Hidden Figures Who Encourage Future Generations

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Hidden Figures Who Encourage Future Generations

Yesterday, I was sitting in the final plenary of the National Center of Women in Technology (NCWIT) Summit 2017 in Tucson, AZ. If you aren’t familiar with NCWIT – it is a community of nearly 900 universities, companies, non-profits, and government organizations nationwide working to increase girls’ and women’s meaningful participation in computing. NCWIT was chartered in 2004 by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and equips change leaders with resources for recruiting, retaining, and advancing women from K–12 and higher education through industry and entrepreneurial careers. These people are our tribe and we’re proud to be a partner and part of the NCWIT K-12 Alliance. Lucy Sanders, their CEO and Co-Founder, and the organization have been a force and source of encouragement for Couragion’s founders for nearly two decades. In 2016, Couragion was proud to win startup of the year at the same awards ceremony where Lucy won a well-deserved lifetime achievement award.

Margot Lee Shetterly who is the researcher, entrepreneur, and the author of “Hidden Figures" was the seminal keynote. She spoke about race, gender, science, and the history of technology. Margot talked about creating the lexicon for ‘hidden figures’ as people who have contributed, were not previously acknowledged, and now deserve to be celebrated. The term as discussed is nuanced as the identities of these women were hidden as were their contributions. Margot’s commitment was in elucidating these talented woman as individuals but she also strove to intimately understand the science and technology behind their stories. It moved me and further edified Couragion’s own journey. We’ve told the stories of over 40 female STEM professionals as part of our NSF work. We’ve respected each personal journey, their vulnerability and confidence, and the paths these role models have taken.

Allison Schroeder, the screenwriter of “Hidden Figures”, was honored at the Summit right after Margot’s speech. Allison won the Reel WiT Award - an honor created by the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, Google, and NCWIT. She herself is a notable STEM role model who studied math at Stanford University. Allison shared a fantastic story in her acceptance speech about one of her friend’s young daughters who recently saw three young African American females walking down the street and said, “Look Mommy, astronauts!” These narratives are rarely told – and when done with this type of clarity and honor can encourage future generations. I aspire that our work continues to make a difference in classrooms and in the lives of all the students we reach and influence.  

You can continue to contribute to the conversation by leveraging NCWIT resources for recruiting, retaining, and advancing girls and women in computing. Special thanks to the incredible staff and sponsors for the Summit!

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Adults – Thank A Former Teacher This Week!

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Adults – Thank A Former Teacher This Week!

May 8 – 12, 2017 marks Teacher Appreciation Week – an event sponsored by the National PTA to celebrate teachers and deliver gratitude to them.

During this week, it is very common for people/kids to thank the their current teachers. But I bet very few of us take the opportunity to thank teachers who influenced us in the past.

I have heard more than one teacher talk about how meaningful it is when former students contact them, years later, to say thank you.  

For example, I recently attended my children’s school auction. A former student gave an inspirational speech about how the school and teachers helped shape the person she is today. She is just on the cusp of adulthood but has already helped save the life of a person and a dog. She credited her ability to do that because one of her elementary teachers believed in her and allowed her to explore her interest in a career as a paramedic/fire fighter at a very young age. This put her on an early path to seek training in the medical field and gave her the skills she needed to help out when she unexpectedly came upon a car accident. You could just see her former teachers beam and cry with joy as they listened to her heartfelt thanks!

Our role models share similar stories of how their teachers’ encouragement was a critical factor in their confidence to pursue STEM careers or other tough challenges. Here are a few examples…

  • “One of the biggest influences in my life - for me to move forward and excel - was my elementary school teacher. She was awesome, she believed in me and she encouraged me. I tended to panic and think I could not do things but she always supported and encouraged me to ‘just do it’!” - Sibel, Spacecraft Flight Software Engineer
  • “My PhD advisor was really great at teaching me how to think critically about problems and forcing me to be self-motivated!” - Carolyn, Cancer Researcher
  • “My botany professor was the first person to say ‘I see it in you, this stuff is easy for you’. He made me think of life differently in terms of what I could achieve. People would always say ‘whatever you set your mind to you can achieve’ but it wasn’t until working with him that I saw myself in a role as a professor or scientist or whatever I wanted to be!” - Violeta, Business Owner & STEM Initiatives Consultant
  • “My high school physics teacher was the one that brought me into the world of engineering. He showed me that even though it is really hard and its intimidating to do all of this physics and to go into engineering, he always said ‘YOU CAN DO THIS!’ and that is when I decided I wanted to do engineering.”  - Alexandra, Electrical Engineer
  • “When I was in 7th grade, the teacher was great at getting us out and seeing the environment instead of just sitting in a classroom and that helped me to fall in love with environmental sciences!” - Colleen, Senior Aviation Planner (Geo-Environmental focus)

Teachers – take these stories to heart and know that even if you don’t hear about it, your influence can positively shape your students’ lives even years after they were in your classroom.

