What should I teach my children to prepare them to race with the robots?

I must prepare my sons to adapt to the fourth industrial revolution but that means sending them to schools that are equipped to exceed the averages

Years ago, as a reporter in Seattle, I watched Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer decry Washington states education system. He said Microsoft couldnt hire enough locals because our schools dont produce the kinds of minds he needed.

At the time, I was angry. He and his cohort, most notably Jeff Bezos of Amazon, contributed serious money to the campaign against a state income tax on the wealthy that would have funneled billions to our schools. Now I feel a pinch deep in my stomach, an emotion so primal I hesitate to name it.

As a mother, my time is come, or nearly done, and my childrens just begun.

Automation will absorb all of the jobs it can reach, whether on the factory floor or in an office. Artificial intelligence has already taken over the corporate earnings analyses I once produced as a business journalist. By the best measures Ive been able to find, machines will displace about half of American jobs by the time my toddlers look for work.

This new era has been called the second machine age, the fourth industrial revolution, the information economy.

From certain angles, Seattle residents seem well positioned to access the highly paid and creative jobs that arise from combining cutting-edge technologies with the exponential powers of computing and big data. My city is now considered a global city not because of the port, which put our state on the maps when they were still being drawn, but because of the presence of Microsoft, Amazon and numerous tech startups.

Amazon occupies one fifth of all office space in downtown Seattle, a short ride from my neighborhood on light rail. Incoming waves of well-educated tech workers have helped double the median home price during the past five years.

Many of these rich young people call themselves progressive. Are they proud to be joining the nations most regressive tax structure? In our state, poor people pay eight times as much of their family income to taxes as the wealthy 1%. Lacking a personal income tax, Washington state relies on sales tax and has long looked to levies to fund schools, parks and other social needs.

When I moved to Seattle in 2004, I marveled that the state didnt take a cut of my income from the now-defunct Seattle Post-Intelligencer. It took me a while to contemplate what it means for an entire society to act against the interests of its children.

College-level tuitions before college

To survive the extinction of an entire class, I must prepare my two- and three-year-old sons to race with the robots, and not against them.

Our kids are going to meet an economy with far fewer entry-level positions and will have to clamber up a receding ladder. That means being in schools equipped to exceed the averages, not rising to meet them.

Washington state has underfunded our schools so long that our governments negligence was deemed unconstitutional by our state supreme court, which fined the state $100,000 a day for failing to provide a future for our children.

Years into this public shaming, the legislature came up with a multibillion-dollar package to fund basic education in our state, though they didnt manage to pass a capital budget before students went back to school after a long, dry summer.

Amazon
Amazon Go opens to Amazon employees in its Beta program in Seattle. Photograph: Paul Gordon/Zuma Press / eyevine

From my porch, I can see the chain-link fence blur into gray around the asphalt playground of our neighborhood public school. On weekday mornings, my closest friends walk to Hawthorne Elementary with their children, ducklings that cluster at crosswalks along streets known for gunfire. A new home just sold for nearly a million dollars at the end of our block, but people keep getting shot and dying at our community playfield.

Despite valiant efforts by its admirable principal, committed educators, engaged parents and resilient students, Hawthorne has been labeled failing since long before my husband and I bought a peeling house from a nice couple who raised their family here.

Less than half of the schools fourth and fifth graders meet the states standards in math, which makes me doubt that our educational system is preparing these kids to thrive in the glittering economy they were born under. Five years ago, the office of the superintendent of public instruction ranked Hawthorne among the bottom 5% of the state, according to test passage rates.

This, in a city known for minting billionaires.

In The Second Machine Age, authors Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee, both MIT professors, recommend Montessori programs to prepare children for their future, with a focus on science, technology, engineering, arts and math. Thats Steam, for those not versed in educational acronyms.

Developed to help poor children realize their own innate potential, Montessori schools practice self-directed learning with tactile materials that encourage the freewheeling creativity that formed tech CEOs such as Bezos and Googles co-founders.

The private bilingual Montessori kindergarten I found 30 minutes away costs $20,000 a year.

Despite college-level tuitions, about one quarter of Seattle students opt out of the public school system to study at private or parochial schools. To send my sons to Seattles best private schools would cost more than $700,000, and thats before they get to college.

