Edtech News Round Up: STEM, Data Science, And Pearson’s Rising Stock

edtech news July 31

Diversity in STEM, using data science in sport, and Pearson’s rising stock.

Pearson Shares Climb as Publisher Pushes Ahead With Turnaround

Pearson is receiving praise for boosting its shares as the company announces an increase in profit. The publisher’s statutory operating profit is up £16 million on the same period last year due to the sale of its teaching unit, Wall Street English.

Shares rose 3.7% on Friday, making the company one of the top risers on the FTSE 100.

The company’s CEO, John Fallon, explained that despite a good first half there is still more work to do to make progress on their strategic priorities. They plan to keep moving forward with digital learning and focusing on the education sector.

These results give some reassurance that their new strategy is working. However, the full year results will be a more important decider of that.

How Data Science Adds Computational Thinking – and Fun – to Gym Class

In 2002, with the odds against them, the Oakland Athletics broke a 55-year old record by winning twenty consecutive games. The key to their success: Rich data analysis.

This application of rich data analysis to sport provided inspiration to teachers at Excel Public Charter School in Kent, who looked to design something similar for their middle school students.

The school searched for a way to combine data analysis, computational thinking, and kickball (a sport that blends elements of baseball and soccer). The goal was to make PE more academically rigorous and inclusive to students of all athletic abilities. Much like the Oakland Athletics, their solution was rich data analysis in the form of sabermetrics. They named it MoneyKickball.

At the beginning of each PE class, an elected Data Captain was responsible for collecting the data of the game. This included the kicker and pitcher, the outcome of the play, the direction the ball was kicked, and runs and scores. All of this information was then entered into a simple coded web form in real time.

The data was collected and compiled across the games in order to create an individual athlete profile for each player. The focus was on personal growth and goal-setting, thereby allowing students to track their improvements and strive to beat their best. The use of data analysis enabled all student to succeed in the class independent of their athletic ability.

Data analytics and the broader computational thinking skills that the students developed were also applied in other classes, such as science and social studies. Leveraging these skills across the curriculum enables students to form a cross-disciplinary connection that helped improve their learning in all classes.

Rewiring STEM Education

Lauren Aguilar began her freshman year of college with ambitions of becoming a neuroscientist. Her first lecture was Chemistry 101 and she was confident in her success as she had excelled in all STEM subjects in high school.

But then she looks around the room. As a Latina woman, she doesn’t see many people that look like her, either women or people of color. Then the thought crosses her mind – if I don’t see anyone around me that looks like me, do I belong here?

Feeling out of place is not uncommon in STEM and can be seen as a contributing factor to its documented lack of diversity. Part of this comes from the “genius culture” that is present in STEM, a concept of innate skill being linked with success in the field. This leads people who don’t fit that stereotype to feel they don’t belong.

Although there is the idea that STEM skills are innate, discoveries in science are often a product of hard work and collaboration rather than a “lone genius”.

Women and underrepresented minority have different experiences to men when they enter STEM fields. Because they feel they don’t fit in, this makes them less likely to engage in classrooms and lectures.

Despite the lack of diversity present in the field, it has been suggested that diversity leads to better decision-making and more innovation. Physics, for example, is objective. Questions need to be asked from all different perspectives. However, if the same type of people go through the same system it is likely it will lead to the same questions being asked.

More diversity and inclusion could lead to new frames of thought in our understanding. But asking more illuminating questions requires different perspectives and different backgrounds.

An increase in diversity will also make STEM subjects appeal to more people and show that it’s not just for the innately skilled “lone genius”. Although students have different proficiencies when they enter and leave the field, they are all capable of developing an appreciation of STEM topics.

To learn more about our thoughts on inclusion in STEM read:

Storytelling in STEM – Can Changing the Narrative (Finally) Give Girls A Voice?

Want More Women In STEM? Bring STEM Into The Experience Of Girlhood

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