From a Popular New Movie to IBM and Their Revolutionary New Watson Project, To More STEM-Based Learning for K12 Learners!

stemRE@L has long been committed to promoting STEM learning for our K12 students, irrespective of gender, race, and special needs. Here’s why:

The movie we last mentioned in our RE@L Blog, “Hidden Figures,” is still drawing crowds to the theaters. Many parents are bringing their children to see it, and so are teachers bringing their students. Our first blog in this series tells why this film it’s a must-see. Click here to see that story.

th-3This fascinating movie, which is a contender in the upcoming Academy Awards, is a well-told, true story of how three young, black women engineers at IBM worked with NASA and its emerging program to put a man on the moon.

Their quick wits and STEM-based training actually helped save a young astronaut whose space capsule would have landed in unchartered waters, thanks to a computer failure. Their slide rules and manual calculations located the precise spot! They all were, what we would call today, STEM-educated.

RE@L also noted this excerpted quote in the Philadelphia Daily News by reporter Gary Thompson, reprinted in The Minneapolis Star Tribune: “Schools are taking students to see this movie. It’s becoming part of the curriculum. We just had a free screening at USC for 8,000 inner-city high school students. They love the movie, he said, I think, because it allows them to see what’s possible.

In K12 education, “what’s possible” is what it’s all about. If you’ve followed our RE@L Blog for the last few weeks, you’ve seen how initiatives like putting an astronaut on the moon can also put many well-trained people to work. It’s not just the engineers and mathematicians. It’s all the STEM-trained workers who help make it happen, from clerical staff to engineering assistants. RE@L believes there are many promising options for the many young talents.

As the old saying goes, “High tides float all boats,” encompassing the “boats” of the highly skilled, along with trained technicians, including specialized clerical assistance. There are many satisfying, important careers awaiting those training for the opportunities. Fortunately, more and more of our K12 students are now choosing STEM careers by taking STEM courses in their schools.

Back in 1960, other than dreamers and visionaries, almost no one believed President Kennedy’s promise to put a “man on the moon” was even possible. A little less than 10 years later, there was a man on the moon, and shortly after that, there were women in space, too, including women of color. As the recent movie “Hidden Figures” showed us: these amazing achievements were not tied to race, creed, color, gender, beliefs, or any other fundamentally irrelevant critiera.

Mae JamesonThese teams of space-workers were driven by a proper education, extensive training, personal commitment and using the many diverse talents. With the right educational choices, the sky and the heavens are the limit. Mae Jameson, the first African American woman in space, was among them! Click on the graphic to the right to see the rest of her story.

Technology today drives our global economy. In our nation there are simply not enough competent employees to fill the needed positions in the many new technology-based jobs today. Well-paying, satisfying careers are available in technology but far too few are prepared to fill them. That’s where STEM comes in: Science, Technology, Environment, Mathematics. More of our students need to be competent in these new skills.

RE@L realizes that our K12 Schools are pressed to supply the training, and our young students are largely unaware of the learning they will need to meet the demand. It’s time for change! We need to put thousands more of our students on the pinnacles of promising career choices, and encourage their commitments to career mastery.

watsonIBM is still hard at work with their recent, innovative Watson Project, including one project that addresses new and highly effective ways for kids to learn. Our recent RE@L Blog told that story.

IBM now has computers with the long-awaited, built-in Artificial Intelligence” which can conversationally “relate” to a learner’s unique needs and provide personalized learning skills. Check out their website for more information: Click on their web graphic at the top-left to learn more.

thEven “Sesame Street”, “Big Bird” and “Elmo” are back to help pre-school kids learning their basic skills. Watch the collaborative video by clicking on the graphic to the right. These new early-ed tools can help all young learners be ready for school, with fewer chances of falling behind, and staying behind.

What RE@L found most moving about IBM’s initiatives was this new initiative that actually helps the blind “see” and learn to  traverse the world at large. Made possible by IBM’s collaborative research with higher-ed, there are now prototypes of newly developed apps and tools that turn an iPhone into a seeing-eye dog that’s able to help a blind person “recognize” a friend in a crowd and also give advice on a sensible snack.

Chieko IBMSee it and believe it! Watch blind IBM researcher Chieko Asakawa tell the audience in a TED Talk how she is able to “see.” Click on their graphic to the left to hear her touching and informative presentation. Yes, it even brought tears to our eyes to see how STEM-based technologies are now helping the blind “see.”

ForbesThere are now more new emerging technologies. One is designed to help the disabled “walk.” Read this fascinating story and view the inspiring video from Forbes Magazine.

There’s now hope for those who are paralyzed, or lost limbs and have been unable to move about on their own. Now there is hope!

Click on the IBM graphic to the right to see this new freedom of mobility.

What a world of possibilities we now live in! With the help of our STEM teachers and learners, now and in the future, those possibities will become realities. RE@L is committed to making these possibilities happen for students everywhere. 

Hey, kids! Want a career that truly can make a difference? Here’s an assignment that will take you far:

  • Take a closer look at STEM! Tell your teachers, your parents and your friends you want more STEM choices.
  • Ask if some STEM-trained workers can visit your classroom and tell you about their exciting and satisfying careers!

Make STEM happen for your school and for you!

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Tom King & Dale LaFrenz

Dr. Tom King has served for over 40 years as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Saint Thomas in the School of Education. The Saturn School of Tomorrow, formerly a St. Paul Public School, and his visionary response to educational reform, was a lighthouse on the frontier of school change. Tom was an experienced high school teacher of mathematics, a school administrator, and Director of Technology for the St. Paul MN Public Schools. He is also a member of the RE@L Team. Dr. Dale LaFrenz is Chairman of RE@L and one of the founders of MECC Software who brought “Oregon Trail” to millions of K12 kids everywhere. He has written extensively on the history and evolution of Ed Tech. His work in forging new paths for MECC’S “edutainment" software was instrumental in connecting school-markets, kids, teachers and consumer-markets/kids/parents, and now serves as the new launching pad for RE@L apps and software.