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Dust contributes valuable nutrients to Sierra Nevada forest ecosystems

News From NSF - 4 hours 48 min ago

More information on the National Science Foundation's Critical Zone Observatories is available online.

Collecting dust isn't usually considered a good thing.

But dust from as close as California's Central Valley and as far away as Asia's Gobi Desert provides nutrients, especially phosphorus, to vegetation in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, a team of scientists has found. Their ...

More at https://www.nsf.gov/news/news_summ.jsp?cntn_id=191381&WT.mc_id=USNSF_51&WT.mc_ev=click


This is an NSF News item.

Weapons of Math Destruction: invisible, ubiquitous algorithms are ruining millions of lives

ComputingEd - Mon, 03/27/2017 - 07:00

C.P. Snow got it right in 1961. Algorithms control our lives, and those who don’t know what algorithms are don’t know what questions to ask about them.  This is a powerful argument for universal computing education.  I like the below quote for highlighting that a better term for the concern is “model,” not “algorithm.”


Discussions about big data’s role in our society tends to focus on algorithms, but the algorithms for handling giant data sets are all well understood and work well. The real issue isn’t algorithms, it’s models. Models are what you get when you feed data to an algorithm and ask it to make predictions. As O’Neil puts it, “Models are opinions embedded in mathematics.”

Source: Weapons of Math Destruction: invisible, ubiquitous algorithms are ruining millions of lives / Boing Boing


Tagged: computing education, computing for all, computing for everyone

Sepehr Vakil appointed first Associate Director of Equity and Inclusion in STEM Education at U. Texas-Austin

ComputingEd - Fri, 03/24/2017 - 07:00

I just met Sepehr at an ECEP planning meeting.  Exciting to meet another CS Ed faculty in an Education school!  He won the Yamashita Prize at Berkeley in 2015 for his STEM activism.

Dr. Vakil’s research revolves around the intersection of equity and the teaching and learning of STEM, particularly in computer science and technology. This focus has led Dr. Vakil to conduct participatory design research projects in several contexts. These efforts include founding and directing the Oakland Science and Mathematics Outreach (OSMO) program—an after school program serving youth of color in the city of Oakland. Dr. Vakil also has experience teaching and conducting research within public schools. During graduate school, he co-taught Introductory Computer Science Courses for 3 years in the Oakland Unified and Berkeley Unified School Districts. As part of a university-research collaboration between UC Berkeley and the Oakland Unified School District, he worked with students and teachers in the Computer Science and Technology Academy at Oakland Technical High School to design an after school racial justice organization named SPOCN (Supporting People of Color Now!) Dr. Vakil’s work at the intersection of equity, STEM, and urban education has also led to publications in prestigious journals such as Cognition & Instruction, Equity and Excellence in Education, and the Journal of the Learning Sciences.

Source: Sepehr Vakil appointed first Associate Director of Equity and Inclusion in STEM Education – Center for STEM Education


Tagged: BPC, broadening participation in computing, computing education research, computing for all, computing for everyone, education research

World Water Day: Fog and dew keep Africa's Namib Desert ecosystem going

News From NSF - Wed, 03/22/2017 - 14:00

The ocean is not the sole source of the fog that sustains life for numerous plants and animals living in Africa's coastal Namib Desert. The fog also comes from groundwater and other sources, report ecohydrologists supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and affiliated with Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI).

The scientists conducted the research in one of the world's oldest and most biologically diverse deserts. Their results are published today in ...

More at https://www.nsf.gov/news/news_summ.jsp?cntn_id=191206&WT.mc_id=USNSF_51&WT.mc_ev=click


This is an NSF News item.

Brief from Google on the state of Girls in CS Education

ComputingEd - Wed, 03/22/2017 - 07:00

Following up on the brief that Google did last month on Blacks in CS, this month they’ve prepared a brief on the state of girls in CS.

