Supporting STEM: Strategies That Engage Minds ®

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NC STEM e-Update (Nov. 30, 2017)

November 30th, 2017

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NC STEM starts with you. Twice a month we provide an e-update on what’s happening in STEM, and our latest edition is now available for you.

View our e-Update in your browser by clicking here.

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NC STEM e-Update (Nov. 16, 2017)

November 16th, 2017

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NC STEM starts with you. Twice a month we provide an e-update on what’s happening in STEM, and our latest edition is now available for you.

View our e-Update in your browser by clicking here.

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Kenan Fellows 2018-2019 applications open in December

November 2nd, 2017

The Kenan Fellows Program for Teacher Leadership will begin accepting online applications for its 2018-19 Fellowship year on Dec. 1. Please continue to check their website often as new fellowships are being updated regularly.

These exclusive Fellowships address the critical need to develop and empower high-quality teachers, who, in turn, make learning more authentic for students. The Fellowship begins with a summer internship in a higher education lab or industry setting and is supported by 80 hours of professional development that focuses on building leadership capacity and proven instructional strategies.

Fellowship projects have a unique set of criteria that in some cases is restricted by district, grade level and subject. Projects vary from scientific research to work experiences in the agriculture and high-tech manufacturing industries.

View the Fellowships available this upcoming cycle.

Each Fellow is awarded at least a $5,000 stipend, and must develop and implement relevant educational materials and/or programs based on their internship experience. Fellows remain in the classroom while completing the year-long fellowship.

Founded in 2000, the Kenan Fellows Program for Teacher Leadership addresses the critical need for high-quality professional development for educators, and is the largest (science, technology, engineering and math) STEM-focused teacher leadership program in North Carolina.

Approximately 50 outstanding K–12 teachers from across the state are selected annually for this year-long program.

NC STEM e-Update (Oct. 26, 2017)

October 26th, 2017

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NC STEM starts with you. Twice a month we provide an e-update on what’s happening in STEM, and our latest edition is now available for you.

View our e-Update in your browser by clicking here.

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STEM Across NC: Halloween Events

October 17th, 2017

It’s Halloween — time for Frankenstein, Ghostbusters, Witch’s Brew, and all things slimy. That means it’s also time for…science!

This month, indulge your inner mad scientist and take advantage of the many opportunities throughout North Carolina to celebrate the creepiest and grossest night of the year. From ghosts to sea monsters to zombies, now is your chance to see where science fits in with the things that might scare you most.

Below is a list of some events featuring supernatural science this year for both kids and adults. Attend and participate — if you dare!

North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences

Event: Final Fridays: Ghostbusters

Come to watch Ghostbusters (1984), and learn about the Sons of Zuul (animals that glow in the dark or have eyes bigger than melons), attend Ghost Camp (use science to solve ghost stories), and visit the Slimer Spot (make your own ectoplasm).

When: Oct. 27
Time: 5:30pm to 9pm
Where: WRAL 3D Theater
11 W. Jones St. | Raleigh, NC 27601

Cost: $2 members/$5 non-members

North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences

Event: Science Cinema Halloween Spooktacular

Enjoy the horror classic Frankenstein (1931) and creepy crafts. Be a mad scientist, too! Get gooey with slime science, concoct a potion, or experience the shock of static electricity.

When: Oct. 28
Time: 10am to 3:10pm
Where: 415 S. Madison St. | Whiteville, N.C., 28472

Cost: Free

Marbles Kids Museum

Event: Kooky Spooky Halloween Party

Attend Ghoul School, be a mad scientist, and be a “graveyard smash” at the Monster Mash Dance Party. Make Boo Bubble (dry ice) and get icky with polymer goo worms and slime.

When: Oct. 28
Time: 6pm to 8:30 pm
Where: 201 E. Harvest St. | Raleigh, NC 27601

Cost: Advance Tickets: $12 members/$15 non-members
Week-of Tickets: $15 members/$18 non-members

North Carolina Botanical Garden

Event: Pumpkins at The Botanical Garden

Nothing says Halloween more than being in the woods — and Botanical Gardens are pretty close. Wander through the trees and plants, encounter live animals, and brew up natural potions. Don’t want to hand out candy to your Trick-or-Treaters? Design a candy catapult that might toss candy into their buckets for you.

