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  • Obama administration making the case for immigration reform with Nobel-winning STEM leaders

    by 
    Ben Gilbert
    Ben Gilbert
    06.16.2014

    Nobel-winning biochemist Thomas Südhof isn't necessarily a household name, but he is an incredibly accomplished gentleman with a delightful German accent. Südhof took up citizenship in the United States, he says in a video released by the White House (seen below), because he was "looking for opportunities to contribute." As such, he's banded together with a crew of other Nobel Prize winners from STEM fields -- Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics -- to support immigration reform. So, why are these Nobel Laureates working with the White House on immigration reform? Biologist Randy Schekman sums it up nicely at the top of the video: "close to one-third" of the membership of the National Academy of Sciences is made up of folks who came to the United States from abroad. In so many words, many of the US' top STEM leaders weren't born in the US, but later came to embrace US citizenship. These Nobel Prize winners -- and the White House -- believe the immigration reform bill that's waiting for the House of Representatives to vote on will entice even more STEM leaders to move to the US.

  • MOSS kits let you build the robot of your dreams with color-coded cubes

    by 
    Terrence O'Brien
    Terrence O'Brien
    02.17.2014

    The big story at this year's Toy Fair was definitely STEM. That stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics -- four areas of study that educational companies and bureaucracies have been pushing more students to get involved with. So it was no surprise that, as we wandered the halls of the Jacob Javits Center, we were bombarded by Tinkertoy-like offerings, science sets and robotics kits. One of the more interesting was certainly MOSS, a collection of electronic blocks from the same company that brought us Cubelets. While the basic design certainly echoes that of its stablemate, MOSS actually seems to share more genetic code with littleBits than anything else. The system consists of a set of cubes with sensors, inputs and outputs, all color-coded for easy assembly. It is possible to assemble the parts in incorrect orders (unlike with Cubelets), which is why the sets are recommended for ages 8 and up.

  • Kentucky law could let kids swap foreign language classes for coding lessons

    by 
    Daniel Cooper
    Daniel Cooper
    02.03.2014

    Concerned that not enough is being done to help kids with STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) subjects? Kentucky's Senate has just passed a bill that would count computer-programming classes as foreign language credits. That way, if students wanted to learn to code in favor of, say, French or Spanish, they'd be able to count that study toward their high school graduation. Senate Bill 16 will now pass to the Kentucky State House, but it seems like the sort of sensible policy that we'd expect from the home of Bourbon.

  • Hands-on with Sixense's MakeVR, a motion-controlled 3D modeling suite bound for Kickstarter (video)

    by 
    Sean Buckley
    Sean Buckley
    01.29.2014

    The last time we saw Sixense's Stem motion controller, it was little more than a collection of prototypes. The company showed us a gaggle of Plexiglas boxes containing reference hardware and a 3D-printed shell representing the final product's design. A more functional third unit (a developer kit, actually) allowed us to play with the controller's electromagnetic tracking technology, but the overall experience was fragmented and incomplete. The company finally pulled these disparate elements together, revealing the final Sixense Stem System at CES earlier this month. We caught up with the company earlier this month to take a look at the revised controller, and found a solid, lightweight controller modeled very closely after the 3D-printed mockup we saw last year. In fact, the only major difference we found was the revised button layout: We were originally told the device would utilize a modular faceplate system, but the final version wears a symmetrical button configuration reminiscent of the Razer Hydra. Sixense hadn't met up with us merely to show us the completed Stem System, however -- it was rearing to show us MakeVR, the firm's homegrown virtual reality 3D modeling software.

  • Mars One to send unmanned probe to Mars, broadcast mission live on earth in 2018

    by 
    Michael Gorman
    Michael Gorman
    12.10.2013

    Sending humans to Mars is a multi-step process, and today, the Mars One project -- you know, the folks who aim to colonize the Red Planet and fund the mission, in part, by televising the whole thing -- has outlined its plans for a preliminary mission to check things out before shooting folks into space. It's partnered up with long time aerospace contractor Lockheed Martin and European satellite firm SSTL to send an unmanned probe to Mars in 2018. Lockheed will provide a mission concept study to update its Phoenix lander that went to the fourth rock from the sun back in 2008, while SSTL is going to figure out how to build a communications relay satellite system capable of sending live broadcasts of the probe's doings back to earth. The lander will be equipped to test out technologies needed to make human settlement possible, but part of its mission is currently undefined. You see, Mars One is going to hold a contest next year, soliciting ideas from university and school-age students as to what types of other activities the probe should perform. Additionally, the plan is for the public to help direct the lander, too -- those who back the Mars One project on Indiegogo will get to vote on some mission decisions down the line. Oh, and if you were planning to be among the first wave of settlers when the manned missions start, you'll have to wait an extra two years, as that launch date's been pushed back to 2025.

