Follow us:

Education Lab Blog

Education Lab is a yearlong project to spark meaningful conversations about education solutions in the Pacific Northwest.

Topic: STEM

You are viewing the most recent posts on this topic.

April 9, 2014 at 5:00 AM

Like to code or want to learn? Events offer help for students

Attention high-school and middle-school students who like to code or want to learn how: Two upcoming events are designed for you.

For coding-newbies as well as those with some experience: On Friday, May 23, Rainier Beach High will host an all-day app session where students can learn how to create applications and games on cell phones, iPads, laptops — whatever devices they bring. Workshops and assistance will be provided by Rainier Beach teachers, University of Washington computer science students and engineers from the UW and Microsoft.

Even students who have never programmed before can end up with an app at the end of the day, and many did so last year. Geekwire called last year’s event a “geeky field trip that helped expose kids to the world of computer programming.”

The event also will feature a DJ, dance competition and raffle giveaways. At the end of the day, participants will be invited to show off their new apps.


0 Comments | More in Math and science, News | Topics: coding, computer programming, Puget Sound App Day

March 28, 2014 at 2:07 PM

Guest: High-school internships offer strong path to STEM careers


Julie Burr

If you’re raised in a family with a mom who’s a computer programmer and dad who’s an aerospace engineer, chances are you’ll take the right high school classes and consider pursuing a bright future in a STEM career.

If you come from a different background, the fields of science, technology, engineering and math — collectively known as STEM — might seem uninviting. Upon graduation from high school, you won’t suddenly develop an interest in a STEM career. If you do, you likely won’t be admitted or succeed as a STEM major in college if you have a lack of high school preparation. With the huge shortage of skilled workers in STEM fields, this seems a travesty.

Highline Public Schools’ new Raisbeck Aviation High School serves as a model for how schools can help fill the local skills gap and give hope to students with limited opportunities. The school’s internship program, in particular, enables students to start exploring STEM careers early on in their high-school careers while gaining important real-world experience.

Raisbeck students are surrounded by caring professionals from aerospace careers on a daily basis. A scaffold approach to STEM career exploration begins with the freshman-level Career Choices class, where a constant stream of STEM professionals come to inform and inspire. Students become comfortable networking with professionals, and many doors are opened, such as tours to commercial space flight company Blue Origin or Planetary Resources, the asteroid mining company.


0 Comments | More in Guest opinion, Math and science, Opinion | Topics: Highline School District, Raisbeck Aviation High School, STEM

March 14, 2014 at 5:00 AM

STEM programs to open at all Lake Washington high schools

Juanita High School student Jacob Curtis displays his sustainable housing design. Photo courtesy Lake Washington School District.

STEM High School student Jacob Curtis talks about his sustainable housing design. Photo courtesy Lake Washington School District.

For the past two school years, students at STEM High School in the Lake Washington School District have been spending big chunks of time working on real-world projects such as designing sustainable homes, solar light towers and portable heart monitors.

They get help from experts in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields, some of whom come to STEM High for what amount to in-school internships.

But the district isn’t limiting its STEM opportunities to just one school. This fall, it opened what it’s calling STEM Signature Programs at three other high schools. Next fall, all high schools will have at least one such program.

Students who sign up for the programs take a three-class block designed around a STEM theme and complete projects related to the theme.


0 Comments | More in Math and science, News | Topics: Lake Washington School District, problem-based learning, project-based learning

January 15, 2014 at 12:19 PM

Guest: Tech professionals are an untapped resource in math education


Jim Fernandez

Bridging the gap between students of different races and economic classes has been a goal of many public school systems for several years. As educational funding remains tight in our region, schools must get creative and look for other resources to accomplish this goal and raise student performance.

One place to turn: the retired and working professionals in various fields in our communities who are willing to volunteer on a regular, long-term basis to help our next generation succeed. What we’re lacking is an organized system that school districts could use to recruit community volunteers and match them with receptive teachers.

