Youth & Opportunity
Engineering , Math
Editors Note: We have declared this month #STEMtember to build awareness of the importance of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education. Earlier in the month we released some research into how parents and students view STEM education and we’re planning a number of profiles of people with some of the coolest STEM jobs. Keep an eye on the blog or follow #STEMtember on Twitter, discuss on Facebook, or you can read all this month’s post by clicking on the tag #STEMtember on this blog.
Even though the years are flying by, I don’t think I will ever forget what it was like to be a kid in middle school… What an awkward age that was! As a 6th grader I was just discovering that girls didn’t have coodies and still imagined that one day I would be a professional basketball player like Mike. But at some point before 8th grade, I realized I would likely need to focus my on studying as very few ever make it to the NBA. Looking back to my middle school and high school years, I was ripe for being influenced, inspired, and encouraged to study in certain areas; yet I was never drawn to science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM) education. Why is that?
Were my English and history teachers really that cool? Looking at many of the possibilities I just can’t help but wonder what life would have been like if I had focused my studies on STEM subjects.
The other day, our team sat around a table and made a list of people who have really cool STEM focused careers. We decided reach out and interview those folks to gain insights into their STEM thoughts, educational experience, and seek advice for the future generation. So for the next few weeks we will be posting blogs from our team as we interview these STEM super heroes.
To kick things off I thought it might be fun to explore the top 4 STEM careers I wish studied for:
1) An Astronaut: This last spring I was fortunate to visit Kennedy Space Center in Florida to see off the Astronauts in the second to last shuttle launch in NASA history. While I watched astronaut Greg Chamitoff wave goodbye to his children (pictured left), the thought occurred to me; Greg is not saying “goodbye kids, daddy will be home after work”… No, he is saying “goodbye kids, daddy is going to be shot into space on the fastest ride this planet has to offer, leave the atmosphere for a few weeks, explore outer space, and will be home when orbit permits”. Well maybe he wasn’t saying that exactly, but you get the point. Too bad I didn’t choose to study physics and advanced aerospace.
2) A Fighter Pilot: I have to give credit to the Blue Angels and Tom Cruise in Top Gun for my pipe dreams of wanting to fly MACH 3 with my hair on fire. Anyone lucky enough to catch a Blue Angels show (pictured left) in person will attest to the sheer awesomeness of the sight and sounds of a fighter jet. I wish one of my teachers would have told me the engineering path of a pilot; guaranteed that bit of information would have dialed in my attention span in calculus class.
3) A world famous chef: Only in my own kitchen do I pretend to be Curtis Stone. Wouldn’t it be great to create the tasty treats that people from all over the world seek to consume? Chefs are scientists in their own right, understanding how ingredients pair as well as the biological instincts involved with eating food. One who studies the science of food could have the world at the palm of their cooking mitts!
4) A Tesla engineer: Have you ever been 0-60mph in 3.9 seconds? Thanks to my good friend Tal Moore (his car pictured left), I have, and believe me I was grinning like a child at a birthday party. These cars are amazing; they sound like a
spaceship, start and stop on a dime, and provide the thrill of a lifetime. Bet if I would have studied mechanical engineering I could have been able to one day afford the $100,000+ price tag, or maybe I could have just built one myself.
These are just a few examples of the incredible possibilities for kids who study STEM. The next generation of innovators, astronauts, pilots, electric motor engineers, famous chefs and more - could be your child, your little cousin, your little sister/brother, or a child you mentor.
What cool STEM job do you find inspiring? Why not tell us using the #STEMtember on Twitter or on Facebook.
All photographs taken by Nathan J. Peterson
By Gretchen Deo, Program Manager, Citizenship & Public Affairs
Microsoft has a tradition of volunteering on a large scale for United Way of King County’s Annual Day of Caring and this year was no different with over 5,000 Microsoft employees and over 200 Microsoft alumni participating in 213 projects benefitting 152 nonprofit organizations and agencies. As team leader of the Marymoor Park Habitat Restoration Project, I was one of 80 volunteers who spent the day supporting the efforts of Eastside Audubon, the East King County Chapter of National Audubon, digging out invasive scotch broom and blackberries, so that native plants have a better chance to thrive. This, in turn, creates a better habitat for birds and other creatures.
The area within Marymoor Park that we concentrated on is called the “BirdLoop Trail,” which features the best birding opportunities in the park. Our group was large, so we broke up into four smaller groups to tackle different areas of the BirdLoop. The Citizenship & Public Affairs team spent most of our time in the Grassy Meadow removing scotch broom. It wasn’t any easy task, but using some handy weed wrenches, we removed all of the scotch broom in the meadow. It was nice to know that we were giving native trees and shrubs a chance to grow and preserving the natural habitat.