  • You can draw circuit boards onto paper with this pen (video)

    by 
    Daniel Cooper
    Daniel Cooper
    11.21.2013

    When dreaming up that world-changing invention, wouldn't it be great if you could just sketch out the circuits and have them magically work? That's the idea behind Circuit Scribe, a ballpoint pen that's full of quick-drying ink that'll help you doodle your circuits on notebook paper. Emerging out of research from the University of Illinois, the team is now accepting your cash through Kickstarter to help bring it into the real world. $20 will get you a pen and an LED component, while $30 will buy you a basic kit, complete with plenty of accessories to help you test the systems to their fullest. We imagine it'll be a big hit with STEM educators as well as hobbyists, but if you're not yet convinced, check out the video to watch it in action.

  • Sixense's Stem motion tracker may get Android and iOS support through stretch goal (video)

    by 
    Jon Fingas
    Jon Fingas
    09.24.2013

    Sixense has so far promised only PC compatibility for its Stem motion tracker, but the company just teased us with the prospect of a wider ecosystem. It now says that Stem's developer kit will support Android and iOS if the crowdfunded project reaches a new $700,000 stretch goal. Mobile devices linked to a Stem tracker could serve as motion controllers, virtual cameras and even head-mounted displays. As an incentive to make a pledge, Sixense is adding a pair of programmer-friendly pledge rewards: $149 gets a one-tracker bundle with no controllers, while an early five-tracker bundle has returned at a lower $299 price. Whether or not you chip in, you can watch a conceptual demo after the break.

  • Neal Stephenson's Clang reduced to a part-time project as cash runs dry

    by 
    Jon Fingas
    Jon Fingas
    09.19.2013

    Crowdfunding a project doesn't guarantee that it will be finished on time, or at all. Unfortunately, we're seeing an example of that uncertainty today -- Subutai has reduced its work on Neal Stephenson's Clang to an "evenings and weekends" schedule after running out of development money. Venture capitalists weren't willing to take a risk on a swordfighting game and invest the additional cash that the team had been counting on, according to Subutai. The company has shipped almost all of its promised Kickstarter perks, but it doesn't know if or when it will finish the software in question. There's still a way to help, however. Subutai suggests funding Sixense's Stem controller, which would at least bring a Clang-friendly peripheral to market.

  • Hydra evolved: Sixense Stem launches on Kickstarter, we go hands-on with a prototype (video)

    by 
    Sean Buckley
    Sean Buckley
    09.12.2013

    Sixense might not be a household name, but its electromagnetic motion sensing technology crops up in the darndest places. The 1:1 tracking technology is used in medical rehabilitation and Japanese arcade games, but it's most widely known as the wizardry behind the Razer Hydra motion controller. Now the company is gearing up to release a spiritual successor to the Hydra, the Sixense Stem System. Like the Hydra, Stem offers six degrees of motion-tracking freedom, albeit without the wires or Razer branding. It isn't necessarily more accurate, but it is more comprehensive -- it's a modular system that offers up to five trackable modules, or "Stems," that attach to game controllers, VR headsets, accessories or even appendages. We caught up with Sixense president and CEO Amir Rubin to learn more about the Stem's Kickstarter launch and the company's first foray into the consumer product space.

  • Third-annual National STEM Video Game Challenge winners offer a taste of the future of gaming

    by 
    Ben Gilbert
    Ben Gilbert
    07.10.2013

    The game developers of tomorrow are being applauded by the United States government as part of President Obama's "Educate to Innovate" initiative. The third-annual National STEM Video Game Challenge winners were announced this week, with all fourteen receiving an AMD-powered laptop packed full of "game design and educational software." Teams also get a $2,000 cash prize, which either goes to the creators or their sponsors. Unfortunately for us, we didn't see any of the familiar faces from the local STEM workshop we visited earlier this year. Many of the games focus on education in some form, though the overall goal of the contest is simply to help spur STEM education in the United States -- part of the country's initiatives to elevate science, technology, engineering and math education in the US. We've dropped just one example of the fourteen winners' games below, Pixel Star One from budding game dev (and California high school student) Sooraj Suresh, because it's a totally sweet old-school shooter.