In 2012, I decided to retire early and become involved in public education as an unpaid volunteer. With advanced degrees in mathematics and computer science, and experience both as a college math professor and an IT professional, I am well aware of the mathematical knowledge needed for a successful technical career.

I specifically wanted to work with teachers and students in an environment where resources were limited and needs were high. My search led me to Cleveland High School in Seattle, where the academic program was transformed several years ago to focus on STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) for all students. At Cleveland, nearly every student takes a math class and a science class each year. For the past two years, I’ve spent most school days assisting math teachers and working with students on their math assignments both in class and during tutoring sessions.


0 Comments | More in Guest opinion, Math and science, Opinion | Topics: Cleveland High School, math, STEM

December 24, 2013 at 5:00 AM

Powerful chemistry: ‘rock-star scientists’ teaching teachers

Every district wants to improve student performance as efficiently as possible. Scientists and educators at the Institute for Systems Biology in Seattle say they’ve found a way — at least in chemistry and biology: Bring scientists to middle schools and have them teach the teachers.

“There’s tons of data out there about the number of science and math teachers who don’t have a science or math degree,” said Dana Riley Black, director of the institute’s Center for Inquiry Science. “But now they have these rock-star scientists at the table, and teachers learn all kinds of new content.”

State test scores suggest that student performance improved after the institute’s training, which takes place in two-day sessions three times per year. In the last 10 years, districts from Seattle to Tacoma to Snoqualmie Valley have signed on. But the biggest difference, the one that got researchers truly excited, was the jump in test scores among low-income students.

A study by the National Science Foundation found that Seattle’s s high-poverty schools improved their science scores by more than 36 percent.


0 Comments | More in News | Topics: science, STEM, teaching

December 16, 2013 at 3:14 PM

Guest: Form a Washington institute of technology and keep STEM grads in-state

A recent graduate from one of our public high schools scored a 29 on the ACT, which placed him in the 95th percentile nationally. With high math and science scores and career interests in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), he was the kind of student Washington state companies complain they can’t find to hire…


0 Comments | More in Guest opinion, Opinion | Topics: guest opinion, higher ed, STEM

December 16, 2013 at 5:00 AM

What a geologist can teach us about better science education


WWU geology professor Scott Linneman, left, with former students Joe Butorac and Adam Shier. Photo courtesy Matty Photography

Here’s a novel idea that could flip high-school science education on its head:

Instead of teaching biology as the first course for high-school freshmen, start instead with physics.

That’s one of the many ideas burbling from the mind of Scott Linneman, a geology professor at Western Washington University.

Earlier this year, Linneman was chosen as the state Professor of the Year by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education.

In addition to his geology work, Linneman plays an important role in helping to teach K-12 student-teachers how to teach science in an engaging way. We chatted with Linneman recently about teaching geology, preparing new teachers for the field and the best ways to improve science education:

Q: Why did you become a geology professor?

A: I became a geologist probably because it was something I knew almost nothing about, growing up in central Illinois — I’d never had an earth science class, ever, so when I was first exposed to it at Carleton College it was an entirely new world to me, and I loved the problem solving, the historical aspect of it…Halfway through grad school, I realized I loved TA’ing (working as a teaching assistant), and I could see ways to improve student learning…


0 Comments | More in Math and science, News | Topics: engineering, geology, math

December 5, 2013 at 10:30 AM

‘Hour of Code’ event aims to demystify computer science

Screen shot of a graph from that highlights educational gaps in computer science

Screen shot of a graph from that highlights educational gaps in computer science

Students and teachers in classrooms around the globe will join in a worldwide initiative called Hour of Code next week.

Presented by Seattle-based nonprofit, the event aims to demystify computer science for educators and students alike. Thus far, some 28,000 groups plan to host tutorials next week across 166 countries. (Go here for a real-time map of registrants.) created the free tutorial in collaboration with engineers from Microsoft, Google, Twitter and Facebook. It uses puzzles featuring characters from popular online games like “Angry Birds” to introduce students to coding concepts.


0 Comments | More in Math and science, News | Topics:, coding, computer science