The problem with Stem

Posted in Teaching on February 13th, 2017 by steve

Ireland“Anyone who reads this blog regularly probably knows that I have a bit of a problem with the term ‘Stem’. ‘Stem’ covers everything from botany to theoretical physics to mechanical engineering. ‘Stem’ is more than a harmless acronym; it represents an attempt at a unification of the various science and technology disciplines to create a sort of super-discipline …” (more)

[educationandstuff, 13 February]

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Women in STEM ‘more likely to burn out’

Posted in Life on January 26th, 2017 by steve

“Women working in university science departments report higher levels of job-related burnout than men, suggests new research. The study points to reasons why women working in science might leave academia and offers ways for universities to better support them …” (more)

[Holly Else, Times Higher Education, 25 January]

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Some quick thoughts on TIMSS

Posted in Teaching on December 1st, 2016 by steve

Ireland“TIMSS (Trends in International Maths and Science Study) doesn’t roll off the tongue quite like PISA but it is important nonetheless. The results from the 2015 tests have just been released and the Irish Report is available here. For a small country on the periphery of Europe, we are doing quite well …” (more)

[educationandstuff, 1 December]

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Science Europe lobby group hit by sudden exodus

Posted in Research on November 30th, 2016 by steve

EU“Influential research organizations are pulling out of Science Europe, the Brussels-based advocacy group that aims to champion researchers’ interests with European Union policymakers. All but one of France’s research-funding organizations are preparing to leave the group at the end of this year …” (more)

[Inga Vesper, Nature, 29 November]

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Scientific papers get more authors

Posted in Research on November 30th, 2016 by steve

International“As readers of scientific journals can attest, the list of authors on a typical research paper appears to be growing longer and longer. The trend is laid bare by data from Scopus, the biggest database of abstracts and citations of papers …” (more)

[Economist, 25 November]

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Performance in key subjects is not adding up

Posted in Teaching on November 29th, 2016 by steve

Ireland“Science, technology, engineering and maths are critically important areas for modern society. Expertise in these so-called Stem subjects is vital to supporting future economic growth. The quality of our education in these subjects, then, needs to be of the highest quality …” (more)

[Irish Times, 29 November]

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Targeted approach to science as career

Posted in Governance and administration on November 21st, 2016 by steve

Ireland“Sir, – Further to Michael Duffy’s article ‘Stem education critical for country’s future’ (November 15th), the very use of the term Stem (science, technology, engineering and maths), although commonplace, is actually not very informative and may in fact be confusing for school-leavers …” (more)

[Greg Foley, Irish Times, 21 November]

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Is Irish science responsible? It’s getting there

Posted in Research on November 19th, 2016 by steve

Ireland“‘Responsibility’ is a term we don’t often hear in the context of science. Dr Padraig Murphy, programme chair of Dublin City University’s MSc in science communication, explains why that should change …” (more)

[Silicon Republic, 18 November]

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Women in science and academia

Posted in Governance and administration on November 15th, 2016 by steve

Ireland“Sir, – I read with interest the article by Aine McMahon on women in science, technology, engineering and maths (Stem), in which she quoted the views of Regina Moran, representing the corporate world, and Christine Loscher, representing academia (‘Successful career in Stem field now more achievable for women’, November 10th) …” (more)

[Jane Grimson, Irish Times, 15 November]

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Stem education critical for country’s future

Posted in Teaching on November 15th, 2016 by steve

Ireland“The importance of a knowledge economy to Ireland’s future is hard to measure, but it should not be underestimated. While we may not know with any certainty what the new jobs in 20 or 30 years will be, our education system has to prepare for them now. The subjects of science, technology, engineering and maths (Stem) are rightly seen as critical to meet this challenge …” (more)

[Michael Duffy, Irish Times, 15 November]

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STEM, science and engineering

Posted in Teaching on November 14th, 2016 by steve

Ireland“It’s that time of year when we’re all in marketing mode. Open Days are taking place, it’s Science Week, and for many it’s a case of STEM, STEM, STEM. As a lifelong science nerd who, during the deep recession of early 1980s Ireland, chose to study chemical engineering (the most molecular of the engineering disciplines) I’m always interested in the relationship between these two disciplines and especially in how we promote them to school-leavers …” (more)