Maintaining this natural area will continue to take effort from a dedicated team of volunteers. If you would like to learn more, visit Eastside Audubon or United Way of King County for volunteer opportunities.
Citizenship & Public Affairs Team at Marymoor Park for United Way of King County’s Day of Caring 2011.
By Olivier Fontana, Marketing Director, WW Field and Partner Marketing, Windows Embedded Business; President, UFE Seattle
In May 2010 I decided I wanted to involve myself more into the broader French and French speaking community of Puget Sound in Washington State. I reached out to a nonprofit called l’Union des Français de l’Etranger (UFE), to see how I could help and to my surprise I discovered that nothing was really happening locally; even more surprisingly they ended up asking me whether I would be interested in launching the local chapter myself. It was quite more than what I was bargaining for but after r reaching out a handful of equally motivated French people, we officially launch the UFE Seattle chapter in February 2011.
From the onset it was clear that our little team had to find a way to be as productive as possible. All our board members were already busy with full time jobs, studies, children, or a combination! We also knew that to scale we needed to find an infrastructure that could not only be started quickly but also that would be free as we had limited funding.. I spent the few first weeks looking around to see what kind of online tools were available to help us get started and grow. We knew that we wanted to be present on the social networking sites (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter) and have a blog, a website, and a newsletter.
Setting up our presence on web was fairly simple. We utilized social networking sites, a Wordpress blog ,a newsletter, email, and a simple website. That was the easy part.
The hard part was finding a way to securely and easily communicate and collaborate with the board members including keeping track of emails, sharing photos, and documents such as our non-profit charter, promotional materials and graphic assets. We also wanted to create an online repository of local French services such as French speaking doctors and businesses (especially bakeries!) that would be easier to maintain than a webpage given how much we expected the volume of information to grow over time. So how could we do all of this and be able to share information with our members in the same scalable way? How could we separate which information we would share with the broad public, and which would be held for members only?
After discovering the latest Windows Live tools I finally found a way to achieve all of this, easily, for free and in a way that will scale for the future by combining several tools:
How did we implement this?
A secure Windows Live Group for board members which:
Office online enables us to:
o edit, store and share our various Excel lists, accounting information, follow up on various topics, email lists etc.
o create and store documents needed for our events: presence lists (Excel), flyers (word), presentations (PowerPoint), etc.
o use a OneNote notebook to store all the information the board needs including:
Hotmail and the features the Windows Live ID opens up provides an email address for our non-profit
SkyDrive enables us to easily and quickly share information with the community
Using all those tools we were able to solve all out key starting and scaling issues, completely for free and in a fairly easy way. Without all this the quantity and quality of our communication and follow up to our community would have been much lower!
Two other services I can share with you that were also very useful for us:
Good luck using these great tools for your projects too!
Lili Cheng is general manager of Microsoft’s Future Social Experiences (FUSE) Labs
This summer my research team had six incredible interns, four women and two men. As they head back to college, and as I look at my own two high school aged children, I find myself wondering, what motivates young folks to pursue STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) degrees and careers, and what can we do to make STEM and computer science more appealing to more people?
Getting the facts, according to the August 2011 study on the Gender Gap of Women in STEM from the US Department of Commerce, of 44 million college graduates with jobs in the US; there were only 6.7 million males and 2.5 million females with STEM degrees. Of those, only 2.7 million (40%) men and 0.6 million (26%) women work in STEM jobs. In other words, we could be doing better! Of 44 million college grads, only .6 million women have STEM degrees and STEM jobs.
Getting more facts, when we look at what motivates kids to get STEM degrees, it turns out the top answer is no surprise. The desire to earn a good salary with good job potential is the top reason kids (65%) study STEM, but the second rated reasons are fascinating:
Male students are more likely to pursue STEM because they have always enjoyed games/toys, etc. (51% vs. 35% females).
Female students are more likely than male students to say that they chose STEM to make a difference (49% vs. 34% males).
Also fascinating is discovering how kids get interested in STEM.
To help increase motivation, given the above information, it would be good to know if increasing extracurricular STEM activities, toys and games for girls or if improving classroom curriculum and incentives would best increase passion and interest. Also, it would be great to give parents better guidance. For example, for parents who aren’t in STEM careers, how can they best motivate and encourage their children? It’s very hard to know what the best way to motivate a child is, even for parents like me with STEM careers.
Given I am a woman, and have one of the most exciting and interesting STEM jobs in the world, I want to help make sure there is awareness of the facts around STEM college majors and STEM jobs. I’d love to hear what kinds of programs people, especially educators and college counselors, find to be the most effective, and how we can better support the most impactful initiatives. If you have suggestions, we’d love to hear them!