When: Oct. 27
Where: 100 Old Mason Farm Rd. | Chapel Hill, NC 27517
Time: 5:30pm to 8pm

Cost: $5; Under 3, free

Register: www.ncbg.unc.edu; Additional information: www.wonderconnection.org

Discovery Place Science

Event: Science on the Rocks: Fright at the Museum

Halloween isn’t only for kids. As an adult, come enjoy the science behind the scares. Try your hand at spooky science experiments. Ever wonder what makes zombie tick? Come dissect one. And, experience in-your-face frights with haunted virtual reality.

When: Oct. 20
Where: 301 N. Tryon St. | Charlotte, NC 28202
Time: 5pm to 9pm

Cost: $10 in advance/$12 at the door; Parking fee not included

Online ticket sales end Oct. 20, 3pm

Adults, age 21+

Asheville Museum of Science (AMOS) 

Event: Pumpkin Monster Mash

Take your jack-o-lantern to the next level in the AMOS STEM Lab. Put your technical and engineering skills to the test and design a monster pumpkin. Build your own Frankenstein’s Monster with nuts, bolts, washers, and other supplies.

When: Oct. 21
Time: 1:30pm to 4:30pm
Where: 43 Patton Ave. | Asheville, NC 28801

Cost: Included with museum admission; suggested $3 donation

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By Whitney Palmer

NC STEM e-Update (Oct. 12, 2017)

October 12th, 2017

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NC STEM starts with you. Twice a month we provide an e-update on what’s happening in STEM, and our latest edition is now available for you.

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NC STEM e-Update (Sept. 21, 2017)

September 21st, 2017

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NC STEM starts with you. Twice a month we provide an e-update on what’s happening in STEM, and our latest edition is now available for you.

View our e-Update in your browser by clicking here.

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NC STEM e-Update (Sept. 7, 2017)

September 7th, 2017

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NC STEM starts with you. Twice a month we provide an e-update on what’s happening in STEM, and our latest edition is now available for you.

View our e-Update in your browser by clicking here.

Not receiving an e-update? Click here to subscribe and get your personalized copy sent directly to your email address.

NC programs and events help reduce summer slide

September 6th, 2017

Summer vacation isn’t what it used to be. Beach trips, pool days, and theme park trips aren’t the only activities filling weeks outside the classroom.

Instead, teachers and students mix work with play, taking advantage of summer programs that augment their knowledge of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). Through hands-on experiences, teachers learn better strategies for instructing students, and students see science touches most aspects of everyday life.

In fact, said Lisa Rhoades, senior program associate at the North Carolina Science, Mathematics, and Technology Education Center, summer STEM programs make science a real-life adventure.

“Teachers might not teach 12 months, but they do look for opportunities to refine their practice and learn new strategies,” she said. “Additionally, students stay engaged and avoid summer learning loss. Summer programs give them unique experiences not found in school.”

North Carolina offers several programs for both groups.

Examples for teachers and students are listed below.

Teacher Programs

These programs focus on giving teachers new instructional strategies. In most instances, the programs take place in the field.

North Carolina Center for Advancement In Teaching

Based at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, N.C., the Center for Advancement In Teaching helps public school teachers master new classroom tactics to improve how they introduce science topics.

Among other programs, teachers can attend a four-day event in Ocracoke called Using Coastal Ecosystems to Enhance the Study of High School Biology. During the program, they partner with biologists and science experts to create lesson plans and demonstrations for high school students rooted in hands-on work with carbon/nitrogen cycles, energy pyramids, and biochemical processes in ecosystems.

Kenan Fellows Program for Teacher Leadership

During this three five-week summer internship teachers work with mentors in research and applied STEM settings, developing their STEM knowledge and leadership skills. The program is open to elementary-to-high school teachers.

Topics open to teachers are almost endless, including engineering, biology, chemistry, or materials science. At program’s end, teachers leave with a quiver full of ideas on making science more relatable to students.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg elementary teacher Philip Carey said he will take his innovation experience with Hyde Park Partners into his 4th-grade classroom.

“I instantly drew parallels between the work Hyde Park does in its engineering innovation chamber with the work I want my students to do in my classroom,” he said. “I want my students to fail fast, fail cheap, improve, and try again. I can’t wait to tell my students the work they’re doing is truly preparing them for the world outside.”

