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February 19, 2011

Encompassing multiple modes of communication in one report

Now that may be the worse title I've ever written but hey it does tell it all. FairerScience friend Ruta Sevo has written a really interesting monograph, Basics About Disabilities and Science and Engineering Education, which can be down loaded for free!

Ruta's core assumption is powerful:

Everyone needs to know more about disabilities. Any one of us is or can become a
person with a disability overnight. There are profound dynamics in play when able-bodied
people interact with people with disabilities. Historically, Western society has gone the
gamut in treatment from charity, to murder, to freak shows, to empathy, and respect.
We will assume that we as a society want to evolve to a point where the response
to a disability is not inhumanity and injustice. We will assume that the reader agrees that a
person with a disability should not be excluded from community, public life, and work.

and the content is very useful.

But what's really innovative about this monograph is the format or I should say the formats. It includes:

The Short Overview is in powerpoint format.

Science and Engineering Education and the Participation of Persons With Disabilities looks at the need for inclusion.

The Short Reader and Syllabus is a digest for those who want more but probably not as much as a full reader in Disability Studies.

Changing Our Psychological Response is for educators who might want to know that we can learn to moderate any automatic, unconscious biases when we interact with people with disabilities.

An Annotated Bibliography.

It's a very interesting way to make sure that there is something for everyone in on monograph. for everyone in this mongraph

February 17, 2011

Have an extra 7 minutes?

If so, or even if not, you have to watch this story on the American Brain Drain from CBS' Sunday Morning. The show starts with a discussion of the trend for STEM foreign students to go back home after finishing their education rather than remaining in the US which was the norm in the past. I know you know that. The cool part of the story is what they see as the solution- which is to recruit more under-represented minority American students into the sciences and provide them with the supports they need to succeed. What a concept!

They highlight a program that does just that at San Francisco State run by FairerScience colleague Frank Bayliss. Watching it made me very happy- Hope it makes you happy too.

February 08, 2011

ENIAC "girls"

I know you all know about Admiral "Amazing" Grace Hopper (you are after all FairerScience readers), but do you know about the ENIAC "girls"? ENIAC is the Electronic Numerical Integrator And Computer and the "girls" were the women who programmed her during World War II. I first learned of them on a visit to the, sadly closed, Computer Museum in Boston.

But you can find out about them and the other World War II female computers with this new documentary:.
e "Top Secret Rosies: The Female Computers of World War II." you can get ifrom Netflix or Amazon. Here's a clip.

Thanks to CNN for their story about these women.

February 06, 2011

Students as researchers

Over 20 years ago I started working with students as evaluators . Kids worked with me to design and carry out evaluations of specific programs in which they were involved. While I provided technical assistance; these were their evaluations. The students determined the questions to be asked and how they would get the answers. They collected and analyzed the data and presented their data-based conclusions and recommendations to the program directors. This was real--we only worked with program people made a commitment either to implement the students' recommendations or to explain why they wouldn't or couldn't do so.

The work was good and the experience useful to all in great part because the work was real and the students were in charge. I always thought if it worked in evaluation, it would work in research. It turns out I was right.

Blackawton Bees is an article published in Biology Letters by 25 8 to 10 year olds and a couple of grown ups.

Their results:

We discovered that bumble-bees can use a combination of colour and spatial relationships in deciding which colour of flower to forage from. We also discovered that science is cool and fun because you get to do stuff that no one has ever done before.

A companion paper explained:

The research was conceived, carried out, summarized and written up by a class of 8 to 10 years olds in Devon, England under the light supervision of a teacher and a research scientist. The result is a significant piece of research giving a novel insight in the colour and pattern vision of the bee. Using well-established experimental procedures that were invented by John Lubbock [5] for the study of colour vision in bees and later implemented by a Nobel Prize winner [6], the results provide convincing evidence that bees can transpose between learned colour, pattern and spatial cues when encountering changes in a coloured scene.

Students as researchers, now that's a concept!

February 01, 2011

Framework for Evaluating Impacts of Broadening Participation Projects

I don't care if you think the title is boring. Well actually I do care and yes the title is boring but hey it's about broadening participation and evaluation-- two areas near and dear to our hearts here at FairerScience. Actually the Framework is quite good. I'm not saying that because I wrote part of it. Or maybe I am--I really like the five levels of access to science that broadening participation efforts need to address that Veronica Thomas, Adam Stoll and I came up with:

Having access to the benefits of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) knowledge,
Having access to STEM knowledge,
Studying STEM,
Working in STEM areas.
Generating STEM knowledge.

However, my favorite part was written by FairerScience friend Toni Clewell

...to ensure a broader application of its broadening participation mandate, NSF should review all funded programs to determine the following: Are program funds serving a representative proportion of members of underrepresented groups or institutions? Indicators to address this question might include the number and percent of participants served disaggregated by race/ethnicity, sex, and disability status, and number and percent of institutions awarded funding disaggregated by Carnegie classification, minority serving institution (MSI) status, and region of country. Are positive outcomes of programs (as reflected in evaluations) distributed equitably among all groups of participants or institutions, including underrepresented groups and institutions? Indicators to address this question might include the number and percent of participants showing positive outcomes by race/ethnicity, gender, and disability status, and number and percent of institutions showing positive outcomes by Carnegie classification, MSI status, and region of country.

Now those are recommendations that warm my heart on this cold snowy day.