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Archive for December, 2010

LEGO Education Grant Services

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[Source from LEGO Education]

Whatever the music, get in there and sing!

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As we approach the culmination of another year, we experience a virtual fortissimo of loud attempts to stimulate the advancement of education in the U.S. There are the usual federal attempts to reinvigorate current educational aims, as well as the grants added through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) and Race To The Top (RTTT) programs.

Coupled with that crescendo came a cadenza, or solo, from the Gates Foundation, fortified with billions from Warren Buffett. Some of that foundation’s largest education grants include $29 million to charter school management and more than $21 million to provide teacher and curriculum support in public schools.

Perhaps not all the economic presents were handed out before Christmas! We appear to be, if not at a standstill, at a lento tempo, waiting for the next de capo, the repetition of previously promised educational improvement.

Perchance if you are singing a cappella, unable to find accompaniment from the aforementioned funds, the following might be of assistance in acquiring LEGO® Education offerings.

Abbott

The foundation seeks creative ways to ensure that more students develop a love of science and technology

and go on to become the scientists, innovators, and inventors of tomorrow.

DuPont Community Outreach
Their goal is to ensure that the next generation of citizens has a working knowledge of the unique method of science and a reasoned understanding of science as a domain of human knowledge.

Ford Foundation
The goal of the Ford Foundation is to support innovative teaching and learning through leading-edge initiatives and signature programs.

Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
The Gates Foundation

has set an ambitious goal in K-12 education: to graduate all students college-ready.

Teacher’s Pet (grant tip geared specifically toward teachers’ smaller projects)
American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Foundation
Classroom grants of $200 are awarded to encourage excellence in educating students about science, technology, engineering, and math. Grants are limited to a maximum of five Educator Associates per school.

For more information about how you can find underwriting for LEGO Education products, visit Grant Resources on our home page, www.LEGOeducation.us, or call 800-362-4308.

Written by Vu Nguyen

December 22nd, 2010 at 10:27 am

Posted in Education

2010 FIRST LEGO League Photos, Scores & Rankings are up!

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We have just made the 2010 FIRST LEGO League competition photos, scores & rankings available.

You can view them by clicking here, and SELECTING FIRST LEGO LEAGUE

On that page you will find all of the team rankings as well as

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Team Photos, Photos from the day, and also the comments that the Judges made about the teams during the presentations.

A big THANKS to everyone

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who came to experience FLL here in Pittsburgh and to all of the volunteers who helped make the event a truly special day!

- The Robotics Academy team

Written by Vu Nguyen

December 17th, 2010 at 3:35 pm

Posted in General News

Report finds K-12 computer science education declining

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Most schools teach how to use computers, but nothing deeper

[Source of article can be found here: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2010-12/cmu-rfk120610.php by Byron Spice]

PITTSBURGH—Computer-related technology is increasingly driving the U.S. economy, yet computer science education is scant in most American elementary and secondary school classrooms and the number of introductory and Advanced Placement courses in computer science has actually declined in the last five years, according to a report released this fall.

“Some states and some schools are offering some really excellent courses,” said Mark Stehlik, co-author of the report, “Running on Empty: The Failure to Teach K-12 Computer Science in the Digital Age,” http://www.acm.org/runningonempty/. “But overall, the picture is pretty bleak,” added Stehlik, assistant dean for undergraduate education at

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Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Computer Science.

The report by the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and the Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA) found that most schools focus on teaching students how to use a computer and run available applications, rather than also teaching deeper concepts, such as computational problem-solving, that lay the foundation for innovation. Fourteen states have adopted no standards at all for upper-level computer science education.

The report’s findings are sobering as educators observe Computer Science Education Week, Dec. 5-11, http://www.csedweek.org, which focuses on the critical role of computer science in preparing students for 21st century careers. Carnegie Mellon will host Computer Science Education Day on Dec. 8, http://www.cs.cmu.edu/csed/.

Recent federal initiatives such as No Child Left Behind and various programs designed to boost science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education have had the unintended consequence of undermining computer science lessons, the report noted. Those initiatives have focused lessons on traditional science and math courses that are covered by achievement tests or are core requirements for high school graduation. Only nine states count computer science credits toward graduation requirements.

The point is not that every student needs to become a computer scientist, but that all students have the basic knowledge they need to understand an increasingly technological world, said Leigh Ann Sudol, a PhD student in Carnegie Mellon’s Computer Science Department and another study co-author.

“Just like understanding a cell in biology class, understanding how a computer works is a fundamental skill for competing in the 21st century global marketplace,” she said.

