STEMbeats Blog

Rallying more than 100 Bully Pulpits Around STEM Learning

March 3, 2011

Can corporate funding boost STEM education? That’s one of many questions MindShift blogger Sara Bernard recently asked Change the Equation (CTEq) CEO Linda Rosen. Their conversation is captured in Bernard’s recent post.

Learn why five of the nation’s top business leaders came together last fall to form the now 110-member strong CTEq; how Rosen addresses skepticism toward corporate funding of public education programs; and why she thinks it’s critically important for the United States to rally around improved STEM learning outcomes.


The Hidden Scientists of Hollywood

March 2, 2011

From The New York Times comes news that newly-minted Oscar winner Natalie Portman was a semi-finalist in the Intel Science Talent Search, a student of neuroscience at Harvard, and an all-around smartypants. The piece, by science writer Natalie Angier, mentions a few other actors who have excelled in science. Danica McKellar helped develop a mathematical proof. Hedy Lamarr was a rocket scientist.

We can add a couple of other actors to the list. Will Smith (it is said) was admitted to a pre-engineering program at MIT. Dolph Lundgren(remember him?) had a Fulbright at MIT but quit to pursue acting. There are surely others.

In a culture obsessed by celebrity, it's heartening to hear about actors like Portman, who make such a mark in math and science. We need all the positive role models we can get in an age when Snooki's bar brawls and Lindsay Lohan's latest legal pecadillo dominate the tabloid and even the mainstream press.

So we just named five actor/scientists. Can you name any others?


Tags: science, math

Creating the Future We Want for Women in STEM

March 1, 2011

Follow-Up: The Future We Create Conference was an inspiring success. Click here to watch the broadcast in its entirety; skip to 15:34 to hear our CEO Linda Rosen advocate for a learning environment of collaboartion, discovery, and community to help create more women leaders in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM).

 Change the Equation CEO Linda Rosen knows exactly when her lifelong love affair with math began: the first day of her seventh grade math class. Rosen was part of a class of students who were piloting new math curriculum materials. “From that moment on, I was hooked,” she said. So hooked in fact that she couldn’t get home fast enough that day to do her homework about different number bases.

Rosen wants girls across the U.S. to get as excited as she is about science, technology, engineering and math (STEM)—whether or not they ultimately choose to go into a STEM career.

Rosen is one of 60 luminaries being featured today on a free virtual conference hosted by Dow Chemical Company.  The hour-long "micro-conference" seeks to answer the question: How can we work together to expand women’s contributions and leadership in chemistry and the sciences?

Hosted at, the event will consist of videos from speakers in the fields of chemistry and other sciences, business, journalism and literature, and women's studies.

We invite you to listen to and be inspired by Linda’s story. And the dozens and dozens of other women who have exciting, challenging careers in STEM-related fields. Find out what sparked their interest and what they recommend moving forward.

For more information go to


Tags: math, women & girls

Will Watson Revolutionize Testing in Education?

February 27, 2011

Even if you aren't much of a Jeopardy fan, you most likely heard about the rout that took place on the show the week before last. An IBM computer named Watson soundly beat two all-time Jeopardy champions. After day two of the three-day drubbing, we pondered what effect Watson could have on education. Not surprisingly, the folks at IBM have thought much deeper on this question than we have.

Stanley Litow of IBM believes Watson could revolutionize educational testing. Here's what he toldThe Chronicle of Philanthropy:

In the United States of America, we have something called the common core standards that have now been developed in more than 40 states. We’re now developing new standards in science, math, history, and English. But if you’re still stuck with the same multiple-choice testing, even if you have higher standards, it won’t raise people up, it will dumb things down so people base their teaching and learning on those multiple-choice tests.

The technology behind Watson blows that up. It says you could have long-answer questions, you could have the ability to grade lengthy paragraphs of information. If the testing system incorporates that, it will allow teachers to test to higher standards and children to learn at higher levels. And it will save lots of money in what is currently a very ineffective and inefficient testing and assessment system.

Could Watson save us from the bubble test?

Disclosure: IBM is a member of Change the Equation.

(Hat tip to the Huffington Post.)


Tags: computer science, technology

Urban Districts Lag in Science

February 25, 2011

In the past few months, we've had to endure a steady drumbeat of middling to bad news about how US students are doing in math and science. Yesterday came the news that students in many of our largest urban districts are doing much worse than the uninspiring national average. Surprising? No. Depressing? You bet.

The 2009 Trial Urban District Assessment in science found that almost three out of every four fourth graders in Detroit scored below basic in science. What's worse, students seem to lose ground as the go through the system. A jaw-dropping four fifths of Detroit's 8th graders were below basic. Things were barely better in Cleveland and Baltimore.

The differences among cities are every bit as interesting as the big headlines. One urban district, Austin, Texas, was on par with the US average in both fourth and eighth grades. Charlotte and Jefferson County (Louisville, Kentucky) met the national average in fourth grade but were lower in eighth. Fourth grade Black students in Boston and Charlotte did better than Black students nationally.

Why do some districts to better than others with certain groups of students? The answers to that question might yield some big insights into what works in urban education.


Tags: science, minorities