Why not share you views in the comments below or reach out to me on Twitter using #STEMtember!
Lili Cheng is general manager of Microsoft’s Future Social Experiences (FUSE) Labs, which focuses on software and services that are centered on social connectivity, real-time experiences, and rich media. Previously, she was the director of the Creative Systems Group (CSG) within Microsoft Research.CSG developed several projects in the area of social computing and design, including Kodu, an Xbox 360 game to teach kids programming concepts; Salsa, a project that combines email and social networking concepts; and a project that rethinks how we view and share files within the operating system. Lili joined Microsoft in 1995, in the Virtual Worlds research group where she worked on social applications such as V-Chat and Comic Chat.
LaDeana Huyler, group communications manager for accessibility, Microsoft
Going back to school means preparing for a new school year full of possibilities. While not on every traditional back-to-school checklist, making sure student technology is prepped and personalized for students is worth remembering.
Whether you are a parent, educator, or both – you understand the challenge of supporting students with differing learning styles. And, if a student has trouble seeing, hearing, or concentrating, personalizing the PC can make it easier for that student to see, hear, and use it more comfortably and effectively.
To help you ensure that your child or student’s PC is personalized to meet their learning needs, we have created a series of how-to articles, each with a video, to show students how to personalize their PCs to make them easier to see, hear, and use.
· Easier to See. Traditionally, students with vision issues sit in the front of the classroom so they can see the chalkboard. Now that students are using PCs to learn, it is worth remembering to adjust PCs to ensure that students can easily read their computer screens. Learn 5 ways to make a PC easier for students to see.
· Easier to Concentrate. Just like having a desk piled with papers, a messy computer desktop screen can make it difficult to find files and concentrate. You can help students concentrate on learning—especially critical for students who are easily distracted —by creating a simple, uncluttered PC learning environment. And, by reducing the number of screen elements vying for a student’s attention. See 6 ways to adjust the PC to make it easier for students to concentrate.
· Staying Organized. It can be challenging to take good notes and stay organized--especially for students with learning difficulties. Often students report that they don’t take notes, because it’s just too hard. One advantage all note-takers have in the digital age is the opportunity to use tools, such as Microsoft OneNote, that make taking and organizing notes a lot easier. OneNote has many features that help students take notes faster and in different ways, and stay organized. It also helps with literacy challenges such as spelling and grammar. Learn 5 ways Microsoft OneNote can help students with dyslexia stay organized.
For teachers and parents
Consider establishing a Personalization Day when students are introduced to PCs for the year, both at home and at school. Personalization helps students become familiar with their PCs and to make them their own.
· Encourage all students to personalize their PC. Use the personalization tips provided above to personalize the PC to make it easier to see, hear, and use according to a student’s personal learning style and abilities. For students who have varying abilities or learning preferences, this can help educators identify those who need accessibility features without singling them out. Involve all students in selecting personalization options on the PC and take note of how they interact with technology., For example if a student gets particularly close to the screen to see, he or she may benefit from increasing text or objects on screen or other vision options.
· Check online safety settings. The beginning of the school year is a good time to check the online safety settings of the PCs your students will be using. Team up with students to explore online safely, using a mix of guidance and monitoring. Seize the opportunity while students are young to help them establish good digital habits and skills they’ll need to deal with situations, information, and people online. Then, as they demonstrate readiness, help them use new services and tools. See Help protect kids online: 4 things you can do.
Create a network profile. Have students create a personal network profile so their settings are available the next time they log into that PC, or onto a networked PC (if applicable).
More resources for accessibility in education
If a student has a disability or learning challenges, additional accessibility features and products may be necessary to enable that student to use a PC. If you believe a student has an accessibility need, here are some recommended next steps:
1. Visit Microsoft’s Accessibility in the Classroom website for additional information.
2. Download Accessibility: A Guide for Educators to learn about accessibility solutions for students with vision, hearing, and learning disabilities.
3. Find an accessibility center or consultant in your school or community.
LaDeana Huyler, group communications manager for accessibility, Microsoft. Huyler is passionate about increasing awareness about the power of accessibility, especially for children with learning difficulties and disabilities. She co-authored Accessibility: A Guide for Educators and, for more than ten years, has served as editor-in-chief of the Microsoft Accessibility website.
Our mission is to help people and businesses throughout the world realize their
Explore the positive impact of local programs promoted and supported by Microsoft
around the world.
News, perspectives and analysis on legal and policy issues.
© 2013 Microsoft
Privacy Statement |
Connect With Us