And for the rest of us, I challenge you to take 5 minutes this week to reach out to a former teacher. Share with them how they positively impacted you and say thank you!

Our teachers have difficult jobs – hearing from former students can make a huge difference in helping them get through tough days! We are all counting on today’s teachers to inspire the next generation of STEM workers so let’s give them the gratitude they well deserve!

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We Need More Diverse Role Models in the Outdoor Industry

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We Need More Diverse Role Models in the Outdoor Industry

I recently met with the team at Camber Outdoors. We were talking about strategies to cultivate a more diverse talent pipeline with programs like REI’s Force of Nature, Paradigm for Parity, and Camber’s own CEO Pledge and Pitchfest in July. In looking deeper at REI’s Force of Nature campaign, one fact caught my eye. 63 percent of women said they could not think of a female outdoor role model. While making diverse role models more accessible will encourage and recruit people to head outdoors, I’d love to extend this focus to inspire more girls to join the outdoor industry workforce where they can be creative, innovative problem solvers.  

In many ways, the outdoor industry suffers from the very same optics issues that the rest of the STEM professions do. People don't understand what opportunities are available to them and the perceptions about who is welcome can be discouraging. I love that the outdoor industry is focused on changing the narrative to specifically show more diversity in outdoor media. But media isn’t just about entertaining people with magazines and movies. It’s also about the education-based media and video content that we put in front of our students every day. And when people think about the outdoor industry – STEM jobs don’t necessarily pop to mind. Deanne Buck, the Executive Director at Camber and outdoor industry role model herself, told me that the outdoor industry is about engineering and technology all wrapped in fun. I think we need to educate the incoming workforce about these opportunities they can pursue that often tap into their passions and add that fun quotient into the workplace.

This month Couragion added an amazing role model from Icelantic Skis – a company with 100% of their skis, apparel and accessories manufactured in the USA and led by another incredible exemplar CEO Annelise Loevlie. Lauren Kwan (see her pic above) is an inspirational role model in technology who owns everything from the brand identity of their organization straight down to creating the graphic design for the ski's top-sheets which is crucial to the product development lifecycle.

Couragion’s mission is to inspire underrepresented students to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math. 87 percent of the role models we feature in our app are traditionally underrepresented in STEM. STEM role models in the outdoor industry can range from industrial engineers who are developing gear to environmental scientists working on conservation initiatives to creatives making the next adventure film. Could this be one of your kids?

 

Sources:

REI's Force of Nature campaign http://blog.rei.com/news/force-of-nature-lets-level-the-playing-field/

Deanne Buck featured in Outdoor Magazine article about diversity https://www.outsideonline.com/2150426/outdoor-industry-too-white

Media & Diversity in the Outdoor Industry article in Outdoor Magazine https://www.outsideonline.com/2172896/why-we-need-women-outdoor-packaging

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Taking A Kid To Work On Thursday? View These Tips!

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Taking A Kid To Work On Thursday? View These Tips!

This Thursday, April 27th, is Take Our Daughters And Sons To Work Day (TODASTW)! It is a wonderful opportunity for kids to see a parent or mentor’s career and work environment first hand.

If you are taking a kid to work or if your students will be participating in the event, you can help them prepare by sharing these tips:

  1. Review The Day’s Plan - Prior to the event, make time to meet with the person that is taking you to work. Ask them about the agenda for the day and have them tell you about the activities you will participate in.
  2. Prepare Your Materials - Bring a notebook and pencil to take notes. Pack a water bottle and snack. Also, take a book or homework so that you have something to do during breaks or downtime during the event.
  3. Practice Your Introduction - You will meet several new people during the day. Upon meeting new people you should shake their hand, greet them and tell them your name. Practice doing this with a friend or family member.
  4. Formulate A Few Questions - Think about questions you can ask the people you meet during the day. Such as: “What is your favorite part of your job?” or “Can you show me something you do in your job?”
  5. Remember Your Manners - The people that you will interact with are volunteering their time to help you learn. Treat them with respect and kindness during the day and send a thank you card or email after the event.

You may download a print version of these tips here and for additional resources, visit the TODASTW website.

If your kids aren’t able to attend a TODASTW event, consider gifting them the Couragion app where they can see careers and work environments first hand via videos.

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Secrets To Math Success

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Secrets To Math Success

I have always LOVED math. From 3rd grade when I rocked the math fact races (the ones where a teacher flipped over a flash card and the first student to shout the answer won). To high school where I took the highest-level math courses offered at my school. To college where I worked as a Calculus tutor to help pay for my tuition. To my career where my favorite tasks are building spreadsheets, crunching numbers, and analyzing data.

So, it really concerns me that one of my daughters (age 8) is already saying things like ‘I hate math’ or ‘I am not good at math’.  I am on a constant quest to figure out how to help her see the benefits of math and to support her in approaching it with a positive, open mind.

