Category Archives: STEM

Pick Your Panels: Vote Us Onto the Official SXSWedu Line-Up

We need your help! Julie Evans is featured in two proposals for SXSWedu 2015’s Panel Picker, where educators can cast their votes for the most compelling ideas and ultimately shape the conference line-up. Voting ends on September 5th so make sure to give our sessions a “thumbs up” – you’ll need to create a SXSW username and password if you don’t already have one, but the process is simple and free! Check out the first session below:
Session one – Paying it Forward: Leveraging Today’s Female Voices
This panel brings together female change agents intentionally gathered from across the ed tech space to examine the unique role women play at this nexus of education and technology. Research has demonstrated that the today’s young girls and women need role models in technology fields to develop self-efficacy in these fields. Whether you are examining how to further your own voice, grow your PLN, or mentor the next great generation of female ed tech leaders, this is a “must attend” conversation.

Additional Supporting Materials

Questions Answered

  1. Exploration of the presence, role, and level of influence of female voices in education. While women have dominated the teaching profession for over the past century, the role of women as technology leaders within education is still emerging.
  2. Interactive dialogue between panelists and attendees to explore multiple paths to ed tech leadership, including through university doctoral work, school district leadership, lending thought influence to agencies, corporate America, and publications.
  3. Examination of the unique role women play at the intersection of education and technology. The experiences of this diverse panel of leaders will provide invaluable input into new best practices for supporting young girls and women in this field.


Don’t forget – you have until September 5th to give us a “thumbs up!”

Lego & National Instruments Promote “Hands-On” STEM Education

Lego, the toy-block company we all know and love, has teamed up with National Instruments to provide a more hands-on approach to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. By teaming up with National Instruments and its software, Lego enables students to improve their reasoning and problem-solving skills by programming robots they built out of robots. “Learning in books alone isn’t going to be very engaging or effective. By actually using the same tools and concepts and technology that [students are] going to use later on, they can actually build on the same architecture, the same platform they can use [both in and out of school],” said Jennifer Dawkins, the STEM program manager at National Instruments.

Not only has Lego teamed up with National Instruments to provide hands-on STEM learning, but they have also partnered with National Initiative in an effort to change how STEM and other subjects are taught in classrooms throughout the country. This shift in STEM education guidelines is aimed at learning how to do science rather than just teaching kids about science. “What we know from the learning sciences is that the more actively a person engages with the material that they’re learning, the better the retention and ability to apply that knowledge or that skill is,” says Kemi Jona, the director of the Northwestern University Office of STEM Education Partnerships.

“Allowing those other perspectives to become part of what it means to learn science has been shown to engage a lot more students from lots of different backgrounds and help them see this is what they can do too: that they have the ability and the expertise and the knowledge to do it successfully,” says Ann Rivet, an associate professor of science education at Teachers College at Columbia University. Through this new hands-on approach, Lego, National Instruments, and STEM educators throughout the country hope to make STEM fields more diverse.

To learn more about Lego and National Instruments’ hands-on approach to STEM education, watch the video above or check out the article by US News. What do you think about this new approach to STEM learning? Let us know!

Gender Gap Shrinks Among Students Playing Digital Games

For Immediate Release:               Contact: Amber Taylor, 703-201-4893
April 8, 2014                            

