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The NSF 2026 Idea Machine

News From NSF - Thu, 07/05/2018 - 11:34

This is a competition to help set the U.S. agenda for fundamental research in science and engineering. Participants can earn prizes and receive public recognition by suggesting the pressing research questions that need to be answered in the coming decade, the next set of “Big Ideas” for future investment by NSF.
More at https://www.nsf.gov/news/special_reports/nsf2026ideamachine/index.jsp?WT.mc_id=USNSF_51

This is an NSF News item.

NSF awards more than $150 million to early career researchers in engineering and computer science

News From NSF - Mon, 07/02/2018 - 11:00

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has invested $150 million in 307 early career engineering and computer science faculty to advance fields from intelligent infrastructure and collaborative robots to secure communications and brain-related technologies.

Over the next five years, each researcher will receive up to $500,000 from NSF to build a firm scientific footing for solving challenges and scaling new heights for the nation, as well as serve as academic role models in research ...
More at https://www.nsf.gov/news/news_summ.jsp?cntn_id=295790&WT.mc_id=USNSF_51&WT.mc_ev=click

This is an NSF News item.

National Ocean Month: NSF's role in ocean science spans the globe

News From NSF - Fri, 06/29/2018 - 18:21

This month marks the annual celebration of oceans and all that they contribute to our planet, the surface of which is more than 70 percent water. The National Science Foundation (NSF) has a long history of support for ocean-related fundamental research, and so joins with public and private partners in marking new frontiers in exploring this critical global resource.

"Ocean research, infrastructure and education advance our understanding of oceans and ocean basins and their ...
More at https://www.nsf.gov/news/news_summ.jsp?cntn_id=295899&WT.mc_id=USNSF_51&WT.mc_ev=click

This is an NSF News item.

TOS Holds a Sprint to Develop FOSS Courses

Notes from Greg Hislop - Fri, 06/29/2018 - 13:05
A team of faculty involved with TeachingOpenSource (TOS) are working on four Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) courses that will be available under a Creative Commons license.

Division of Materials Research (DMR) Newsletter - Spring 2018

News From NSF - Fri, 06/29/2018 - 12:19

Available Formats:
PDF: https://www.nsf.gov/pubs/2018/nsf18087/nsf18087.pdf?WT.mc_id=USNSF_179

Document Number: nsf18087

This is an NSF Publications item.

We might want naive and delusional PhD students

ComputingEd - Fri, 06/29/2018 - 07:00

We’re in the midst of cleaning out 25 years of accumulated stuff in our house in order to sell this house, buy a new house in Ann Arbor, and move to the University of Michigan by September 1.

As I was cleaning, I found the below — my original statement of purpose that I submitted to the University of Michigan in 1988 to start my doctorate.

I shared it with some friends, ruefully.  It felt silly, as well as grammatically flawed. I really did think that I was going to get a faculty position in “Computer Science and Education” when I graduated in the early 1990’s.  I was naive, maybe even delusional. I had no idea what academic CS was like when I applied. The reality is far different than what I imagined.  At the Home4CS event just this last April, I mentioned that it would be great if we had CS Education faculty slots in Schools of Education today.  As Diane Levitt reported on Twitter, the audience roared with laughter.  How crazy was I to think that we’d have some in the 1990’s?

But now, some positions like that do exist.  There are faculty who have been hired at US higher-education institutions to focus on CS Ed.  My new job at the University of Michigan is a joint position between CS and their Engineering Education Research program.  It took 25 years, but yeah, I’m going to have the kind of job for which I earned my PhD.

Some friends encouraged me to share this statement. Maybe it’s a good thing to have naive new PhD students.  Maybe that’s what we want in PhD students. We want PhD students to think long term, i.e., to have bought into a goal, a set of research questions, or a vision — and be willing to work at it for decades.  Eventually, if the student is really lucky and others are working on similar visions at the same time, the vision doesn’t seem not quite so naive, not quite so delusional.

I’ll be taking some time off from the blog while making the move to Michigan. I may post some guest contributions over the next few weeks, but for now, I’m putting the blog on hiatus.

Visiting NTNU in Trondheim Norway June 3-23

ComputingEd - Thu, 06/28/2018 - 07:00

Barbara and I are just back from a three week trip to NTNU in Trondheim, Norway. Katie Cunningham came with us (here’s a blog post about some of her work). Three weeks is enough time to come up with a dozen ideas for blog posts, but I don’t have the cycles for that. So let me just give you the high-level view, with pictures and links to learn more.

We went at the beginning of June because Barb and I (and the University of Michigan) are part of the IPIT network (International Partnerships for Excellent Education and Research in Information Technology) that had its kick-off meeting June 3-5. The partnership is about software engineering and computing education research, with a focus student and faculty exchange and meetings at each others’ institutions: NTNU, U. Michigan, Tsinghua University, and Nanjing University. I learned a lot about software engineering that I didn’t know before, especially about DevOps.