A survey of public schools in Seattle shows no Montessori options that my children can access, though a nearby program in Leschi was a success at first, drawing wealthier students into the public school system, bringing with them the engagement of their families.

The Leschi teachers were so distressed by the resulting racial, linguistic and housing disparities between the traditional and Montessori classes that they melded the programs, rather than working to recruit more students of color into the Montessori program, which they could not afford to expand. A taskforce opted against including technology in the curriculum, fearful they would attract too many white families.

I believe in diversity; my own blood is blended. A first generation Latinx, Ive invested years of effort to raise my sons to be bilingual. I also want to work toward equity in a city whose neighborhood schools reflect the segregation compelled by redlining and white flight.

Leschis students are learning hard truths about equity, but theyre improving together. Maybe thats enough. But I worry when well-intentioned people lacking the resources to serve their students equally decide against teaching technology, the lingua franca of our world. Even the state administers student tests by computer.

I sought answers from Chris Reykdal, state superintendent of public instruction. The injustice of it all is that we have never seen technology as a core learning, Reykdal said. Do we still consider technology an enrichment, or should it be a more profound part of basic education? The state hasnt made that decision yet.

Washington has hundreds of school districts overseen by elected boards that enact tangled mandates without the resources to see them through. All over the state, schools used levy monies to take care of basics and pay their teachers, rather than acquiring and teaching technology.

Deb Merle is Governor Jay Inslees K-12 education adviser. Merle said that designating technology as part of basic education, which would ensure that the dollars flowed to their purpose, is not a state priority, though she recognized that Reykdals predecessor also advocated for keeping technology funds separate.

I dont think we teach enough science, period. Thats what I spend a lot of time worrying about, not what kind of science, Merle said. Our elementary schools teach less than one hour per week of science.

Steam as a social justice issue

I kept dialing, determined to maintain the education-fueled trajectory of my family.

My kin have lived in dictatorship-induced diaspora since famine swept Spain under Franco; they later fled Batista, who ruled Cuba before Castro. I am not conditioned to expect social stability as a condition of being for any country.

The meeting I most dreaded was closest to home. On the short walk to our neighborhood school, I decided to come right out and tell its principal, Sandra Scott, that I am afraid to send my kids to Hawthorne because the schools test scores, though on the rise, are low enough to make me wince.

Luckily, Scott is a pragmatic visionary, the kind of principal who inspires parents to put down the remote and join the PTA. Since 2009, Scott has led Hawthornes revitalization, winning admiration and awards from Johns Hopkins University for her program of school, family and community partnerships.

Test scores dont define who the students are. Our kids are not a number, Scott said. There were things we needed to do differently or better like improving the academics and the school culture to bring families back into the community.

To
To face the age of automation, it is recommended children are taught a program with a focus on science, technology, engineering, arts and math. Photograph: Will Walker / NNP

Recognizing the opportunity that Seattles tech economy presents, Scott retooled Hawthorne to focus on Steam programming. Rather than cluster the high-performing test takers together which has segregated programs within diverse schools Hawthorne distributes them throughout classrooms. If a student excels in math, outstripping peers in that grades curriculum, the teacher walks that child to the next grade for math.

When it comes to fifth-grade science, those efforts more than doubled the test passage rates over three years, from 20% to 46%. I ache upon rereading that last sentence the hope and pride in the increase, the grimace I cant help but make at where they started, and what remains to be accomplished.

Scott and her staff find ways to make progress. But she doesnt have the funds for a technology teacher or trainings, so the lab will be largely unused this year. As a mother who cares about the kids who go to Hawthorne, I cant afford to wait for someone else to find those resources.

The leaders of this school are working to undo the effects of intergenerational poverty that dates back to slavery and other forced migrations. More than half of the students are eligible for free and reduced lunches. A quarter of the students are learning the language theyre taught in. Scores reflect circumstances, which is why Reykdal is refocusing the state on racial gaps, poverty gaps and English language gaps, down to the school level.

Many of the jobs first displaced by automation belong to peoples of color, women and others who depend on a combination of part-time positions. A federal council of economic advisers found an 83% likelihood that, by 2040, automation would displace jobs paying less than $20 per hour.

