California Robotic Idol Competition 2013

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Event Description
Robotic Idol is a robotic dance programming competition for grades 6-12. The goal of the competition is to bring Art to STEM Education by developing a series of dance behaviors for an autonomous, humanoid robot, named NAO. Students will work in small teams to program three dance behaviors that will be loaded into NAO and will be judged by a point system based on their creativity, programming skills, and teamwork.

NAO comes equipped with an easy-to-use, graphical, programming software (Choregraphe) that allows students to create different behaviors and is perfect for students of all skill levels. Whether students are beginners or advanced programmers, they will learn to combine gestures, movement, sound, music, and possibly speech.
Prizes will be given to the winners!

There are 2 Events:

Southern California
Dates: October 26, 2013
Venue: Long Beach Public Library
101 Pacific Ave.
Long Beach, CA 90822
Registration Opens: January 15, 2013
Registration Deadline: June 28, 2013

Northern California
Dates: November 9, 2013
Venue: SRI International
333 Ravenswood Ave
Menlo Park, CA 94025
Registration Opens: January 15, 2013
Registration Deadline: June 28, 2013 

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Changing the Story for Minorities in STEM Subjects

Changing the Story for Minorities in STEM Subjects

Laura Varlas

Months before the historic March on Washington, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. called on the school children of Birmingham, Alabama, to join his Children’s Crusade—a march to shine a light on the injustice of segregated schools in the United States. King’s message was, if children participate, then the world will see that even children understand the difference between right and wrong. Twelve-year-old Freeman Hrabowski was one of the children who took up Dr. King’s call, and he was arrested as part of the civil rights demonstration.

Freeman Hrabowski speaks at Opening General SessionFifty years later, at the opening of ASCD’s 68th Annual Conference in Chicago, Hrabowski described how we can continue to live King’s message by “empowering our children to speak for themselves.” For Hrabowski, now in his 20th year as president of the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC), this means creating structures and supports to develop the agency of students typically underrepresented in the STEM subjects. To find these students, Hrabowski didn’t have to look far.

“The story for my campus was clear,” said Hrabowski. “White kids did well in science and math, but the black kids flunked out.”

UMBC is changing that story with the Meyerhoff Scholars program. Now in its 25th year, Meyerhoff Scholars provides tutoring, summer programs, peer groups, and other supports to encourage all high-achieving students to persist in STEM studies, with a particular focus on the needs of black and Latino students.

Meyerhoff Scholars’ continued success is, foremost, built on changing expectations for underserved students. “They didn’t think we could create a climate where black and Hispanic students did as well as Asian and Indian students,” Hrabowski notes. “If you’ve never seen it , it’s challenging to believe it can happen.”

High expectations are matched with a battery of student-centered approaches: building community among students, helping faculty retool teaching to start where students are and emphasize collaboration among students, giving students a role in the program’s ongoing development, and building trust among students so that they are comfortable seeking extra help. “Get the best kids going to tutoring, and the other kids will follow,” said Hrabowski.

Through layered supports, Hrabowski hopes to emphasize that depth, struggle, and taking time are the core qualities of math and science scholars. He advised teachers, “Don’t be impressed with kids that can get it like that. If you can get it like that, you can forget it like that.”

Instead, he said, our challenge as educators is to consider, “How can we turn frustration into fascination?” Hrabowski’s crusade for social justice in the STEM subjects asks students to see what they can do for themselves, but matches student effort with a network of supports. Whether he knew it at the time, it’s what he was marching for in Birmingham in 1963. “When I look at my campus and the diversity of high-performing students, I know that King’s dream is being fulfilled.”

Super School University Teacher Researchers:

1. What role can the “NAO” robots play in helping students that are underserved to get more involved in STEM and STEAM Plus?

2. Is any team member working in this area and what are you doing?

3.  Who wants to continue this discussion?

Educators Talking About STEAM and STEAM Plus in US Schools

Educators at Super School University started with STEM and moved to STEAM.  They are new working with STEAM Plus. (Science, Technology, Engineering, Visual and Performing Arts, Mathematics, Computer Languages and Foreign Languages)  Our teacher researchers our working on using humanoid robotics in our classrooms of the future.  

