General Science


NOVA’s Favorite Science Education Stories of 2014

Science education continued to evolve this year thanks to Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) in many states and the growing use of technology in the classroom.  Digital games, Interstellar, and computer science — these are just a few of the themes that topped STEM news in 2014.  As the semester winds down and hallways empty for the holiday break, the NOVA team shares our ten favorite stories about science, education, and youth from the past year.

1. White House Approves More Computer Science Education


Image Credit: Pasco County Schools / Flickr (CC-BY-NC)

The White House released a statement in December calling for greater focus on computer science education. Seven of the nation’s largest school districts will join dozens of other districts to offer more computer science education courses, including AP Computer Science.

2. Hip Hop Fosters More Young Scientists

Image Credit: Alex Berger / Flickr (CC-BY-NC-SA)

Columbia University professor Chris Emdin launched Science Genius, a program that uses students’ love of hip-hop to get them to engage in science. Listen to Emdin share how science is everywhere in hip-hop: complex metaphor and analogy, soaking in the environment and making observations, and peer review — educators just need to make the connections alongside their students.

3. Students Reveal What They Want From STEM Education

Student Feet

Image credit: Theen Moy / Flickr (CC-BY-NC-SA)

Youth advisors were surveyed on Twitter to find out what they really wanted from their STEM classes. Five major themes emerged and provide clues for educators on how to satisfy students’ learning desires and curiosities.

4. Five Creative Ideas to Break out of the Science Classroom Environment

Image Credit: Chiot’s Run (CC–BY–NC)

Image Credit: Chiot’s Run (CC–BY–NC)

Research consistently shows that experiential learning builds student engagement and growth. Some educators are now taking these concepts outside of the traditional classroom, knowing that science learning is cumulative and emerges in many locations throughout a student’s lifetime.

5. Classrooms are Using Digital Games More Than You Think


Image Credit: Cemdin News / Flickr (CC-BY-NC)

The Joan Ganz Cooney Center asked 700 teachers nationwide to share their experiences with using digital games in the classroom. Turns out, the majority of teachers using digital games use them at least once a week and find that they support low-performing students. Yet, educators face major obstacles to effectively implementing games into their curriculum.

Want to learn more about gaming-based learning and pedagogy? We also recommend The MindShift Guide to Digital Games and Learning.

6. Why Do Americans Stink at Math?


Image Credit: Hades2k / Flickr (CC-BY-SA)

Japanese elementary-school teacher Takeshi Matsuyama believes that students must uncover math’s procedures for themselves, rather than just memorize rules and formulas. His methodology derived from American math reformers, but it has rarely been implemented in the United States. Is transformation possible for American math educators and students?

 7. Teaching Science is a Challenge in Rural America


Image Credit: Pete Zarria / Flickr (CC-BY-NC-SA)

Rural school districts make up more than one quarter of all public schools in America, and face many budgetary and resource challenges.  STEM teachers are stretched thin and administrators are looking for recruitment strategies to ensure rural students have access to the same science opportunities that urban students do.

8. Race Can Affect How Women See Stereotypes in STEM


Image Credit: Maia Weinstock / Flickr (CC–BY-NC-SA)

Stereotypes about gender and STEM have long been a discussion among advocates trying to increase female participation in the field. New psychology research shows that female stereotypes are internalized differently between white and black women.

9. Modeling Breaks the Mold of Traditional Science Instruction


Image Credit: US Army RDECOM / Flickr (CC-BY)

Making mistakes and learning from them is at the heart of scientific inquiry.  STEM TeachersNYC offered summer workshops to teach the teachers how to model instruction. Although the concept has been around for years, it is only starting to take root in classrooms nationwide.

10. Hollywood Hit Interstellar for the Classroom

Image Credit: NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center / Flickr (CC-BY-NC)

Image Credit: NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center / Flickr (CC-BY-NC)

Hollywood’s newest space odyssey hit, Interstellar, dives into key scientific concepts such as atmospheric composition and relativity. Even NOVA’s friend Neil deGrasse Tyson was pretty happy with the film. Thanks to Google Play, Interstellar lesson plans can now be downloaded and used in your 6-12th grade classroom.

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Brooke Havlik

    As Education and Outreach Manager, Brooke is responsible for overseeing content development and the growth of NOVA's formal and informal education community. Brooke has a B.A. in Sociology and Anthropology from DePauw University, and an M.S. in Environmental Studies from University of Oregon. Prior to NOVA, Brooke led education programs at John G. Shedd Aquarium and Cooking Matters.