President Obama helped kick off Computer Science Education Week on Monday with a message to the country’s youth. “If we want America to stay on the cutting edge, we need young Americans like you to master the tools and technology that will change the way we do just about everything,” he said in a speech posted on YouTube.
“Don’t just buy a new video game -- make one,” he encouraged viewers. “Don’t just download the latest app -- help design it. Don’t just play on your phone -- program it.”
Students and teachers in classrooms around the globe will learn how to do just that as part of a worldwide initiative called the Hour of Code. So far, some 28,000 groups plan to host computer coding tutorials in 166 countries, The Seattle Times reported. (Go here for a real-time map of registrants.) Code.org created the free tutorial in collaboration with engineers from Microsoft, Google, Twitter and Facebook. It uses puzzles featuring characters from popular online games like “Angry Birds” to introduce students to coding concepts.Code.org points to a persistent gap between the number of computer-related jobs in the U.S. and students who study computer science.
“No one’s born a computer scientist,” President Obama said. “But with a little hard work, and some math and science, just about anyone can become one.”
More STEM News:
Education Secretary Duncan: OECD Test Results ‘A Wake-Up Call’
WASHINGTON - Education Secretary Arne Duncan called the performance of American students on the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development educational assessments a “picture of educational stagnation” that “must serve as a wake-up call” for true reform, according to remarks on Ed.gov, the U.S. Department of Education’s web site. Duncan, addressing foreign exchange students last week, said the results show the U.S. urgently needs sustained educational investment, but he also reported some good news: “In the last three years, 700,000 fewer students are in high school dropout factories, college enrollment is up—especially among Hispanics—and the 2013 National Assessment of Educational Progress showed us that reading and math scores for 4th and 8th graders are up nationally to new highs.”
Northeastern University Plans $227M Science, Engineering Research Center
BOSTON - Northeastern University hopes to break ground next month on a $225 million science and engineering research building, joining a growing list of Boston-area colleges and universities making major investments in those fields, according to The Boston Globe. NU President Joseph E. Aoun said the facility will help to meet a surging demand among students attracted to the majors and to accommodate a growing faculty. Over the past seven years, the university has recruited 387 tenured and tenure-track faculty, and its annual research funding has more than doubled, he said.
‘The Brain Scoop’ YouTube Channel Draws Hateful Comments on STEM Women
CHICAGO - Emily Graslie, a science reporter for Chicago’s Field Museum of Natural History, has a very successful YouTube channel called “The Brain Scoop,” with 172,000 subscribers. While most of her viewers are supportive and engaged, NPR reports she’s received ugly, misogynist comments on her channel -- dissecting her appearance, hitting on her and claiming she couldn’t possibly have written that Skyrim reference herself. The comments, and her response about why more women don’t follow her YouTube example, offer a window into the hurdles women face in STEM, a field dominated by men. “We have a fear of the feedback from our subscribers and commenters because we’re afraid that our audience is more focused on our appearance than the quality of our content,” she said. More than that, she added, “we’re not convinced that people are watching for the content in the first place.”
W. Mich. University Gets $529K to Enhance STEM Teaching, Retain Students
KALAMAZOO, Mich. -- Western Michigan University’s Science and Mathematics Program Improvement unit has been awarded $529,000 in grants from the National Science Foundation, the university announced. MLive.com reports the two grants will go to enhance teaching and help retain students in the STEM disciplines. WMU will be part of a six-university team conducting research to help faculty understand and respond to student thinking -- particularly misconceptions regarding concepts covered in their undergraduate classes. Michigan State University will be the lead institution on the project.