Tag Archives: K-12 resources

Encouraging Girls in STEM subjects

KimJonesimageBy Kim Jones, CEO, Curriki

While girls show a lot of interest in science during elementary school, the interest often fades in the later grades. Around 2/3 of girls in the U.S. at the fourth grade level express an interest in science and/or math subjects.

U.S. Census Bureau statistics indicate that about 24% of the jobs in STEM (science, technology and math) fields are currently occupied by women. The gender imbalance is particularly notable in the physical sciences and in engineering fields, while women are better represented in the life sciences.

In computer science there is a very large imbalance, and yet this is a field where many jobs go begging today – there are hundreds of thousands of software development jobs in the U.S. in this field which are unfilled at present.

Verizon has developed a wonderful “Inspire Her Mind” commercial -

The message of the commercial is – don’t discourage girls from “getting their hands dirty” with science or engineering projects. Rather, encourage their curiosity and their interest in these fields.

Curriki contains a wealth of resources in STEM subjects, even full courses in math including algebra and geometry. And of course developing math strengths is key to pursuing majors and careers in science and technology fields.

Here’s information on one project to address the gender gap in software development – it is a global effort to teach 1 million girls to write computer code and develop applications.

http://www.cnet.com/news/girl-geek-academy-wants-to-teach-one-million-girls-to-code/

As CNET reports: “A new initiative aims to teach women how to create apps and launch their own startups, with the aim to reach one million people by 2025″. There has been progress in certain areas. For example, the number of women involved in the gaming industry, one of the largest for new software development opportunities, has increased from 11% to 22% in recent years.

Here’s an article about Women Who Code UK founder and software engineer Sheree Atcheson, who is just 23 years old.

ShereeAtcheson_400x400
Sheree Atcheson, Software Engineer and @WomenWhoCode UK Founder

Curriki also has resources to help girls, and boys, learn to code, including the Oracle Academy courses for Java, one of today’s most important programming languages.

Curriki’s purpose is to broaden educational opportunity in K-12 for students in all countries, including supporting greater participation by girls in the various STEM fields. These fields are so critical to future job opportunities for students and to the progress of humanity around the world, whether through the life sciences, physical sciences, or engineering.

Got Curriki? Summer Tips for Teachers

Portrait of a mature woman lying on a sandy beach

By Janet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer, Curriki

I enjoyed a recent blog on Top 12 Summer Tips for Top Teachers from Edutopia that includes lots of great tips on how we, as teachers, can become more productive and better at our jobs.

I thought I’d build on these tips with some additional ideas:

  • Rework the Worst to Be the Best. Take the time to revise last quadraticyear’s lesson plans to make them even better. Incorporate recent events, videos or hands-on learning experiences to enrich the classroom experience. You can find lots of ideas on Curriki. For example, use the Curriki Search function to find games like Quadratic Review or Free Online Math Games to make learning fun. Curriki also has video collections like this Technology Video collection from STEMbite that includes how to make your own bone conduction headphones, and how you can use a new pair of sunglasses to explore the polarization of light.
  • Tinker. What better way to spur creativity, especially in the dog alicedays of summer! Why not explore 3D printing or learn a new skill? We follow Teacher Christine Mytko, who’s using 3D printers in her classroom and blogs about it in Tales of a 3D Printer. Did you ever want to learn programming? Check out the free workshop Getting Started with Java Using Alice, where you can learn basic Java programming concepts with little or no programming experience. It’s fun and you can spend time creating animated stories, movies and games.
  • Laugh. I’m sure you can find plenty of things that will have you laughing out loud. But as teachers, we sometimes appreciate a special kind of humor. “Like” Teachers with a Sense of Humor  or Grammarly on Facebook to get more of these posts.

grammarly

LOL. If you know a teacher, please share this post with them!

Education Across the Globe

Kim JonesBy Kim Jones, CEO, Curriki

The infographic in this post has some very interesting information on education and literacy around the globe. It was produced by Tutoring Expert in Canada.

A few facts: there are 1.4 billion students on earth, fully 20% of the world’s population. There are 65 million educators around the world. This is approximately equal to the population of France. Developed countries typically spend about 10 to 15% of their total government budgets on education.

Around 800 million adults across the globe are illiterate. Three nations each have over 1 million girls not in school: Nigeria, Pakistan, and Ethiopia. Only 12% of women in Afghanistan are able to read. Around 31 million girls of primary school age around the world are not in school.