In honor of Mathematics and Statistics Awareness Month, I thought I would share one of the studies I have run across during my quest.

The study was sponsored by Moody’s Analytics and the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM). It surveyed 1,680 11th and 12th grade students that excel at Math and asked them about their math and study habits.

When asked which method works best for math, ‘understanding the underlying concepts behind math formulas’ was at the top with 64% of respondents selecting this answer. 23% selected ‘lots of practice at solving math problems’ while just 4% selected ‘memorizing formulas’. And 7% felt ‘applying math to real world problems to help increase understanding’ was important.

On the topic of getting help when they have trouble understanding a math concept, persistence was key. 29% cited that they kept working on it until they figured it out on their own, 25% stated they would ask a teacher for help, and 17% said they would search for answers on the internet.

And when asked about what contributed most to their interest in math, 51% said they were naturally interested, 25% credited a good teacher, and 11% said they were motivated by the prospect of better college and career opportunities.

Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody's Analytics, provided additional insights beyond these findings. He suggests the following to help boost math interest and success:

  • Plant the seeds of interest at a young age by doing such things as playing board games, using online programs and gaming sites, or completing brain teasers
  • Demonstrate how math is used in every day activities such as analyzing sports scores or in calculating retail discounts
  • Convey a message that math can be a lot of fun

I apply several of these strategies with my daughter. For example, she often asks how many years it will be before she gets to go away to college. So reminding her about how important math is for college is especially effective. Also, she enjoys time with older kids. Therefore, I have found it helpful to share with her that teenagers recommend lots of math practice and persistence.

I hope the above tips and information will be helpful for you as you work with those students who also have negative thoughts about math.

Have a related tip? Share it with us via Twitter (@couragion). And for more details on the study – check out this infographic!

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Robotics For Engaging Educational Experiences

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Robotics For Engaging Educational Experiences

This week celebrates the eighth annual National Robotics Week April 8-16, 2017. While the week aims to celebrate technological advancement and advocate for continued R&D, Couragion is especially keen to support the overarching goal of inspiring students to pursue careers in robotics and other Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) fields.

Robotics professionals are specialists across multiple disciplines and bridge computer science, mechanical engineering, and electrical engineering. Because the careers are interdisciplinary in nature, there are many different paths one can pursue academically.

While the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that employment as a robotics engineer is growing slower than average, this can be misleading. The skills perfected through robotics programs like systems and design thinking are needed for many careers of the future. And robotics is revolutionizing technology and engineering jobs in the automotive, agriculture, healthcare and manufacturing industries among others.

Recent Google-Gallup studies have shown that robotics offerings in schools grew 12% year-over-year. In a new Couragion study, we asked educators which computer science concepts were offered at their schools. Notably, 55% of schools offer robotics in the classroom – and robotics was the 2nd most common response. But why the growing interest?

Robotics programs can offer engaging, hands-on experiences for students that encourage collaboration and problem solving. Robotics can be a great way to introduce computer programming to students because the robot provides them with automatic feedback in response to a set of changing instructions that they control. Check out our partner Ten80’s robotics courses, camps and competitions as an example of quality educational programming. 

Do you have any great stories to share about how robotics has inspired your kids? We'd love to hear about it!

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Internship Season – What’s In Demand?

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Internship Season – What’s In Demand?

With intern recruiting season in full swing, I felt it was timely to share an article that I recently read in the New York Times. It is entitled ‘Top 20 Fields for Internships: Get Your Skills On’ and it features the fields and skills most in demand in the intern market. 

STEM fields are featured prominently in the list and include:

  • Engineering
  • Data Analytics
  • Finance
  • IT Development
  • Science & Environment
  • Healthcare
  • Database Administration
  • IT Support
  • Economics

In addition, the list of the most sought after skills is helpful. The list spans both general skills and job specific skills. Top mentions of general skills include project management, customer service, and mathematics.

The above info can help the students or children in your life that are looking for an internship. The list of fields with the most job openings will help them narrow in on where they are most likely to find an internship. While the list of skills can give them ideas of what skills are important to develop and subsequently highlight on their resumes.

Gaining internship experiences is invaluable and can really help differentiate your students/children as they search for full-time jobs. Our role models repeatedly tell us how their internship experience helped them standout in the hiring process. For example, when we asked our Network Planning Engineer role model how difficult it was for her to get a job with AT&T, she replied by saying…

“This job was not as hard for me to find as it was for others because I had an internship before I hired on.”

By the way, if you know a student that has excellent design skills, have them check out our current opening for a Graphic Design Intern.

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STEM Starts Early

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STEM Starts Early

New research entitled STEM starts early: Grounding science, technology, engineering, and math education in early childhood builds a case that the technology revolution has made it critical for all children to understand STEM – even in early childhood, defined as birth through age 8. Conducted by the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop with generous support from the National Science Foundation, the goals were to understand STEM learning challenges and opportunities, to make recommendations that help trigger new research and policy, and to encourage cross sector collaboration that will affect real change.