Computer science (CS) education is critical in preparing students for the future. CS education not only gives students the skills they need to succeed in the workforce, but it also fosters critical thinking, creativity, and innovation. Women make up half the U.S. college-educated workforce, yet only 25% of computing professionals. This summary highlights the state of CS education for girls in 7th–12th grade during 2015–16. Girls are less likely than boys to be aware of and encouraged to pursue CS learning opportunities. Girls are also less likely to express interest in and confidence in learning CS.

See http://services.google.com/fh/files/misc/computer-science-learning-closing-the-gap-girls-brief.pdf


Tagged: BPC, computing for all, computing for everyone, NCWIT, women in computing

Division of Chemistry Newsletter, Winter 2017

News From NSF - Tue, 03/21/2017 - 10:59

Available Formats:
PDF: https://www.nsf.gov/pubs/2017/nsf17063/nsf17063.pdf?WT.mc_id=USNSF_179

Document Number: nsf17063


This is an NSF Publications item.

Expanding the Pipeline: Characteristics of Male and Female Prospective Computer Science Majors – Examining Four Decades of Changes – CRN

ComputingEd - Mon, 03/20/2017 - 07:00

Interesting report from CRA that offers a nuanced view about gender differences in goals for STEM education and how those interact with pursuing a degree in CS.

Another example of a variable becoming more salient over time relates to one’s scientific orientation. Students of either gender who express a stronger commitment to making a “theoretical contribution to science” are more likely to pursue a computer science major, but over time this variable has become a significantly stronger predictor for women while remaining a steady predictor for men. In other words, it is increasingly the case that computer science attracts women who see themselves as committed to scientific inquiry. While at face value that seems like positive news for the field of computer science, the fact is that women are much less likely than men to report having a strong scientific orientation upon entering college; thus, many potential female computing majors may be deterred from the field if they simply don’t “see” themselves as the scientific type.

Still, there is some positive news when it comes to attracting women to computing. The first relates to the role of mathematical self-concept. Specifically, even though women rate their math abilities lower than men do—and perceptions of one’s math ability is one of the strongest predictors of a major in computer science—the fact is that the importance of mathematical self-concept in determining who will pursue computer science has weakened over time. Thus, despite the fact that women tend to have lower math confidence than men do, this differential has become less consequential over time in determining who will major in computer science.

Source: Expanding the Pipeline: Characteristics of Male and Female Prospective Computer Science Majors – Examining Four Decades of Changes – CRN


Tagged: BPC, computing education research, NCWIT

Dear Colleague Letter: Research Opportunities in Europe for NSF Postdoctoral Research Fellows

News From NSF - Fri, 03/17/2017 - 18:25

Available Formats:
HTML: https://www.nsf.gov/pubs/2017/nsf17059/nsf17059.jsp?WT.mc_id=USNSF_179
PDF: https://www.nsf.gov/pubs/2017/nsf17059/nsf17059.pdf?WT.mc_id=USNSF_179

Document Number: nsf17059
Public Comment: This Dear Colleague Letter (DCL) references DCL NSF 17-058.


This is an NSF Publications item.

Dear Colleague Letter: Research Opportunities in Europe for NSF CAREER Awardees

News From NSF - Fri, 03/17/2017 - 18:25

Available Formats:
HTML: https://www.nsf.gov/pubs/2017/nsf17058/nsf17058.jsp?WT.mc_id=USNSF_179
PDF: https://www.nsf.gov/pubs/2017/nsf17058/nsf17058.pdf?WT.mc_id=USNSF_179

Document Number: nsf17058
Public Comment: This Dear Colleague Letter (DCL) references DCL NSF 17-059.


This is an NSF Publications item.

