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4th April 2014

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Catherine Rampell: Women shouldn’t chase after A’s in college to make more later →

This is interesting as I am a woman that was never bothered by B’s and in some cases they were an amazing accomplishment. However, I am also one of the uncommon women with a STEM degree who enjoyed working as an engineer. This kind of follows the articles I have posted before about women’s difficulty problem solving because we are told from a young age that we are good so when we find we are not, we give up and move to something else. This is covered more eloquently in the link from my previous post:

The Trouble with Bright Girls

Tagged: women in sciencegirlsgirl's educationwomeneducation

19th March 2014

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I Opted My Kids Out of Standardized Tests. Then My Education Began. →

Okay, I am all for some standardized testing and teacher accountability, but from what I can tell testing has completely gotten out of hand in the US. Testing for testing’s sake is not useful. Testing without then having time to teach to improve test scores is also not useful. Having an opt out option and then having parents bullied is just bad. US education needs an overhaul badly, but it seems No Child Left Behind and Common Core are moving everything in exactly the opposite direction of actually getting kids better educated. Wake up America! Say NO to these unproductive reforms and demand real reforms. 

Tagged: educationUS dissentparentingeducation reformstandardized testing

Source: Slate

18th March 2014

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A Lota Family Day Care Owner Thought She had an Intruder →

I really admire this local woman who can have such a positive attitude about a large python breaking into her kitchen. She wants to use it as an educational opportunity about how to treat animals with respect for her daycare kids. I wish I could say my reaction would have been so calm and thoughtful. I love wildlife, but a snake in the house would freak me the hell out. Though not so much today as years ago. 

Tagged: wildlifesnakepythonQLDLotaeducationconservation

Source: couriermail.com.au

21st January 2014

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Everyone Should Be Required To Look At This Toy Ad →

I honestly am not sure how concerned we should be about these children’s toy ads, but it does seem like there is a lot of sexualization going on and the anorexic My Little Pony is not good. I also don’t get the excessive pink in girl’s toys and how LEGOS now come in girl and boy flavors. They are LEGOS and are equally as fun in any color.

So are little girls really falling for these barf pink toys? Or are they stealing their brother’s LEGOs and matchbox cars, just like I did? I had some girl toys growing up and I had some boy toys, but it seems at the time most of the toys had no gender preference.  

Tagged: educationparentingtoysgirls

Source: The Huffington Post

13th December 2013

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Anti-princess marketing and girls' education: Mercy Academy vs. GoldieBlox →

And while I have brought up Goldie Blox, let’s discuss a bit. I don’t have kids so I have kind of been oblivious to this ridiculous pink, plastic princess marketing that has apparently been going on towards little girls for a while now. When I was a little girl, I revolted against the adorable doll dresses my mom put me in pretty much as soon as I could talk. My favorite toys were stuffed animals, LEGOS, matchbox cars, spools (like the ones thread comes on), marbles. I had a few Barbies, My Little Ponies, and other “girl” toys. It was probably a well balanced mix which is kind of what I assumed most girls would have. 

Apparently, this is not true and perhaps never was if the previous post with the teacher that never played with LEGOS is any indication. As a female interested in science I fully support toys for boys and girls that encourage both genders to seek technical careers. Since I know these fields are lacking in women, I think toys that teach and are attractive to women are particularly good so in theory I think Goldie Blox is awesome with what they are trying to do. 

However, about the same time their now removed Beastie Boys ad went viral, I started seeing comments on my Facebook supporting the concept, but not supporting the execution. A friend finally pointed me to this article that explains well while the concept is great, but maybe it is still trying to cater to the “princess culture” a little too much to be beneficial.  

Tagged: educationgirl's educationparentingwomen in scienceGoldie Blox

Source: rebeccahains.wordpress.com

12th December 2013

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Using LEGO to Build Math Concepts | Scholastic.com →

Okay, I am kind of perplexed about this person who grew up in the last half of the 20th century and *did not* play with LEGOS. I never really considered them a gender specific toy. They were just FUN. Are there really women out there who didn’t play with building toys? I guess the media storm that Goldie Blox has created would suggest that there are a lot more Lego deprived girls that I would like to know about.

Along that same theme, are there adults under 45 that don’t still have a nice generic set of Legos stashed away for times of extreme stress and maybe a LEGOStar Wars X fighter or two? I am just weird, right? Top on my Christmas wish list this year is Tinker Toys- somehow I missed out of them as a kid, but do you know how hard it is to find real, wooden tinker toys now? Shameful.

Anyway, of course Legos are a great way to demonstrate math, but they certainly didn’t show up in my elementary math class so I feel a bit deprived. I think bringing more hand on activities to math learning is an excellent idea so good for Alycia for waking up to the possibilities of Legos late in life. 

Tagged: educationlegomath educationwomen in science

Source: scholastic.com

22nd October 2013

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Mother shuns Disney Princess ideal and dresses daughter up as five REAL heroines from history to commemorate fifth birthday →

What an awesome idea! I think celebrating real female heroines makes a lot more sense that getting too caught up in the Disney princess fairy tale. Fairy tales aren’t bad in moderation, but setting realistic expectations of what women really can accomplish by doing instead of being has a lot of benefit to young girls and society. I think being Helen Keller for Halloween would be awesome. Who would you be?