In Washington, Steam-related jobs pay double the median wage, for starters. The people moving here to work for Microsoft, Amazon and Boeing make much more. When we choose not to provide public schools with the resources needed to provide educational access to those opportunities, we are consigning local students to lesser-paid sectors of the economy, the very same that are vulnerable to automation. In other words, we are allowing our government to consecrate our children to poverty in real time.

Mass unemployment would make American society more violent, our law enforcement more brutal and our peoples more vulnerable to genocide. Automation is a social justice issue, and if history is any teacher, it shows us that vast swaths of disenfranchised peoples are a harbinger of war.

Problems that reflect the world

Whenever I have a problem thats too big to solve, I call my dad, and we argue about what to do. He told me the solution was simple. I should move. The only financially feasible choice would be the suburbs.

Something in me balks at leaving a city I love, and especially our neighborhood, where my children are happy. As a community, we just celebrated our 10th annual block party, a Cuban pig roast that my husband and I organize for our wedding anniversary. Our neighbors come bearing side dishes, canopies and games, and we dance until the DJs stop playing. The conversations we start on that night have lasted a decade. I want to stay.

As native Spanish speakers, my sons could option into the bilingual public schools on the other side of our gridlocked downtown, north of the covenants which kept people of color from buying homes. Those schools wait lists are legendary, but I am uncomfortable with the mostly white and relatively well-off demographics produced by saving only 15% of seats for native speakers. I want my kids to feel at home in a country that contains multitudes, which is why we moved to one of our nations most diverse zip codes.

Computers solve the problems theyre given. And so we must ask ourselves what we value, and whom.

Not every child wants to be a robotics engineer. But without the modes of thought elicited by learning computer science from an early age, many Washington state students will not be competitive for the jobs that remain. I want my own sons to be chosen and better yet, able to choose as I was, though I fell for a profession whose financial structures imploded five years after my college graduation.

I hope my privileged vulnerability encourages you to reflect on those truly trapped by our system. This essay invokes my worries as a mother, and with them, my socioeconomic position. Hawthorne is a happy place with diverse classrooms whose problems reflect the world, but I am glad of the years I have left to decide what my kids truly need to learn.

There can be no denying that I am one of the gentrifiers of this neighborhood, and with the honor of living here comes the responsibility to contribute. Looking at whats coming in the second machine age tremendous opportunities, to be sure, but also massive loss of what weve known as jobs I feel compelled to join those working toward a better future, minds whirring whenever problems arise.

Two nonprofits, FIRST Washington and XBOT Robotics, have offered support and equipment for Hawthorne to start a Lego robotics league after school. Four parents signed up to lead teams during last nights PTA meeting, my very first.

Its a start.

Get involved

To bolster Steam education for students, hybridized systems have sprung up as non-profits seek to prepare our children for the economy we will leave to them.

First Washington: This nonprofit helps start and sustain after-school Lego robotics leagues from K-12.

XBOT Robotics: Operating in one of the nations most diverse zip codes, offering robotics programming K-12.

Code.org: Free online programming for learners at all levels. Work through problems with your kids.

Technology Access Foundation: Helping people of color access Stem-related education in middle school, high school and beyond.

Washington State Opportunity Scholarship: A non-profit that funds thousands of Stem scholarships for Washingtons college-bound high school graduates. More than half of those scholarship recipients are students of color, women and/or the first in their family to access a higher education, if not all three.

Teals (Technology, Education and Literacy in Schools): Matches professionals with teachers to co-teach computer science in classrooms.

Seattle Mesa (Mathematics Engineering Science Achievement): Provides scholarships, in-class math and science projects, advanced learning opportunities, tutoring, math camp and teacher trainings.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/education/2017/oct/18/what-should-i-teach-my-children-to-prepare-them-for-jobs-in-their-era

Technorati Tags: , , , , , ,

Alan Turing’s School Report Goes On Show As Part Of A New Exhibition

A school report of gay mathematician and war hero Alan Turing will be part of the new Codebreakers and Groundbreakers exhibition which opens this week at Cambridge’s Fitzwilliam Museum.