The findings examine the STEM landscape and the primary players and suggest that families and educators are motivated to introduce STEM learning into early childhood education but that the educational, social, cultural, and economic systems are often lacking. While we can reprioritize research, develop improved teacher preparation programs, and put plans in place to transform early childhood education – there are some fundamentals that can be used to inform and jumpstart initiatives today.  

  • Don’t underestimate the power of family engagement in STEM learning.
  • Strive for STEM fluency by engaging kids in place based and educational digital media experiences.
  • STEM topics can be taught successfully in informal environments like libraries and museums.
  • Parents and teachers alike need to be supported as many lack the confidence to encourage natural STEM abilities in young children.

This research is part of a growing body of studies that are showing a correlation between STEM experiences, improved perceptions of STEM, subsequent success in those subjects, and increased likelihood that those kids will pursue STEM expertise and careers. At Couragion, our mission and research is highly aligned. We inspire kids to pursue STEM pathways through improved awareness and perception of the amazing opportunities in STEM. Let's all make sure that STEM learning starts early! 

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Women in STEM Give Rise to More Women in STEM

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Women in STEM Give Rise to More Women in STEM

GE recently announced their corporate goals of having 20,000 women in STEM roles by 2020 which would require them to hire 5,000 women into STEM positions and achieve a 50:50 representation for all technical entry-level programs over the next few years. With GE being my first employer, the announcement as you might imagine stood out for me. Many companies who care deeply about cultivating the STEM pipeline have announced their own workforce diversity efforts. I was curious how GE’s proclamation and #BalanceTheEquation campaign compared.

First, GE’s new white paper asserts that doubling down on the gender-equal playing field will widen their pool of potential hires and could lead to significant productivity and performance gains. The research points to data from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), The World Economic Forum, and McKinsey – each highlighting how increased female participation in the labor force correlates to economic strength.  

Second, in order to support this announcement, GE recently launched a STEM role model campaign complete with YouTube video called “What If Millie Dresselhaus, Female Scientist, Was Treated Like A Celebrity”. The ad’s details play on pop culture by featuring a nursery with a boom in babies named Millie, a gray-haired emoji available on our smart phones, a boon of Millie imitators and Halloween costumes, and even a “One in a Millie” headline in a superstar news magazine.

Third, the company has put out a multi-point action plan to achieve gender parity and address these ambitious goals. These strategies for both recruiting and retaining talent include the following:

  • Shift the focus of university recruitment efforts to institutions that have a balanced gender mix
  • Develop robust career advancement and leadership development opportunities for diverse employees
  • Implement employee programs and benefits that foster an inclusive culture and environment

I think GE’s #BalanceTheEquation campaign is well conceived. At Couragion, we too strongly understand and advocate for the importance of role models and applaud the aspirational efforts. With dedication and focus, I hope they will attract more women into the STEM fields, nurture more STEM role models like Millie who will inspire future generations, and drive enhanced innovation by keeping women productive and fulfilled within their careers – all exemplifying something Couragion strongly champions. Women in STEM give rise to more women in STEM.

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Boost Kids’ STEM Grades – Simply By Talking!?!

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Boost Kids’ STEM Grades – Simply By Talking!?!

Researchers at University of Chicago, Northwestern University (my alma mater - Go Wildcats!), University of Wisconsin-Madison, and University of Virginia recently published a study titled ‘Utility-Value Intervention With Parents Increases Students’ STEM Preparation and Career Pursuit’.

In the study, the researchers evaluated the long-term effects of an intervention designed to help parents talk with their high school kids about the importance of mathematics and science courses. The researchers provided a group of parents with materials that helped them talk to their children about the relevance of STEM- showing how school subjects factor into specific careers or how math and science make cell phones work, for example.

When comparing the children that had such talks with their parents to a control group, researchers found that the intervention promoted STEM course-taking in high school and improved mathematics and science ACT scores by 12 percentile points. Such factors are associated with increased STEM career pursuit 5 years after the intervention! 

Christopher S. Rozek, the lead researcher, says “Parents are potentially an untapped resource for helping to improve the STEM motivation and preparation of students. We could move the needle by just encouraging parents to have these conversations about the relevance of math and science.”

Do you think that talking to your kids might boost their STEM interest and grades? As the saying goes, ‘talk is cheap’, so this seems worth trying!    

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Take Our Daughters & Sons To Work Day 2017 #COUNTONME

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Take Our Daughters & Sons To Work Day 2017 #COUNTONME

Take Our Daughters & Sons To Work® Day occurs in the US on the 4th Thursday in April. This year it takes place on April 27th and the theme is #COUNTONME. The idea is that parents and guardians take their kids work to expose them to careers held by them and their coworkers and focuses on expanding their future opportunities. When done well, kids return to the classroom full of cool stories about the people they met and the things they learned about themselves.