Tagged: feminismparentingeducationcreative

8th August 2013

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Journey of Spoon-billed Sandpiper

Education is always one of the most critical things in a serious conservation effort, and the younger kids can be educated the more what they learn will become a part of them. The tiny spoonbill sandpiper is on the brink of extinction, and they migrate through Asia which does not have a strong conservation heritage (not that any part of the world does really). Huge efforts are going into nest monitoring, head starting young, a captive breeding program, and as this video shows a education program throughout the countries where the spoonbill sandpiper summers, winters, and migrates through. This isn’t the most captivating video, but I think the education program is very important and it is important to share what they have been doing. Keep your fingers crossed for the little sandpiper!

Tagged: conservationendangered speciesspoonbill sandpipereducationAsia

Source: youtube.com

25th July 2013

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Math, Science Popular Until Students Realize They’re Hard →

I am somewhat suspicious of small scale studies at isolated schools because I think the results can vary a lot depending on the particular demographic or strength of that school. What is true for one small liberal arts school may not be true for all small liberal arts school and surely isn’t true if you tried to apply the finding to a technical school. 

However, I think this study’s result is pretty obvious and probably does apply over many schools. Many people leave math and science programs because they are extremely challenging. Math and science are also not always taught well which does not help. I think it is also probably more discouraging to today’s generation who have been taught they are always a winner to realize that hard work may not always result in great grades. This can be true in any subject, but it is particularly true with math and science classes. 

What I most like about this article though is the conclusion that the researchers came to that kids need better math and science preparation long before college if society wants more math and science graduates. I think good math and science education should begin in elementary school and that teachers should be taught how to teach their subjects with creativity and flexibility. How hard math and science courses are depends on how good your foundation is. Just about everyone can have a good math foundation if teachers know how to demonstrate concepts in different ways as students often need several different examples before they “get it.”

Tagged: educationmathscienceSTEM degrees

Source: The Wall Street Journal

2nd June 2013

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Teaching your kids about food will not cause eating disorders →

I think it is rarely the right option to hide information from children. Some topics may need to wait for a certain maturity level, but no good ever comes from hiding the truth. I think people, children and adults, do need to think a lot more about what they put in their mouths be it food or medication. Children are smart and can understand a lot more than we give them credit for. Food groups should not be excluded, but responsible eating can be taught at a young age. 

Tagged: foodparentingeducation

Source: spoonfedblog.net

10th May 2013

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Since when were science toys just for boys? →

I don’t know if I would have paid much attention to whether toys were marketed for boys or girls when I was little. I often played with toys that were considered more boy toys: legos, matchbox cars, etc. I don’t think they were firmly labeled Boy or Girl though. I am not sure why you would do that. I am pretty stubborn and dance to the beat of my own drum, but a lot of kids are influenced by society and expectations. Girls don’t need that kind of bias against science and discovery toys. 

Tagged: parentingunited kingdomtoyswomen in scienceeducationcultural bias

Source: newstatesman.com

7th May 2013

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Cooper Union Will Charge Tuition in 2014 →

This is sad, but not surprising. I suspect that America’s university landscape is going to change quite a bit as formal education costs sky rocket while the cost to get an education via extremely good online resources (Khan Academy) plummets. However, it is sad to see the end of a dream of free university education even if its highly competitive admission process means it hasn’t been for “everyone” in a long, long time. It makes me sad that it appears this is largely due to them taking out a loan so that “it could invest money in the stock market.” WTF? Investing an endowment is one thing, but taking a loan to invest money is pretty much not a good idea. 

Tagged: educationEducation Bubble

Source: The New York Times

28th April 2013

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The 12 Most Controversial Facts In Mathematics →

Here is a fun slide show that goes over some of the classic twists in statistics (and some other fun math as well). These are very basic statistical questions that we intuitively get wrong. Experiment in any science hinge on being able to set the experiment up in a statistically significant way and then being able to properly interpret the results. You can’t do it intuitively or just with a “great idea,” you have to understand at least basic statistics which most people don’t. 

Tagged: mathstatisticseducationentertainment

Source: Business Insider

27th April 2013

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Great Scientists Don't Need Math →

Honestly, this article scares the hell out of me and I find it embarrassing it is coming from a Harvard Prof. No, you do not need a graduate degree in math to be a scientist, and in many cases once you have a “real world” job there won’t be a lot of long form calculation as there is plenty of software that handles most of that these days. However, you do need a basic understanding of the concepts and what that software is doing since software can often design un-manufacturable/ unsafe  objects. If you stay in the pure sciences you still need a basic mathematical understanding and a strong understanding in statistics to be able to design meaningful experiments. Statistics is often not intuitive and I think it is important for everyone working in scientific fields to really understand that. Yes, for really complicated stuff, you can always consult a statistician, but you shouldn’t have to for every experiment you want to run and every result you get. 

Oh, and I don’t know what this guy did to get a job at Harvard, but to get any kind of permanent academic position today you need to be the best of the best of the best which means you better assume you need a strong math background if you are considering the hard sciences or probably even the social sciences. *And* you need the great ideas. 

Tagged: scienceresearchHarvardembarrassmenteducation

Source: The Wall Street Journal

12th April 2013

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Why the mantis shrimp is my new favorite animal. Brought to you by The Oatmeal →

It is funny and educational as The Oatmeal often is. I want to see with 16 different types of cones!

Tagged: humoreducationsciencecomicanimals

Source: theoatmeal.com