The report is from 1929 when Turing was 13 years old and it’s generally quite mixed. Several of Turing’s teachers praise him for his work but also note how hasty and messy some of it has been. He was strongest in his principal subjects (Chemistry, Mathematics, and Physics) and generally weaker in French and English.

“His work on Higher Certificate papers shows distinct promise, but he must realise that ability to put a neat and tidy solution on paper – intelligible and legible – is necessary for a first-rate mathematician,” his Math teacher wrote.

Alan Turing’s School Report from 1929. Sherborne School Archives. The Provost and Fellows of Kings College Cambridge

The exhibition will also feature the book Turing was given when he won the first Christopher Morcom Science Prize at Sherborne School. This was set up by Morcom’s parents in memory of their son who died in 1930 at the age of 18. Morcom is believed to have been Turing’s first love.

Turing’s work during the Second World War was instrumental in the decryption of German ciphers at the Bletchley Park facility, where he constructed electromechanical machines to quickly decode encrypted messages. Some historians estimate that the work that Turing and many other codebreakers (a lot of them were women) did at Bletchley Park shortened the war in Europe by at least four years.

He’s considered the founder of computer science and in 1950 he devised a test to evaluate a machine’s ability to exhibit intelligence. He called the test “the imitation game” and it’s currently referred to as the Turing test. This test has been proven to be a widely influential yet somewhat controversial topic in computer science.

Alan Turing was arrested and prosecuted in 1952 when being gay was a criminal offense in the United Kingdom. He chose to be chemically castrated to avoid prison. He died on June 7, 1954, of cyanide poisoning and his death was ruled as suicide. He was 42 years old. The British Government apologized for the appalling treatment of Alan Turing in 2009.

The book Alan Turing received when he won the first Christopher Morcom Science Prize. The Provost and Fellows of Kings College Cambridge

 

Read more: http://www.iflscience.com/editors-blog/alan-turings-school-report-goes-on-show-as-part-of-a-new-exhibtion/

Technorati Tags: , , ,

Lego Releases Figurines Celebrating The Women Of NASA, And They’re Awesome

Earlier this year, Lego asked for suggestions from fans. Science writer Maia Weinstock came up with an awesome idea – a range of figurines celebrating women who have played critical roles in the US space program.

Writing at the time she pointed out how certain women have been critical to NASA missions throughout the space program’s history.

“Yet in many cases, their contributions are unknown or under-appreciated – especially as women have historically struggled to gain acceptance in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).”
 

“This proposed set celebrates five notable NASA pioneers and provides an educational building experience to help young ones and adults alike learn about the history of women in STEM.”

Well, Lego loved the idea, and has now released the set for children to play with. They’ve named the set “Women of NASA”. They’re pretty awesome, and everyone from children to current NASA astronauts are loving them.

Retired NASA astronaut Wendy B. Lawrence is considering buying the set. She is NOT too old to buy it – no one is.

The set includes Margaret Hamilton, who developed the onboard flight software for Apollo missions to the moon in the 1960s. She is known for popularizing the modern concept of software, and last year was given the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Obama.

Next up is Nancy Grace Roman. Nancy was one of the first female executives at NASA. She’s often called the “Mother of Hubble” for her role in planning the Hubble Space Telescope. As an aside, the astronomer also developed NASA’s astronomy research program.
 

Nancy in real life. NASA / Wikimedia Commons

The set also includes Sally Ride. You probably already know of Sally, the first American woman in space. A physicist by training, she launched into space in 1983. After retiring from being an astronaut, she focussed on educating children and encouraging them – especially girls – to pursue science as a career, through a foundation she set up.

Joining Sally is fellow astronaut Mae Jemison. Mae trained as a medical doctor, before becoming an astronaut. In 1992 she became the first African-American woman in space. She too developed a company after retiring from NASA. Hers develops new technologies whilst encouraging students in science.

The two are celebrated in a joint figurine, where they have their own space shuttle to fly around in.

The initially proposed set included Katherine Johnson, a mathematician and space scientist. Some of her greatest achievements include calculating trajectories for the Apollo programs, including Apollo 11, which got the first humans on the moon.

Katherine chose not to be a part of the completed set.

