Showing posts with label STEM. Show all posts
Showing posts with label STEM. Show all posts

Friday, April 11, 2014

The Navy Turns Science Fiction into Modern Technology

What does the Navy of the future look like? New technology has changed the fundamental development pattern of one of the world’s strongest military organizations. The navy ship of the future will be difficult to detect by radar, equipped with lasers, powered by ocean water, and able to launch projectiles with electromagnetic waves. It is no longer science fiction but is currently being run and adapted to modern warfare.  The wave of the future is one of constant development and transformation.

This week the Navy will christen its most advanced destroyer called the USS Zumwalt (1). The canopy of the ship is built on angles which make it difficult to spot on radar. Its impact and detection would look more like a fishing boat to the electronic eye. It will also carry the Advanced Gun Systems (AGS) which fires computer-guided and self-propelling shells that can reach three times the distance of an ordinary destroyer. 

In addition, over the next few years lasers (LaWs) will be installed on some ships. They will afford the ability to shoot aircraft and small water vessels at a price of a dollar. Unlike other small craft defense mechanisms, it can be used to pinpoint the engine, specific location, or even person (2). This creates the ability to handle smaller objects with precision and cost effectiveness.

Let’s not forget that in 2016 an electromagnetic gun will be tested on fast paced seafaring ships. The gun cuts expenses of projectiles to $25,000 from $1 million (3). The ships will store more projectiles, shoot faster, and do it cheaper than conventional methods. With a simple electromagnetic pulse a projectile is launched seven times the speed of sound and carry the strength of missiles.
Of course we cannot forget the development of perpetual fuel made from sea water. A new catalytic converter can transform carbon dioxide and hydrogen from seawater into a liquid hydrocarbon fuel (4). Navy researchers will be working over the next few years to produce the fuel in quantity on land and then make it commercially available to its ships. This cuts cost of fuel to $3-$6 per gallon. 

The military of the near future will be cheaper, pinpoint resources better, conserve costs and do more with less. It will be powerful and unmatched in the waters. Ships will sail to the furthest ends of the earth without needing to refuel and micro-manufacturing will ensure they can do more with less space. It will be a military that uses science to enhance its mechanical and human abilities. Robotics and miniaturization will become the name of the game. None of this is possible without the fundamentals of STEM oriented education, the scientific mind, and the human capital to make it all possible. Cheers to the American Military!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

San Diego Science Festival Draws Interested Crowds

Hosted at Petco Park from March 15th to the 22nd science lovers of all ages made their way down to the park to learn about science and learning. The event was free and drew thousands of adults and children who learned about the world through organizations such as NASA. A variety of themes were offered that included life sciences, astronomy, aquatic, biology, technology, and more. 

The reptile exhibit seemed to draw some of the largest crowds. People rallied around the stage to hear about the various reptiles, their features, and how they lived in their environments. The presenter provided a live reptile for the audience to ponder. 

The nation suffers from a lack of scientists and jobs that employ those scientists. Many jobs require analytical and research capabilities even when they are not specifically hired as such. Introducing young people to STEM allows for a greater social awareness and expectation that such learning is a necessary part of being an adult. Making learning fun helps children attach their identity to these concepts. 

The event was busy and it appears that a large percentage of society is accepting of science knowledge in their lives. Enhancing such festivals and events in the lives of people is an important function of responsible living. The organizations who supported the event believe in their social responsibilities and encourage volunteerism. 

Total participants for 2014 was over 30,000

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Is the Higher Education Recession Over Or Just Starting?

A survey by Inside Higher Education shows a fundamental difference in economic assumptions of governors and college presidents with those who run the academic affairs such as provosts. Some are hailing the end of the economic downswing in 2008 while those who run the academics do not feel that this downturn is over. The perspectives are interesting and offer some insight to the debates going on in higher education. 

According to the survey only 5% feel strongly that the economic downturn is over at their institutions. Another 18% feel that for the most part it is over. A total of 21% strongly disagree and another 37% somewhat disagree. Only 26% of private nonprofit institutions agree that the recession for their schools is over. Public institutions were even more likely to believe the downturn will continue. 

The provosts feel that concepts such as MOOCs are unlikely to produce meaningful change. There will also be greater accountability on higher education to match effectiveness with finance. They are unenthusiastic about proposed changes for measuring school effectiveness at a national level but are excited about competency based programs.

Programs like STEM, professional degrees, and online programs are likely to receive more investment. It appears that schools are trying to receive additional funds and allocating those funds to programs that are likely to draw and retain students. Faculty and administrators have a divide in the way they view higher education and the changes that are needed.

The study was based on 842 provosts and has a margin of error around 3%. You may want to read the report yourself as there is a greater amount of information it offers. You can find some dissonance of perspective based upon where one sits within the higher education economic chain. For example, college presidents view the situation much differently than provosts and faculty members.

The report is a mixed bag. Certainly there is an adjustment in the perceived value of some programs versus others. Who can argue with STEM? Online programs are becoming a more common way to augment costs and attract students. Even though MOOCs have limited value they should be seen as higher education experimentation and may lead to either new adaptations or beneficial for continual professional education where a defined degree is not needed. In any event, the cost is rising and this is going to eventually run into the brick wall of public financing. Perhaps this will be when changes occur at a quickening pace.

Read Report

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Improving STEM Graduation Rates in the U.S.

STEM education is becoming more important for nations that desire to foster their innovative flames for higher economic development.  The problem is that the U.S. is falling behind many countries in their approach to the basics of scientific development. Research by Soldner, et. al (2012) offers some solutions for encouraging STEM students to continue their goals until graduation. 

One out of seven American students, one out of two students in China and one out of three students in Singapore are  engage in core STEM education such as science, math, and engineering (National Academies, 2007). The shift marks an unsustainable path for American innovation and ingenuity that may rear its ugly head 30 years down the road. As a nation, we are losing our dominance on multiple fronts starting deeply in our educational progressiveness. 

Students who start college in the STEM fields often leave for other fields based on a whole range of reasons related from skill to interest. Minorities and women are even less represented in such fields. It is believed that our primary and secondary educational systems are to blame for the inability to prepare students to study and graduate in the scientific fields. 

Social Cognitive Theory is one way in which to understand how students prepare, persist, and graduate in such fields. The three social cognitive variables are self-efficacy, outcome expectations, and goals. Students who are likely to stay in programs believe they can, expect positive results, and believe their goals will be achieved. 

The researchers collaborated with approximately 46 universities to understand how life-learn programs and traditional residency programs influence the graduation rates of STEM students. They found that those who were part of live-learn programs with others of similar STEM fields were more likely to graduate than those who were living with the general population. They also found that those who were not in the core STEM programs did not receive much of a benefit from live-learn programs. 

The report does not discuss online education. However, it is possible envision how personal profiles, cohorts in the STEM fields, and a pseudo-online community networking could influence the graduation rates of online STEM students. Through personal expression with peers, students can develop personal relationships that supports them throughout their academic time.

National Science Board. (2007). A national plan for addressing the critical needs of U.S. science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education system. Arlington, VA: National Science Foundation.

Soldner, et. al. (2012). Supporting students intentions to persist in STEM disciplines: the role of living-learning programs among other social-cognitive factors. Journal of Higher Education, 83 (3).