STEMbeats Blog

Bridging the Chasm Between Grad School and Grade School

March 8, 2011

"The way science is taught, it’s as though everything has already been figured out. When children leave the classroom, they don’t feel empowered like they could actually contribute something to science, and I think that’s a huge problem.”

Those are the words of Sharlene Demos, a newly-minted PhD in bioscience who plans to make a difference in how science is taught. The CENtral Science blog just profiled Demos, who hopes to "make a career out of crossing academia with K-12 outreach. She loves working with kids and says her goal is to become a professor that helps bridge the gap between research scientists at the university and kids in grades K-12."

This makes her a bit of a rare breed. The chasm between colleges and schools can be very deep, so it's refreshing to hear about bridge builders like Demos. (The National Science Foundation is trying to create more like her through its GK-12 fellowship.)

Do you know of other trailblazers like Demos?


Tags: science

Why Math Matters in Uncertain Times

March 7, 2011

In case you're sleeping too well at night, considering the following newsreported by The New York Times:

A new report by McKinsey & Company, the consulting firm, is gloomy about retirement. The report, Restoring Americans’ Retirement Security: A Shared Responsibility, says, “The average American family faces a 37 percent shortfall in the income they will need in retirement,” meaning “the average household will face a retirement savings shortfall of nearly $250,000 by the time of retirement.


The McKinsey report says that group faces the biggest challenge, but “they have the greatest ability to recover by changing their behaviors.” “This group,” the report says, “must rely almost entirely on personal savings” because the payouts from traditional defined-benefit pensions “will provide one-tenth of the retirement income of their parents’ generation.”

Yes, people will certainly have to save more. But they'll also have to be much savvier about their retirement options and wiser about their investments as the security of defined benefit plans fades into the night. And they'll have to be much better at math. A simple understanding of compound interest, for example, can go a long way.


Tags: math

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