Last year Couragion joined forces with Hosting.com – a technology company that provides always-on compliant cloud solutions empowering 2000+ global clients. The program included a datacenter tour, sessions on internet safety, a coding academy, and a career exploration workshop. Hosting.com gave the Couragion app as a gift to every daughter and son in attendance to expand their career planning and readiness. It was great to see the kid’s comments inside the application about their experience that day – here are a few for your enjoyment:

“I thought it was like telling my future.”

“I think that this industry would help me learn a lot and would also allow me to support a family with the amount of money I would make.”

“I have no questions but must say that is the best sounding job other than an engineer.”

Is your organization looking for the perfect activity for Take Our Daughters & Sons To Work® Day? Why limit career exploration to only one day a year - with Couragion, your kids can access new career ideas all year long.

There is still time to host your own Couragion career exploration workshop at your company! Contact us at info@couragion.com for more information.

Be sure to use the #COUNTONME hashtag in your social media posts supporting Take Our Daughters & Sons To Work® Day 2017!

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Advice For Future Engineers

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Advice For Future Engineers

As we near the end of Engineers Week, I have been reflecting on the amazing advice our engineer role models provide in their video interviews. The advice is focused on what the engineers would recommend to their younger self had they known they were going to pursue a career in engineering. This is the perfect information to share with students or children as you wrap up and reflect on your Engineers Week activities.

  • ‘If I had known I was going to be an engineer, I would have taken more vocational technology type classes to get more hands-on experience – such as welding or manufacturing. And, if you ever get the chance to take tours of plants or commercial buildings and can actually look at how equipment operates it really brings it all home and makes sense of things that you learn in the classroom.’ - Mandy Redfield, Mechanical Engineer
  • ‘A work ethic, interest in the subject, and being able to solve a problem in ways that other people wouldn’t figure out are great skills to build for being an engineer.’ - Natalie Mujica Schwahn, Engineer Technician - Physics/Laser 
  • ‘Sometimes people have to give you feedback, its not an attack against you, it is just feedback, so take it with a grain of salt.’ - Alexandra Kaufhold, Electrical Engineer
  • ‘Important high school classes for becoming an engineer are algebra, trigonometry, calculus, and any exposure to programming and coding.’ - Raymond Jose, Wireless Network Engineer
  • ‘We require a lot of critical thinking, creativity, and team player abilities – find experiences that help you build those skills. Physics, chemistry, biology and advanced math classes are key in high school. About a month ago, I had to dig into my college notes from linear algebra and numerical analysis to figure out a problem at work – you will use the information you learn in your high school and college classes.’ - Sibel Clark, Spacecraft Flight Software Engineer
  • ‘I would have tried a little harder to meet folks involved in the medical field and I could have shadowed a surgeon or a doctor to see what kind of tools they are using and materials they are interacting with. That way I would have learned more about the needs in the medical field for the devices that I am interested in making now. I’d also tell my high school and college self to do things like study abroad or learn a different language to differentiate myself.’ - Chelsea Magin, Product Management Director, Biomedical Engineering

I love these sage suggestions - covering everything from what classes to take to what skills to build to what extracurricular activities to pursue.

Are you an engineer? If so, what advice would you add? Are you a parent or teacher? If so, what recommendations do you think will resonate most with your children/students?

Enjoy the last two days of Engineers Week! I'm wrapping up my week by taking my daughters to University of Colorado's Family Engineering Day. My daughters are looking forward to building robots, inventing in the maker space, and developing a product with the 3D printers.

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Are you ready for Digital Learning Day? #DLDay

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Are you ready for Digital Learning Day? #DLDay

Instructional technology programs in the classroom and after the bell are improving student outcomes across our nation. In 2012, Digital Learning Day was started as a venue to showcase educators dedicated to digital learning and to spread those innovative teaching practices. The nationwide celebration held on February 23rd this year is an effort to engage students and empower educators through the effective use of digital tools to improve the learning experience in K-12 education.

In case you need help selecting some digital learning activities, here are a few actionable and useful ideas that will extend beyond just the #DLDay.

  1. Create a Classroom Run Blog – Being a blogger used to be just a hobby but for many people around the globe, it’s become a career. Blogging gives students a voice and a way to build real marketable skills. Check out this post Blogging? It's Elementary, My Dear Watson! for suggested tips and the digital tools to make it happen.  
  2. Create a Personal or Group Research Practice – Students and teachers can save online resources and share their research with members of their groups. And the bonus is that it doesn’t require an email to sign up and use the link sharing and social bookmarking service! Organize Your Research with Diigo (Part 1 of 3) will give you a quick primer – but I’d also check out Parts 2 and 3 for specific tips for group collaboration and K-12 teachers.

To further take part, you can share your digital learning activities and lessons with others.

Tell your stories by registering your #DLDay activities here:  http://www.digitallearningday.org/register-your-event/

You can also participate in live Twitter chats throughout #DLDay to learn from others. Don’t forget to use the #DLDay hashtag to monitor the conversations and tag your own contributions. Mark your calendar! 

