STEM | KCUR

STEM

In a show inspired by the film Hidden Figures, we hear local stories, like the story of Ed Dwight, a KCK native, came close to being the black man on a multiracial mission to the moon dreamed up by John F. Kennedy. This show has been rebroadcast, in 2020, as a tribute to the memory of NASA mathematician Katherine Goble Johnson, whose huge role in historic space launches was not well-known until Hidden Figures came out. She died this week at the age of 101. Guests: 

Chris Neal / For the Kansas News Service

LAWRENCE, Kansas — Faculty, students and alumni are pleading with the University of Kansas not to ax a teacher-training center slated to become the next victim of major budget cuts — or at least to extend its life a few more semesters.

KU announced earlier this month that the Center for STEM Learning will close in June. Students say they were blindsided, and that KU’s promise to create a more cost-effective path for math and science teachers doesn’t satisfy them.

Seg. 1: Technology In Prison | Seg. 2: Unidentified

Aug 19, 2019

Segment 1: A KU research team got a grant to bring technology training to women's prisons.

The population of women in U.S. prisons has risen 834 percent over the past 40 years. More than half of the women now in prison are mothers of children under 18. After interruptions in their educations and resumes, technology training could help them begin planning for re-entry.

Celia Llopis-Jepsen / Kansas News Service

A teenager wakes up, gets ready for school. Slips a smartphone into her pocket on the way out the door.

Her day may well include some biology or chemistry, history, algebra, English and Spanish. It likely won’t include lessons on how that smartphone — more powerful than the computers aboard the Apollo moon missions — and its myriad colorful apps actually work.

Chris Neal / Kansas News Service

Life is expensive. Rent, health care, raising a family, saving for retirement — it adds up. But so does college debt. In fact, the cost of college shot up many times faster than typical U.S. earnings in recent decades.

So, what to do after high school? Here’s what you need to know.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

When Uhunoma Amayo found out his science experiment was one of just 34 selected to be carried out this spring on the International Space Station, he was shocked.

"They pulled me out of class," says Amayo, a seventh-grader at Coronado Middle School in Kansas City, Kansas. "I was dumbfounded."

Amayo is one of four students at Coronado who designed the experiment, which will explore whether mint grows as well in orbit as it does here on earth.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Back when she was in eighth grade at California Trail in the Olathe Public Schools, Lilly Beckwith loved making amateur videos with Windows Movie Maker and posting them to her YouTube channel.

So Beckwith was excited when it came time to enroll for high school and she learned she could hone her filmmaking skills in the e-Communication program, she was excited. But there was a catch. Beckwith, who was supposed to go to Olathe East, would have to transfer to Olathe Northwest.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

There were some groans back in August when Laura Lavallee told sixth graders at Tomahawk Elementary they’d be talking about their career prospects this year.

“Some of them were a little reluctant,” said Lavallee, the STEM teacher at the Shawnee Mission school. “‘This is silly! I’m in sixth grade! My career is so far away! Why do I need to think about it now?’”

courtesy Kansas City Friends of Alvin Ailey

The CEO of Kansas City Friends of Alvin Ailey, Harlan Brownlee, will leave that role at the end of this year, but it won't mark the end of a 35-year career in arts education and administration. Instead, Brownlee says, he's going back to his roots. 

"I'm integrating dance and movement and using that to help teach different science concepts," he explains.

State lawmakers return to the Missouri Capitol on Monday for a special session designed to pass two pieces of legislation vetoed by Gov. Mike Parson.

And Wednesday they’re scheduled to hold their annual veto session, which may be relatively short and quiet.

During a statewide tour on Tuesday, Missouri Gov. Mike Parson said he wants work with lawmakers to fix two bills during next week’s special session.

Parson vetoed a bill to increase STEM education in high school and another to expand alternative prosecution for drug abusers, known as drug courts. Despite the vetoes, Parson is making it clear he still supports the spirit of the laws and would rather see them reshaped than overridden by lawmakers as currently written.

Segment 1: There are a lot of acronyms in education. How do those phrases affect kids?

In the education world, 'STEM learning' refers to an emphasis on science, technology, engineering and math. Shortly afterwards, arts and reading were thrown into the mix changing the acronym from STEM to STEAM and now STREAM. On this episode, we dive into a conversation on how terminology and buzzwords shape modern learning.

Anne Kniggendorf

What does your grandfather’s house have in common with the Johnson County library? A workshop.

“I’m not saying this is your grandad’s basement — it’s kind of your grandad’s basement on steroids,” Johnson County Library Director Sean Casserley said during a recent event to rededicate the Black & Veatch MakerSpace. The Overland Park-based engineering firm renewed a $90,000, three-year grant to the library system in July.

Carolina Hidalgo / St. Louis Public Radio file photo

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson vetoed a bipartisan bill last week because the detailed standards for an online STEM curriculum program seemed “narrowly tailored to apply to only one company.” And that company helped create that criteria, according to one of the bill’s handlers.