SummerSTEM

Part of the WakeEd Partnership, SummerSTEM gives up to 100 teachers hands-on experience, bringing real-world lessons into the classroom. Each school can send two educators.

Program leaders pair teachers with existing STEM companies, such as Biogen, LORD Corporation, RedHat, and SAS, putting them in STEM career positions. The interactive experience has teachers working with mentors in the field. Simultaneously, teachers sharpen their own skills, and mentors help them refine units of study and classroom lesson plans.

Ultimately, educators make a presentation at a STEM Symposium, much like a science fair.

Student Programs

Designed to help students maintain and enhance their knowledge, these programs also send students into the field for first-hand experiences.

SSEP @ Eastern Carolina University

Part of Burroughs Wellcome Fund’s Student Science Enrichment Program (SSEP), this year, Eastern Carolina University hosted a program for Greene County students who would be the first in their families to attend college. Being paired with a mentor with similar science or engineering interests boosted their excitement about and confidence in their research skills.

This year, Savyone Best, a junior at Greene Central High School designed a water-conserving shower head with teammates. They developed the concept from blueprints-to-production and received tips from professors about how to improve their product in the future.

Senior Evita Enrique echoed that enthusiasm, adding the endeavor prepared her for the next academic step.

“My experience with the SSEP program at ECU was amazing! I learned many skills, such as the process of electrophoresis, the process of inserting DNA into a plant, amongst other things,” she said. “This program not only helps students better understand the fundamentals of STEM, but it also exposes you to a whole new environment of college life.”

SMILE Camp

Located in Raleigh, SMILE (Science and Math Interactive Learning Experience) Camp provides hands-on interactions to elementary-to-high school students. The program offers 10 week-long camps for children ages 7-to-18.

Elementary school students learn how and why things work as they do, touching on chemistry, physics, and materials engineering while working with gears, magnets, and electricity.

Projects are more complex for middle school students. They tackle 3D modeling, rocketry, and mobile app development, working with metallic crystals, redox reactions, and liquid nitrogen.

High school students design and build their own machines. In the past, participants built an internal combustion engine.

FEMMES Camp

This camp supports the push for more girls to enter STEM fields. Hosted by Duke University, this program, for rising 5th- and 6th-grade girls, brings participants on campus for hands-on activities led by undergraduate and graduate female counselors and mentors.

During the five-day program, 50 girls engage in research activities based on a theme. Through last year’s forensic science theme, they learned about fingerprint analysis, DNA extraction from cheek cells, blood splatter analysis, footprint impressions, and powder analysis. Participants also toured other research projects and facilities on campus.

By Whitney Palmer

NC STEM e-Update (Aug. 24, 2017)

August 24th, 2017

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NC STEM starts with you. Twice a month the NC STEM Learning Network provides an e-update on what’s happening in STEM, and our latest edition is now available for you.

View our e-Update in your browser by clicking here.

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The Eclipse Across North Carolina – Where to See It

August 17th, 2017

On Aug. 21, 2017, the Western North Carolina skies will turn a deep twilight. That’s ordinary — except, this time, you’ll see planets and stars around 2:30 p.m.

For roughly 90 minutes, you’ll see the moon nibble the sun, blocking out the mid-day light. It’s been 99 years since a total solar eclipse crossed the full contiguous United States, and the track of totality — complete lunar coverage — comes directly over North Carolina’s mountains. Other locations will experience partial coverage.

According to Amber Porter, Ph.D., a Clemson University physics and astronomy lecturer, the chances of another solar eclipse following this same path is unlikely.

“Globally, solar eclipses happen one to two times annually, so they’re not that rare,” she said. “But, it’s incredibly rare for one to come where you live — for the shadow to pass over you. They only hit the same spot on Earth once every 400 years.”

So, what will you see?

If you’re in partial coverage, the sun will dim, and you’ll see more shadows. But, it won’t be dark. Animals and plants will exhibit nocturnal behaviors — birds will roost, and flowers will close their petals. However, you’ll still see plenty of sunlight.

But, things are different in totality, Porter said. As the moon blocks the sun, a ring of beads, called Baily’s Beads, will appear. That’s sunlight peaking through the moon’s mountains, and it looks like a string of pearls.

