COMET • Vol. 13, No. 14 – 19 November 2012


“iON Future” Seeks to Spark Interest in STEM–Web Launch is Tomorrow (November 20)

Source: Change the Equation (CTEq)
URL (Webcast)

Launched in September 2010, Change the Equation (CTEq) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, CEO-led initiative designed to mobilize the business community to improve the quality of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) learning in the United States. CTEq has helped its 100+ members connect and align their philanthropic and advocacy efforts in a synergistic way.

At 10 a.m. PST on Tuesday, November 20, CTEq will present a live, interactive, 35-minute Web launch of iON Future, a suite of free online learning games designed for middle school to early high school students to spark their interest in STEM careers. To join the Webcast, register at  Teachers are encouraged to view the Webcast with their students and to promote student engagement in iON Future activities.

Webcast details: The iON Future game launch will showcase a variety of STEM careers. Hosted at “Mission Control” of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratories (JPL) in Pasadena (home of the Mars rover Curiosity) and featuring STEM professionals from around the country, students will wrestle with some STEM challenges faced every day in the workplace. The event will virtually transport viewers from Mission Control to several locations where STEM knowledge is needed for success:

(a)  GlaxoSmithKline – Collegeville, PA – Showcases important molecular research on pharmaceutical products using 3-D imaging technologies

(b)  Rolls Royce – Indianapolis, IN – Students will see the manufacturing facilities for jet engines.

(c) Viacom – New York, N.Y. – Students will get an inside look at how STEM shapes entertainment production.

The webcast and game will demonstrate that STEM is “cool” and that STEM is everywhere. iON Future can be used in group or individual settings as a follow-up to the interactive Webcast to enable students to further explore their interests in STEM careers.  Over 100 such careers are profiled in iON Future. For a listing, see  A learning guide for iON Future, currently in draft form, is available at  This guide provides a helpful overview of the various features of iONE Future.


“Monitoring Progress Toward Successful K-12 STEM Education.”
URL (Report)

Last Thursday (11/15/2012), the National Research Council (NRC) released a new report, “Monitoring Progress Toward Successful K-12 STEM Education.” The report builds on previous work in this area (“Successful K-12 STEM Education: Identifying Effective Approaches in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics,” published in 2011 — see The current report is a response by the NRC to a call from Congress to the National Science Foundation (NSF) to establish key indicators for measuring improvements to the K-12 STEM education system.

In response, a committee was convened and developed 14 key indicators linked to the 2011 report’s recommendations and related to students’ access to quality learning, educators’ capacity, and policy and funding initiatives in STEM (see page 2 of the Executive Summary in the draft report: In the report, the committee addresses the need for research and data that can be used to monitor progress in K-12 STEM education and make informed decisions about its improvement.

The committee’s intent is for efforts to be undertaken now to establish a system for collecting information on all 14 indicators. However, if resources for the monitoring system are too limited to support full implementation, the committee has identified six indicators as being of the highest priority:

– Indicator 2: Time allocated to teach science in grades K-5.

– Indicator 4: Adoption of instructional materials in grades K-12 that embody Common Core State Standards in Mathematics (CCSSM) and A Framework for K-12 Science Education.

– Indicator 5: Classroom coverage of content and practices in CCSSM and A Framework for K-12 Science Education.

– Indicator 6: Teachers’ science and mathematics content knowledge for teaching.

– Indicator 9: Inclusion of science in federal and state accountability systems.

– Indicator 14: Federal funding for the research identified in “Successful K-12 STEM Education.”

The report’s authors state that the moment is ripe for addressing some of the challenges associated with STEM teaching and learning, particularly for groups that are underrepresented in the STEM fields. They note that almost all states and three U.S. Territories have adopted the Common Core State Standards in Mathematics. In addition, A Framework for K-12 Science Education, published by the National Research Council earlier this year (, lays the foundation for new science standards that emphasize conceptual understanding of key ideas in each discipline, greater coherence across grade levels, elements of engineering design and technology, and the practices of science and mathematics. Together with educational reforms around the country, the changes espoused in these documents have the potential to engage students in ways that better prepare them for postsecondary study and for STEM careers, as well as prepare graduates to participate in an increasingly global and technologically-driven society and to address current and future societal challenges.

“This report is a tremendous resource for advancing STEM education in K-12 schools,” said Joan Ferrini-Mundy, NSF’s assistant director for Education and Human Resources. “We look forward to working with our colleagues within and beyond NSF towards the goals laid out in the report.”


The Mathematical Education of Teachers II

Source: Conference Board of the Mathematical Sciences

The Mathematical Education of Teachers II report was published this month and is now available for free download from the Web site above.

From the Preface:

This report is a resource for those who teach mathematics and statistics to PreK-12 mathematics teachers, both future teachers and those who already teach in our nation’s schools. The report makes recommendations for the mathematics that teachers should know and how they should come to know that mathematics. It urges greater involvement of mathematicians and statisticians in teacher education so that the nation’s mathematics teachers have the knowledge, skills, and dispositions needed to provide students with a mathematics education that ensures high school graduates are college- and career-ready as envisioned by the Common Core State Standards.

Mathematics teacher education is a complex, interdisciplinary enterprise requiring knowledge of teaching and learning as well as knowledge of mathematics. This argues strongly for a partnership between mathematics educators and those who teach mathematics…

This report draws on the experience and knowledge of the past decade to:

* Update the 2001 Mathematical Education of Teachers report’s recommendations for the mathematical preparation of teachers at all grade levels: elementary, middle, and high school.