Speak Up 2013 Reports on Students’ Technology Use In and Out of School, Social Media Habits, Out of School Internet Access and Interest in STEM
Washington, D.C. –The stereotype that girls do not play digital games is outdated, according to the latest report from the Speak Up 2013 survey of students, teachers, administrators and parents released today. In 2013, approximately 42 percent of girls in grades 3-5 and 37 percent of girls in grades 6-8 said they regularly play games on tablets compared to 38 percent of boys in grades 3-8.
A similar pattern exists with game play on smartphones with equal percentages of girls and boys in elementary (28 percent) and middle school (45 percent) playing games on these devices.
“Boys are still playing more massively multi-player online games (MMOGs) than girls, but there is little difference now in all other digital game play,” said Julie Evans, CEO, Project Tomorrow, the organization that conducts the Speak Up survey. “We’re specifically interested in how students use games for learning, and this year’s survey shows that students of both genders think that digital games improve their levels of engagement in school and help them understand difficult concepts.”
Approximately 25 percent of teachers surveyed this year are integrating digital games into their instructional plans, and students report searching for games on their own to help them learn. Nearly one-quarter of middle school students reported that they have played an online game outside of school specifically to learn something. Among students who self-identified as advanced technology users, this number was 50 percent – among both girls and boys.
The latest report, The New Digital Learning Playbook: Understanding the Spectrum of Students’ Activities and Aspirations, is available via:
The companion infographic on mobile learning is available via:
Additional findings presented in the report include:
·         Girls outpace boys in use of many digital tools for learning, particularly the socially based tools like texting and collaborating online.
·         29 percent of high school boys say that they are very interested in a job or career in a STEM field, but only 19 percent of girls say the same. This gap remains even among girls and boys who self-assess their technology skills as advanced. During the seven years that the Speak Up surveys have polled high school students on their interest in STEM fields, the level of student interest has not increased significantly.
·         Students continue to report less regular interaction with traditional social networking sites like Facebook, while 44 percent of students in grades 6-12 report using social media apps like Instagram, Snapchat and Vine. Nearly one-third of high school students reported using Twitter.
·         One-quarter of students in grades 3-5 and nearly one-third of students in grades 6-12 say that they are using a mobile device provided by their school to support schoolwork (these percentages were greater among Title I schools than non-Title I schools).
·         In four years, the percent of middle school students taking tests online increased from 32 percent to 47 percent.
·         High school students reported a mean average of 14 hours per week using technology for writing.
·         Only one-third of middle school students say that for schoolwork reading, they prefer to read digital materials rather than printed materials; more than half, however, say online textbooks would be an essential component of their “ultimate school.”
·         Digital equity, including to student access to the Internet outside of school, is a growing concern among district technology leaders with 46 percent saying it is one of the most challenging issues they face today (compared to just 19 percent in 2010).
“We asked students for their ideas about how to improve technology use in schools,” said Evans. “In general, they want a greater alignment between their out-of-school learning life and what they experience in the classroom. They would like access to mobile devices, digital games, Internet access throughout their schools and access to websites they use for learning, to name a few.”
“Innovative technologies are helping K-12 educators augment their teaching to reach students with more collaborative, creative and, ultimately, more effective delivery methods,” said Mark Belles, senior vice president, K-12, Blackboard. “We’re proud to partner with Project Tomorrow to gauge the progress districts continue to make in leveraging technology to better prepare students for future learning success.”
The 2013 online survey – completed by more than 400,000 K-12 students, parents, teachers, administrators and community members – offers the largest collection of authentic, unfiltered input on education and technology from those ‘on the ground’ in the schools.
In fall 2013, Project Tomorrow surveyed 325,279 K-12 students, 32,151 parents, 39,986 teachers and 4,530 administrators representing 9,005 public and private schools from 2,710 districts.  The Speak Up 2013 surveys were available online for input in October, November and December 2013.
The annual survey about education and technology is facilitated through public, private and charter schools all around the country; every school is eligible to participate. The results provide important insights about education, technology and student aspirations to individual schools, state departments of education and national leaders.
Since 2003, more than 3.4 million K-12 students, educators and parents from more than 35,000 schools in all 50 states have participated in Speak Up. The online survey is facilitated by Project Tomorrow and supported by many of our nation’s most innovative companies, foundations and nonprofit organizations including Blackboard, Inc., BrainPOP, DreamBox, K12, Inc., Rosetta Stone, Schoolwires and SMART Technologies.
Project Tomorrow partners with more than 75 different education associations, organizations and think-tanks for outreach to the schools and development of the survey questions including the American Association of School Administrators, Consortium for School Networking, Digital Learning Day, Digital Promise,, Flipped Learning Network,  iNACOL, International Society for Technology in Education, National Association of Secondary School Principals Association, Southern Regional Education Board and State Education Technology Directors’ Association.
About Project Tomorrow
Speak Up is a national initiative of Project Tomorrow, the nation’s leading education nonprofit organization dedicated to ensuring that today’s students are well prepared to be tomorrow’s innovators, leaders and engaged citizens of the world. The Speak Up data represents the largest collection of authentic, unfiltered stakeholder input on education, technology, 21st century skills, schools of the future and science instruction. Education, business and policy leaders report use the data regularly to inform federal, state and local education programs. For additional information, visit