Did You Know?

Newspaper

Did you know that U.S. schools with a majority of African-American students are twice as likely to have teachers with little experience as majority white schools in the same district? Recently released demographic data from approximately 7,000 school districts, released by the Department of Education, shed light on the differences in U.S. educational opportunities and resources. Additional data will look at access to advanced math and science courses, guidance counselors, and the numbers of students passing algebra and taking Advanced Placement tests.

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Did you see EA member Twilio in the news? The company was featured in a story this week on why many students choose to intern at startups instead of larger tech companies.  Kyle Conroy was a computer science student at UC Berkeley and Twilio's founders were still working out of coffeehouses when he applied for an internship with them; he's now graduated, Twilio now has an office, and Conroy works there fulltime. “I had the opportunity to make a large impact at this company, which is pretty cool for a sophomore in college,” he said. "Students want to be part of this culture where you can wear shorts to work and really make an impact."

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Did you know that since UC Santa Cruz first introduced its games design major in 2006, its computer science department has grown from 25 students to over 350? UC Santa Cruz also opened a new Center for Games and Playable Media, where students and faculty work together in games-related research labs. “There’s now a perception here that a computer games degree is an elite major,” said department chair Jim Whitehead. A recent article mentioned the program in the context of video games' popularity and the recent Supreme Court ruling overturning a ban on the sale of violent games for minors; do you think increasing the number of women or other underrepresented groups who choose game design would change how we create or play violent games?

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Did you know that Goldman Sachs has sponsored a "returnship" program since 2006? To combat the misperception that "opting-out" is the reason why some executive women leave their jobs and never return, some companies run return-to-work programs that on-ramp women professionals whose gaps in work history might otherwise have made them overlooked by hiring managers. The success of these programs can be measured in the number of fulltime hires they produce, but as a recent article points out, "Return tracks will never be a substitute for flexible work-life policies that make life easier for [ALL] employees with kids ... But perhaps this is a problem that will solve itself. If tomorrow’s 55-year-old CEOs are yesterday’s 40-year-old interns, they’ll probably have a very different perspective on working life."

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Did you know that explicit instruction makes children less likely to engage in spontaneous exploration and discovery? Researchers from MIT, in a study that recruited children from the Boston Museum of Science, found that children given a novel toy and explicitly taught one of its functions played with the toy for less time and discovered fewer things to do with it than children who were not told anything about the toy, those who were taught an explicit function and then left alone with it, or those who were given the toy after watching others interact with it.

The study seems to conclude that, as some of you may have gleaned from your own experiences or from presentations such as the panel on tinkering from the NCWIT Summit, an "open-ended" pedagogy that leaves room for questions and alternate approaches might encourage greater exploration and better engagement.

Did You Know? is a brief round-up of information and news that crossed NCWIT’s radar this week that we think might be of interest to you. Practices or content of the news presented are not vetted or endorsed by NCWIT.