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We are dedicated to building a community of researchers and educators who together innovate ways to engage students and the public in STEM fields — Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.

02 December 2016

DiscoveryE Engineering Resources

The Future City program on DiscoverE.

Do you want to get your students interested in engineering careers and topics? Try the DiscoverE website for engineering resources: http://www.discovere.org/

This site has information on engineering jobs available, as well as great information on events to participate in engineering activities. Out of the full breadth of STEM topics, engineering is one of the easiest to engage students in because it is so active and the concepts are so usable. If you’re starting a STEM Club at your school or getting a STEM program up and running for your youth group, this site can provide you with plenty of material to work with.

23 November 2016

Happy Thanksgiving!

The STEM Center hopes you have a great Thanksgiving! Bear in mind that we will be closed tomorrow and Friday with the rest of SIUE for the Thanksgiving holiday. If you’re looking for some science in the meantime, consider using the Panofsky turkey constant to make your cooking easier. You also can get in the holiday mood with the turkey trebuchet video below. Enjoy!

14 November 2016

Robotic Life!

A team at the University of Massachusetts Amherst is trying something really amazing. With a series of mounted cameras they are making 3D digital models of every living organism on Earth. This is a pretty ambitious project but they’ve got lots of help from biologists and conservation projects. This is a great example of ecology at work and the power of digital imaging. Check it out with your students and then try Sketchup or another CAD program to show them how this works.

Read More About the Digital Life Initiative Here

17 October 2016

International Archaeology Day

On October 15th, archaeologists around the world celebrated International Archaeology Day. This annual event includes a number of public events to get people interested and engaged in discovering the past. Many people may not realize it, but archaeology, as the scientific investigation of people who lived in the past, is deeply rooted in STEM fields. Archaeologists rely on a number of scientific, technological, engineering, and mathematic principles to investigate, experiment, and interpret past people, cultures, and societies.

For example, archaeologists might look at the ratio of stable isotopes (an atom that contains a different number of neutrons than protons in the nucleus) in ancient shells to estimate the temperature of the water the animal was living in, as well as the season when people harvested the creature. Archaeologists also use GIS (geographic information systems) to examine the spatial relationships between where people use to live with geological features in order to understand how these patterns have changed over time and how they might change in the future.

Hardhead Catfish Otolith

Above is an image of a fish otolith. Otoliths are boney-like structures that fish have in their craniums, allowing them to sense movement as they swim. Within the otolith, the ratio of standard oxygen atoms (those with the same number of protons and neutrons in the nucleus of the atom) to isotopes (those with a different number of neutrons to protons in the nucleus) depends on the temperature the fish lived in and can be examined by archaeologists. Using a tiny drill (this otolith is about 3 mm wide), archaeologists can sample the otolith and run that sample through a mass spectrometer to determine the ratio of standard atoms to isotopic one. This ratio is then used to calculate the temperature of the water this fished lived in 4,000 years ago.

The list of STEM applications in archaeology go on and on! So for this International Day of Archaeology, check out what archaeologists do on a daily basis at the Day of Archaeology and discover all the different ways archaeologists apply science, technology, engineering, and mathematics to understand our past!

12 October 2016

Upcoming STEM Dates

STEM educators in the area might have seen already that Tuesday was a busy day. It was Ada Lovelace Day as well as Earth Observation Day, providing two excellent opportunities to get out there and do some STEM. If you missed them, though, we’ve got one more event to check out and this one goes through Sunday!

The 2016 Breakthrough Junior Challenge is an annual, global competition for students, designed to inspire creative thinking about science. Students aged 13-18, from countries across the globe are invited to create and submit an original video (5 minutes max) that brings to life a concept or theory in the life sciences, physics, or mathematics. The submissions are judged on the student’s ability to communicate complex scientific ideas in the most engaging, illuminating, and imaginative ways.

