Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Calibrate Your Digital Microscope Using Motic Software Today!

Are you having trouble calibrating your digital microscope using Motic Images Plus 2.0 software? Watch this video for helpful tips and step-by-step instruction on how to do it correctly! 

Want to see more helpful and exciting videos? Check out the video resources on our website, or visit our YouTube channel,

Monday, February 25, 2013

Inaugural STEM Innovation Task Force Meet & Greet

The STEM Innovation Task Force (SITF) is made up of 15 innovation leaders in STEM from across the public and private sectors and works to share priorities in key pocket areas of innovation, drive priority interests and develop ideas and solutions related to STEM innovation topics.The Task Force also selects pockets of innovation within the STEM education ecosystem for analysis, mapping and promoting general understanding of the relationships between STEM talent development, STEM job creation and workforce career paths in STEM. For more information about the Task Force, contact Edie Fraser (

So let's meet some members of the Inaugural SITF, shall we?

Cindy Moss, Inaugural Member of the SITF: Dr. Moss is the Director of Global STEM Education Initiatives at Discovery Education. After teaching high school biology and chemistry for 20 years, Dr. Moss lef the district STEM education initiatives in Charlotte, NC for nine years. Cindy understands the challenges that face STEM educators and now works with school districts, companies, nonprofits and governments to provide teachers with what they need to provide high quality, engaging STEM teaching to their students. Dr. Moss is also a 100 Women Leaders in STEM honoree!   

Shelia Boyington, Inaugural Member of the SITF: Shelia Boyington, MS, PE is co-Founder and President of Thinking Media where her focus is the Learning Blade, a supplemental innovative system that includes curriculum that is focused on offering students real world learning experiences in STEM education. Boyington has also been a large part of implementing STEM programs and curricula at the state and local level.

Tim Welsh, Inaugural Member of the SITF: As Senior Vice President of National Industry Strategy Group at the University of Phoenix, Tim Welsh brings over 25 years of experience as a professional service executive. He focuses on connecting the workforce needs of our nation's economy to the curriculum, training and preparedness that students receive in school.

Learn more about other members Adriane Brown, Leland Melvin, Candy Duncan and Chair, Heidi Kleinbach-Sauter and Co-Chair, Alex Belous, on STEMblog.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

inSPIRE STEM USA Grows by Nine

inSPIRE STEM USA announced the addition of nine new members yesterday, including four key education organizations! This is great news as the coalition continues its efforts to strengthen the nation's education stream of students trained in STEM and computer fields.

Joining the coalition are:

inSPIRE STEM USA now has 31 members that include education organizations, businesses and advocacy groups!

Beneva Schulte, the coalition's Executive Director, told STEMblog that, "the diversity of inSPIRE STEM USA demonstrates the broad-base of support for establishing a stronger STEM education pipeline in the U.S." She continued, "The pipeline is crucial to helping the nation develop the talent that will drive American innovation and one of the fastest growing segments of our economy."

Schulte also explained to STEMblog that the nation's education system simply does not produce enough workers trained in STEM fields to keep up with the number of jobs in those areas. We've heard them time and time again, but the numbers really are shocking. The U.S. economy creates approximately 120,000 new American computing jobs each year, but the nation's higher education system awards just 40,000 bachelor's degrees annually in related fields. 

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Take Your Technology Outdoors!

When's the last time your children or students wanted to go outside just to enjoy the great outdoors and what it has to offer? If you can't recall a time, that's okay; with these innovative ways to take the technology today's youth is attached to outdoors with them, the learning process has now gone digital! While a growing number of young people are expressing a concern and interest in their environment, those same students are feeling increasingly more disconnected from it. Cue technology. Technology can help students "plug into nature" by empowering them to observe and collect data about their local environment.

As part of Greening STEM: Taking Technology Outdoors, National Environment Education Week (EE Week, April 14-20) will highlight the growing opportunity to engage today's students in learning about the environment around them, with new technologies that enable scientific research and develop 21st century skills. Score!