With complete coverage, the sky will be 360 degrees of twilight. You’ll also see something you can’t see any other time — the sun’s corona. It’s only as bright as a full moon so the rest of the sun overpowers it during the day. In fact, just 1 percent of uncovered sunlight is more than 1,000 times too bright for the corona to be visible to the human eye. During totality, though, it peaks out around the moon’s edges.

Additionally, the temperature will drop, she said. For 10 minutes to 15 minutes, you’ll feel a10-degree to 25-degree dip, depending upon your location. Winds could also pick up enough to quickly move clouds across the sky.

Remember: it’s only safe to look at the sun during an eclipse if you’re in totality and the moon is completely covering the sun. At that point, you’re only seeing the corona. Otherwise, regardless of location, you must wear certified solar eclipse sunglasses.

There are several locations to view this once-in-a-lifetime event. See if one listed below is near you or check with the NC STEM Center for other eclipse events.

North Carolina State University College of Sciences
Time:
12:30pm to 4:00 pm
Location: 2 Broughton Drive; Raleigh, NC, 27695
Parking: Paid lots in Dan Allen and Coliseum Decks; metered spots on Hillsborough Street; free parking at Carter-Finley stadium off Trinity Road (free shuttles to Scott Hall stop)

Events: Event organizers have limited free solar sunglasses available, and there’s also a telescope outfitted with a filter. You can make do-it-yourself pinhole cameras, and the eclipse will also livestream on big screens. Additionally, citizen scientists will observe changes in animal behavior and the weather, as well as view physics demonstrations and a weather balloon launch.

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Morehead Planetarium & Science Center
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Time: Noon to 4:30 pm
Location: 250 E. Franklin St.; Chapel Hill, NC, 27514
Parking: Metered street parking; paid lots on Rosemary Street; Eubanks Rd or Southern Village Park and Ride (free Chapel Hill transit provided on NS route to Columbia Road and Franklin Street).

Event: The eclipse will livestream from an area of totality. Attendees can participate in eclipse-themed games and activities. However, the seated planetarium show and eclipse glasses are sold out.

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Sarah P. Duke Gardens
Time: Noon to 5 pm
Location: 420 Anderson St.; Durham, NC, 27708
Parking: Paid parking ($2) in the Duke Gardens lot; other street parking available.

Event: The free event includes observation stations throughout the Gardens, as well as activities for all ages. Inside the Doris Duke Center, attendees can conduct experiments, watch the total eclipse via livestream, and take part in astronomy and Earth science-related activities. Eclipse glasses will be available on a first come-first serve basis.

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Asheville Museum of Science
Time: Noon to 3 pm
Location: Pack Square, 80 Court Plaza; Asheville, NC, 28801

Event: With UNC-Asheville, Asheville City Schools and Buncombe County Schools, the museum is hosting a free event with music, food, and activities. Free eclipse glasses are available on a first come-first serve basis. Those who don’t want to attend downtown can view at Owen High School, N. Buncombe High School, and TC Roberson High School.

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Kaleideum
Time:
11 am to 4 pm
Location: 400 W. Hanes Mill Rd., Winston-Salem, NC, 27105

Event: The event is free to museum members and included with non-member admission prices. The first 100 attendees receive free eclipse glasses. Throughout the day, you can see science demonstrations, planetarium shows, and use professional telescopes. Bring your own cereal box to make a solar eclipse viewer to take home.

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The Eclipse at Gorges
Time: August 19 – August 21
Location: Gorges State Park; Sapphire, NC, 28774

Event: Gorges State Park is North Carolina’s only park in the totality path. This free, three-day event includes an Eclipse Party on Sunday, featuring a discussion with Sharon Becker, Regional Director of Interpretation and Educational Programming for N.C. State Parks about eclipse science and history. The park opens at 5 am on Monday. Music, food trucks, and educational activities will be available, Additionally, two locations will livestream an above-cloud video provided by NASA.

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Airlie Gardens
Time: 12:30 pm to 3:30 pm
Location: 300 Airlie Rd.; Wilmington, NC, 28403

Event: Outside the eclipse path, this event still offers attendees viewing opportunities. Admission is $9 for adults, $3 for children, and $5 for New Hanover residents and military with ID. A wide variety of activities are available to learn about the eclipse, including a live weather satellite feed and opportunities to create your own solar eclipse and models that show the distance between bodies in the solar system.