One winner is recognized every year and awarded a $250,000 college scholarship. The teacher who inspired the winning student receives a $50,000 prize. The winner’s school also receives a state-of-the art science lab valued at $100,000.

Junior Challenge Overview

Breakthrough Junior Challenge Press Release

 

23 September 2016

The Case for Optimism on Climate Change

Here’s a great TED Talk with Vice President Al Gore about climate change and the reason why it’s not an apocalyptic topic. If you aren’t familiar with the TED Program it involves bringing in experts to talk to a non-expert audience about exciting STEM topics… Needless to say there are quite a few fans here in our offices! This video is succinct and powerful so feel free to use it in your science courses.

21 September 2016

MWCCOE HackSpace Competition

Last Chance to Register Teams!

Know a 6-12 grade student who would be interested in learning more about Cybersecurity? Or what about a student interested in winning a Raspberry Pi kit? MWCCOE is hosting a FREE CyberPatriot recruitment event, MWCCOE HackSpace Competition.

The goal of this CyberPatriot recruitment event is to get middle/high school students excited towards STEM disciplines and to encourage students to participate in this year’s CyberPatriot IX National Competition.

The students will compete against one another in an effort to test and expand cybersecurity skills and awareness. Participants will be challenged with cybersecurity related puzzles from categories like network exploitation, cyber forensics, cryptography, and cyber trivia.

The competition is geared towards students with little to no cybersecurity experience and is aimed at improving the student’s cybersecurity knowledge. Technical mentors provided for each team.

16 September 2016

2016 Breakthrough Junior Challenge

The STEM Center is excited to support the Breakthrough Junior Challenge this year, which we connected with through our Math Teacher Circle program.

The 2016 Breakthrough Junior Challenge is an annual, global competition for students, designed to inspire creative thinking about science. Students aged 13-18, from countries across the globe are invited to create and submit an original video (5 minutes max) that brings to life a concept or theory in the life sciences, physics, or mathematics. The submissions are judged on the student’s ability to communicate complex scientific ideas in the most engaging, illuminating, and imaginative ways.  

One winner is recognized every year and awarded a $250,000 college scholarship. The teacher who inspired the winning student receives a $50,000 prize. The winner’s school also receives a state-of-the art science lab valued at $100,000.

Please share this opportunity with your networks.

For more information, please see the following links:

02 September 2016

Earthcaching

Photo from geocaching.com

The STEM Center has been doing a lot with EarthCaching over the years and so we were happy to celebrate International GeoCache Day this past August. With International EarthCache Day coming up on October 9, we want educators who are interested to know a little more about EarthCaching.

Started over a decade ago, geocaching involves following GPS coordinates to a hidden box (a cache) where you can exchange trinkets with other geocachers and sign your name to leave your mark. Earthcaching is similar but rather than finding a box you are led to a natural feature of the world around us: a striking rock formation, a stream that’s an excellent example of erosion, a beautiful collection of minerals, or something else compelling. Geocaching is a great use of technology for educators but earthcaching is even easier to connect with standards like the Earth & Space Science core ideas from the NGSS.

If you’ve been wanting to try this hobby out or if this is your first exposure to earthcaching, October 9th is a great opportunity to get involved. Lots of sites (with geocaching.com in particular) will be posting new earthcaching challenges. Tie it into your classroom, go out with your kids, or try it yourself and see what earthcaching is all about!

29 July 2016

A World Without Polymers

Sometimes you’re going over things with students, sometimes they ask a devastating question: why does this matter? It can be disheartening to a teacher who might (correctly) gather that the students really aren’t invested in the subject matter. On the other hand, you can also say that they aren’t invested yet. When your students ask this, take it as a cue that they are primed for hearing the answer to this question. If you are approaching a subject that might be obscure, take a look at some descriptions and/or videos that go through the importance of the subject and bonus points if it’s from someone that they can see as a peer! For instance, here’s a video below for any educators about to teach polymers.