More Computer Science Classes are Needed, Educators Say

More Computer Science Classes are Needed, Educators Say

The Westmoreland Central School District is on the verge of introducing Computer Science and coding program that will be in each level. The district initially started by adding a coding program in kindergarten and second-grade curriculum.

According to Superintendent Rocco Migliori, each year, the district made sure to include two more grades until this year when the high school started offering the program with a dual credit class through Mohawk Valley Community College. The high school is intended to provide more courses in the future.

However, the journey has not always been rosy. They encountered challenges such as training of staff, curriculum development, certification, finances, and equipment.

“Some of this is about STEAM programs. Some are about creating relevance to mathematics. Some were to meet the demands of business partners who provided us with these ideas and insight. Some has been in response to kids’ interests,” Migliori said in an email.

Unfortunately, many districts face obstacles when rolling out computer science sources. Currently, only 45 percent of all high schools teach the subject according to a 2019 State of Computer Science Education report.

The report is a joint effort by, Expanding Computing Education Pathways Alliance, and Computer Science Teachers Association.

In New York, for example, only 44 percent of high schools offered at least one computer science courses during the 2017-2018 academic year. However, educators say that more is to be done.

“We live in a technological society, and any advantage we can give to our students is important, including exposure to the computer sciences as a viable career path,” said Steven Falchi, administrative director of curriculum and instruction K-12 in the Utica City School District.



New Strategy to Tackle the Math and Science Shortage

New Strategy to Tackle the Math and Science Shortage

Yvonne Baker expresses her gratitude to her teacher, who encouraged her to go into engineering. According to Baker, her teacher inspired her at a time when it was unheard for girls to consider engineering. She was glad that she made her choice; as a chartered chemical engineer, she now focuses on persuading people to choose science, technology, engineering, and maths (STEM).

Baker said that teachers can change things and that they are a crucial part of solving the engineering skills shortage and encouraging more girls. She is currently heading the STEM Learning, which provides education and career support.

Concerned over the lack of math and physics teachers, the government is currently focusing on finding more and hanging on to them with a new recruitment and retention strategy started this year. It supports teachers and offers flexible work. With some bonuses of up to £10,000, the government hopes to encourage math teachers to remain after training, in total £406m is invested precisely on math, digital, and technical education.

According to Helen Staton, who teaches biology and science in Southampton, Hampshire, she would not leave if she got paid. She joined via Teach First, a charity which focuses on recruiting for shortage subjects in 2016. Staton says that for her, it is about teaching what science is because kids do not know the fantastic careers available.

However, there are not enough teachers like Staton. Half of math and physics teachers stay on in-state schools for more than five years, which is worse than the overall retention rate of sixty percent according to a 2018 report from the Education Policy Institute shows. Presently, there are more pupils, 17 per teacher up from 15.5 in 2010. In 2025, a population increase means that there will be 15 percent more pupils in secondary schools than in 2018.



Researchers Develop a Way to Manipulate Brain Cells Using Smartphones

Researchers Develop a Way to Manipulate Brain Cells Using Smartphones

A team of scientists in Korea and the United States has developed a device which controls neural circuits using a tiny brain implant controlled by a smartphone. The researchers who published their study believe that the device could speed up efforts to find brain diseases like addiction, pain, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and depression.

The equipment, using Lego-like replaceable drug cartridges and robust Bluetooth low-energy can target specific neurons of interest using light and drug for prolonged periods. According to the lead author Raza Qazi, a researcher with Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) and University of Colorado Boulder, the wireless neural device enables chronic chemical and optical neuromodulation which has never been achieved before.

Qazi mentioned that the technology significantly overshadows conventional methods used by neuroscientists that involve rigid metal tubes and optical fibers to deliver drugs and light. Besides limiting the subject’s movement due to the physical connections with heavy equipment, their relatively rigid structure leads to a lesion in soft brain tissue over time. This makes them not appropriate for long-term implantation.

As much as some efforts have been directed to partly mitigate negative tissue response by incorporating soft probes and wireless platforms, the previous solutions were limited by their failure to deliver drugs for more extended periods as well as massive and complex control setups.

To enable chronic wireless drug delivery, scientists had to solve the crucial challenge of exhaustion and evaporation of drugs. Researchers from the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology and the University of Washington in Seattle cooperated to invent a neural device with a replaceable drug cartridge that could enable neuroscientists to study the same brain circuits without worrying about running out of drugs.

The plug-n-play drug cartridges were put into a brain implant for mice with a soft and ultrathin probe which consisted of microfluidic channels and tiny LEDs, for ample drug doses and light delivery.



Researchers Find a Way to Imitate Softness

Researchers Find a Way to Imitate Softness

A team of engineers and psychologists at the University of California San Diego explored the question of the factor that affect how human touch perceives softness for instance, a fingertip against a marshmallow, a rubber ball or clay. They discovered tricks to design materials that imitate different levels of perceived softness.

The findings of the study show fundamental insights into designing tactile materials and haptic interfaces which can recreate real touch sensations. These materials could be applicable for electronic skin, prostheses and medical robotics.

According to Charles Dhong who co-led the study as a postdoctoral fellow at UC San Siego, they are providing a formula to recreate a spectrum of softness and in doing so, they will be helping close the gap in understanding what it takes to recreate aspects of touch. Dhong is currently the assistant professor in biomedical engineering at the University of Delaware. He worked with Darren Lipomi, the study’s co-responding author and a professor of nanoengineering at UC San Diego.

Dhong said that the interesting thing about the study is that they found two new ways to tune the professed softness of an object, micropatterning and changing thickness. Said that Young’s modulus is what scientists usually turn to in terms of what is soft or hard. This is a factor that they could now show that it is only one part of the equation.

The researchers started by examining two parameters engineers use to measure the perceived softness of a material: indentation depth and contact area between the fingertip and the object. Usually, these parameters change simultaneously as a fingertip presses into a material. Touch a piece of soft rubber for instance, and the contact area will increase deeper a fingertip presses in.

Lipomi, Dhong and colleagues got more interested in how indention depth and contact area independently influenced the perception of softness. They specially engineered materials which decoupled the two parameters and then tested them on humans.