AI Capable Of Identifying Microscopic Marine Organisms

Researchers have ventured into the developing of an artificial intelligence program which can assist in providing information about species-level identification of microscopic organisms in the ocean. They are yet to instill the program into a robotic system which will enable the understanding of the ocean from the past to present.

The program invented has so far been able to identify six species of the forams organisms also known as foraminifera that are mostly found in the Earth’s ocean for the last 100 million years. Foraminiferas are neither plants nor animals also known as protists such that when they die, they leave tiny shells behind. These shells are not more than a millimeter wide.

The shells are used by scientists to get information about the characteristics of the oceans as it was when they were still alive. A good example is whereby a number of forams exist in different types of chemical measurements and ocean environments. Studying the shells can give researchers all the details from the temperature and the chemistry of the ocean when the shell was formed.

The process of evaluating foram shells and their fossils can be very time consuming and tedious. To make this easier, a team of researchers and expertise form the fields of robotics and paleoceanography are working to turning it to an automated process.

According to Edgar Lobaton, an associate professor of electrical and computer engineering from the University of North Carolina, the AI can accurately identify the forams 80 percent of the time which is way better than trained humans.

The system currently works by placing a foram under a microscope, and a LED ring shines on the foram, and 16 directions at a time while taking images of the foram. The 16 images are put together to form geometric information, and the AI uses this to identify the species of the forum.




Describing Science as an Action Draws More Girls to It

It has been noted that whenever you ask girls to ‘do science’ instead of asking them to ‘be scientists,’ they display greater persistence in any science-related activities. Marjorie Rhodes, an associate professor of NYU Department of Psychology, said that when describing science as an action, more engagement and interest in science takes place than giving it an identity.

The effect of describing science as an action is apparent in children who in most cases are the target of stereotypes whereby they may end up not being those people who succeed in science especially in the case of girls.

A study was carried out, and the findings showed the efforts of pushing girls to enter science by describing it as an action rather than telling them to adopt scientific traits. In most cases, girls are often underrepresented in the science field.

According to Rhodes, the beginning of gender disparity in science starts at the early stages of childhood. She added that research carried out was able to identify elements of a children’s environment which can be targeted to reduce the disparity in science among young ones.

Together with Princeton’s Sarah Jane Leslie, Rhodes noted that the information children often receive through the television focus more on identity rather than action. An example was in 2017; an analysis was carried out whereby in children’s television shows, Rhodes was able to find many programs referring to a scientist as a type of person more than they describe science as an activity. It showed how television shows are not using language entirely to encourage girls to practice science.

The study carried out involved children aged four to nine whereby they were introduced to science as an identity and as an action. It was noted that girls who were asked to do science were more persistence in science games than those asked to be scientists.





Is Getting in Class the Hardest Part of Computer Science?

The demand for computer science degree is on the rise given the number of students enrolling for CS studies. Well, while this is appealing, there’s one obstacle. Will I get a seat?

The influx of students in campuses and colleges is outstripping resources and the supply of competent professors. This surge in numbers can be attributed to high salaries and high-status jobs that are present in CS career path.

In fact, the number of students majoring in the subject doubled from 2013 to 2017 to over 106,000 according to the Computing Research Association that gathered data from more than 200 universities.

While previous generations aspired to be lawyers, bankers, and doctors, the current students are firing all cylinders to become CS professionals. Some are even incurring six-figure debts in a bid to catch up with the changing trend in the workplace.

Meanwhile, learning computer skills can guarantee you fast employment since it does not require sophisticated computing. In fact, most graduates make six-figure salaries immediately after graduating.

At the University of Texas, the stampede is far from over. More than 3,300 first-year students last fall sought computer science as their first choice of major. According to Don Fussell, chairman of the university’s computer science department, the demand is growing with each intake.

As such, the institution is bound to hire several tenure-track facility members this year to fill the widening gap in the teacher-student ratio.

Meanwhile, the boom has caused several universities to cap the number of courses that computer science majors take. As is the case in Swarthmore College. However, students in the affected campuses and colleges said that they felt shut out of CS while others experienced overworked professors and overcrowded classes.




Career Paths are more Luring than Skills in Computer Science

In a bid to encourage US students to consider computer science studies, stakeholders emphasize more on skills than career paths. This often causes quite a number of students to shy away from STEM courses. This is according to a study by Couragion and based on data from 3,612 students.

Currently, the US public education system has focused on learning and developing skills on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math). Additionally, when computer science studies are offered in K-12 schools, they focus on robotics, programming, coding and the like.

However, despite efforts to lure students into computer science studies, most are shying away from CS. Especially women, Native Americans, Hispanics, and African Americans.

So, why are the aforementioned groups still skeptical? Because the system focuses more on skills rather than on career paths.

The study funded by Oracle Academy found out that:

  • Exposing girls to robotics does not encourage them to pursue CS, in fact, it alienates them.
  • There are few job opportunities in the robotics industry. As such, teachers should consider using robotics to teaching coding in classes.
  • A huge percentage of students leaving CS programs focused on programming and software development gave a negative review of the career path.

The study ought to be an eye-opener for stakeholders and come up with a curriculum that focuses more on a career path. Stakeholders should realize that students care about their future, who they will work for and the work environment.

As such, skill development will not be a bother as long as it is aligned with his or her future career. Focusing on CS career path will ignite the imagination of many and we are poised to see more women and minorities embrace CS.