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Can Role Models Make Girls Feel Smarter?

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Can Role Models Make Girls Feel Smarter?

An article kept popping up in my social media channels last week – it was titled ‘Girls feel less 'smart' than boys by age 6, research says’. As a mom to two girls, ages 6 and 7, you can imagine that it caught my attention!

The article highlights these research findings based on experiments with 400 children…

  • At the age of 5, girls viewed themselves as being just as capable as their male counterparts in terms of brilliance
  • By the age of 6, girls already consider boys more likely to show brilliance and more suited to "really, really smart" activities
  • One theory for this switch is that it coincides with the age that kids have more formal schooling and have much more exposure to cultural messages regarding the types of activities that are for really smart kids
  • Researchers say that a strong female role model has shown in some instances to "inoculate" girls from this social stereotype

I’m thrilled that we are helping change perceptions with our STEM role models – 72% are female and all of them are brilliant. They are doing ‘really, really smart’ activities such as curing cancer, sending a spacecraft to Jupiter, protecting the environment, or teaching the next generation of STEM workers!

Being a lover of research, I decided to ask my own daughters some of the same questions posed in the study.  Here were their responses…

  • From my 6 year old - "Both boys and girls are smart and can do the same things."
  • From my 7 year old - "Actually I think girls have bigger brains than boys – they just didn’t know that back in the old days!"

There you have it! Their responses counter the research and I hope that is a bit in part because they have strong female role models in their lives - role models that love STEM and help to STEM brainwash my daughters! Do you have similarly aged kids? If so, ask them for their thoughts on this topic - I would love to hear what they say.

P.S. A special shout out and photo credit to my cousin Deb – the photo in this blog post is her daughter doing a ‘really, really smart’ activity of building a robot! Deb herself is a super star role model – she is an Industrial/Organizational Psychologist with a PhD and she does an amazing job of exposing her daughter and son to all things STEM.

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February Career & STEM Events – Are You Ready?

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February Career & STEM Events – Are You Ready?

February is chock full of career and STEM events that can be used to complement your curriculum and expand students’ knowledge. Below is a list of the events along with resources that you can use to participate. Do you know of another February event or a resource for one of the events below? If so, send those to me and I will add them to this post – info at couragion.com.

 

Career and Technical Education (CTE) Month® - Month of February

Created by the Association for Career & Technical Education (ACTE), this is a month-long public awareness campaign designed to let schools inform others of their innovation and excellence in CTE and to raise awareness of the role CTE plays in career readiness and national economic success. On the ACTE website, you can find several ideas on how to get involved from doing social media outreach to engaging with policy makers to working with local business leaders.  At your school, you can host a CTE demonstration day to attract more students into the program or to share your program’s success with the local community. There are several examples of such events on ACTE’s Success Stories webpage

 

National School Counseling Week - February 6 – 10, 2017

The theme for the National School Counseling Week 2017 is "School Counseling: Helping Students Realize Their Potential". This event is sponsored by the American School Counseling Association (ASCA) and highlights the tremendous impact school counselors can have in helping students achieve school success and plan for a career. The ASCA website has resources that focus on publicizing the benefits of school counseling via social media. While this is important, I think it is critical to pair this with student-focused activities during the week. Here are some of our ideas:

  • Set aside time for students to do extra career exploration and self-reflection during the week (of course you can use our app to do that).
  • Host short workshops that focus on internships or resume writing or college application completion.
  • Make a push to get as many students as possible to meet in-person with counselors that week.
  • Integrate mind and body wellness activities into the week such as a yoga session or a healthy eating/cooking demonstration.

 

National Engineers Week - February 19 – 25, 2017

As a former mechanical engineer, I am thrilled that this week-long celebration exists. The organizers cite that the goal of the week is to: a) celebrate how engineers make a difference in our world, b) increase public dialogue about the need for engineers, and c) bring engineering to life for kids, educators, and parents. Here are several recommendations to help students to explore engineering during the week:

  1. Expose students to a diverse set of engineering role models. This article features famous African-American engineers while this list highlights Hispanic leaders in technology and business – many of whom are engineers. Our app also features diverse role models – 87% are female and/or people of color. And we cover a broad range of engineering jobs – mechanical, electrical, biomedical, chemical, robotics, etc.
  2. Teach students about the engineering design process which is helpful for any type of engineering job. NASA has a great resource for this that includes videos and activity guides. Using simple materials and supplies, the NASA lessons help kids to understand critical engineering steps - asking a question, imagining a solution, planning a design, creating that model, experimenting and testing that model, then taking time to improve the original solution.    
  3. Help students explore their own interests and determine what type of engineering fits those interests. Lockheed Martin has a fun quiz that students can complete to determine what type of engineering best suits them. Or, of course, our app enables students to view engineering jobs, complete self-reflections, and then see which jobs are a best-fit for their interests and values.
  4. Encourage students to use their screen time to view media that is related to engineering. For example, National Geographic has a series called Mega Factories that show viewers how engineers build all types of products from Telsa vehicles to Ikea sofas. Or, Discovery features the show How It’s Made. This series highlights how products are engineered. And with a variety of products from food to bicycles to fabric, students can find something that fits their interests.