In India, 88% of boys are able to read, but only 74% of girls. Clearly one of the challenges is increasing literacy for all, and especially, educational access for girls. On the other hand, in the Philippines, there are many more girls in school than boys.

Global edu infographic

In the U.S., only 32% of students are considered proficient in math. Children in Finland have the world’s highest scores in math and science, despite not starting school until age 6 or 7.

Despite the problems that remain, 1 in 3 young people are now expected to receive a college or university degree. Education is key to job opportunities, and to one’s standard of living, health, and social position. Most societies and parents around the world care deeply about their children’s future, for both boys and girls, and thus for their educational development. They invest considerable resources in their children’s education. But there are also serious shortcomings that must be addressed.

Curriki, as a not-for-profit foundation, is fully dedicated to improving education access and educational outcomes around the world. Over 50,000 Curriki educational resources are freely available to anyone with Internet access. These resources are also open source, in order to allow customization as needed. To date, 10 million unique users have visited the Curriki web site.

Take a careful look at the infographic, and see what other interesting factoids you are able to discover. The variation of school attendance hours between countries is fascinating!

National Museum of Mathematics

By Janet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer

At Curriki, we believe that math does not have to be boring. One institution that shares this belief and brings it to life is the National Museum of Mathematics (a.k.a. MoMath) in Manhattan, New York City. It is the only museum in the U.S. devoted purely to math.

Science News said the museum is “the antidote to math phobia”. MoMath stresses interactive exhibits so that one can gain an understanding of math concepts by doing and exploring.

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According to the MoMath website: 

The National Museum of Mathematics strives to enhance public understanding and perception of mathematics. Its dynamic exhibits and programs will stimulate inquiry, spark curiosity, and reveal the wonders of mathematics. The Museum’s activities will lead a broad and diverse audience to understand the evolving, creative, human, and aesthetic nature of mathematics. 

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The museum was established at the end of 2012 to promote the understanding and importance of mathematics, and to present math concepts in a fun and engaging way. A particular focus is placed on kids in the middle grades (4th grade through 8th grade) but there are attractions for kids of all ages and adults as well.

In addition, there are a large number of lecture videos on various math topics available at the MoMath web site and on YouTube as well, go to http://momath.org/gallery/ to access these.

The museum’s approach is compatible with the principles behind project-based learning. Curriki has developed two mathematics courses built around the project-based learning methodology. These are for Algebra and Geometry and can be accessed here:

Algebra course = http://www.curriki.org/xwiki/bin/view/Coll_kathyduhl/Algebra1

Geometry course = http://www.curriki.org/welcome/resources-curricula/curriki-geometry-course/

If you live in or happen to visit New York City, we encourage you to take your class or your own children to visit the National Museum of Mathematics. You’ll probably have fun too!

References:

www.momath.org

https://www.sciencenews.org/article/national-museum-mathematics-antidote-math

http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/roots-of-unity/2014/05/23/moma-to-momath-mathematical-art-new-york-city/

Coding

janetpintoBy Janet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer

 

 

Programming, or coding, or writing code, is an important and well-paid skill today. There is a shortage of good programmers. But most students approach computers or mobile devices as consumers. They use computers or devices to play games, or as social media platforms. And they also use computers to search for information, as part of the learning process, which is all to the good. In some cases they are users of interactive games that promote learning.

But all of these use cases are students being consumers of code, and not creators of, producers of, code. Photo by popofatticus via Flickr Creative CommonsProducing is harder than consuming – coding is more difficult than using an app. Yet our modern economy is increasingly reliant on coding and computer science technology more generally.

This blog on the topic at the New York Times is actually entitled “When Kids Would Rather Play Computer Games Than Code Them”. Here’s another article from the New York Times on the topic of learning to code.

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These articles note that coding instruction is trending. In the U.S. there are over 20,000 teachers involved in teaching how to code, according to code.org. The organization states: “Every student in every school should have the opportunity to learn computer science.”  And they believe all kids can learn to code. Code.org helps train high school teachers to instruct coding. Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg (founder of Facebook) have contributed $10 million to Code.org in support of their mission.

Public school systems in Chicago and New York City are building the capability to offer more coding instruction to their student populations. Chicago is looking to make the ability to code a graduation requirement within the next 5 years.

The challenge is getting students over the initial learning hump and frustration around creating code that doesn’t work the first time it’s used. Coding requires persistence, and the ability to think logically. One must eliminate every mistake found in the first version of the code, through testing, modification and iteration. Persistence and logical thinking are great skills and attitudes for students to learn and are important life skills more broadly than just around coding.

