Tag Archives: Chemistry

Girls and Women in STEM in Asia: UNESCO Report

janetpic_preferred_croppedBy Janet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer, Curriki 

Curriki was very pleased to be in attendance on March 9th when UNESCO’s Asia and Pacific Regional Bureau for Education unveiled their report on girls and women in STEM fields, at the Bangkok Science Center for Education in Thailand.

Titled “A Complex Formula: Girls and Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics in Asia”, the report examines the status of girls studying math, science and engineering subjects in primary, secondary, and post-secondary education, and the current state of employment for women in STEM fields. The report was based on in-depth country studies from Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mongolia, Nepal, the Republic of Korea and Viet Nam, in conjunction with other statistics from the region. The full 122-page report is freely available here on the UNESCO Bangkok web site.

Key Findings 


The highest level message of the report is that “early and targeted intervention through education can greatly facilitate girls’ and women’s increased participation in STEM fields”.

While there are a number of interesting variations among the 7 countries studied, substantial consistency was found across a number of key findings.

  • Overall there is a shortage of talent on STEM fields in the Asia-Pacific region.
  • Globally, fewer than 30% of STEM researchers are women.
  • Gender differences in STEM topics become especially apparent around age 15, during secondary school education.
  • The gender gap at the secondary level correlates with under-representation of women in STEM during higher education and in the workforce.
  • Within the STEM fields, both in higher education and in the workforce, women tend to be found primarily in biology, chemistry and medicine.
  • Women are very lightly represented in physics, engineering and computer science/IT.
  • These latter fields are more math-intensive, and in school girls report more anxiety around, and lower interest levels in, mathematics.
  • There are fewer female teachers in STEM, implying fewer role models for girls.
  • Gender stereotypes are widespread in teaching and learning materials for STEM subjects.


A few of the recommendations from the report are:

“Teacher education and policies on recruitment must ensure a fair representation of both male and female teachers in all subjects, including mathematics and science, at all levels if education.

  • Teacher education… should be transformed to ensure that teachers are trained in gender-responsive teaching strategies.
  • Promoting more female role models in STEM, whether female teachers…female students and faculty members in higher education, and more broadly more women working in STEM fields, is an important strategy.

Curricula and learning materials should undergo further rigorous review from a gender perspective to ensure that they do not perpetuate gender stereotypes.”

Curriki is particularly interested in the last of these recommendations. We have tens of thousands of STEM materials at www.curriki.org, available for free, to support STEM education for girls and boys in Asia and around the world. We encourage you to upload STEM materials onto the Curriki web site, especially those that show equal participation of girls and boys in STEM learning roles, across the various disciplines, and that reflect both men and women as role models, equally. If you have such materials to upload, Curriki and our large, global educator and learner community will be most appreciative.

Girls and STEM: Bias begins with Toddlers?

KimJonesimageBy Kim Jones, CEO, Curriki

Even when girls and boys demonstrate similar actual competence levels in math, during the early school years, boys are more confident about their math skills. Already by kindergarten, boys have more interest in pursuing math learning than do girls.


STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) related jobs are some of the best jobs out there, and increasingly important in our technology-driven economy. But the percentage of women in many STEM jobs remains very low. Only about 1/4 of STEM jobs in the U.S. are filled by women. Women’s share of computer jobs has actually been falling in recent years. At present, only 18% of U.S. computer science majors are women.

According to the Office of Science and Technology Policy, women in STEM professions earn 33% more than those in other fields.


It’s generally understood that by school age, girls receive less encouragement in math and science pursuits than do boys, from both parents and teachers. What’s interesting is that it now seems this bias starts from a very early age, less than the age of 2 years!

In a study entitled “Gender Biases in Early Number Exposure to Preschool-Aged Children”, published in 2011 in the Journal of Language and Social Psychology, researchers at the University of Delaware found that mothers spent fully twice as much time talking to their sons about numbers and numeric concepts as they did with their daughters! The average age of the children in the study was only 22 months, for both the boys and the girls.

Here’s a related set of resources on Curriki – Math for Girls. This link includes a series of videos featuring women working in mathematics and presenting pieces of math that excited them when they were in middle and high school.

Help girls realize that math and sciences education is not just for the boys. Even if they don’t end up pursuing STEM careers, there is a lot of useful and interesting knowledge to be gained in studying math, science and engineering topics. The use of math in traditionally non-STEM careers, such as finance and marketing, is only increasing. And maybe they are better at math than they think they are!


You’ll also find other resources at this link including profiles of women in Math, and in STEM careers in general.






https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q_11rwb4vEc#t=40 – Girls in STEM: A New Generation of Women in Science

Nobel Prizes Awarded for 2013

KimJonesimageBy Kim Jones, CEO, Curriki

Somewhere around the world, in one of your classrooms, there is a future Nobel Prize winner in the making! Help inspire them and all your other students toward future successes, great and small. Curriki has thousands of resources related to the disciplines in which the Nobel Prizes are awarded.