[educationandstuff, 14 November]

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Scientific language is becoming more informal

Posted in Research on November 9th, 2016 by steve

International“We are not supposed to use first-person pronouns, and contractions aren’t allowed. These rules also discourage unattended anaphoric pronouns and say that split infinitives should be rarely used. And to start a sentence with an initial conjunction is as bad as to include a listing expression, and so on. Exclamation marks are forbidden! …” (more)

[Nature, 8 November]

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Why do school-leavers study science?

Posted in Fees, access and admissions on September 29th, 2016 by steve

Ireland“The first thing I do with my incoming first year biotechnology class is to give a lecture on the ’10 types of scientist’. The lecture is based on this study by the Science Council in the UK, a study that was brought to my attention by Julie Dowsett, programme manager with the pioneering Agri-Food Graduate Development Programme based in UCD and UCC …” (more)

[educationandstuff, 29 September]

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The Inevitable Evolution of Bad Science

Posted in Research on September 25th, 2016 by steve

USA“Bacteria, animals, languages, cancers: all of these things can evolve, which we know from the work of legions of scientists. You could argue that science itself also evolves. Researchers vary in their methods and attitudes, in ways that affect their success, and they pass those traits to the students they train. Over time, the very culture of science is sculpted by natural selection — and according to Paul Smaldino and Richard McElreath, it is headed in an unenviable direction …” (more)

[Ed Yong, The Atlantic, 21 September]

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Science’s 1%: How income inequality is getting worse in research

Posted in Research on September 21st, 2016 by steve

USA“For a portrait of income inequality in science, look no further than the labs of the University of California. Twenty-nine medical researchers there earned more than US$1 million in 2015 and at least ten non-clinical researchers took home more than $400,000 each. Meanwhile, thousands of postdocs at those universities received less than $50,000 …” (more)

[Corie Lok, Nature, 21 September]

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Wanted – a minister for science

Posted in Governance and administration, Research on May 26th, 2016 by steve

Ireland“Sir, – It is hugely disappointing that our new Government will contain neither a minister nor a junior minister with a recognised responsibility for science. There is barely a mention of science in the new programme for government and no mention at all of the vaunted Innovation 2020 strategy for developing the sector …” (more)

[Kevin Mitchell, Irish Times, 26 May]

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The Stem obsession does a disservice to arts and humanities

Posted in Research on March 1st, 2016 by steve

Ireland“There seems to be an obsession that in order to survive the global war on talent our graduates must be herded in ever-greater numbers towards science, technology, engineering and maths subjects. The irony is that neglecting the arts and humanities will put us on a dangerously narrow path for the future …” (more)

[Jane Ohlmeyer, Irish Times, 1 March]

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Humanities and science: an unequal competition?

Posted in Governance and administration on March 1st, 2016 by steve

Scotland“Over recent years the debates on higher education funding have addressed not just whether that funding is sufficient, but also increasingly how it should be distributed. In this context the growing volume of science funding, often linked to economic development priorities, has sometimes raised the issue of whether science and engineering have got a better deal than the humanities, the arts and the social sciences …” (more)

[Ferdinand von Prondzynski, University Blog, 1 March]

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One in six Irish teens ‘low performers’ at maths

Posted in Teaching on February 11th, 2016 by steve

Ireland“One in six Irish students are classified as ‘low performers’ in maths, according to an international report. The study, published by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) on Wednesday, found 17% of students in Ireland struggle with basic maths, 10% are below par in reading, and 11% are low performers in science …” (more)

[Carl O’Brien, Irish Times, 10 February]

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‘There’s an image problem’: the drive to attract girls to Stem

Posted in Governance and administration on February 9th, 2016 by steve

Ireland“In Ireland only a quarter of people working in science, technology, engineering and maths are women, and now female role models are being enlisted to buck stereotypes of Stem as a male area …” (more)

[Nora-Ide McAuliffe, Irish Times, 9 February]

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