The ACM and CSTA issued a model K-12 curriculum for computer science in 2006. Though no state has a set of standards addressing computer science specifically, the Running on Empty authors set out two years ago to assess the degree to which

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state school standards for science, math and other subjects included the 55 standards outlined in the model curriculum. In addition to Sudol and Stehlik, the report’s authors included Chris Stephenson, CSTA executive director, and Cameron Wilson, ACM director of public policy.

“Many studies have looked at what computer science teachers are doing in the classroom and much of that is fantastic,” Sudol said. “These teachers are enthusiastic and often generate their own class materials. But that’s never going to do more than create bubbles of excellence in the country as a whole. So we needed to take a look at what was happening from the top down.”

Sudol found that 14 states, including Georgia, Ohio, Massachusetts, Oregon and Florida, have adopted between 50 and 100 percent of the model standards. But that left two-thirds of the states with few, if any, computer science standards at the secondary level. Pennsylvania, Michigan and 12 other states, along with the District of Columbia, have no secondary computer science standards.

The number of secondary schools offering introductory computer science courses dropped 17 percent from 2005 to 2009 and the number offering Advanced Placement (AP) computer science courses dropped 35 percent in that time period. Stehlik noted that the low demand caused the College Board, which administers AP curricula, to eliminate the AP Computer Science AB test that examined advanced computer science topics such as algorithms and data structures. The AP Computer Science A test, which deals mostly with programming, remains available.

Scientific organizations and non-profits such as the ACM, CSTA and the Computing Research Association, along with corporations such as Microsoft and Google, have formed a non-partisan advocacy coalition, Computing in the Core, www.computinginthecore.org, to work for stronger K-12 computer science education. Among the policy initiatives it supports is the Computer Science Education Act, which was introduced this year by U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, D-Colo., and would provide federal grants to states to improve computer science programs and support computer science teachers.

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Carnegie Mellon is leading a number of programs to improve computer science literacy. Among them is Fostering Innovation through Robotics Exploration (FIRE), http://fire.cmu.edu/, a federally funded initiative leveraging robotics and computer animation to increase interest in computer science among middle and high school students. The university makes Alice, www.alice.org a software environment that uses computer animation to introduce students to programming concepts, available for download free of charge. Carnegie Mellon is leading an international consortium funded through the HP Catalyst Initiative, http://www.hp.com/hpinfo/socialinnovation/catalyst.html, to develop new ways of measuring student competency in STEM. David S. Touretzky, research professor of computer science, is a founder and co-principal investigator of Advancing Robotics Technology for Societal Impact (ARTSI), http://artsialliance.org/, a National Science Foundation-supported program to increase the number of African-Americans pursuing computer science careers.

Carnegie Mellon’s School of Computer Science was ranked number one among computer science Ph.D. programs this year by U.S. News and World Report, tying programs at MIT, Stanford and the University of California at Berkeley. Follow the school on Twitter @SCSatCMU.

About Carnegie Mellon: Carnegie Mellon (www.cmu.edu) is a private, internationally ranked research university with programs in areas ranging from science, technology and business, to public policy, the humanities and the fine arts. More than 11,000 students in the university’s seven schools and colleges benefit from a small student-to-faculty ratio and an education characterized by its focus on creating and implementing solutions for real problems, interdisciplinary collaboration and innovation. A global university, Carnegie Mellon’s main campus in the United States is in Pittsburgh, Pa. It has campuses in California’s Silicon Valley and Qatar, and programs in Asia, Australia, Europe and Mexico. The university is in the midst of a $1 billion fundraising campaign, titled “Inspire Innovation: The Campaign for Carnegie Mellon University,” which aims to build its endowment, support faculty, students and innovative research, and enhance the physical campus with equipment and facility improvements.

Written by Vu Nguyen

December 13th, 2010 at 10:08 pm

Posted in General News

Control an NXT with your Android phone!

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Yep, there’s an app for that too.

MINDdroid recently updated its popular

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application that allows users to control viagra their NXT with their Android phone.

Take a look at this video found on youtube:

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embedded by Embedded Video

YouTube Direct 

The updated version (version 1.1) adds cool new features such as being able to run a pre-installed program from the phone, as well as adding support for the RoboGator model (known from the NXT 2.0 kit).

That’s great! But… how do I get it?

In order to get this app, just grab your Android phone and go to the Market. Do a search for “minddroid” and you’ll find the app.

Written by Vu Nguyen

December 7th, 2010 at 8:47 am

Posted in General News