 

Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day - February 23, 2017

This is a special day set aside to introduce girls to the fascinating world of engineering and to turn them on to engineering & technology careers. DiscoverE has many resources that you can use to celebrate this day:

  • A messaging guide with tips on what language to use to help girls think positively about engineering.
  • A selection of fun, hands-on engineering activities.
  • A role model video featuring an engineering student at Iowa State University.

This event aligns well with our mission of boosting the diversity in STEM – including increasing females that pursue STEM careers. Seventy-Two percent of our role models are female, making our app a perfect resource for girls to use on February 23 and throughout the year.

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Promoting Early Parent-Teacher Career Conversations For Our Students

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Promoting Early Parent-Teacher Career Conversations For Our Students

Per the National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability, families who learn about and begin the career development process with their youth early are better prepared to support their students in choosing and building a bright future over the course of their career. Our partner schools agree and so do we. Some of our teachers started to share with us that they were using the Couragion educator application to share student progress with their parents during parent-teacher conferences. When we found out, we offered to create a new feature meant to enhance the parent-teacher interaction. This new feature offers parents insight into their kid’s best fit careers, related career clusters, and career related goals among other things – with a whole host of benefits.  

Parent-teacher conversations become enthusiastic and fresh – and whole lot less redundant. Teachers focus on the interests and preferences of their students and parents gain insights about what’s happening in the classroom. The focus creates positive and personal parent-teacher interactions.

Additionally, parents have something to take away from the meeting to discuss with their kids that isn’t just about performance feedback alone. What if your daughter is interested in being a food scientist? What if you learned that your son wants to pursue a career in cyber security? With this information, family and their advocates can play a more informed and critical role in career planning and youth development. 

Technology like Couragion can enhance home-school communications. And when parents and teachers communicate more effectively, they can better support students in their quest of self-awareness and career discovery. 

 

Source:

http://www.ncwd-youth.info/understanding-the-new-vision-for-career-development-the-role-of-family

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How Can You Help The OSTP?

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How Can You Help The OSTP?

OSTP stands for the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.  The OSTP is tasked with providing the President and his senior staff with advice on the scientific and technological aspects of all issues before them and ensuring that Federal investments in science and technology (S&T) are making the greatest possible contribution to economic prosperity, public health, environmental quality, and national security.

Last week, OSTP released its Exit Memo for the incoming administration. The memo focused on three main areas – highlights of President Obama’s leadership in the areas of scientific discovery and technological innovation, a summary of the S&T frontiers that American enterprise will advance in the future, and a request for all Americans to work on 10 Actions that will drive continued innovation and progress across those frontiers.

The 10 Actions covered a variety of topics from recruiting top S&T talent in the federal government to supporting entrepreneurs to increasing access to high-quality STEM education.  Depending upon your job, several of the Actions might be hard to contribute to, but the one Action that is relatively easy for any American to impact is Action 5 - Improve Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and Mitigate the Impacts of Bias.

With Action 5, the OSTP makes the point that innovation is fortified by tapping into the unparalleled diversity of the American people and the diversity of ideas that they generate. The Office emphasizes that diversity on teams leads to better outcomes and calls on us to draw upon a diverse community in building a STEM workforce for the 21st century. Finally, the OSTP shares that popular entertainment media can influence the public’s perceptions of STEM fields and careers with the use of diverse and compelling STEM images, stories, and positive messages.

The last part of Action 5 is especially pertinent to those in education. You can support this Action by paying attention to the examples of scientists, engineers, mathematicians or technologists that you share during your lessons. You can make sure that the images you share or the guest speakers you invite into the classroom are diverse in gender, ethnicity, and age. For non-educators, you can vote with your eyeballs! Select media options that show a diverse set of individuals in STEM and leadership positions and avoid programming that perpetuates stereotypes.

This Action is particularly important to Couragion - our company was built with the goal of boosting the number and diversity of individuals that pursue STEM careers.  We know that in order for a diverse audience to believe that they are capable of succeeding in STEM, they need to see role models that reflect their own gender and ethnicity. Today, 87% of our STEM role models are underrepresented in STEM and we plan to continue this diversity focus as we move forward. 

What can you do to positively support OSTP’s Action 5? To learn more about Action 5, and the other elements of OSTP’s Exit Memo, visit the White House website.

