who work in STEM-related fields.

O’Neill said STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) education is important not just for women but also for the competitiveness of the country.