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Smithsonian Science Education Center and Department of Defense Launch New Initiative to Develop Computational Thinking Skills in STEM

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WASHINGTON (Newswire.com) – The Smithsonian Science Education Center has published Smithsonian Science for Computational Thinking, a set of freely available instructional units for grades three and five that integrate science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) and computational thinking (CT) under an Inter-Agency Agreement with the U.S. Department of Defense STEM Office. Using phenomenon- and problem-driven pedagogy, elementary school students use computational thinking skills to define and solve real-world problems and explain scientific phenomena in a high-touch to high-tech environment. 

Smithsonian Science for Computational Thinking promotes transdisciplinary learning and convergence education by integrating STEM, CT and literacy in the pursuit of solving real-world problems and explaining scientific phenomena. The instructional units are aligned to the Next Generation Science Standards, the Computer Science Teachers Association K-12 Computer Science Standards, the International Society for Technology in Education Standards and the Common Core Mathematics Standards. 

In December 2022, the White House held a summit announcing the launch of the STEMM Opportunity Alliance and highlighted Smithsonian Science for Computational Thinking as part of the Smithsonian’s commitment to make STEM equity a priority and cultivate the STEM talent of tomorrow. As part of the Smithsonian Science for Computational Thinking initiative, the Smithsonian Science Education Center is addressing the inequity in access to broadband and computational thinking education for rural students. This initiative will upskill educators in nine rural communities near military bases in three states in the Midwest and will include studying the impact of STEM +CT on 300 low-income students where broadband is limited. These free high-touch to high-tech resources and professional development will then be scaled nationally. By taking a high-touch to high-tech approach to teaching computational thinking in a science classroom, all students can improve their digital literacy—with and without access to computers and other high-tech devices.

About the Smithsonian Science Education Center

The Smithsonian Science Education Center (SSEC) is transforming K-12 Education Through Science in collaboration with communities across the globe. The SSEC is nationally and internationally recognized for the quality of its programs and its impact on K-12 science education. Visit the SSEC and Smithsonian Science for Computational Thinkingwebsites and follow SSEC on Twitter and Facebook

Source: Smithsonian Science Education Center

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Navigating Change: Paradise Valley Unified School Board Votes to Close Three Schools Amid Declining Enrollment

In a tough decision, Paradise Valley Unified School Board voted to close 3 schools due to declining enrollment, sparking community concerns.

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In a recent decision that has stirred emotions and raised concerns within the Paradise Valley community, the Paradise Valley Unified School Board has voted to close three schools due to declining enrollment. Sunset Canyon Elementary, Desert Springs Prep Elementary, and Vista Verde Middle School are the institutions that will be affected by this move, with the closures set to take effect on July 1, 2024.

The board members involved in this difficult decision emphasized the necessity of being fiscally responsible in the face of dwindling student numbers. Despite acknowledging the emotional weight of this choice, their primary focus remained on the financial sustainability of the district. As board member Tony Pantera succinctly put it, “In the end, they’re buildings. Some people say, ‘Well it’s not a building.’ It’s just a building.”

However, the response from the audience highlighted a deeper sentiment among community members. Their outcry, expressing that these schools represent more than just physical structures, underscored the vital role these educational institutions play in fostering a sense of community and belonging. As one can imagine, the decision to close these schools will have far-reaching effects beyond the mere physical closure of buildings.

While Pantera’s assertion that “the community can exist anywhere” may hold some truth, the emotional bond and shared experiences nurtured within these school environments are irreplaceable. The impact of these closures extends beyond mere logistics, touching the hearts of students, parents, teachers, and residents who have built their lives around these educational hubs.

As the Paradise Valley Unified School District navigates this period of change and transition, it is essential for all stakeholders to come together to support one another and ensure that the well-being of the students remains at the forefront of all decisions. While change can be challenging, it also presents an opportunity for growth, adaptation, and the forging of new paths forward.

In the wake of this decision, it is crucial for the community to unite, reflect on the values that these schools have instilled, and work towards creating a positive and supportive environment for all students, regardless of the changes that lie ahead. By coming together with empathy, understanding, and a shared commitment to education, the Paradise Valley community can emerge stronger and more resilient from this period of transition.

Source: KTAR News

https://ktar.com/story/5561735/3-paradise-valley-schools-to-close-as-enrollment-numbers-decline/

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Honoring Legacy: ARAC Scholarship Programs for College-Bound Seniors

“ARAC honors Tuskegee Airmen with scholarships for STEM and African American high school seniors. Apply by May 1 and May 31. Contact for details.”

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The Archer-Ragsdale Arizona Chapter (ARAC), paying tribute to Tuskegee Airmen, is accepting applications for two scholarships. The William A. Campbell Memorial Scholarship, named after Col. Campbell, offers up to two $1,500 scholarships to STEM-bound high school seniors. Applicants must have a minimum 2.7 GPA and submit a 500-word essay by May 31.

The Ashby-Herring Scholarship, named after original Tuskegee Airmen, awards two $1,500 scholarships to African American high school seniors with a GPA of 3.0 or higher and financial need. The deadline for the Ashby-Herring Scholarship is May 1.

