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Can Private Funds Boost STEM?

Private FundsChicago Public Schools is the latest test lab for philanthropists hoping to improve public education. English vacuum cleaner inventor James Dyson announced he was investing $500,000 to bring an after-school program focused on creative design, engineering and technology to 20 schools this fall.

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Lesson: Construct a Buoyant Scuba Diver

Scuba SketchScuba diving is an excellent hobby for underwater naturalists. In this lesson, students in grades 6-8 learn about the concepts of buoyancy and how organisms float, sink, or hover in water as they construct a neutrally buoyant “scuba diver.”

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Foundations Go For Gaming

GamingCan digital media and video games boost student learning? The Bill and Melinda Gates and Pearson foundations clearly think so. The pair announced a $20 million effort to create online reading, math, and science courses tied to new Common Core state standards that will use video, interactive software, games, social media and other digital materials.

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Feature: Here a Bot, There a Bot

AgribotEver since Virginia inventor Cyrus McCormick perfected the mechanical reaper in the 1830s, engineers have sought ways to grow more food using fewer people. Now, they’re close to taking Old MacDonald off the farm altogether. Meet the agribot, already in use harvesting hard-to-pick edibles.

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Lesson: Design a Green Rooftop Garden

Toronto Green RoofThis lesson for grades 6-8 explores how civil engineering has solved the challenge of moving water via irrigation. Students learn how irrigation systems direct water for use in farming or other purposes. Using everyday items, each team of students designs and builds an “irrigation system” capable of moving two cups of water at least three feet and distributing it evenly in two separate containers.

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Chemistry Teacher Named Top in Nation

Michelle ShearerWho says science is for nerds? Not the Council of Chief State School Officers, which just named Michelle Shearer, an AP chemistry teacher from Frederick, Md., the 2011 National Teacher of the Year. President Obama will honor her and other state teachers of the year at the White House on May 3.

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Website: Pathways to Science

Pathways to SciencePathways to Science supports pathways to the STEM fields. It places particular emphasis on connecting underrepresented groups with STEM programs, funding, mentoring, and resources. This website features programs such as undergraduate summer research opportunities, graduate fellowships, postdoctoral positions, and recruitment and retention materials.

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