Powering Innovation With Education

By Kara Miller   |   Saturday, May 19, 2012
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A student uses a microscope during a science class at the University of Illinois (jeremy.wilburn via Flickr)

Several months ago, when this show had only just begun, we did a segment on the next big thing. The next iPad , the next Facebook, the next Twitter.

But we got a big surprise.

America, our guests said, may not be up to the challenge. It may not be producing the young minds needed to create and staff the companies that will change our world.

Here’s what Joe Kessler, who is president of The Intelligence Group in Los Angeles, said when I asked him how we were doing producing workers for high-tech companies:

Since then, I’ve asked almost everyone who’s walked into this studio whether they’re hiring new employees and what they think of the talent pool.

Almost to a person, they shake their heads. We need more technical people, they say. We have to turn to workers from overseas, but it can be hard to get them visas.

So, today we ask what’s going on. Is our education system failing to train young Americans for the future — a reality that will impact all of us — whether we majored in computer science or English literature? 

The Talent Pool: What's the problem?

First, we hear from employers. Are they having trouble filling jobs? And why isn’t this issue a greater part of our national discussion?


Toward a Solution

Part 1: 

Part 2:

We're joined by a panel of educators hoping to empower the next generation of mathmeticians and scientists.


Physics in the Eye of the Beholder

Tuesday, March 13, 2012
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March 13, 2012art-physics
Groningen by Metro Centric/Flickr

Walter Lewin
, Professor of Physics, Emeritus at MIT, talks about what art and physics have in common: a spirit of pioneering that has a major impact on how we percieve the world.

Here is an MIT World video with Professor Lewin on viewing 20th Century Art through the lens of a physicist.

What defines a planet: The Star Trek Test

Tuesday, February 14, 2012
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Feb. 14, 2012


"Eight Planets and New Solar System Designations" from NASA Images

Alan Stern is a Planetary Scientist at NASA and has led many planetary and lunar missions, including the New Horizons Pluto-Kuiper Belt mission, a robotic spacecraft on its way to explore the dwarf planet Pluto. He talks about what qualifies an object in space as a planet.

Seaching for the Unexpected

Monday, February 13, 2012
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Feb. 13, 2012


Image of the Super-Kamiokande, used in the T2K experiment in Japan to observe the oscillation of neutrinos.

Professor David Wark is the Chair of High Energy Physics at Imperial College, London. He explained the TDK experiment in detail for the Science and Technology Facilities Council, saying, ""People sometimes think that scientific discoveries are like light switches that click from 'off' to 'on', but in reality it goes from 'maybe' to 'probably' to 'almost certainly' as you get more data. Right now we are somewhere between 'probably' and 'almost certainly'."

Putting The Breaks On The “Summer Slide”

Tuesday, May 3, 2011
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What is the “Summer Slide”

We all look forward to the rest and relaxation of summer. It’s good to take a break, but hot, lazy summer days with nothing to do may not be the best thing for our children. To succeed in school—and life—children and young adults need ongoing opportunities to learn and practice essential skills such as reading and math. This is especially true during the summer months, when many children who do not participate in educational enrichment activities experience learning losses.

Called the “summer slide,” this phenomenon has long been of interest to educators and researchers. In 1996, researchers conducted a synthesis of 39 studies that indicated that summer learning loss equaled at least one month of instruction as measured by grade level equivalents on standardized test scores (view this research). In other words on average, children’s tests scores were at least one month lower when they returned to school in fall than scores were when students left in spring. 


Clearly, children will benefit from a high-quality summer program that helps them maintain and improve important skills. But how do you find one that really works? Kids Media Matters went looking for some answers, and found many examples of great summer reading models!

Throughout the summer we’ll be posting profiles of programs and organizations actively involved in promoting summer reading and improving skills. “Summer slide” can affect children at any age in their academic development, so each of the profiles feature a summer program that has demonstrated success with a particular age group.

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What's So Super About Super Why Reading Camps?

Taking place for the third consecutive summer, Super Why Reading Camps are interactive learning adventures for ages 4-5-years-old.

There Are Good Books, And Then There Are Great Books
Designed for middle and high school students, the Great Books Summer Program invites young people to engage with the literary classics.

Boston Is A City Of Readers
A conversation with ReadBoston executive director Theresa Lynn.

Summer Surfing (Online, That Is!)

An interview with Christine Zanchi, WGBH web producer for Martha Speaks and Arthur.

What’s So Super about Super Why Reading Camps?

Tuesday, May 3, 2011
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Angela Santomero is a Founding Partner and
Chief Creative Officer of Out of the Blue
Enterprises LLC.


A conversation with Angela Santomero, co-creator of the highly popular PBS Kids series Super Why.

Angela Santomero is a Founding Partner and Chief Creative Officer of Out of the Blue Enterprises LLC, overseeing the research and creative development of all of the company’s groundbreaking children’s media projects, with a mission to bring educational entertainment to a whole new level. She is Co-Creator, Executive Producer, and Head Writer of the award-winning PBS KIDS series Super Why, the first preschool property to help build literacy skills through classic fairytales with an original twist and empowering young heroes. Ms. Santomero was also the Co-Creator, Executive Producer and Head Writer for Nick Jr.’s landmark series, Blue’s Clues.

Ms. Santomero, please give us some background on the Super Why Reading Camps.

Taking place for the third consecutive summer, Super Why Reading Camps are interactive learning adventures that show children the power of reading and guide them as they play with letters, sounds, and words. Featuring a comprehensive curriculum developed by noted literacy experts, this year the program has been expanded from one to three weeks.  Each day the 4 to 5 year-old campers participate in a range of fun literacy lessons, games, crafts, exercise and music that will help them practice key strategies for reading success. The first week is all about “ Super Why and The Three Little Pigs” and some of the reading-powered activities include a “Lickety Letters Craft Activity,” where participants find the letters of their name and make a colorful sign; “Letter ID Bingo;” and the entertaining and educational “Freeze Dance Rhyming Game.”  On the last day of the week, campers invite their caregivers to come join in the literacy fun! Watch the short video above, which illustrates the power and appeal of the Super Why Reading Camps in action.
Why you did you decide to develop the Super Why Reading Camps?

We created the Super Why Reading Camps to bring the mission of the show one step further by working directly with preschoolers at a grassroots level to help them learn to read—and develop a lifelong love of books. As educators at heart, we were excited to find a way to bring our proven Super Why curriculum from the show and into classrooms. The amazing improvement in literacy skills we see from kids starting the program to when they leave is inspiring and uplifting for us. Kids get motivated, want to read, and truly learn!

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About the Author
Kara Miller Kara Miller
As a radio host, Kara Miller has interviewed thinkers from E.J. Dionne to Howard Gardner, Deepak Chopra to Lani Guinier. She is a panelist on WGBH-TV's "Beat the Press," as well as an Assistant Professor at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. Her writing has appeared in The Boston Globe, The National Journal, The Boston Herald, Boston Magazine, and The International Herald Tribune.

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