  • Programming is FUNdamental: A closer look at Code.org's star-studded computer science campaign

    by 
    Brian Heater
    Brian Heater
    07.04.2013

    "All these people who've made it big have their own variation of the same story, where they felt lucky to be exposed to computer programming at the right age, and it bloomed into something that changed their life," explains the organization's co-founder, Ali Partovi, seated in the conference room of one of the many successful startups he's helped along the way. The Iranian-born serial entrepreneur has played a role in an impressive list of companies, including the likes of Indiegogo, Zappos and Dropbox. Along with his twin brother, Hadi, he also co-founded music-sharing service iLike. Unlike past offerings from the brothers, Code.org is a decidedly non-commercial entity, one aimed at making computer science and programming every bit as essential to early education as science or math. For the moment, the organization is assessing just how to go about changing the world. The site currently offers a number of resources for bootstrappers looking to get started in the world of coding. There are simple modules from Scratch, Codecademy, Khan Academy and others, which can help users tap into the buzz of coding their first rectangle, along with links to apps and online tutorials. The organization is also working to build a comprehensive database of schools offering computer science courses and soliciting coders interested in teaching.

  • Inside the third-annual White House Science Fair

    by 
    Ben Gilbert
    Ben Gilbert
    05.06.2013

    The White House West Wing, as ever, is very busy. It's nearly time for White House Press Secretary Jay Carney's daily press briefing, which today (April 22nd) will reveal that the Boston bombing suspect, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, won't be tried as an "enemy combatant." Just upstairs, the atmosphere is thankfully less intense. In the East Room and surrounding chambers, over 100 students -- STEM-based competition winners from 40 different states -- are making their best efforts to remain chipper while explaining projects they've no doubt discussed dozens (if not hundreds) of times before. Later this afternoon, President Barack Obama will address the dozens of attendees -- accomplished students and educators, as well as folks like Bill Nye ("The Science Guy"), Levar Burton (of Reading Rainbow fame) and Kathryn D. Sullivan (the first American woman to walk in space). He'll characterize the students' projects as "really cool," and he'll call out some lucky winners by name while speaking to the importance of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education in the United States. Today is the culmination of years of work for many attendees, and it's an important day for the current administration as well. The White House Science Fair is an annual highlight of its "Educate to Innovate" initiative -- the Obama administration-led program that directs both public and private funds to a variety of programs, all aimed at bolstering STEM education in the US. It's a long-term, ambitious plan, and one that the White House is re-dedicating itself to in its proposed fiscal year 2014 budget: a planned reorganization coupled with $265 million, "redirected from within the Department [of Education] and from other agencies." Beyond the occasional PR bump that events like the White House Science Fair bring, the Educate to Innovate initiative is largely one that won't reap dividends for some time. In 20 years, however, it may be the most important component of Obama's legacy.%Gallery-187214%

  • Girl Scouts could get very own video game badge, STEM-approved

    by 
    Joseph Volpe
    Joseph Volpe
    04.17.2013

    Girls are gamers, too -- and not just the Nintendogs type. Though video games have commonly been ascribed a boys' club distinction, the Girls Scouts of Greater Los Angeles and Women in Games International are looking to undo that widespread misperception. Working in conjunction with E-line, the publisher behind the government's STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) initiative, the two groups are seeking to create a nationally recognized video game badge; a first for the Girl Scouts. Guidelines for the proposed badge are still in process, with WIGI molding requirements to fall neatly in line with the STEM program, even going so far as to use the same development tool, Gamestar Mechanic. If and when the program gets final approval from the Girls Scouts of America, it'd be the third such video game badge available to our nation's young troopsters, as both the Cub and Boy Scouts currently offer one. So, no Rosa, it would seem the Girl Scouts do need those stinkin' patches.

  • The Daily Roundup for 04.15.2013

    by 
    David Fishman
    David Fishman
    04.15.2013

    You might say the day is never really done in consumer technology news. Your workday, however, hopefully draws to a close at some point. This is the Daily Roundup on Engadget, a quick peek back at the top headlines for the past 24 hours -- all handpicked by the editors here at the site. Click on through the break, and enjoy.

