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What Helps Students Love Math?

multiply impact on students math skills

Photo courtesy of MIND Research Institute

Encouraging highly successful nonprofits to collaborate with each other on shared goals can often be a challenge. Part of their success hinges on laser-like execution of their own program and on getting results. But occasionally, two programs are so complementary that the combination greatly magnifies what they could ever achieve on their own. Cisco has been a longtime partner and supporter of both City Year, an education-focused nonprofit working in underserved schools, and MIND Research Institute, provider of innovative math learning software. Both held admirably strong track records with their approaches. City Year places young volunteers in schools to assist with multi-subject tutoring, before, during, and after school, in a Whole School, Whole Child approach. City Year staff measure their results by tracking what they call the ABCs: attendance, behavior, and classroom performance in literacy and math.

CityYearMIND

Photo courtesy of City Year

MIND Research provides ST Math, a set of cloud-based learning games for K-12. These games are non-language based, which has helped students succeed in learning math regardless of their language of origin, gender, and even, in some cases, learning disabilities. Two years ago, it occurred to Cisco’s Community Relations lead, Ricardo Benavides, that combining the programs in the same underserved Alum Rock district schools in the San Jose, California area might lead to even better outcomes. Read More »

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London 2012 – Leaving a Lasting Legacy for Science and Math

On Monday morning, I was at Claremont High School, in Harrow, London, watching as one of the architects responsible for building the Olympic stadium kept a class of 13 year olds enthralled about the design and engineering challenges involved.

Jo Smith from the firm Buro Happold was taking a lesson from Cisco’s  Out of the Blocks StemNet programme bringing real world examples of how lessons about chemical structure; mathematics and physics were all very much challenges the stadium designers and builders has to overcome when designing the stadium and other venues for this summer’s Olympics.

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STEM and the U.S. Manufacturing Conundrum

The Conundrum

In my most recent blog “U.S. manufacturing: is it sustainable?“, I referenced an article about how U.S. manufacturing has been leading the economy out of the depths of the Great Recession.  The authors put forward a thesis with supporting data that suggest Americans believe the manufacturing industry is the basis for wealth creation and is fundamental to a sustained and successful U.S. economy.

The rub is that only 30% of Americans said they have or would encourage their children to pursue a manufacturing career.

Why such a discrepancy? An answer to this question is not simple. However, I do believe we must seek that answer and address the gap, if the U.S. is to remain competitive in the global marketplace. Being an engineer myself--a manufacturing and controls engineer no less--I know the first and most essential step to a solution is making sure we’ve defined the problem well.

A 2009 survey by the American Society for Quality, as reported on manufacturing.net, helps to shine a light on our problem.

According to the survey, the top three reasons why kids aren’t interested in engineering:

  • Kids don’t know much about engineering (44 percent).
  • Kids prefer a more exciting career than engineering (30 percent).
  • They don’t feel confident enough in their math or science skills (21 percent) to be good at it. This is despite the fact that the largest number of kids ranked math (22 percent) and science (17 percent) as their favorite subjects.

Survey findings on the adult side:

  • Only 20 percent of parents have encouraged or will encourage their child(ren) to consider an engineering career.
  • The vast majority of parents (97 percent) believe that knowledge of math and science will help their children have a successful career.

So, while American children and adults both feel that math and science are important (even enjoyable), there is an ironic disconnect (cognitive dissociation?) between recognizing the importance and committing to pursue a career in engineering and manufacturing.

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Education to Build a Brilliant Future

August 18, 2011 at 9:18 am PST

Hello and welcome to the first of what I hope will be many blogs I’ll get to write on behalf of Cisco.  This is my opportunity to explain a little about the Cisco Legacy and Building A Brilliant Future (BABF).

As we passed the major milestone of One Year To Go, the focus from the key London 2012 stakeholders has been concentrated on preparing for the Games --  and rightly so.  However, the Cisco team are equally proud of our Legacy programme, Building A Brilliant Future, and the work we are doing to take the project forward.

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