Here are some ways to take technology outdoors:
  • Mobile Devices: With access to a camera, the Internet and a GPS, smartphones and tablets make it easy to gather, organize and submit data from observations. Apps can be downloaded for little to no cost that make engaging students in a particular aspect of study even easier. Check out the top 10 apps for taking tech outdoors.
  • GPS Units: On their own, GPS units are great tools for getting students outside and engaged in environmental field research and service-learning projects. Take a look at what other educators are doing with GPS.
  • Digital Cameras: Students can use digital cameras to document their local environment, track their progress on science projects, collect evidence and present their findings to their peers in class. Not to mention, since so many digital cameras come equipped with a video recording mode these days, students can even shoot videos of what they see.
  • Digital Weather Stations: Say hello to the meteorologist inside you. With a digital weather station, students can add weather conditions to their study of a certain environment. Imagine having a few minutes at the beginning of each day to take a look at the weather station in your classroom or home and discussing what the weather conditions could mean or patterns that arise.
  • Water Quality Monitoring Tools: Monitoring water quality is a real-world and hands on application of STEM that also enables students to become stewards of the water resources in their area. Fancy, tech tools like electronic probes and infrared thermometers add accuracy and a level of excitement to the process.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Valentine's Day Science: Frozen Vinegar Hearts!

What kid doesn't love baking soda and vinegar? Okay, as individual ingredients, maybe not. But as reactive counterparts, heck yeah! These two ingredients - and some hearts, of course - make for the perfect Valentine's Day activity.

We all know about the standard baking soda and vinegar reaction: vinegar is an acid; baking soda is a base; and together you get a chemical reaction that produces water and salt. But have you ever thought about what happens when you freeze the vinegar or baking soda or both...? Well, you better experiment to find out!

Here's what you'll need:
  • Baking Soda
  • Vinegar
  • Water
  • Freezer Trays/Molds (In heart shapes for festive-ness)
  • Red & Blue Food Coloring
Start off by filling your freezer trays or molds half full of water and half full of vinegar. If you use more vinegar, you'll get more bubbles faster later. Once the trays are full, add a drop or two of food coloring and freeze those bad boys. While they're in the freezer, add one teaspoon of baking soda to one cup of water and stir it until it dissolves. Make this mixture blue and put it in a pan or bowl. 

Once your vinegar hearts are frozen, pull them out and start exploring. Start by putting the frozen hearts in the baking soda/water mixture. Ass the ice melts, the baking soda and vinegar will react. What does this look like? (You'll observe bubbles, excitement and the colors mixing.)

Switch things up and add baking soda directly to the frozen vinegar. To illustrate that baking soda and water don't react, try adding baking soda to a normal frozen ice cube and note what happens (nothing).

Remember: this is all about exploration and investigation so make observations as you go along. Even if it means that you notice that the ice heart floats on the water. More ideas for this experiment and more Valentine's Day activities can be found here.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

It's International Darwin Day!

Happy birthday, Charles Darwin! Darwin's theory of evolution and influential book On the Origin of Species shaped the biology lessons that student all over the world study today. You were an innovator, a revolutionary and an intellectual of your time and for this, we give you a day!

Don't know too much about Darwin? Well for starters, he developed the theory of evolution! Watch this short biography video on him to get a better idea.

If you want an even closer peek into Darwin's life, you're in luck. Like many people of his time, Darwin kept diaries and secret notebooks throughout his life that later helped historians and filmmakers piece together his story. Although he was worried that his theory of evolution would shock many in the Victorian society (including his wife), Darwin was driven to discover nature's laws. Take a glimpse at everything from scientific insights to personal struggles in some pieces of Darwin's diary.

Now, if you really want to have some fun, try taking this Gooru Corner quiz on Darwin's theory.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Nominate Your Favorite Teacher for the Presidential Award!

Each year, the President of the United States recognizes extraordinary teachers of mathematics, science and computer science for their work in the classroom. Now, more than ever, applauding STEM efforts in the classroom is a pretty big deal as schools lack teachers in these subjects.  Nominations of 7-12th grade teachers for the 2013 Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST) are currently being accepted through April 1. Awards alternate every year between recognizing elementary and secondary school educators.
If you'd like to nominate a deserving science, computer science or math teacher, go to The nomination process doesn't stop there! Once an educator is nominated, he/she must complete the application by May 1, 2013. After that, we all wait. Selected teachers will receive recognition from the President, a $10,000 award from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and an opportunity to travel to Washington. D.C. for the celebration and other professional development activities. Score!
Since 1983, over 4,200 teachers have been recognized for their contributions in the classroom and to their profession. The NSF administers the PAEMST on behalf of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. Likewise, each year, Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellows (meet them) serve on the PAEMST team to support the awards program.
So get out there and get to nominating! We nominated someone, who are you going to nominate?!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Girls are Science Rock Stars (but not in the U.S.)