Diana Gregory, ARAC Scholarship Committee coordinator, expressed pride in facilitating higher education through these scholarships, encouraging eligible seniors to apply promptly. For more information, contact rtoli@cox.net for the William A. Campbell Memorial Scholarship and scholarship@azfoundation.org for the Ashby-Herring Scholarship.

https://www.azfoundation.org/

https://q5i.09c.myftpupload.com/chapter-of-the-tuskegee-airmen-opens-scholarship-programs-in-arizona/
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Know as They Grow: How birth defects affect each stage of life

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(Family Features) Birth defects, structural changes that affect one or more parts of the body, are the leading cause of infant mortality. A baby is born with a birth defect every 4.5 minutes, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC).

Birth defects most often develop during the first three months of pregnancy, when a baby’s organs are forming. Not only can they affect mortality, but they can also cause problems for a baby’s overall health and how the body develops and functions. Common birth defects include congenital heart defects, cleft lip, cleft palate and spina bifida.

Genetics, behaviors and social and environmental factors can impact the risk for birth defects, and not all birth defects can be prevented. To help improve the lives of people living with birth defects, consider this information from the experts at March of Dimes, who aim to provide knowledge about what birth defects are, how to prevent them and their impact across all stages of life.

Pregnancy
Although not all birth defects can be prevented, people can increase their chances of having a healthy baby by managing health conditions and adopting healthy behaviors before becoming pregnant.

When planning a pregnancy, see a health care professional and start prenatal care as soon as possible. Talk about taking any medications you’re currently taking (or might need during the pregnancy), including vitamins. Most doctors recommend women take 400 micrograms of folic acid every day before and during pregnancy to help prevent birth defects.

Also discuss vaccinations (including COVID-19, since pregnant women are at elevated risk for severe COVID-19 illness) and other medical concerns, such as how to manage diabetes. Avoid overheating and treat fevers and infections promptly. Avoid alcohol, smoking cigarettes and marijuana or other drugs during pregnancy.

Infancy
If your baby is diagnosed with a birth defect during pregnancy, or born with a birth defect or other health condition, he or she may need special care to aid growth and development. Many children with birth defects lead long and happy lives. However, birth defects remain critical conditions that can cause lifelong challenges.

Advancements such as improved newborn screening and early detection of birth defects can help pinpoint potential problems and ensure the baby begins receiving supportive care for better survival rates and quality of life. Examples include newborn screenings for critical congenital heart defects and monitoring bladder and kidney function in infants and children with spina bifida.

Childhood
Meeting the complex needs of a person with birth defects involves the whole family and can be challenging at times. Finding resources, knowing what to expect and planning for the future can help. Early intervention services and support include special education, speech therapy and physical therapy. These can have a significant impact on a child’s ability to learn new skills, overcome challenges and increase success in school and life.

Some babies born with birth defects may also have physical and intellectual disabilities. The exact ages of developmental milestones are different for each child. Families, educators and health care providers can work together to set meaningful goals and create a plan to help children living with birth defects reach their full potential.

Adolescence
Adolescents and young adults living with birth defects may face unique challenges as they transition from childhood to adulthood. They may need to navigate changes in insurance and transition from a familiar pediatric specialist to a new adult doctor. It’s important for people with birth defects and their families to begin planning for this transition during childhood so they can lead healthy, independent lives as adults.

Other areas of focus might include medications, surgeries and other procedures; mental health; social development and relationships within and outside the family; physical activity; and independence.

Adulthood
With every pregnancy, a woman starts out with a 3% chance of having a baby with a birth defect, regardless of underlying health conditions or lifestyle factors, according to the CDC.

Many women with birth defects and other health conditions have healthy, uneventful pregnancies. However, women with birth defects may be more likely to have a baby with a birth defect. People living with birth defects should talk with their health care providers before becoming pregnant about how a pregnancy might affect them and their baby.

Having someone in your family with a birth defect also increases your chances of having a baby with a birth defect. To learn more about your genetic risk of having a baby with a birth defect, talk with a clinical geneticist or a genetic counselor.

Learn more about birth defects by following #EveryJourneyMatters and #BirthDefects on social media and visiting marchofdimes.org/birthdefects.

Tips to Prevent Birth Defects
Not all birth defects can be prevented, but you can help reduce the risk and increase your chances of having a healthy baby by following these steps.

  • Get a preconception checkup before you start trying to get pregnant.
  • Ensure your vaccinations are up to date. Some vaccinations protect you from infections that can cause birth defects and updating certain vaccinations may mean you need to wait before trying to become pregnant.
  • Take a vitamin supplement that includes 400 micrograms of folic acid every day.
  • Learn about your family health history. If you, your partner, your children or someone in your families has a birth defect, you may want to see a genetic counselor to learn more about your risk.
  • Work with your health care provider to manage chronic health conditions, such as diabetes.
  • Talk to your health care provider about medicines you take, including any prescriptions, over-the-counter medicines, supplements and herbal products. Certain medicines may increase your baby’s risk of a birth defect.
  • Reach a healthy weight. Being obese can increase your baby’s chances of having birth defects like neural tube defects, heart defects and cleft palate.

Photos courtesy of Shutterstock


SOURCE:
March of Dimes

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