These most prestigious of prizes are awarded each year in accordance with the will of Alfred Nobel, who was born in Sweden 180 years ago. An inventor, chemist, and engineer, he is best known as the inventor of dynamite; when he died in 1896 he had 355 patents in his name. The Nobel committee which decides on the awards in the various categories is based in Sweden. An exception is that the Peace Prize is selected by a committee based in Norway. Prizes are awarded at the discretion of the committees in the categories of Chemistry, Physics, Medicine, Literature, Peace, and Economics.

Alfred Nobel

Alfred Nobel

For this year, awards have been made as follows:

Chemistry – Drs. Martin Karplus, Michael Levitt, and Arieh Warshel were awarded the Chemistry Prize for advances in molecular modeling using high performance computers. You can find around 745 chemistry resources on Curriki at http://www.curriki.org/welcome/resources-curricula/ (by searching on Science / Chemistry).

Peter Higgs (image credit: Gert-Martin Greuel)

Peter Higgs (image credit: Gert-Martin Greuel)

Physics – Drs. Peter Higgs and Francois Englert were awarded the Physics Prize for their Higgs boson prediction. The new particle, named for Higgs, was discovered in 2012 after decades of searching and is the mechanism providing mass to other fundamental particles (such as quarks, electrons). You can find 1287 physics resources on Curriki.

Medicine – Drs. James Rothman, Randy Sheckman and Thomas Sudhof were awarded the prize in Medicine for increasing our understanding of transport mechanisms inside cells. There are around 1288 health resources on Curriki.

Too Much Happiness, short stories by Alice Munro

Too Much Happiness, short stories by Alice Munro

Literature – The Literature Prize was awarded to Alice Munro, a Canadian, for her contemporary short stories. You can find around 1520 literature resources on Curriki.

Peace – The Peace Prize for 2013 has been awarded to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons “for its extensive efforts to eliminate chemical weapons”. The OPCW is supported by the United Nations, and according to the NY Times “The organization’s mission is to act as a watchdog in carrying out the Chemical Weapons Convention, which came into force in 1997 with four aims: to destroy all chemical weapons under international verification, to prevent the creation of new chemical weapons, to help countries protect themselves against chemical attack, and to foster international cooperation in the peaceful use of chemistry. Since its creation, the organization has sent experts to carry out 5,000 inspections in 86 countries..” There are a number of resources on issues around peace on Curriki, but we’d like to see more, please contribute in this category if you are able.

Economics – The Economics Prize is not yet announced as this blog goes to press. There are over 1000 economics-related resources on Curriki.

These several thousands of open educational resources freely available on Curriki may help you inspire a future Nobel Prize winner, or if not, at least can help to inspire and educate a future great scientist, author, or contributor to world peace. And if you can add to the collections in any of these categories, please do!

Curriki Celebrates Six Year Anniversary!

By Kim Jones, CEO, Curriki

Curriki is celebrating our 6-year anniversary this week. For 6 years, Curriki has been the leading K-12 global community for teachers, students and parents to create, share, and find free and open learning resources that improve teacher effectiveness and student outcomes. We are pleased to be going strong and we thank you for your support and engagement, whether you just joined this year or have been involved with us for several years.

The name Curriki is derived from the words “curriculum” and “wiki”. Here’s how our mission is described at Wikipedia:

Curriki’s mission is to use technology to help break down economic and geographic barriers that prevent children worldwide from having access to quality education, and thereby to make learning possible for anyone, anywhere in the world. Curriki’s model is to develop curricula through community contributors, and to deliver curricula and open educational resources globally. Anyone with access to the Internet can contribute and use the material found on Curriki to teach themselves or others. Since the materials, which include digital textbooks, learning videos, and interactive resources, are provided in open source, they can be adapted as needed to particular requirements inside or outside of the classroom.

Curriki continues to grow rapidly. The number of resources available at Curriki has doubled just in the last 4 years, and is now at 45,000. The number of members has grown to over 300,000, more than tripling in that same period. There have been over 7.5 million unique visitors to the Curriki site! And there are 678 groups within the Curriki family that have established by our members.

Curriki’s pre-history was in 2004 and 2005 and saw the development of the original concepts for a global education community, spearheaded by Scott McNealy and myself when Scott was the CEO at Sun Microsystems and I lead the Sun Education group for the company. Working in the technology field and with the education community, we were able to see the potential to leverage the Internet and technology more broadly to address the mission as stated above.

We launched Curriki in 2006 as a non-profit organization, and the initial website was launched in 2007. The first contribution was from Kevin Driscoll. In the same year the Curriki review team was launched. In 2009 we added a full chemistry curriculum.

Highlights in the current year of 2012 included a significant redesign of the Curriki web site, the launching of the Curriki Algebra 1 course, and the 300,000th member joining Curriki.

We look forward to increasing Curriki’s capabilities in the coming years and to continuing to help you achieve successful educational results!

Seeing Science All Around

Photo by: Pink Sherbet for Flickr Creative Commons

[tweetmeme]Where does science happen?

We use language arts every day, reading everything from road signs to gossip magazines to newspapers. We use mathematics at the grocery market, or when we figure out the tip at a restaurant, or worry about gas mileage on a road trip. We see social studies in action every time we look out at a crowd of people, or wander through a museum.

But science? For many students, science only exists in the classroom, during tedious labs or teacher-controlled experiments.