Dear Colleague Letter: Research Opportunities in Europe for NSF Postdoctoral Research Fellows

News From NSF - Fri, 03/17/2017 - 18:25

Available Formats:
HTML: https://www.nsf.gov/pubs/2017/nsf17059/nsf17059.jsp?WT.mc_id=USNSF_25&WT.mc_ev=click
PDF: https://www.nsf.gov/pubs/2017/nsf17059/nsf17059.pdf?WT.mc_id=USNSF_25&WT.mc_ev=click

Document Number: nsf17059
Public Comment: This Dear Colleague Letter (DCL) references DCL NSF 17-058.


This is an NSF Program Announcements and Information item.

Dear Colleague Letter: Research Opportunities in Europe for NSF CAREER Awardees

News From NSF - Fri, 03/17/2017 - 18:25

Available Formats:
HTML: https://www.nsf.gov/pubs/2017/nsf17058/nsf17058.jsp?WT.mc_id=USNSF_25&WT.mc_ev=click
PDF: https://www.nsf.gov/pubs/2017/nsf17058/nsf17058.pdf?WT.mc_id=USNSF_25&WT.mc_ev=click

Document Number: nsf17058
Public Comment: This Dear Colleague Letter (DCL) references DCL NSF 17-059.


This is an NSF Program Announcements and Information item.

NSF Chief FOIA Officer Report 2017

News From NSF - Fri, 03/17/2017 - 14:02

Available Formats:
PDF: https://www.nsf.gov/pubs/2017/ogc17002/ogc17002.pdf?WT.mc_id=USNSF_179

Document Number: ogc17002


This is an NSF Publications item.

NSF awards 2017 Graduate Research Fellowships

News From NSF - Fri, 03/17/2017 - 11:57

The National Science Foundation (NSF) today named 2,000 individuals as this year's recipients of awards from its Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP). GRFP offers fellowships to applicants selected through a national competition.

"This unique program has nurtured economic innovation and leadership in the U.S. continuously since 1952 -- by recruiting and supporting outstanding students with high potential in science, technology, engineering and mathematics very early in their ...

More at https://www.nsf.gov/news/news_summ.jsp?cntn_id=191361&WT.mc_id=USNSF_51&WT.mc_ev=click


This is an NSF News item.

Passing of William G. Bowen: Walk Deliberately, Don’t Run, Toward Online Education

ComputingEd - Fri, 03/17/2017 - 07:00

William G. Bowen of The Chronicle recently died at the age of 83. His article about MOOCs in 2013 is still relevant today.

In particular is his note about “few of those studies are relevant to the teaching of undergraduates.”  As I look at the OMS CS results and the empirical evidence about MOOC completers (which matches results of other MOOC experiments of which I’m aware at Georgia Tech), I see that MOOCs are leading to learning and serving a population, but that tends to be the most privileged population.  Higher education is critiqued for furthering inequity and not doing enough to serve underprivileged students.  MOOCs don’t help with that.  It reminds me of Annie Murphy Paul’s article on lecture — they best serve the privileged students that campuses already serve well.  That’s a subtle distinction: MOOCs help, but not the students who most need help.

What needs to be done in order to translate could into will? The principal barriers are the lack of hard evidence about both learning outcomes and potential cost savings; the lack of shared but customizable teaching and learning platforms (or tool kits); and the need for both new mind-sets and fresh thinking about models of decision making.

How effective has online learning been in improving (or at least maintaining) learning outcomes achieved by various populations of students in various settings? Unfortunately, no one really knows the answer to either that question or the important follow-up query about cost savings. Thousands of studies of online learning have been conducted, and my colleague Kelly Lack has continued to catalog them and summarize their findings.

It has proved to be a daunting task—and a discouraging one. Few of those studies are relevant to the teaching of undergraduates, and the few that are relevant almost always suffer from serious methodological deficiencies. The most common problems are small sample size; inability to control for ubiquitous selection effects; and, on the cost side, the lack of good estimates of likely cost savings.

Source: Walk Deliberately, Don’t Run, Toward Online Education – The Chronicle of Higher Education


Tagged: distance education, learning sciences, MOOCs

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