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Submission + - NYC Schools Chancellor: It Takes a Corporation to Raise a Girl Who Codes

theodp writes: New York City Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina and AT&T New York president Marissa Shorenstein followed up on an AT&T press release celebrating the "graduation" of 20 participants from the Girls Who Code Summer Immersion Program at AT&T with a NY Daily News op-ed on How New York City is preparing girls for our STEM-focused future. "By embedding students in tech companies around the country," Farina and Shorenstein write in their op-ed, "Girls Who Code is bringing us one step closer towards closing the gender gap in tech — and in STEM altogether." They add, "We need even more public-private STEM partnerships that provide internships and other academic activities to empower a new generation of girls."

Submission + - NSF Makes it Rain: $722K Award to Evaluate Microsoft HS CS Volunteer Program

theodp writes: Microsoft has $92 billion in cash parked offshore, so it's kind of surprising to see a $722K National Science Foundation award is going towards validating the efficacy of Microsoft TEALS, the pet program of CEO Satya Nadella that sends volunteer software engineers with no teaching experience into high schools to teach kids and their teachers computer science. Among its Program Changes for 2015, TEALS said it "explicitly commits to provide a core set of curriculum materials that are complete, organized, and adaptable," which should help improve the outcome of the Developing Computer Science Pedagogical Content Knowledge through On-the-Job Learning NSF study schools are being asked to participate in. Meanwhile, CSTUY, a volunteer organization led by experienced CS teachers (including /. user zamansky), finds itself turning to Kickstarter for $25K to fund Saturday Hacking Sessions. So, as Microsoft-backed Code.org — which has also attracted NSF award money to validate its CS program — is fond of saying: What's wrong with this picture?

Submission + - Lights, Camera, Experiment!

theodp writes: The New Yorker's Jamie Holmes takes a look at How Methods Videos Are Making Science Smarter, helping scientists replicate elaborate experiments in a way that the text format of traditional journals simply can't. The Journal of Visualized Experiments (JOVE), for instance, is a peer-reviewed scientific journal that now has a database of more than four thousand videos that are usually between ten and fifteen minutes long, ranging in subject from biology and chemistry to neuroscience and medicine. "Complexity was always an issue," JOVE co-founder, Moshe Pritsker explains. "Even when biology was a much smaller enterprise, it relied on a degree of specialized craft in the laboratory. But, since the end of the nineties, we’ve seen a huge influx of new technologies into biology: genomics, proteomics, technologies like microarrays, complex genetic methods, and sophisticated microscopy and imaging techniques." And, as the popularity of the decidedly non-peer reviewed Crazy Russian Hacker's YouTube videos shows, methods videos aren't just for research scientists!

Submission + - Developers Wanted: No CS Degree Necessary 1

theodp writes: In a WSJ Op-Ed, Dittach CEO Daniel Gelernter explains Why I’m Not Looking to Hire Computer-Science Majors (reg. req. or Google it). "The thing I look for in a developer," writes Gelernter, "is a longtime love of coding-people who taught themselves to code in high school and still can’t get enough of it. The eager but not innately passionate coders being churned out of 12- and 19-week boot camps in New York tend not to be the best: There are too many people simply looking for a career transition, and not enough who love coding for its own sake. The thing I don’t look for in a developer is a degree in computer science University computer science departments are in miserable shape: 10 years behind in a field that changes every 10 minutes. Computer science departments prepare their students for academic or research careers and spurn jobs that actually pay money. They teach students how to design an operating system, but not how to work with a real, live development team. There isn’t a single course in iPhone or Android development in the computer science departments of Yale or Princeton. Harvard has one, but you can’t make a good developer in one term. So if a college graduate has the coding skills that tech startups need, he most likely learned them on his own, in between problem sets. As one of my developers told me: 'The people who were good at the school part of computer science-just weren’t good developers.' My experience in hiring shows exactly that." Gelernter concludes, "There is an opportunity to relieve the drought of qualified software developers that has driven up prices and is stunting startup growth: A serious alternative to the $100,000 four-year college degree wouldn’t even need to be accredited—it would merely need to teach students the skills that startups are desperate for, and that universities couldn’t care less about."