Katherine Johnson’s life was recently brought to the big screen in the Oscar-winning Hidden Figures. NASA / Wikimedia Commons
The figurines are going down extremely well with fans, who love the idea as well as the awesome little details.

The set also includes instruments used to calculate and verify trajectories for the Apollo missions (something very important before you send your Lego figurines into space) and a microscale Hubble Space Telescope. The space shuttle even has an external tank and rocket boosters.

NASA themselves are fans.

As is everyone else.

The creator of the set put out a note to thank Lego for doing the set, which she hopes will help children and adults around the world learn about these pioneering scientists.

The figurines will be on sale from November 1.

 

Read more: http://www.iflscience.com/space/lego-releases-figurines-celebrating-the-women-of-nasa-and-theyre-awesome/

Technorati Tags: , , ,

This program has a brilliant plan for bringing diversity to the world of STEM.

When Dr. Jennifer R. Cohen was working as a molecular biologist, she often wondered why no one else in her sector looked like her.

As a black woman, Cohen is not the typical face you’d see in a biochemistry lab. The sad reality is science and technology careers are still predominately assumed by white men even though there is a large reservoir of untapped talent among women and people of color.

The reason for the disparity seems to lie in a lack of resources to help talented but underrepresented students reach higher academic levels. While some colleges are currently looking to diversify, it’s often difficult for these students to get on their radar without some sort of assistance.

Cohen knew how much underrepresented talent there was out there just waiting to realize their full potential, so she joined the SMASH program.

SMASH, or Summer Math and Science Honors, is a subsection of the nonprofit organization Level the Playing Field Institute. It’s a rigorous, three-year summer program that provides settings and resources to students who are underrepresented in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and math) free of charge. The courses take place at colleges, like UCLA and UC Berkeley, that are leading the way in these fields.

By throwing these students headfirst into an environment stocked with resources, SMASH is giving them all they need to totally “own” STEM.

Students learning computer science in the SMASH University of California at Davis program. All photos via SMASH.

The movement, however, is not just about bolstering science skills. It’s about creating a pipeline into colleges that will help students launch a life pursuing some of the coolest, most sought-after and most impactful STEM-related careers out there.

But they have to get in first.

Aside from helping to eliminate the barriers to a college degree and subsequent career, SMASH’s teachers are doing all they can to give their students confidence. The STEM fields aren’t exactly handing out positions to women and people of color, so they’ll need all the conviction they have to get ahead.

UCLA’s SMASH program, for example, is brimming with teachers who are women of color, and experts in their fields. Pre-calculus instructor Patrice Smith got her Bachelor of Science from UCLA in Mathematics/Applied Science and specializations in Business Administration and Computing. Having role models like her likely encourages the 53% of young women who populate the UCLA program.

Students at SMASH UC Berkeley working in a lab.

“We help them to see that they belong and that they have what it takes so there’s no question in their minds that they can be successful,” Cohen explains.

Having been the only woman of color in the room, Cohen feels she can be especially helpful to the young women in SMASH. Her experience working in STEM shines a light on the inequality and need for change.

But, thanks to SMASH, change is happening, and its students are walking, dissecting, coding, algorithm-solving proof.

Leilani Reyes at SMASH Stanford.

Leilani Reyes, a first-generation college student from Fairfield, California, is studying computer science at Stanford University and was recently a software engineer intern at Medium. She’s forever grateful to SMASH for opening up this world of opportunity to her.

“Academically, it granted me rigor and, more importantly, support from teachers and staff who empowered me to be curious and socially conscious in STEM exploration,” writes Reyes in an email. “Professionally, it granted me resources to develop essential skills like public speaking and connections to mentors and role models who I look to for advice and inspiration.”

Michael Pearson, who attended SMASH UCLA, blossomed into one of the most accomplished computer science students, often helping others with their homework after finishing his own. He’s now pursuing a career in Cognitive and Computer Science at the University of Pennsylvania.

And Thomas Estrada, who went through SMASH UC Berkeley, was awarded the Regent and Chancellor’s Scholarship, which helped fund his undergraduate tuition there. He majored in computer science, and is now pursuing his doctorate. This summer, he landed a coveted internship with Google.

Moises Limon, a first year at SMASH UC Berkeley.

