STEM Learning

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Margaret Honey, president and CEO of the New York Hall of Science, discusses how to get your child exposed to Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) both in and outside of school.


Margaret Honey

Comments [24]

Eric Albert from Brooklyn

American businesses aren't willing to pay living wages to engineers or more importantly, wages comparable with the education level attained, say of a business degree such as an MBA.

Many 'software engineers' aren't really college graduate engineers as most businesses find willing coders who write disposable code for low wages and the use of equipment.

Look at Lotus. Their code was all Basic interpretive until it was decided to 'engineer' their products into C++ to make it more supportable and portable and hiring more engineers etc. to do so. Unfortunately, Microsoft won the court cases regarding their copying of 1-2-3 and other Lotus products and Lotus closed up shop. So what was the business take-away there?

Why hire expensive trained Americans when you can hire foreigners for a fraction of what a 4- or more-year trained engineer would seek? And this isn't just in the technology sphere, but look at law. Foreign nationals are writing law contracts (in English) and sending them back to the U.S. for less than American lawyers cost. How about doctors? Going to southeast Asia for operations is cheaper than getting it done in the U.S.

Unless and until we can figure out a way to make this have a different outcome, students are going to figure out that it isn't worth the time and effort.

Aug. 01 2012 12:21 PM
Bronx Bob from The Bronx

Every large neighborhood comprehensive high school offered a variety of technology (formerly called industrial arts) electives that included pre-engineering, robotics, electronics, architectual design, technical drawing, graphic arts, technical theatre (stagecraft), computer repair, automotive repair, ceramics, jewelery, photography, woodworking, etc. These were NOT vocational classes, but electives intended to expose the general student population to exploratory experiences with technology, often inspiring them to investigate these areas further. Under Mayor Bloomberg's school "reforms," dozens of these community high schools have been closed and turned into "campuses" housing 5 to 7 "mini" or charter schools which focus on performance accountability & "college prep.". With the resulting "narrowing" of the curriculum, none of these new schools have the interest to contine these programs which are terminated when the large schools are closed.

Jan. 24 2012 05:02 PM
PopeJon from Ridge, NY

Oops, sorry for all the typos...

Jan. 24 2012 11:58 AM
Wally from North Jersey

I would like to hear a more comprehensive discussion on the NY Times article about Apple (which I read). The article was good as far as it went, but it didn't deal with a number of issues, for example the low wages in the Far East (especially when jobs began to go overseas in the 1980s), the exploitation of labor (I have heard that the worker suicide rate is very high at one of the Chinese plants highlighted in the Times article), and the lack of environmental laws in the Far East (resulting in, I understand, massive amounts of pollution of air and water, some of which is coming back to us in imported food; China, for example, supplies 40 percent of our imported frozen fish). I believe we should instigate strong tariffs on goods imported from places without labor and environmental laws comparable to ours. In other words, fair trade, not free trade (which favors capital, not labor).

Jan. 24 2012 11:57 AM
PopeJon from Ridge, NY

BK from NJ, Toyota Camry is !00% assembled and that parts are 100% made in America. The Honda Accord is assembled in America and 75%+ of its parts are made in America. Ask any Ask any auto journalist or even car dealer what the number one rated cars and best selling cars in America are.... Accord and Camry. They both have been building these cars in America for a long time now. Don't poo poo the American auto worker when its not true.

Jan. 24 2012 11:56 AM
Cab from Manhattan from NYC

Great segment.
3 points/questions:
1. In a manner of speaking, isn't this the fault of the free market? People tend to go where the money is. Over the last few decades there was more to be made in finance rather than science. Very few scientists and engineers were featured on "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous". Plus, to a teenager, it would seem easier and sexier to become a rock star or pro athlete and make big money without the drudgery of study or test taking.

2. Sacrificing vocational education for academics was a huge mistake. We have a serious competency deficit because mechanical/artistic skills were viewed as having severe economic limitations when compared to an MBA or a PhD. We are paying a price for what I think of as the "My Son The Doctor Syndrome".

3. We seem to be on the verge of another sputnik moment; which led to a surge of STEM development that gave us the Moon but was followed by an infatuation with wealth and celebrity that gave Apples to China. Our cultural pendulum will swing again.

Jan. 24 2012 11:50 AM
BK from NJ

Many of the cars manufactured in the US (especially the BMWs and Mercedes) were some of the poorest quality models ever put out by those companies. Ask any auto journalist about the Mercedes ML, BMW X3, etc quality. They were terrible. They have improved, but the new US facilities were so far behind their German counterparts.
The quality of the new Volkswagens built in the US has been derided as well.

Jan. 24 2012 11:15 AM
Jennifer from Central CT

One camp I can personally recommend is National Computer Camp ( I attended in the 80s and fell in love with programming there. It's still my passion and my career today. My daughter attended last year and wanted to go back for two weeks this year. Campers are mostly middle school aged, with some a bit younger or older.

Legos are definitely a wonderful toy. I don't see the point in getting worked up over Lego's Friends line. If it doesn't allow enough creativity, it won't be popular enough to survive. Lego often provides step-by-step projects and they have their themed playsets but it's the free-form play that's always been the draw for me.

Jan. 24 2012 11:08 AM
PopeJon from Ridge, NY

Dante from NYC, please explain how Union fees make our work force uncompetitive against a workforce that makes $3 an hour? Will you work for $3 an hour? That's $6240 a year. That wont even pay for your health insurance...

Jan. 24 2012 11:07 AM

brooklynmom78, pink has nothing to do with being a girl.