  • KidDIY: 2013 National STEM Video Game Challenge aims to shape future of innovation

    by 
    Ben Gilbert
    Ben Gilbert
    04.15.2013

    The New York Hall of Science is hidden away in the Corona corner of Queens, N.Y., a primarily Hispanic neighborhood below the city's 7 subway line. Pupuserias and bodegas line pedestrian-filled 111th Street as it leads to the open swath of land occupied by the hall, making the sudden appearance of Cold War-era space rockets all the more jarring -- they jut into the sky, taking advantage of Queens' lack of skyscrapers. Not that 50-year-old rockets are at home anywhere in New York City, but they serve as a fitting backdrop for the day's event: the culmination of the 2013 National STEM Video Game Challenge. The challenge aims to enable America's youth of today to become tomorrow's innovation leaders. In so many words, the US government is hoping these kids won't just go on to create the next big shooter franchise, but, say, the next iPod. Or the next SpaceX, perhaps.

  • SimCityEDU announced, bringing learning tools to classrooms in March

    by 
    Mike Suszek
    Mike Suszek
    01.20.2013

    EA recently announced SimCityEDU, an online community that allows educators to create and share lesson plans based on the upcoming SimCity game. The community will include a curriculum and suite of tools that fall in line with the US Common Core State Standards Initiative, with the goal of stimulating student interest in STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and mathematics).In development by GlassLab, a non-profit that creates educational environments for existing games, SimCityEDU is launching in March, around the time SimCity will arrive. In other words, just in time for spring break. Teachers that are looking to check out the program can head to the official sign-up page for the SimCityEDU beta.

  • Astronaut: Moon, Mars and Beyond renamed to Starlite with beta incoming

    by 
    Eliot Lefebvre
    Eliot Lefebvre
    08.27.2012

    In the wake of NASA successfully landing a robot rover on Mars recently, you might be wondering what happened to the NASA-themed MMO titled Astronaut: Moon, Mars and Beyond. The first thing that's happened to it is that the project has been retitled Starlite. Project Whitecard Studios Inc. hopes the new name will be less cumbersome and also provide a better idea of what the game is about at a glance. Development has progressed on the game as well, with a beta expected to begin sometime before the end of 2012. Prospective players can experience the game on mobile devices and browsers to minimize barriers to entry. If you're interested in a game focused on the technical side of space travel and exploring to the boundary of our solar system, keep a close watch for news on the upcoming beta. [Source: Project Whitecard Studios Inc. press release]

  • STEM Video Game Challenge deadline extended to March 23

    by 
    Richard Mitchell
    Richard Mitchell
    03.12.2012

    The 2012 STEM Video Game Challenge has had its deadline extended to March 23. First launched in 2010 as part of President Barack Obama's STEM initiative, the challenge is designed to promote education in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). The challenge tasks middle schoolers, high schoolers, college students and educators with the creation of a video game (or video game design documents), a project that requires skills in all STEM disciplines.Prizes up for grabs include laptops for students, cash donations for schools and project funding for teams at the collegiate and educational level. Those interested in signing up for the challenge can find more info at StemChallenge.org.

  • MIT developing educational MMO funded by Gates Foundation

    by 
    Jef Reahard
    Jef Reahard
    01.22.2012

    Is gaming the answer to the math- and science-related apathy plaguing American school kids? Some folks at MIT think so, and a new press blurb outlines how the institute is developing an MMO designed to further science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education. "In contrast to the way that (STEM) is currently taught in secondary schools –- which often results in students becoming disengaged and disinterested in the subjects at an early age –- educational games like the one to be developed give students the chance to explore STEM topics in a way that deepens their knowledge while also developing 21st-century skills," the release says. The title is being developed in collaboration with Filament Games, and MIT's Eric Klopfer says that it will be a powerful educational tool. "This genre of games is uniquely suited to teaching the nature of science inquiry," he explains, "because they provide collaborative, self-directed learning situations. Players take on the roles of scientists, engineers and mathematicians to explore and explain a robust virtual world." The project is being financed by a $3 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

  • Astronaut: Moon, Mars, and Beyond developer talks educational mission

    by 
    Jef Reahard
    Jef Reahard
    09.01.2011

    Astronaut: Moon, Mars, and Beyond has been in the news a lot lately, but just who are the folks behind the educational MMO from NASA and Project Whitecard? A new piece at Gamasutra sheds a bit of light on that as well as a few more details about the project as a whole. "I'm originally a developer," says Project Whitecard CEO Khal Shariff. "I thought, 'oh, I could be a developer for the rest of my life, or I could start my own company.'" That company has some pretty lofty goals for its first MMO, including reaching out to millions of kids worldwide and getting them interested in STEM education (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). "We are dedicated to using game technology to do things that, when somebody interacts with the game, it maybe leaves the world better or leaves somebody smarter," Shariff says.