Submission + - NFL QB Russell Wilson: Recovery Water Prevented Me From Getting a Concussion

theodp writes: Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson is not a doctor, but he plays one on Twitter. GeekWire reports that the Seahawks star took to Twitter to endorse Recovery Water as preventive medicine for NFL-sized headaches. "I believe @Recovery_Water helped prevent me from getting a concussion based on a bad hit!" exclaimed Wilson in his tweet. The 26-year-old Wilson is an investor in Reliant Recovery Water, a Tacoma-based company that says its nanobubble and electrolyte-filled water provides a number of health benefits. It'll be interesting to see how the NCSU Public & Interpersonal Communication grad handles the blowback from his not-quite-buying-it followers. Hey, he could always go with an at-least-I'm-not-encouraging-anti-vaxxers-like-some-QBs defense!

Submission + - U.S. Scientists Successfully 'Switch Off' Cancer Cells->

iONiUM writes: From the article: "For the first time, aggressive breast, lung and bladder cancer cells have been turned back into harmless benign cells by restoring the function which prevents them from multiplying excessively and forming dangerous growths." Specifically, this is done by triggering production of the protein PLEKHA7 which in turn levels off the microRNA levels in the cells. So far this has only been done in human cells in a lab.
Link to Original Source

Submission + - Wired: IBM's School Could Fix Education and Tech's Diversity Gap

theodp writes: Wired positively gushes over IBM's Pathways in Technology Early College High School (P-TECH), saying it could fix education and tech's diversity gap. Backed by IBM, the P-TECH program aims to prepare mainly minority kids from low-income backgrounds for careers in technology, allowing them to earn a high school diploma and a free associate degree in six years or less. That P-TECH’s six inaugural graduates completed the program in four years and were offered jobs with IBM, Wired reports, is "irrefutable proof that this solution might actually work" (others aren't as impressed, although the President is drinking the Kool-Aid). While the program has only actually graduated six students since it was announced in 2010, Wired notes that by fall, 40 schools across the country will be designed in P-TECH's image. IBM backs four of them, but they’ll also be run by tech giants like Microsoft and SAP, major energy companies like ConEdison, along with hospital systems, manufacturing associations, and civil engineering trade groups. They go by different names and are geared toward different career paths, but they all follow the IBM playbook.

Submission + - Are White House 'We the People' Petitions Little More Than Theater?

theodp writes: "Since we launched We the People in 2011," wrote the White House last month, "millions of Americans have engaged with their government on the issues that matter to them. This groundbreaking online platform has made petitioning the government, a First Amendment right, more accessible than ever. Over the past few years, the Obama administration has taken a stance on a number of causes that citizens really care about and used the We the People petition platform to voice their concerns." Sounds good, but even if the White House is listening to We the People petitions, as it assured skeptics, one wonders what — and who — exactly they are listening to. Petitions suffer from being aye-only, lack identity and location verification, and appear to have other data quality issues. One attempting to explore the petition data for the 67,022-and-counting signers of a new petition urging a quick response to a court decision that could cut the time international STEM students can work in the U.S. on student visas after graduation, for example, would be stymied by thousands of missing and non-U.S. postal codes. Plotting what location info is available does show that the petitioners are clustered around tech and university hubs, hardly a surprise, but it sheds no context on whether these represent corporate, university, and/or international student interests. So, regardless of which side of the issue you stand on, can petition data really be used by the White House to make truly informed decisions, or are We the People petitions little more than 'theater'?

Submission + - Standardized Tests Blamed, Asian Students Ignored in Google-Gallup K-12 CS Study

theodp writes: According to a study released Thursday by Google and Gallup, standardized tests may be holding back the next generation of computer programmers. The Google-Gallup Searching for Computer Science: Access and Barriers in U.S. K-12 Education report (pdf) found that the main reason given by a "comprehensive but not representative" sample of 9,693 K-12 principals and 1,865 school district superintendents in the U.S. for their schools not offering computer science "is the limited time they have to devote to classes that are not tied to testing requirements." Which makes one wonder if Google now views Bill Gates as part of the problem and/or part of the solution of K-12 CS education. The Google-Gallup report also explores race/ethnicity differences to access and learning opportunities among White, Black and Hispanic students — but not Asian students — a curious omission considering that Google's own Diversity Disclosure shows that 35% of its U.S. tech workforce is Asian, making it by far the most overrepresented race/ethnicity group at Google when compared to the U.S. K-12 public school population. Which raises the question: Why would the Google-Gallup study ignore the access and learning opportunities of the race/ethnicity subgroup that has enjoyed the greatest success at Google? Not unsurprisingly, the Google-Gallup report winds up by concluding that what U.S. K-12 education really needs is more CS cowbell.

