Posted by: ACFE Inc | October 11, 2011

Space Shuttle: Your Name Here

STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math for the uninitiated) is one area of education that everyone is talking about. The National Association for Gifted Children has some resources you can turn to if you are looking for math and science links. There’s also the STEM Ed Coalition, whose mission is to support STEM programs across the country. In the past few days I have come across a few great sources to fuel your kids’ STEM interests–or maybe get them interested in the first place.


First Class of Female Astronauts - GPN-2004-00025

Image via Wikipedia

First and best, many children are fascinated by space–the idea of flying through the stars, being an astronaut, studying solar systems, galaxies, the universe. No, NASA isn’t recruiting elementary schoolers to its space program, but they are holding a contest that may give your child the next best thing to being in space themselves. NASA is renaming two robotic spacecraft that are heading into orbit around the moon, and they want K-12th graders to suggest names for them. NASA’s solar-powered laboratory vessels lifted off last month and will orbit the moon for three and a half months, creating a gravity map of the moon, and scientists are hoping to use this voyage not only to better understand the moon’s origins but to get children excited about science and technology. Submissions can be sent by teachers online by November 11, so get thinking! Then, the final round of judging to pick the names will be chaired by former astronaut Sally Ride and Maria Zuber, a researcher from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. More information is here.


Next, Stanford University is expanding their computer science courses online–not just by a few students, but for any student who wants to take them. A few weeks ago, three online computer science courses were listed, one of which was an introduction to artificial intelligence. Since then over 100,000 students have enrolled in these courses. Students only need to know one programming language to complete the assignments, and can expect 5 hours of lectures a week with a few hours of homework on top of that. These classes are taking full advantage of the technology available to them: student questions will be posted online and professors will answer those with the top ratings. A warning: students that complete the course receive a “statement of achievement” but no grades or credit, although they do receive feedback on their work. If you want to enroll, you have to act fast: class started yesterday and runs until Dec 16. If you don’t want to commit the time, Stanford also has free lectures available on their Engineering Everywhere site. Additionally, a series of 10-minute lectures on machine learning by Professor Andrew Ng have been available on YouTube for over three years. (Thanks Geek System for the info!)

And finally, the latest article on my favorite school: the Davidson Academy in Reno, Nevada. I have talked about this school before here, and I look forward to the day when every state has its own Davidson Academy to foster STEM students!


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