* Address the professional development of teachers of mathematics.

* Discuss the mathematical knowledge needed by teachers at different grade levels and by others who teach mathematics such as elementary mathematics specialists, special education teachers, and early childhood educators.

At the same time, MET II reiterates and elaborates themes of the first MET report:

* There is intellectual substance in school mathematics.

* Proficiency with school mathematics is necessary but not sufficient mathematical knowledge for a teacher.

* The mathematical knowledge needed for teaching differs from that of other professions.

* Mathematical knowledge for teaching can and should grow throughout a teacher’s career.

Chapter 1 describes these themes in more detail, outlining the mathematical issues that underlie the recommendations in this report, including the structure and content of the Common Core. Chapter 2 summarizes empirical findings that underlie these recommendations and connects them with the current educational context. Chapter 3 gives recommendations for strengthening the mathematical education of teachers in the United States, with respect to the mathematics that teachers should learn and the roles of mathematicians and statisticians in their learning…

Chapters 4, 5, and 6 give recommendations for the mathematical preparation and professional development of elementary, middle grades, and high school teachers. These will be the chapters of greatest importance for those engaged in teacher preparation or professional development.

Appendix A gives a short annotated list with two types of entries: recent reports whose conclusions inform the recommendations in this document, and sources of information about accreditation and licensure.

The Common Core State Standards have two categories: those concerning mathematical content and those concerning mathematical practice. Appendix B gives an overview of the content standards. The Standards for Mathematical Practice are given in Appendix C.

Web resources associated with this report are located on the Web site of the Conference Board of the Mathematical Sciences:  These are intended as an initial collection of relevant information rather than as a continuously updated reference…

The audience for this report includes all who teach mathematics to teachers–mathematicians, statisticians, and mathematics educators–and all who are responsible for the mathematical education of teachers–department chairs, educational administrators, and policy-makers at the national, state, school-district, and collegiate levels…


George Lucas Sells Lucasfilm Ltd. to Disney for $4.05 Billion: Pledges to Give Proceeds to Education



Two years ago, George Lucas signed the Giving Pledge, promising to donate the majority of his wealth to philanthropy. When he sold Lucasfilm Ltd. to The Walt Disney Company on October 30 for $4.05 billion, he stated that the majority of the proceeds would go toward education. There is speculation that he may channel a large portion of these funds to the George Lucas Education Foundation (GLEF), which he established in 1991. The foundation is dedicated to the improvement of K-12 education, facilitated through its website,

In a statement on the Edutopia Web site, George Lucas shares the following:

“Education is the foundation of our democracy — the stepping-stones for our youth to reach their full potential. My own experience in public school was quite frustrating. I was often bored. Occasionally, I had a teacher who engaged my curiosity and motivated me to learn. Those were the teachers I really loved. I wondered, ‘Why can’t school be engaging all of the time?’ As a father, I’ve felt the imperative to transform schooling even more urgently.

“Traditional education can be extremely isolating — the curriculum is often abstract and not relevant to real life, teachers and students don’t usually connect with resources and experts outside of the classroom, and many schools operate as if they were separate from their communities.

“Project-based learning, student teams working cooperatively, children connecting with passionate experts, and broader forms of assessment can dramatically improve student learning. New digital multimedia and telecommunications can support these practices and engage our students. And well-prepared educators are critical.

“Our Foundation documents and disseminates the most exciting classrooms where these innovations are taking place. By shining the spotlight on these inspiring teachers and students, we hope others will consider how their work can promote change in their own schools.

“Our Foundation staff is eager to know about your work in improving schools and what you think of our site…”

In his Giving Pledge letter, Lucas wrote:

“When I was in high school, I felt like I was in a vacuum, biding time.  I was curious, but bored.  It was not an atmosphere conducive to learning.  I was fortunate that I found my path and my language.

“It’s scary to think of our education system as little better than an assembly line with producing diplomas as its only goal.  Once I had the means to effect change in this arena, it became my passion to do so – to promote active, life-long learning…

“The focus of GLEF has been to share educational innovations–cooperative and project learning, mentorship, parental involvement, and technological advances.  This all comes straight from those on the front lines, from teachers who are putting these methods into practice.  We are the facilitators.  Our goal has been to showcase bold successes and inspire others to further increase the appetite for education.  Our hope is that administrators, teachers, and parents will see the power of these collective efforts and join the fight for wider reforms…”

“As technology changes, so do students.  So should classrooms, and so should our methods of teaching.  In a few short years, connectivity has gone from a technological novelty to a daily necessity.  It’s how our culture communicates, and our children are at the forefront of its use.  Understanding those tools–and how to integrate them into learning — is an integral step in defining our future.

“My pledge is to the process; as long as I have the resources at my disposal, I will seek to raise the bar for future generations of students of all ages.

“I am dedicating the majority of my wealth to improving education.  It is the key to the survival of the human race…”


“Education Technology: The Revolution in Digital & Distance Learning”

Source: STEMconnector

On November 28, from 10 a.m.-Noon PT, STEMconnector will host a Town Hall conference call entitled, “Education Technology: The Revolution in Digital & Distance Learning.” The two-hour Town Hall will cover developments in grades K-12, Post-Secondary Education & Continuing Education, Innovation & Policy, and Content Personalization/Data Analytics. STEMconnector has assembled a number of leaders in each of these fields to present on the future of Education Technology & Digital Learning, as well as the impact across the educational spectrum.