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By Whitney Palmer
17 August 2017

NC STEM Center e-Update (Aug. 11, 2017)

August 11th, 2017

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NC STEM starts with you. Twice a month we provide an e-update on what’s happening in STEM, and our latest edition is now available for you.

View our e-Update in your browser by clicking here.

Not receiving an e-update? Click here to subscribe and get your personalized copy sent directly to your email address.

Social recap: NC Chamber 2017 Conference on Education

August 10th, 2017

We hope you enjoy some the great social media conversations curated from this year’s #WorkReadyNC event in Durham.

 

NC STEM Center e-Update (July 27, 2017)

July 27th, 2017

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NC STEM starts with you. Twice a month we provide an e-update on what’s happening in STEM, and our latest edition is now available for you.

View our e-Update in your browser by clicking here.

Not receiving an e-update? Click here to subscribe and get your personalized copy sent directly to your email address.

STEM Across NC: Race Exhibit at NC Museum of Natural Sciences

July 21st, 2017

The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh is widely known as the place to visit if you want to learn about local and regional wildlife, marine life off our coasts, bugs in your backyard, or even the state’s pre-historic timeline.

But, from now until October 22, it’s also hosting a traveling exhibit entitled RACE: Are We So Different?, making it the spot for learning about humanity and race. What brings us together? Are race and ethnicity based in biology? And, how has it all changed over time?

Take a walk through the free exhibit on the museum’s 2nd floor, and you’ll see, in both English and Spanish, that race is rooted in cultural beliefs, and you’ll journey through how science has been applied to those beliefs over the centuries.

According to the museum’s website, RACE “looks at race through the lens of science, history, and personal experiences to promote a better understanding of human variation.”

The exhibit is part of a larger public education program, crafted by the American Anthropological Association and funded by the Ford Foundation and the National Science Foundation. It’s designed to reach students, teachers, and parents and also includes a virtual tour and online science curriculum resources for middle and high school teachers involved in STEM education. The resources include lesson plans in evolution, ecology, genetics, biodiversity, and several other topics.

There’s much for museum visitors to see in person, though. Sprinkled throughout RACE’s historical components, museum staff placed science stations — some of which are interactive — that will challenge your understanding of ethnicity. It all springs from the bedrock principle that humanity emerged in current-day Africa and populated the world over millennia. Overall, the exhibit reveals our seemingly large outward differences are linked to very small genetic variations.

By placing your hand under a microscope to determine your skin color and compare it to others’, you learn about the evolution of melanin — the pigment, responsible for tanning, that gives human skin and hair its color. The lighter your skin, the farther your ancestors ventured from the African epicenter and its intense sun. In essence, shades of skin tone are merely a factor of migration.

In addition, with the help of a touch-screen map, you can explore how genetic variations occurred and spread world-wide. If you select a geographic region, you can watch where the changes pop up over time and how long it took for the shifts to occur.

The exhibit also reveals the genetic changes that cause differences in our outward appearances aren’t significant enough to alter who we are internally — at least not at the most basic level. A segment devoted to forensics reveals it’s nearly impossible to determine someone’s race after death. Bones and teeth — the human body’s fundamentals — are virtually the same for us all, demonstrating our baseline similarities.

In support of race as a cultural construct, the exhibit also displays instances when science “got it wrong.” For example, scientists once believed the larger head size prevalent among Caucasians equated to higher intelligence. This theory is false, but you can see the instruments used to measure skull size on display. It’s evidence of a time when society sought to divide populations based on perceived racial characteristics.

The exhibit isn’t only for middle-schoolers and older, though. Museum staff also cater to the littlest visitors, making it an option for parents with younger children. Amidst the higher-level discussions of heredity, genetic evolution, and ethnicity-based healthcare, you’ll find a comfortable table and chairs scattered with books that discuss race and ethnicity in age-appropriate ways. Puppets and dolls of many races and ethnicities are also available for children interested in playing.

Additional program funding for RACE comes from the Burroughs Wellcome Fund; Duke University Center on Genomics, Race, Identity, Difference; the University of North Carolina; Triangle Community Foundation; Paul Green Foundation; NC Humanities Council; YMCA of the Triangle, and several other groups.

Tickets are reserved based on time slots, and they are available here.

By Whitney Palmer