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STEAM Projects in the USA

ASCD’s 68th Annual Conference and Exhibit Show features more than 400 sessions on some of the most important topics in education. Built on the theme, “Learning: Our Story. Our Time. Our Future.,” the Annual Conference and Exhibit Show will be held March 16–18, at McCormick Place in Chicago, Ill., and will inform, engage, help, and challenge educators from across the globe to better support student success. Below we hear from three Annual Conference presenters—Linda Nathan, Mark Lonergan, and Ramiro Gonzalez—whose interactive session, “STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) at Boston Arts Academy,” will be held on Monday, March, 18, 2013 from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m.

As educators, we want to help our students be well-adjusted, well-informed, and well-prepared for success when they walk out our doors. But it’s tricky to prepare for the future in today’s rapidly changing world. In the past several years it has become abundantly clear that our students need more than just traditional content knowledge and study skills to make it in today’s workforce. The U.S. education system has been increasing the amount of content and high stakes testing with a special emphasis on the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering, and math. On top of this, our students need diverse experiences, creative problem-solving skills, teamwork skills, and the ability to communicate all of this to others to succeed in the working world. So how can teachers squeeze all this into their classrooms?

At Boston Arts Academy (BAA), like many other institutions across the U.S., we have adopted the STEM program and are working to create a learning experience that keeps the subjects more integrated and the lessons more student-focused rather than teacher-led. The science and math teachers have merged their departments to truly connect their subjects, but this is still only part of what our students really need to succeed. How could we integrate creativity, teamwork, and communication skills into the classrooms? We just looked down the hall for ideas.

Right across from a math class you might peer into a dance studio or theatre rehearsal. Just a short walk further you’ll find the art studios or music practice rooms. Here amongst the music, the movement, and the artwork, you will find students using creative problem-solving, teamwork, and communication skills. The work done in art classes is often much more collaborative. This requires students to struggle together and build upon each other’s strengths and challenges. Persistence, energy, and the willingness to take risks are noticeable in these classrooms, and the focus is always on improvement and collaborating to do one’s best. The role of critique is paramount. Listening and exchanging ideas is also crucial.

Perhaps using an artistic approach to teaching is the key; how can we marry the arts experience with the STEM curriculum? Many individuals in the educational research and policy worlds, including U.S. Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan, argue that an “arts education is essential to stimulating the creativity and innovation that will prove critical to young Americans competing in a global economy.” BAA has chosen to add the “A” from the arts to go beyond STEM to “STEAM,” and we are not alone. Executive and entrepreneur, John Tarnoff, supported the “A” skills in a 2010 editorial arguing that, “more and more companies are looking for skill sets in their new employees that are much more arts/creativity-related than science/math-related. Companies want workers who can brainstorm, problem-solve, collaborate creatively and contribute/communicate new ideas.”

So what does STEAM look like in the classroom? That is the work we are currently undertaking here at BAA. It has come in many forms, from little adjustments in the daily lessons to creating entirely new courses. But across all of our STEAM classes, we are working to approach our content as artists, engineers, and designers. This sometimes means focusing less on the final answer and giving more attention to the process that gets you there. This also means giving teachers the flexibility and support to develop innovative classroom experiences and inviting in outside experts to work with our students. This means making sure that we have multiple modes of assessment in our courses beyond just the multiple choice test; for example, maybe exhibiting through an artistic form rather than on a worksheet. This means that we create time in our STEAM courses for students to take risks and think creatively and give them chances to learn from their mistakes.

Taking risks, making mistakes, and “mucking about” with problems are all part of the curriculum. Yes, getting the right answer counts, but learning to play with concepts and build together is equally important.

In our interactive session, “STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) at Boston Arts Academy,” we will share sample lessons and projects that create interdisciplinary, student-centered learning experiences that push collaboration and risk-taking. Participants will leave with specific curriculum units and ways to infuse the STEAM pedagogy.

The world may be changing quickly, but so are our classrooms. As we merge the “A” into STEM, we hope to help our students find a passion for their academics as well as their arts, and to see how they are both intertwined as essential to their success. With STEAM, we take one step closer to ensuring that our students exit our doors not only with a diploma, but with a set of skills that will help them shape the future.