If you ever get the chance to go to a meeting organized by Letizia Jaccheri of NTNU, GO! She was the organizer for IPIT, co-chair of IDC 2018, and our overall host for our three weeks there. She has a wonderful sense for blending productivity with fun. During the IDC 2018 poster session, she brought in high school students dressed as storybook characters, just to wander around and “bring in a bit of whimsy.” For a bigger example, she wanted IPIT to connect with the NTNU campus at Ålesund, which just happens to be near the Geiranger fjord, one of the most beautiful in Norway. So, she flew the whole meeting to Ålesund from Trondheim! We took a large cruise-ship like boat with meeting rooms down the fjord. We got in some 5-6 hours of meetings, while also seeing amazing waterfalls and other views, and then visited the Ålesund campus the next day before flying home. We got work done and WOW!

For the next week and a half, we got to know the computing education research folks at NTNU. We were joined at the end of the first week by Elisa Rubegni from the University of Lincoln, and Roberto Martinez-Maldonado came by a couple days later. Barb, Elisa, and I held a workshop on the first Monday after IPIT. A couple days later, we had a half-day meeting with Michalis Giannakos’s group and Roberto, then Elisa led us all in a half-day design exercise (pictured below — Elisa, Sofia, Javi, and Katie). In between, we had individual meetings. I think I met with every one of the PhD students there working in computing education research. (And, in our non-meeting time, Barb and I were writing NSF proposals!)

Michalis’s group is doing some fascinating work. Let me tell you about some of the projects that most intrigued me.

  • Sofia (with Kshitij and Ilias) is lead on a project where they track what kids using Scratch are looking at, both on and off screen. It’s part of this cool project where kids program these beautiful artist-created robots with Scratch. It’s a pretty crazy looking experimental setup, with fiducial markers on notebooks and robots and screens.
  • Kshitij is trying to measure EEG and gaze in order to determine cognitive load in a user interface. Almost all cognitive load measures are based on self-report (including ours). They’re trying to measure cognitive load physiologically, and correlate it with self-report.
  • Katerina and Kshitij is using eye-tracking to measure how undergrads use tools like Eclipse. What I found most interesting was what they did not observe. I noticed in their data that they had no data on using the debugger. They explained that in 40 students, only five people even looked at the debugger. Nobody used data or control flow visualizations at all. I’m fascinated by this — what does it take to get students to actually look at the debuggers and visualizers that were designed to help them learn?
  • Roberto is doing this amazing work with learning analytics in physical spaces, where nurses are working on robot patients. Totally serious — they can gather all kinds of data about where people are standing, how they interact, and when they interact. For tasks like nursing, this is super important to understand what students are learning.

Then came FabLearn with an amazing keynote by Leah Buechley on art, craft, and computation. I have a long list of things to look up after her talk, including Desmos, computer controlled cutting machines (which I had never heard of before) which are way cheaper than 3-D printers but still allow you to do computational craft, and http://blog.recursiveprocess.com/ which is all about learning coding and mathematics. She made an argument that I find fascinating — that art is what helps diverse students reflect their identity and culture in their school, and that’s why students who get art classes (controlling for SES) are more likely to succeed in school and go onto post-secondary schooling. Can computing make it easier to bring art back into school? Can computing then play a role in engaging children with school again?

The next reason we were at NTNU was to attend the EXCITED Centre advisory board meeting. Barb and I were there for the launch of EXCITED in January 2017. It’s a very ambitious project, starting from students making informed decisions to go into CS/IT, helping students develop identities in CS, learning through construction, increasing diversity in CS, and moving into careers. We got to hang out with Arnold Pears, Mats Daniels, and Aletta Nylén of UpCERG (Upssala Computing Education Research Group), the world’s largest CER group.

Finally, for the last four days, we attended the Interaction, Design and Children Conference, IDC 2018. I wrote my Blog@CACM post for this month about my experiences there. I saw a lot there that’s relevant to people who read this blog. My favorite paper there tested the theory of concreteness fading on elementary school students learning computing concepts. Here’s a picture of a slide (not in the paper) that summarizes the groups in the experiment.

I’ll end with my favorite moment in IDC 2018, not in the Blog@CACM post. We met Letizia’s post-doc, Javier “Javi” Gomez at the end of our first week in Trondheim. Summer weather in Trondheim is pretty darn close to winter in Atlanta. One day, we woke up to 44F and rain. But we lucked out — the weekends were beautiful. On our first Saturday, Letizia invited us all to a festival near her home, and we met Javi and Elisa. That evening (but still bright sunlight), Javi, Elisa, Barb, and I took a wonderful kayaking trip down the Nidelva river. So it was a special treat to be at IDC 2018 to see Javi get TWO

awards for his contributions, one for his demo and an honorable mention for his note. The note was co-authored by Letizia, and was her first paper award (as she talks about in the lovely linked blog post). It was wonderful to be able to celebrate the success of our new friends.