Submission + - Amazon Work-Life Balance Defender: Prior Employer Nearly Killed Me and My Team

theodp writes: New York Times Public Editor Margaret Sullivan questions whether her paper's portrayal of Amazon's brutal workplace was on target, citing a long, passionate response in disagreement from Nick Ciubotariu, a head of infrastructure development at Amazon. Interestingly, Ciubotariu — whose take on Amazon's work-life balance ("I’ve never worked a single weekend when I didn’t want to") was used as Exhibit A by CEO Jeff Bezos to refute the NYT's report — wrote last December of regretting his role as an enabler of his team's "Death March" at a former employer (perhaps Microsoft, judging by Ciubotariu's LinkedIn profile and his essay's HiPo and Vegas references). "I asked if there were any questions," wrote Ciubotariu of a team meeting. "Nadia, one of my Engineers, had one: 'Nick, when will this finally end?' As I looked around the room, I saw 9 completely broken human beings. We had been working over 100 hours a week for the past 2 months. Two of my Engineers had tears on their faces. I did my best to keep from completely breaking down myself. With my voice choking, I looked at everyone, and said: 'This ends right now'." Ciubotariu added, "I hope they can forgive me for being an enabler of their death march, however unwilling, and that I ultimately didn’t do enough to stop it. As a 'reward' for all this, I calibrated #1 overall in my organization, and received yet another HiPo nomination and induction, at the cost of a shattered family life, my health, and a broken team. I don’t think I ever felt worse in my entire career. If I could give it all back, I would, in an instant, no questions asked. Physically and mentally, I took about a year to heal."

Submission + - Stop Universities From Hoarding Money 1

HughPickens.com writes: Victor Fleischer writes in the NYT that university endowments are exempt from corporate income tax because universities support the advancement and dissemination of knowledge. But instead of holding down tuition or expanding faculty research, endowments are hoarding money. Last year, Yale paid about $480 million to private equity fund managers for managing about $8 billion, one-third of Yale’s endowment. In contrast, of the $1 billion the endowment contributed to the university’s operating budget, only $170 million was earmarked for tuition assistance, fellowships and prizes. Private equity fund managers also received more than students at Harvard, the University of Texas, Stanford and Princeton.

Fleischer, a professor of law at the University of San Diego, says that as part of the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act expected later this year, Congress should require universities with endowments in excess of $100 million to spend at least 8 percent of the endowment each year. Universities could avoid this rule by shrinking assets to $99 million, but only by spending the endowment on educational purposes, which is exactly the goal. According to a study by the Center for College Affordability and Productivity a minimum payout of 5 percent per annum, would be is similar to the legal requirement for private and public foundations. "The sky-high tuition increases would stop, and maybe even reverse themselves. Faculty members would benefit from greater research support. University libraries, museums, hospitals and laboratories would have better facilities," concludes Fleischer. "We’ve lost sight of the idea that students, not fund managers, should be the primary beneficiaries of a university’s endowment."

Submission + - Should International Students Sign 'We The People' OPT STEM Petition?

theodp writes: "Anxiety may be rising among STEM students working on student visas in the wake of a court ruling last week that threatens their futures in the U.S.", reports ComputerWorld. "A petition at the White House 'We the People' site urging the administration to quickly respond to the court decision attracted more than 53,000 signatures by Tuesday afternoon. It appeared to be gaining new signatures by the hundreds with each passing hour and must reach 100,000 signatures by Sept. 13 to meet the threshold for an official response." But, to paraphrase Jerry Seinfeld, "Who are these 53,000+ people?" It's understandable that websites and videos are urging international STEM students to sign the petition. But then again, the White House explains in its FAQ that, "We the People is a new, easy way for Americans to make their voice heard in our government." So, given that stated purpose, should international students be signing the OPT STEM extension petition?

Submission + - Rupert Murdoch Won't Be Teaching Your Children to Code After All

theodp writes: Plans for Rupert Murdoch & Co. to teach your children to code just hit a bump in the road. Murdoch's News Corp. last week announced it plans to exit the education business as it announced a $371 million write-down of the investment in its Amplify education unit, which aimed to reinvent education via digital tools, tablets and curriculum reinforced with snazzy graphics. The news may help to explain why Amplify MOOC, the entity that offered online AP Computer Science A to high school students, was re-dubbed Edhesive ("online education that sticks") a couple of months ago. Tech-backed Code.org, whose $1+ million "Gold Supporters" include the James and Kathryn Murdoch-led Quadrivium Foundation, announced a partnership with Edhesive to bring CS to schools in June, around the same time Edhesive LLC was formed.

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