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Encouraging the Next Generation of Data Scientists

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Encouraging the Next Generation of Data Scientists

Long before Harvard Business Review called data scientist the sexiest career of the century, I was attracted to the data sciences. In my first job out of college I was hired as a database marketer at GE only a few months after BusinessWeek first ever used the term ‘database marketing’. The emerging discipline was a notable milestone in the history of data science.  I lobbied hard to be selected as a Six Sigma Black Belt, went on to lead a predictive analytics organization, and was the CMO of a discovery-based analytics software company. You can start to understand why data and outcomes have always been core to Couragion’s vision and mission.

Data science is interdisciplinary – and one of the fastest growing STEM career fields out there. It crosses industry verticals and combines math, stats, and information and computer science. There is a shortage of data scientists across many sectors. To inspire students to pursue this career path, Couragion features some incredible data scientist role models – each of whom have taken different paths to find a career they love. Here’s a quick profile of a few of our data scientists making a difference every day:

Vanessa Diaz

  • Role:  Market Insights at Transamerica
  • Industry:  Financial Services
  • Degrees:  Finance + Computer Science
  • Favorite Part of Job:  Watching organizations be positively transformed by data

Jose Dozal

  • Role:  Web Development, Data Visualization at AT&T
  • Industry:  Telecommunications
  • Degrees:  Industrial Engineering + Data Science (latter complements of AT&T’s tuition reimbursement program)
  • Favorite Part of Job:  Every day is different with a variety of tasks

Hayley Davis

  • Role:  Data Scientist at Oracle
  • Industry:  Information Technology
  • Degrees:  Mathematics and Economics
  • Favorite Part of Job:  Mix of technical analysis and client interactions

Did you know Glassdoor rates data scientist the best job in America for 2016? And for the past 2 years running data scientists have been rated in the top 3 jobs for work and personal life balance? There are boot camps, certificates, and degree programs popping up everywhere to prepare the incoming workforce. Help our students understand how rewarding these career paths can be. I encourage you to reach out to Couragion for help!

 

Forbes:  Very Short History of Data Science

http://www.forbes.com/sites/gilpress/2013/05/28/a-very-short-history-of-data-science/#6dede5c769fd

 

 

 

 

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2016 Best & Worst Master’s Degrees

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2016 Best & Worst Master’s Degrees

With 2017 right around the corner, many of you may be contemplating New Year’s resolutions. Often those include ways to improve yourself – such as eating healthier or seeking additional education opportunities. If you, or someone you know, is considering a resolution to pursue a Master’s degree, then check out Forbes’ article entitled ‘The Best And Worst Master's Degrees For Jobs In 2016’.

In developing the list, Forbes considered a variety of factors – such as pay growth from early to mid-career, job satisfaction, stress, meaning derived from the work, and the projected employment growth of jobs associated with each degree.

The top 10 best degrees are all STEM-focused subjects:

  • Science – Speech-Language Pathology, Communication Sciences & Disorders, Physical Therapy, Physician Assistant, and Occupational Therapy
  • Technology – Management Information Systems and Computer Science
  • Engineering – Software Engineering
  • Math – Biostatistics and Statistics

The top 10 worst degrees have much less emphasis on STEM-related subjects:

  1. Criminal Justice
  2. Sports Management
  3. Construction Management
  4. Library Science
  5. Journalism
  6. Art History
  7. Taxation
  8. Elementary Education
  9. Theology
  10. Architecture

Yet another data point highlighting the importance of STEM skills for children, students, and even yourself! So, as you strategize on your resolutions for 2017 don’t forget to evaluate any education-related items with a STEM lens. And from all of us at Couragion, may you have an amazing 2017 and achieve all of your resolutions!

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A Year of CS Action

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A Year of CS Action

In concert with Computer Science Education Week, the White House has released the Fact Sheet: A Year of Action Supporting Computer Science for All. It highlights the past year’s momentum in developing new CS curriculum, expanding the access of that curriculum to more students across the nation, and the groundswell of advocacy and policy to support these efforts. This fact sheet also details the new actions to expand broader support of Computer Science for All and STEM learning opportunities. I’d encourage you to give it a read in to be aware of the efforts in your region or nationally that you can take advantage of. Here are just a few initiatives that you should acquaint yourselves with:

  • National Science Foundation (NSF) will invest $20 million in FY 2017 to an initiative called Computer Science for All: Researcher Practitioner Partnerships program to provide K-8 teachers with the preparation to integrate computer science and computational thinking into their classrooms.
  • U.S. Department of Education's (ED) 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) is expanding to reach students at more than 200 sites across 25 states to provide access to high-quality, hands-on, inquiry-based STEM activities and to enhance college and career readiness.

All this momentum is crucial in preparing our students for the workforce of the future. Teaching students to code and to gain computational thinking skills are critical, but to be really inspired to pursue CS, students also need to understand CS career paths. Couragion gives you an easy way to let students see CS careers firsthand. We work with schools to integrate career exploration directly into Computer Science classrooms. You can hear from Nick Arvidson – one of Couragion’s partners – about how it works!

2016 certainly has been a year of action for Couragion. Happy Computer Science Education Week to you!

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