In terms of overall numbers, 78% of current SMASH freshman declared a STEM major. To date, 55% of SMASH alumni college graduates complete with a STEM major. That’s huge compared to the national average of STEM graduates, just 22%. Obviously the program is doing something right.

In the last 17 years, SMASH has helped over 500 alumni hit their academic and career goals.

The program is rapidly expanding into a national institution. One of the first east coast schools they’re partnering with is the prestigious Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. There’s no telling how far SMASH’s influence will go now.

This story was updated on 10/20/2017.

Read more: http://www.upworthy.com/this-program-has-a-brilliant-plan-for-bringing-diversity-to-the-world-of-stem

Technorati Tags: , ,

Girls in STEM now have a Lego box of their own: Women of NASA | The Daily Dot

With last year’s box-office success of Hidden Figures, it’s only fitting that the trend of promoting pioneering women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) trickled it’s way into the toy world—now, as little figures.

On Tuesday Lego announced the debut of a set unlike any others before it, Women of NASA, highlighting astronomer and educator Nancy Grace Roman; computer scientist and entrepreneur Margaret Hamilton; astronaut, physicist and entrepreneur Sally Ride; and astronaut, physician, and engineer Mae Jemison—each as a mini-figurine.

Photo via Lego

The box also includes three builds illustrating the women’s area of expertise: a posable Hubble Space Telescope with a projected image of planetary nebula for Roman, a stack of book elements representing the Apollo Guidance Computer for Hamilton, and a launchpad and Space Shuttle Challenger with three removable rocket stages for Ride and Jemison.

Photo via Lego

Each set includes a booklet about the four featured women of NASA, as well as the fan creator and Lego designers behind the idea, who hope their magic inspires even more young girls to get involved with these fields of study.

In total, the box contains 231 pieces. Women of NASA goes on sale Nov. 1 for $24.99.

Photo via Lego

Read more: https://www.dailydot.com/parsec/women-of-nasa-lego/

Technorati Tags:

Ancient Text Reveals Earliest Known Understanding Of Zero

The concept of zero is so deeply engrained in our culture that it is hard to imagine not having it. Yet most ancient cultures never came up with the idea, greatly to the detriment of their mathematical development. We don’t know exactly when the idea first appeared, but re-analysis of a nearly 2,000-year-old Indian manuscript has taken us closer to this crucial point.

The Bakhshali manuscript is written on pieces of birch bark and was found buried in a field outside the village of Bakhshali, Pakistan, in 1881. It has been housed in the Bodleian Library, Oxford, since 1902. It contains hundreds of zero symbols, and clearly represents one of the oldest surviving references to this concept. However, its age has been in doubt, with estimates based on writing style placing it around the year 800.

Testing of three samples in the Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit revealed that the manuscript, rather than having a single origin, was created in pieces centuries apart. The earliest measured section dates to somewhere between 224 and 383 AD, while additions were made in 680-779 and 885-993 AD. The last date roughly aligns with other examples we have of the dot symbol, which gradually evolved into our 0, being used to indicate absence. However, the earlier dates are well outside expectations.

The fact the manuscript remained in use for so long, and was expanded at least twice centuries later, indicates its status, probably as a training manual. It is filled with examples of practical arithmetic and algebra. Oxford’s Professor Marcus du Sautoy told The Guardian: “There’s a lot of ‘If someone buys this and sells this how much have they got left?’”

“Today we take it for granted that the concept of zero is used across the globe and is a key building block of the digital world. But the creation of zero as a number in its own right, which evolved from the placeholder dot symbol found in the Bakhshali manuscript, was one of the greatest breakthroughs in the history of mathematics,” du Sautoy said in a statement. “We now know that it was as early as the 3rd century that mathematicians in India planted the seed of the idea that would later become so fundamental to the modern world. The findings show how vibrant mathematics have been in the Indian sub-continent for centuries.”

Both the Babylonians and Mayans had symbols for nothing, but it was only when the Indians developed the idea that its mathematical power was realized. Even then, the placeholding dot took centuries to evolve into the concept that zero could be a number.

Arab traders spread the idea from India, but it faced considerable resistance upon its arrival in Europe, even facing attempts to ban it as heresy.