Jan. 24 2012 11:04 AM
PopeJon from Ridge, NY

I'm sorry but shame on Steve Jobs. He made his products in China because of cheap labor, nothing else. All electronics companies are guilty of this. The Industry sold out to Asia way back in the 80's.... There is a lot of skilled labor still left in America. All the companies I do design work for still MFG in USA. All the best rated cars (Toyota, Honda, BMW and Mercedes) mfg cars and their car parts are made in USA. Its out there, you just have to look for it before it disappears...

Jan. 24 2012 11:01 AM
ron from nj

Popular science has gotten fluffy because of the dumbed down public. They want sensation like the media (not NPR) continues to feed them to get ratings. Science is hard.

Jan. 24 2012 11:00 AM
Capper from NYC

Please ask your guest what time these programs were offered, I believe they were offered at 3:00, 4:00, etc...

What about the working parent??

Jan. 24 2012 10:58 AM
Bob from Flushing


Did you somehow miss the description in the NYTimes article of how when they made a last minute change in the screens of the firt iPhone, the manufacturer in China simply went to the "workers dormitory" in the middle of the night, woke everyone up, gave them "tea and a biscuit" and sent them off to the assembly line?

If competing with China means competing with workers living and working in prison-like conditions, perhaps it's a competition we need to lose.s

Jan. 24 2012 10:58 AM
Brian from Hoboken

I am tired of adults using kids toys, shows, etc to advance their own political or cultural agendas. The latest is this Legi debate and the recent announcement that Sesame Street will show breast feeding (like most kids don't see breast feeding at home, in the park, at their friend's house, etc).
The Lego debate over the "proper" things a girl should build is hilarious. I have three nephews who can only build space ships, trucks etc. where is the outrage over that? I will not be purchasing any new Legos for them or for my two girls in the future, since it is now more like constructing a model with nothing but specialized pieces. Give me the regular square blocks of my Legos from the 70s and 80s- for girls or boys- which required imagination to determine what to build and how to do it.

To these culture warriors on the left politically correct side and the right ignorant prejudiced side, leave my kids' stuff alone!

Jan. 24 2012 10:58 AM
brooklynmom78 from Park Slope, Brooklyn

Before having my kids, I was of the mind that gender differences are largely socialized. However, my daughter LOVES pink, and if having pink legos makes blocks more appealing to girls, I think that that is a wonderful thing. If they enjoy playing with pink blocks, they may later move on to the other blocks. I think that we need to acknowledge that there ARE sex differences. Ignoring this fact will do nothing to advance the interest in science for girls. Girls might be interested in the science of baking for instance, and might not be interested in the science of automobile engines. We should not ignore the 'science' of sex differences. Although it is true that there are quite a few girls who don't fit the mold, statistically, they are not the average. If you want to get girls interested in science, then you need to understand girls.

Jan. 24 2012 10:57 AM
Dante from NYC

How much would an iPhone cost if it were produced in the US? The union dues alone would increase the price by 30%-40%.

Jan. 24 2012 10:57 AM
Capper from Queens

There's a major problem when afterschool programs only cater to stay at home parents. I've looked for science programs that I can get my kids involved with, but most of them begin at 4:00 or, they end at 5:00. I'm a working parent and don't have the ability to take my children to these important programs. I don't get home from work till 6:00. It would be great if more programs were made available on Friday nights from 6:30 - 7:30, etc, etc. or for that matter any night during the week at these hours!!

Jan. 24 2012 10:55 AM

The Obama Administration needs to issue a loud directive to high school counselors to steer students toward technical and vocational schools in addition to four-year colleges. Right now (and I know this from my experience with my son), counselors are narrowly focused on college as a one-size-fits-all plan for every young person. This approach fails to serve many young people as well as the national interest, as our skilled workforce---and thus the middle class---continues to suffer at the mercy of overseas workforces only too ready to pick up the slack.

Jan. 24 2012 10:55 AM
John A.

Legos is already Far Far off base as a construction set. Where the little man shape might have been an astronaut, workman, and frogman before, Today there might be over 200 variations most of them dedicated to the Star Wars and Harry Potter "Universes", but many dozens more for Martians and other wizard types Etc. Much more about fantasy than about functioning in a real world.

Jan. 24 2012 10:53 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

The US produced lots of technicians and scientists during WWII, when America put most of its men, and many women under arms, and had to rapdily teach them practical basic technical skills. That talent pool went on after the war to build a tremendous technical capabilites in post war America. But it has eroded since the draft came to an end 40 years ago.

Little Israel has become a technological mini-super power primarily because most its youth has to serve 3 years in the army after high school, and many get hands-on, real world technical skills in the military. In the US, only 1% of the population goes into the military.

If we are serious about restoring technological prowess, we may have to bring back the draft to do it.

Jan. 24 2012 10:52 AM
Janet Moyers from NJ

Back in the 80's when they broke up Bell Labs and so many companies were bought for 'parts' and gutted and all engineers, scientists and technical employees were treated as disposable (while still held to 'intellectual property agreements') America decided that it was more important to give profits to stockholders, bonuses to bean counters and to hell with America's scientific community.

Jan. 24 2012 10:50 AM
MP from Brooklyn

Rosalie - hear! hear!

Jan. 24 2012 10:49 AM
Rosalie Friend

Of course instruction which gets children excited about learning and encourages deep thinking is not the same as instruction geared to getting high scores on the standardized tests that are being used to judge children, teachers, and schools.

Jan. 24 2012 10:16 AM

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