There is a new message for students: Science is everywhere!

As your students prepare to leave the classroom for two glorious months of summer vacation, help them get ready to experience the world around them with new scientific eyes.

Using these resources from Curriki, open students’ minds to science outside the classroom!

For young learners

Learn About Water Towers: Curriki contributor Warren Buckleitner was asked one day, “I have always been interested in water towers and have always wondered, do those big ball-like tops really hold water or not?” So he decided to dig up some Internet sites to tell us more about these roadside wonders. This investigation is a great opportunity for young students to learn about science at work in their community.

Unit on Plants: Parents will be very pleased that their youngster has learned about plants before getting to work in the garden this summer. In addition, the students can conduct an experiment in which they collect, observe and log plant data in their science journal notebooks. Send little gardeners home for summer vacation, and see what they have to report in the fall!

For Big Kids

Bridges: Chances are, if you are driving to the beach this summer, or going on a camping trip, or going fishing, or even biking to the nearest pool, you will cross a bridge. Through these videos and computer resources, students can gain a basic understanding of how bridges work, and begin designing and building their own!

A Matter of Chocolate: What would summer be without ‘smores? Those delicious campfire treats of toasted marshmallows, crisp graham crackers and melting chocolate can make your mouth water just writing about them! Prepare your students for a chocolate-y summer with this unit on the history and chemistry of chocolate

High School and Beyond

Ergonomic Chair Design: Whether lounging by the pool, barbeque, or campfire, your students will spend at least part of their summer sitting down. What if they could sit in a chair that they designed? This open-ended design lesson will give them that opportunity! Students work in small groups and must research and develop a new chair design.

Looking for even more science lessons, activities, and units? Check out the Focus on: Science section of Curriki.

Do you have a great science lesson that opens students’ eyes to science in our world? Share it with a global audience: apply to Curriki’s Summer of Content program today!

Have a great summer, and remember: Science is out there!


Like what you read? Become a fan of Curriki on Facebook


Photo by: Pink Sherbet via Flickr Creative Commons

Calling all Chemistry Lovers!

[tweetmeme]What are the objects around us made of?

How heavy is an atom?

What is the difference between ideal gas and non-ideal gas behavior?

Trivia buffs and science whizzes alike can discover answers to the above questions and thousands more in this recently added free and open Chemistry collection provided by FHSST (Free High School Science Texts). FHSST is a project that aims to provide free science and mathematics textbooks for Grades 10 to 12 science learners. The project was initiated by young South African scientists, and now brings together scientists from around the world who are willing to contribute to the writing of the books.

The collection covers three main topics (Matter and Materials, Chemical Change, Chemical Systems) and then within those topics, they are broken down into G10, G11, and G12 chapters. Throughout each clear and comprehensive chapter are embedded activities, worked examples and exercises for exploration and assessment. Each chapter ends with a summary and set of summary exercises.

If you’re out of money for an expensive textbook, just love to learn about science, or know someone in need of chemistry help, this collection is a must click on!

For more free and open science resources, visit our Focus on Science section of Curriki!



Note: The above image is by Andy Schultz and is available under the CC Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License.


California Instructional Materials: An Update

In my last blog, I wrote about how California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger had announced a request for publishers to submit free, open source textbooks in high school math and science for use this fall. Since the announcement, the state back-tracked somewhat by making the call for submissions free but not open source. The final approved list of submissions will be locked PDF files of textbooks that will be freely available for 2 years.  To its credit, the State of California has made several significant steps forward in this move. They have gone from the typical 6 year adoption cycle to just two years; they have gone from heavy, physical books to electronic files; and they have gone from expensive to free. What they have not done is allowed the math and science teachers across the State of California to edit, add or improve  any of these submissions. (To read a recent press release from the Office of the Governor pertaining to this initiative, click here.)

Curriki has submitted two books to this process and it is our understanding that both books, one in Chemistry and one in Earth Science, will be among those approved by the California Learning Resource Network, the body charged with performing the review process. At the time of the announcement, expected around August 10, a link to download both of these books will be available on the State’s official free textbook Web site. At the same time, Curriki intends to make both books available in an open source form on Curriki.org and will be reaching out to Earth Science and Chemistry teacher across the state to work with our content. This experiment will be a exciting proof of concept to see if the community actually can and will use open source materials.  We know that classroom teachers across the state have created fantastically engaging lessons, rich with multimedia and hands-on activities. Our hope is that some of these busy science teachers will take the time to supplement the book we have provided with some of this great material they’ve’ developed.

Expect to see and hear much more about this on the Curriki.org site, through our Twitter feeds and through various other outreach efforts. If you have expertise in either of these fields, I urge you to work with us in this historic effort. If you’re not a Earth Science  or Chemistry teacher but you know someone who is, please send them this link and encourage them to join us. Our hope is that by the end of next school year, the open source versions of our books are so vastly improved, that the state moves to make the entire initiative open source, in addition to free. We continue to believe in the power of the community to share their collective knowledge. Please help us to show state education administrators in California and across the nation, that the knowledge of their community is amongst its most powerful resources.


Peter Levy

Strategic Development