Star Party This Friday – October 24, 2014!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAJoin us from 5:30-9:30 at Austin Community College’s Round Rock campus for a night of science fun for the whole family!

From 5:30-7:00pm, ACCHaoS will be there with all of the exciting hands-on science exhibits for kids, and Austin Planetarium will have planetarium shows in the Discovery Dome.

At 7:00, our own Dr. Jim Heath, ACC professor of astronomy and physics will hold a public talk entitled, “Science: What It Can and Cannot Do.”

Last, but not least, the observing deck will be open to the public for some night sky viewing.

Check out all the details at go.austincc.edu/starparty!

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Is There a Bleak Future for STEM Education in the US?

IMG_1877It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone remotely involved in education that US student fare poorly in the rankings of on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), but in STEM Should Be a Natural Extension of Literacy Education, written by Chuck Cadle, CEO of Destination Imagination, there is sobering news not only on the state of STEM education in the US, but also on the perception of its importance by parents.

Cadle cites the Organization for Economic Coordination and Development (OECD) rankings that found (US) students were “finishing 25th in math and 17th in science in the ranking of 31 countries”.  He also includes the results of the research conducted by Harris Interactive for Microsoft in 2011 “to conduct research to determine the STEM perceptions of parents and students.”  That report found that “49 percent of K-12 parents see STEM as a top priority, but only 24 percent would be willing to spend extra money for STEM education.”

Is it possible to improve STEM education without additional funding?  How will we do that – through privately funded resources?  Will that create a cultural divide, with only those with the means to supplement their education having access to the competitive skills provided by an enhanced STEM education?  If we can’t improve STEM education without public funding, how do we stress its importance to the stakeholders in public education?