For years now researchers have been searching for ways to explain why there are so many more men than women in science fields. A recent test given in 65 developed countries by the Organization for Economic Cooperation may hold a piece of the puzzle. The exam finds that among a representative sample of 15-year-olds around the world, girls typically outperform boys in science. The exception: the United States.

The U.S. has jumped on board a STEM education revolution, but what explains the gap? Hannah Fairfield and Alan McLean of the New York Times attributes Andreas Schleicher, who oversees the O.E.C.D., with saying that different countries offer different incentives for learning science and math. He stated that in the U.S. boys are more likely than girls to "see science as something that affects their life." He also references the "stereotype threat."

While women are capable of being very successful in science careers, many choose not to pursue them because of gender roles in occupations and gender norms affect their decision. Researchers suggest that cultural forces like these are eminent in the U.S., Britain and Canada but far less noticeable in Russia, Asia and the Middle East, where a much larger proportion of girls are involved in science and engineering.  In Jordan, for example, girls score more than eight percent better than boys do in science!

Read the New York Times report and check out the graphics.

Friday, February 1, 2013

How to Make a Naked Egg

Since weekends these days have been all about experiments, here's one you and your children will mutually enjoy! Have you ever made a naked egg? Yes, that's right, an egg without a shell. Most people have never seen an egg without its shell. In fact, most people didn't even know it was possible, but luckily for you, with science, the possibilities are endless. Check out Imagination Station's anatomy of a chicken egg for some background before you begin the experiment.

The shell of chicken egg is typically primarily made up of calcium carbonate. If you soak this egg shell in vinegar (which is normally around 4% acetic acid), you start a chemical reaction that dissolves the calcium carbonate shell. The acetic acid reacts with the calcium carbonate in the egg shell and releases carbon dioxide gas that you see as bubbles on the shell. So how does the egg stay together? The egg insides remains intact because its held together by the two fragile membranes just inside the shell. 

So let's get started! Here's what you'll need:

  • Vinegar (at least 16 ounces)
  • A couple of glasses
  • Raw eggs

Thankfully, the process is easy. So that you don't break the egg from the get go, carefully place the egg into the glass and then fill the glass with vinegar so that the egg is completely covered. If the egg starts floating a bit, that's okay! As long as there's enough vinegar in the glass to mostly cover the top of the egg, you're golden.

Next is the worst part of the experiment: waiting. You must wait for the acetic acid in the vinegar to react with the calcium in the egg shell. Shortly after you cover the egg, you should see some bubble appearing on the outside of the egg. What you're looking at is carbon dioxide gas produced from the reaction. It can take anywhere from 12-24 hours for a good portion of the shell to be removed. Good progress is being made when you notice a white frothy scummy layer on the surface of the vinegar.

Once you've let the egg soak for a day, you can finally take it out! You have to be careful when you're taking the egg out of the glass. While fishing it out with a spoon might sound like a good idea, it can result in the egg breaking or being damaged. Instead, pour the liquid into another cup and gently catch the egg with your hand as it comes out. One you have the egg, you should be able to literally rub the shell off of the egg with you fingers. The shell will come off as a white powdery substance. Be careful during this process so that you don't break the egg.

If your egg isn't quite fully naked yet, fill up another glass with vinegar and soak the egg overnight again. After two days of soaking, you should have a completely naked - and very, very cool looking - egg. Notice that after the second day of soaking your eff is a bit bigger than it was after the first day. This is because some of the vinegar (and some of the water in the vinegar) has moved through the egg's semi-permeable membranes to the inside of the egg. Ladies and gentlemen, this is called osmosis!

For a list of fun things to do with your naked egg, instructions on how to shrink your egg, information on eating the egg or how it smells and some science fair project ideas, click here