Frito-Lay

After her neighbor’s house was struck by lightning, Julia Luetje, an eleven-year old from Leawood, Kansas developed a fear of thunderstorms.

“I’m afraid of storms,” said Luetje. “I don’t like hearing them or seeing the lightning.”

Flashing lights, loud booms and a downpour of rain — it’s a pretty reasonable thing for a kid to be scared about. But when the elementary school Luejte attended held an inventor’s fair, she decided to face her fears.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

The School of Computing and Engineering at the University of Missouri-Kansas City is getting a high-tech $32 million facility to help students compete in a global economy.

The University of Missouri Board of Curators approved construction of the computer science building, which will be adjacent to Flarsheim Hall, earlier this month. It will be built with a combination of state funds and private donations, including a $6 million gift from the Sunderland Foundation.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

“Let’s go divas, let’s go!” the girls chant, before dissolving into giggles.

On the last day of a Kansas City Public Schools-sponsored summer camp, students cheer on their friends in an engineering challenge.

A recent study from the Brookings Institution suggests that the vast majority of our country's high-tech jobs are clustered in just a handful of cities. Local tech experts argue Kansas City, Missouri is on its way to the center of that cluster. 

Is Kansas City a tech hub? What factors are influencing the "rise of the rest" in our region?

Guests:

Alex Smith / KCUR 89.3

In the next few years, many tech businesses in Kansas City expect to do a lot of hiring, with starting salaries that most recent college graduates can only dream of.

But will these jobs go to native Kansas Citians or to people recruited from other places?

A few weeks ago, the White House held a STEM education workshop for 27 cities across the United States, and five representatives from Kansas City were invited to attend. On this edition of Up to Date, Steve Kraske finds out what they learned and how it could change local approaches to STEM.

Guests:

Elle Moxley / KCUR

Kansas City Mayor Sly James has pledged $10,000 from his office’s budget to the Women's Business Center WE-Lend Microloan program.

“We can always do more to remove barriers from people who don’t need barriers in front of them,” James told about 200 women attending a WE 2.0 women’s empowerment conference Friday.

The loans provide funding, technical assistance and a financial coach to women-led businesses.

Liz / Wikimedia Commons

State education officials in Missouri hope a newly designed statistical model will identify down to to the district level what content areas and geographic regions in the state are facing drastic teacher shortages. 

"The better your data, the better you can address issues and solve problems. The better you can make things happen. The more we know what our specific problems are, the more we can attack them," Katnik says. 

Courtesy Photo / KC STEM Alliance

The White House has made it a point to urge girls to get involved in math, science and engineering.

In 2013, President Obama said, "We’ve got half the population that is way underrepresented in those fields and that means that we’ve got a whole bunch of talent … not being encouraged the way they need to.” 

Despite that, KC STEM Alliance director Laura Loyacono says that females are actually a shrinking percentage of the computer science workforce.

Cristopher Crance / Burns &McDonnell

When you were a kid, did you ever dream of becoming an astronaut? Some area students are taking the first steps. Grade-schoolers at Resurrection Catholic School in Kansas City, Kan. and Prairie Fire Upper Elementary in Independence are creating experiments to send into near space in a big weather balloon.

Guests:

Elle Moxley / KCUR

How do you get fifth and sixth graders to see a connection between what they're doing in school and their future careers?

Talk to them about Walt Disney.

"As a sixth grader, he was sketching mice and ducks in his art class," Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon told students during an assembly at Mill Creek Upper Elementary in Belton Friday.

The school is one of 34 across Missouri that's teaching elementary school students about math and science through Project Lead the Way, which Nixon hopes will inspire them to pursue those fields as adults. 

Bradley Covington, a senior at Lee’s Summit North High School in Lee's Summit, Mo., remembers well the time he planned out Santa Claus’s Christmas Eve route. 

“We had to think of all the problems we could face: where he would travel, the direction he would travel, how he’s going to travel to all these places,” he says. “We had to actually specifically look up the time zones, to find which ones Christmas would fall in first.”

Roy Montgomery / Flickr--CC

Kansas is among the most innovative states in the nation, according to a new report from Bloomberg. The state came in 18th out of 20.

States were ranked on the number of STEM professionals in the state, science and technology degree holders, percentage of utility patents and a three-year analysis of productivity change, among other things. 

"Veteran in transition" Cailey McClurken / veteransinstem.org

They've mastered advanced battlefield operations planning. They’ve navigated years of overseas intricacies and family complexities. But now, can they master trigonometry?

The Veteran in STEM program seeks to support veterans in acquiring the education they need to pursue jobs in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math fields.  While the process of retooling your education to focus on math or science might seem daunting to anybody, only half of STEM jobs require a bachelors degree or higher level of education, the other half typically require associate degrees or specific trade training.  Dean Kevin Truman of the School of Computing and Engineering and Alexis Petri, Co-Principal Investigator and Project Director of the KC BANCS program guide us through the unique supports and programing they've put together to help veterans advance their education and careers.