Read more: http://www.iflscience.com/physics/starting-from-zero-earliest-symbol-of-nothing-found/

Technorati Tags: , , ,

Trump to launch $200M STEM education initiative with Silicon Valley leaders

Silicon Valley tech companies are teaming up with the Trump administration on a new initiative to push science, technology, engineering, and mathematics in our schools. The new STEM initiative, which Trump will be signing as a memorandum today, will ask the Department of Education to allocate $200 million of its grant funds toward coding and STEM education.

The impetus for this new initiative is train the workers of tomorrow for the growing demand of computer-science jobs. It should also help improve the woeful state of STEM education in this country. According data from the American Institute of Physics, less than 40 percent of graduating high school seniors have taken a physics course. (The White House reports that only 60 percent of high schools even offer physics as a course.) As for computer science, less than half of U.S. high schools offer coding courses.

“Our country is facing a challenge that it hasn’t had to address in two generations: reworking the education system to keep pace with advancing technology,” Microsoft president Brad Smith said in a statement today. “In the 1950s, the race to space drove schools to start teaching physics. Today, it’s all about computer science.”

On Tuesday, Trump’s daughter Ivanka will head to Detroit to announce private sector commitments to this program. Representatives from Amazon, Facebook, Google, GM, and Quicken Loans will be in attendance, among others.

This STEM education effort comes at an interesting time. Many tech leaders recently criticized Trump for his move to end DACA and decision to ban transgender individuals from serving in the military. Earlier this year, many of these same executives served on the Trump administration’s technology council. While Trump dissolved two related councils (members resigned following Trump’s response to the Charlottesville, Virginia, incident), his administration still hopes to work with industry tech leaders to modernize our government, and now, help bring our education system into the 21st century, too.

Today’s STEM-focused endeavor comes after Trump cut the Department of Education’s funds by 13.5 percent ($9.2 billion) earlier this year.

H/T Recode

Read more: https://www.dailydot.com/debug/trump-stem-education-initiative/

Technorati Tags:

Math Suggests The Amount Of Carbon In The Ocean Could Start A Mass Extinction After 2100

Humanity has a huge impact on our planet but predicting the long-term effects of our actions is not exactly simple. An important question scientists have been asking is could our activities trigger a mass extinction?

According to Professor Daniel Rothman, a geophysicist at MIT, if 310 gigatons of carbon were added to the oceans this would first lead to an unstable environment, and then to a mass extinction. This amount is predicted to enter the world’s water reservoir by 2100. The research is published in Science Advances.

“This is not saying that disaster occurs the next day,” Rothman clarified in a statement. “It’s saying that, if left unchecked, the carbon cycle would move into a realm which would be no longer stable, and would behave in a way that would be difficult to predict. In the geologic past, this type of behavior is associated with mass extinction.”

The theory looked at changes in carbon over long and short timescales. Over long timescales, extinction could happen if carbon cycle changes occur faster than the planet can adapt to them. Over short timescales, however, extinction will depend on how big the change is. Rothman was capable of putting a “carbon threshold” on how much carbon the oceans can take in. According to the theory, it might take up to 10,000 years for the full disaster to play out, but Rothman thinks that by 2100 we will be reaching, or moving past, the carbon threshold for catastrophe.

There have been five mass extinctions throughout the history of our planet, and Rothman wanted to know if a sixth was likely based on the data we have today and what we have been doing since the industrial revolution.

“How can you really compare these great events in the geologic past, which occur over such vast timescales, to what’s going on today, which is centuries at the longest? So I sat down one summer day and tried to think about how one might go about this systematically,” Rothman added. “It became evident that there was a characteristic rate of change that the system basically didn’t like to go past. Then it became a question of figuring out what it meant.”

Once the limit is breached, the carbon cycle breaks. Plants can’t take the extra carbon dioxide in and carbon no longer sinks to the bottom of the ocean, where it normally gets buried over time. The best case scenario for 2100 sees humans adding 300 gigatons of carbon to the ocean with more than 500 gigatons being added in the worst.

Read more: http://www.iflscience.com/environment/math-suggests-the-amount-of-carbon-in-the-ocean-could-start-a-mass-extinction-after-2100/

Technorati Tags: , , ,