Scratch is a simple programming language freely available from M.I.T. The site provides small code blocks that can be tied together to help create stories, games and animation. It is designed for children from age 8 and up, and is used in more than 150 different countries.

And here’s a unit on Curriki for game design in a science classroom, using the Scratch language. Check it out!

 

Early Childhood Education Pays for Itself

janetpic_preferred_croppedBy Janet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer, Curriki 

The US is lagging behind other developed countries in Early Childhood Education. Many children enter school (Kindergarten and then primary school) unprepared and they tend to fall further and further behind during their many years of education. Early childhood education leads to improvements in students’ cognition and social and emotional maturity, and provides long-term positive results and cost benefits to society at large. 

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Childcare and PreK (before kindergarten) education provide many such benefits according to earlychildhood.nyc.org:

Cognitively:

  •  Improves school performance
  •  Raises math and language abilities
  •  Sharpens thinking/attention skills
  •  Reduces special education placement
  •  Lowers school drop out rates

Socially and emotionally:

  •  Improves and strengthen interactions with peers
  •  Decreases problem behaviors
  •  Encourages more exploratory behavior
  •  Helps adjustment to the demands of formal schooling

Long-term positive results and cost savings of Early Childhood Education:

  •  Increases lifelong earning potential
  •  Achieves better academic outcomes
  •  Lowers rates of teen pregnancy and incarceration”

Here are some sites where you can investigate the benefits of, and issues around, Early Childhood Education:

http://www.whitehouse.gov/issues/education/early-childhood

http://www.earlychildhoodnyc.org/resources/aboutECE_whyImportant.cfm

And we have some excellent PreK resources on Curriki, including:

Shapes and Colors Science Kit -

http://www.curriki.org/xwiki/bin/view/Coll_cabocesmst/ShapesandColorsScienceKit?bc=

Meet a Puppeteer -

http://www.curriki.org/xwiki/bin/view/Coll_Nobiah/MeetaPuppeteer

Improving Learning -

http://www.curriki.org/xwiki/bin/view/Coll_Folwell/50littleThingsTeachersParentsandOthersCanDotoImproveLearning

Reading List for PreK – 

http://www.curriki.org/xwiki/bin/view/Coll_briansharky22/PreK-KReadingList

Math Games -

http://www.curriki.org/xwiki/bin/view/Coll_Group_3rdGradeMathGames/MathGameTime

But we need more! If you have open educational resources suitable for PreK, please contribute these at:  

http://www.curriki.org/welcome/resources-curricula/contribute-content/publish-resources/

Curriki Annual Survey for 2014

janetpic_preferred_croppedBy Janet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer, Curriki

Last month, Curriki completed our annual global survey of the 400,000 strong Curriki member community and of our followers on Twitter and Facebook. We have a very diverse set of users, from dozens of countries around the world. Nearly 4000 of you responded to the survey, and we thank you for your time. The largest number of responses came from the U.S., Canada, India, Pakistan and South Africa, but many countries were represented.

We asked about age and gender. Almost half of the respondents are between the ages of 35 and 54, and the remainder are equally divided between those who are age 55 and above and those who are younger than 35. Regarding gender, 5/8 of the respondents are female and 3/8 are male.

Role

Role

This first pie chart shows the distribution of responses to the question: What is your role? Teachers, educators, administrators, parents, students and other categories were represented. Just over half of the respondents are teachers. After teachers, educators, students and parents were the most represented roles.

Affiliation

Affiliation

We also asked about affiliation. This second pie chart shows the responses to that question, indicating nearly half of the members who replied are working in public school districts. The next most populated categories are those at private schools and home schoolers.

Primary Reason to use Curriki

Primary Reason to use Curriki

The third chart (a bar chart) shows the responses to the question: What is the primary reason you visit the Curriki site? Some respondents provided more than one reason, so the total exceeded 100%. The top 3 are:

  1. Find resources for students to use
  2. Find teaching resources (e.g. lesson plans)
  3. As a source of new ideas

Other major reasons were to find resources for their own children, to connect with others in the education community and to contribute resources to Curriki.

We also asked about usage of Curriki groups (there are almost 800 groups at present). One out of 8 respondents participates in one or more of these groups. If you are not a group member, you may want to check these out – there is sure to be one of interest to you. Or you could start your own group around your favorite topic!

Thanks again to all those who participated in the survey!