STEM Roundup: Zombie Model Wins Top Prize

A roundup of recent news about science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education and employment.

What if zombies took over a college campus? One student at Unity College in Maine has won a national award for creating a model of such a situation.

What if zombies took over a college campus? One student at Unity College in Maine has won a national award for creating a model of such a situation.

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Model of Zombie Apocalypse Wins Top Math Association Prize

UNITY, Maine -- A Unity College senior took first prize in a math competition for creating a game based on a zombie outbreak on campus. Kari Lemelin, a wildlife biology major and member of the class of 2014, won the Janet L. Anderson Prize for the problem, "Modeling a Zombie Outbreak at Unity College," at Mathfest, the national meeting of the Mathematical Association of America in Hartford, Conn. But the B-movie title overshadows real applications for her work: "If zombies look to start overtaking the campus, we look for indicators in the comparison of the data with the model and intervene if necessary," Lemelin said. "This has real-life disease management applications."

Move Over, Football: Texas School District to Build STEM Complex Near Stadium

KATY, Texas -- Between the second football stadium and a new agricultural complex, the Katy school district plans to build a state-of-the-art building dedicated to STEM education and research. "It's a place to create," said Sarah Martin, Katy ISD director of career and technical education. At 24,000 square feet, the center would contain six high bay areas as well as two combinable meeting rooms. The bay area's high ceilings would allow students to build large scale projects, such as robots, that they are currently unable to complete at their regular school campuses. "The vision would be that we would be able to bring in students from across all grade levels to use that as a creative space," Martin said.

Hispanic Engineers Hold STEM, College Event for High Schoolers

INDUSTRY, Calif. -- The Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) will bring together about 500 middle and high school students from across the country to Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) to learn about STEM in an interactive environment. The SHPE Foundation Pre-College Symposium, held Nov. 1 from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., is designed to motivate students to not only complete high school and attend college but to pursue STEM related degrees and careers. The symposium will be divided into two tracks -- high school and middle school -- and will feature several hands-on activities as well as workshops related to financial aid, college options, college admissions, and navigating college life.

NASA, Honeywell Expand Show Promoting STEM Among Kids

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Honeywell and NASA have announced an expansion to FMA Live! Forces in Motion, the latest version of the award-winning physics education program that uses hip-hop music to inspire middle school students to embrace math and science. Using live actors, hip-hop songs, music videos, interactive scientific demonstrations and video interviews with scientists and engineers from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the FMA Live! show teaches Newton's Three Laws of Motion and Universal Laws of Gravity. Over 10 weeks, the show will stop at 30 middle schools in nine northeast and central U.S. states, including Washington, D.C.; Philadelphia; Paramus, N.J.; Euclid, Ohio; Grosse Pointe, Mich.; Oak Lawn, Ill.; and Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Calif. Students See STEM in Action During Tesla Plant Tour

FREMONT, Calif.-- Two hundred California high school students got to see real-world examples of how STEM education applies in real life during a tour of the plant for Tesla Motors last week. Tesla, producers of an electric car, partnered with Google to show kids how new inventions can change lives and to emphasize that the kids, many of whom were from underserved communities, can succeed in STEM fields. "A lot of times kids don't realize that, A. they can do these jobs and, B. that science and engineering, heroic engineering is one of the greatest jobs in the world, to make the world a better plan through invention and innovation," Google X Vice President Megan Smith said.

MIT Students Build a Better -- and Prize-Winning -- Ambulance

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- When it came time for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to purchase a new ambulance, a group at the school did what MIT students do best: they designed it themselves. The result: a state-of-the-art emergency vehicle that has won awards and is unlike any other in the area.The ambulance was praised beyond the MIT community. In October, the Metropolitan Boston Emergency Medical Services Council recognized MIT-EMS with an Innovation of the Year Award for "innovative thinking to address a problem that affects the EMS community."

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