On the way back, Barb and I stopped in London to spend a couple days with Alan Kay and his wife, Bonnie MacBird. If I could come up with a dozen blog post ideas from 3 weeks, it’s probably like two dozen per day with Alan and Bonnie, and we had two days with them. Visiting a science museum with an exhibit on early computers (including an Alto!) is absolutely amazing when you’re with Alan. But those blog posts will have to wait until after my blog hiatus.

Administrative Guide for Program Solicitation NSF 15-501, Postdoctoral Research Fellowships in Biology (PRFB)

News From NSF - Wed, 06/27/2018 - 16:47

Available Formats:
PDF: https://www.nsf.gov/pubs/2018/nsf18086/nsf18086.pdf?WT.mc_id=USNSF_25&WT.mc_ev=click

Document Number: nsf18086
Public Comment: This publication is related to Program Solicitation NSF 15-501, Postdoctoral Research Fellowships in Biology (PRFB).

This is an NSF Program Announcements and Information item.

Administrative Guide for Program Solicitation NSF 15-501, Postdoctoral Research Fellowships in Biology (PRFB)

News From NSF - Wed, 06/27/2018 - 16:47

Available Formats:
PDF: https://www.nsf.gov/pubs/2018/nsf18086/nsf18086.pdf?WT.mc_id=USNSF_179

Document Number: nsf18086
Public Comment: This publication is related to Program Solicitation NSF 15-501, Postdoctoral Research Fellowships in Biology (PRFB).

This is an NSF Publications item.

Previously unsuspected volcanic activity confirmed under West Antarctic Ice Sheet at Pine Island Glacier

News From NSF - Wed, 06/27/2018 - 12:00

Tracing a chemical signature of helium in seawater, an international team of scientists funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the United Kingdom's (U.K.) Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) has discovered a previously unknown volcanic hotspot beneath the massive West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS).

Researchers say the newly discovered heat source could contribute in ways yet unknown to the potential collapse of the ice sheet.

The scientific consensus is that ...
More at https://www.nsf.gov/news/news_summ.jsp?cntn_id=295861&WT.mc_id=USNSF_51&WT.mc_ev=click

This is an NSF News item.

NSF invites professional news media to submit proposals to report from Antarctica

News From NSF - Tue, 06/26/2018 - 14:38

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is accepting proposals from media professionals to visit Antarctica to report on research supported by NSF's Office of Polar Programs (OPP) through the U.S. Antarctic Program (USAP).

Those selected to deploy would visit Antarctica between early November and mid-December of 2018.


There is an additional opportunity in this announcement. Applicants may submit to join the first science cruise to the ...
More at https://www.nsf.gov/news/news_summ.jsp?cntn_id=295843&WT.mc_id=USNSF_51&WT.mc_ev=click

This is an NSF News item.

OSTP and NSF to honor 140 individuals and organizations with highest US award for teachers and mentors

News From NSF - Mon, 06/25/2018 - 15:31

The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), with the National Science Foundation (NSF), announced today that more than 140 individuals and organizations will be honored with presidential awards for their excellence in teaching or mentoring in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

Kindergarten through sixth grade teachers will receive the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST), and mentors will receive the ...
More at https://www.nsf.gov/news/news_summ.jsp?cntn_id=295842&WT.mc_id=USNSF_51&WT.mc_ev=click

This is an NSF News item.

Community College Innovation Challenge

News From NSF - Mon, 06/25/2018 - 10:27

Many real world problems can be solved with STEM-based solutions. NSF invites teams of community college students to identify key problems and propose innovative solutions in this national contest.
More at https://www.nsf.gov/news/special_reports/communitycollege/?WT.mc_id=USNSF_51

This is an NSF News item.

We can build new programming languages that people will teach, learn, and use: Scratch 3.0 in August

ComputingEd - Mon, 06/25/2018 - 07:00

When I come out with blog posts saying that we need new programming languages (like this one), I regularly get a bunch of skepticism.  People will only use industry-approved languages, says one argument.  We need to teach the languages that exist, says another.

Then I just, “Scratch.”  It’s real programming, it’s popular, and it’s taught around the world.  We ought to study how Scratch succeeded.  One key insight: Don’t beat your head against the traditional CS1 teachers.  There’s a lot more people to teach, and not everyone has to become a software developer.

A new version of Scratch is coming this August!

Source: 3 Things To Know About Scratch 3.0 – The Scratch Team Blog – Medium


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