Tuesday, April 30, 2013

will.i.am at the 2013 FIRST Robotics Championship

Late Friday, will.i.am was welcomed at the FIRST Robotics Championship to the roar of 30,000 attendees in St. Louis. For FIRST participants, will.i.am isn't a famous pop star, he's their biggest supporter.

will.i.am's support for STEM has led his to do everything from broadcast his songs into space with NASA to donate his time and money to The Science Museum in London. Despite all these other efforts, FIRST has clearly always inspired him most. As he was presented with the inaugural "Make It Loud" Award last week, he credited the FIRST students as his largest inspiration for going back to college to study computer science. In his address to the crowd, and later in the day at a press conference, will.i.am continued to encourage today's youth to pursue STEM careers.

For will.i.am, "Make It Loud" is important to getting the message out that STEM and events like FIRST Robotics are what's really cool. He drew on his personal experience when he explained that famous people now weren't always "cool" when they were kids, but because they dedicated themselves to their craft, they were able to create success for themselves. This message should be applied to student expressing themselves through making and inventing things.

Read Tommy Cornelis' full post on will.i.am on STEMblog and view even more pictures of will.i.am at the event.

Take a look at will.i.am accepting the "Make It Loud" Award at the FIRST Robotics Championships.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Video Games & STEM at the White House

Many don't believe it until they see it: a science fair at the White House. Yes, that's right. It's the science fairs of all science fairs and even the President partakes in the action. Now in it's third year, the White House Science Fair is an event that celebrates student achievements in science, technology, engineering and math competitions. 

In attendance this year was Gustavo Zacarias of San Antonio. Zacarias is one of the winners of the National STEM Video Game Challenge, an annual competition presented by the Joan Ganz Center at Sesame Workshop and E-line Media. Zacarias' game, The Dark Labryinth, earned him top honors in the 2012 STEM Challenge Middle School Kodu category. The game challenges players to make their way through a maze while solving multiplication problems and avoiding obstacles along the way. He got the chance to present his winning game to attendees from the government, industry and education sectors, as well as other invited guests in attendance at the fair.

"I never thought I would be exhibiting my game at the White House," Zacarias told STEMblog. "I worked very hard during the making of the game and was very happy about winning a national competition, so I'm very excited and thankful for the opportunity to be part of this great event."  Zacarias says he wants to be a professional game designer when he grows up.

The National STEM Video Game Challenge was inspired by Obama's Educate to Innovate campaign and aims to motivate interest in STEM learning by tapping into students' natural passion for playing and making video games. 

For more information and to learn more about the Joan Ganz Center at Sesame Workshop and E-Line Media, visit the STEMblog post.

And be sure to check out Zacarias' video game!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Yesterday was Earth Day!

Yesterday was Earth Day's 43rd anniversary! The very first Earth Day was on April 22, 1970. We're taking the entire week to honor the beautiful planet we live on and so is The Gooru Corner! The STEMConnector project blog will enable you to learn about the challenges our planet faces today, as well as basic steps that you can take to shrink your environmental footprint. The Gooru Corner will be bringing you these updates on Wednesday and Friday, so be sure to stay tuned!

What did you do to celebrate Earth Day yesterday?! Project Scientist made bird feeders and put them in a local park in their community. National Geographic came out with 20 incredible shots of Earth from space to celebrate the day. Check the pictures out here. And the Huffington Post even put out a spoof on what celebrities are doing to observe the day. Take a look at what they put together if you're in need of a good chuckle.

Let us know what you did to celebrate Earth Day yesterday and you'll be entered to win a free lab manual!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

STEM Career Spotlight: Astrophysicist

Marc Kuchner is a "planet hunter" at NASA's Godard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. Also dubbed an astrophysicist, Kuchner uses the law of physics to better understand celestial objects such as stars and planets. As an astrophysicist, he is highlighted as The Science Teacher's career of the month!

Kuchner told Luba Vangelova that "being an astrophysicist is like standing behind a colossal carnival ride observing the gears and giant motors." He also likes to help all types of scientists explain their work and its value to society. He relayed to Vangelova, "The recent economic downturn hit many scientists hard. I sometimes travel to give marketing workshops to help all types of scientists stay employed."

From a young age, Kuchner wanted to be a scientist and musician, though he wasn't sure what kind of scientist. After meeting some astronomers in college, he knew that that was what he wanted to do. Kuchner's advice for students is simple: "Don't pick a study topic that someone else recommends; pick something that you think is cool, because you will devote many years to it." He adds, "Science has many niches; there's a science career for everyone who's motivated to have one."

Check out the April/May 2013 issue of The Science Teacher to learn more!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Animal Survival Activity: "Hide-A-Moth"

Camouflage, adaptation, natural selectionAre you interested in teaching your students about natural selection and camouflage as an adaptive survival strategy? What better way to get them to understand the adaptive process than bringing it indoors into the classroom and have them do it, hands-on?! Sure, showing them a video will properly illustrate what it looks like visually, but nothing beats a hands-on experience, right?! 

TopScience.org has put together the perfect activity to show your students what camouflage as an adaptive survival strategy looks like. Even better, all you need is white paper, a pencil, a bright window to trace against, paint, crayons or colored pencils, scissors and tape. You'll also need colored toothpicks if you choose to do the extension of the activity.

To find even more free and downloadable hands-on activities with simple things to do with your students, visit www.topscience.org.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Science in Fashion? It's Happening!

Mirano's beetle wing bodice
(Spring/Summer 2013)
Mathieu Mirano is being dubbed the science geek of the fashion world. After sending out petri dish invitations to his show at the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York a few months ago, Mirano's fall 2013 collection included actual meteorites, fox and beaver fur, stingray skin separates and a veiny looking sweater and skirt. 

Mirano told Susannah F. Locke of PopSci, "science is a huge part of my inspiration." That's not too surprising, though. It seems that science runs in Mirano's family. Mirano's father got his masters in astrophysics and his uncle got his in botany. One of Mirano's previous collections featured real beetle wings as embellishments! 

Mirano's scientific-inspired genius on the runway just goes to show that science can be put into any kind of work. STEM careers are evolving as fast as the definition of the term is. Exhibit A: science fashion. We thank Mirano for igniting a spark that hasn't been explored yet and we hope others continue to explore it. Locke said it perfectly when she stated: "Please, everyone, make lots of prohibitively expensive, science-inspired clothes! And maybe, someday, science fashion will trickle down to the rest of us." 

To read Locke's entire article on Mirano, click here. To check out Mirano's 2013 fall collection, view the PopSci gallery.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Even Hollywood is Talking STEM!

STEM is even catching on in Hollywood these days. The buzzword has stars talking about what they can do to get involved - which is exactly what "Big Bang Theory" star Mayim Bialik has done.

The former child star earned a Ph.D. in neuroscience (yes, neuroscience!) from the University of California-Los Angeles back in 2007, and now plays neurobiologist Amy Farrah Fowler on the popular CBS sitcom "Big Bang Theory."

To see what Bialik had to say to the critics of "Big Bang Theory" that believe the show perpetuates some stereotypes of men and women in science and to see what advice she had for high school girls who are worried about being labeled "nerds" because they're interested in STEM subjects, check out High School Note's full interview with her.