By Sarah Birnbaum | Wednesday, June 20, 2012
June 20, 2012
BOSTON — Massachusetts high school students will soon be required to take at least 3 years of lab-based science classes to get into the state's public universities. The Massachusetts Department of Higher Education announced the new entry requirements on June 19.
Currently, students looking to get into a four-year university in Massachusetts have to take 3 years of high school science but only 2 of them need to be lab-based. And those classes have to be in biology, physics or chemistry.
Starting in 2017, high school seniors will need to have 3 years of lab-based science courses instead of 2. And classes in computers, engineering and technology will count.
Massachusetts Education Secretary Paul Reville said the new entry requirements would better prepare Massachusetts college grads to compete in key industries.
“Engineering and technology should be a prominent part of our curriculum and part of our admissions requirements," he said. "Because that’s where the future is in terms of jobs that are coming to Massachusetts."
He added that the emphasis on experimentation and problem-solving would persuade more kids with scientific inclinations to stay in the sciences:
"We have what I call an 'inspiration gap' in Massachusetts. We do better than any other state on average in terms of student test scores in math and science. And yet when our students expressed what they’re interested in majoring in college, we are well below the national average in terms of interest expressed in STEM majors. Kids aren’t excited."
Reville said he worries traditional science education shuts out too many kids at a time when the state needs more scientists and lab technicians.
By Abbie Ruzicka | Monday, June 18, 2012
June 19, 2012
BOSTON — As the number of people graduating from law school has gone up in recent years, the amount of available jobs in the legal field has gone down due to outsourcing and technology. A recent study by the Massachusetts Bar Association revealed possible ways to improve job prospects for new lawyers — many of whom have taken on six-figure debt and are graduating with little experience in the legal field.
Eric Parker, a Boston lawyer who worked on the study, said more law schools need to have clinical programs that introduce practical skills to students so they will be more qualified when they leave.
"You can come out of law school having passed the Bar and go right to a jury trial and try a case having never been in a courtroom in your life. It sounds crazy but it's absolutely true," he said. "Imagine just for a moment being on a gurney in an operating room and your surgeon walks in and says, 'So, this is the operating room. Yeah, there's the anesthesia machine just like on "Grey's Anatomy." It all looks so real.'"
In addition to having law students get hands-on experience before graduating from law school, the task force that conducted the study recommended that law schools admit fewer students, make the Bar exam more difficult to pass and encourage new lawyers to take on pro bono and community work to build experience.
> > Read the response on Facebook.
By Kara Miller | Friday, June 15, 2012
Twenty-three years ago, MIT wanted to find the very best start-up ideas out there. What new companies were waiting to be born? What inventions could change our lives?
Today, the winners of MIT’s 100K Entrepreneurship Competition have, together, created businesses worth $16 billion and generated nearly 5,000 new jobs.
But the competition is stiff.
This weekend, we meet the winners of this year's challenge, who may have started the next big thing — while trying to finish their homework. And we'll hear about some fascinating entrants in the competition, like Liquiglide -- which promises to help you get that last bit of ketchup or mayonnaise out of the bottle -- and IoVista, a small device which helps residents of poor countries get a prescription for glasses.
Alice Francis, co-managing director, MIT's $100K Entrepreneurship Competition
Brett van Zuiden, co-founder, CloudTop
Liyan David Chang, co-founder, CloudTop
By Ibby Caputo | Friday, June 15, 2012
June 18, 2012
WALTHAM, Mass. — Cairo has its pyramids. Rome has its ruins. But it’s not necessary to go so far away to see history unearthed. In fact, one archeological dig is only a bus ride away from Boston.
On a warm and breezy June day, archeology students crowd around their outdoor classroom: two rectangular trenches on the historic Gore Estate in Waltham. Sweaty and covered in dirt, they methodically dig into the ground, paying attention to every bit of debris.
Archeologist Dave Landon teaches a summer course that gives UMass students hands-on experience unearthing historical remains.
“We love projects like this because it really does kind of go straight at this misconception that archeology is always far away,” Landon says.
This summer’s underground target: a greenhouse built by the seventh governor of Massachusetts, Christopher Gore. It’s part of an innovative agricultural movement that took place in New England in the early 1800s. Co-teacher Christa Beranek says the students are likely to find a variety of artifacts under layers of soil.
“Probably down there there’s greenhouse structure, there’s destruction debris from taking apart the building, lots of brick and stone and mortar and remnants of things from the greenhouse, lots and lots of glass, planting pots, nails,” she says.
Technology provides clues
In the month before the class started, Landon and his team spent days mapping out the area using electromagnetic radiation. It’s an off-the-shelf technology used in an innovative way. And it spared Landon’s students from the arduous hit-or-miss process of figuring out where to dig.
Just as planes navigate by radar, sending waves out into the atmosphere, the electromagnetic detection machine sends microwaves into the earth. When they hit a rock or a patch of clay, they bounce back.
Using historical maps as a general guide, the precision of this data helps target the exact location of hidden structures. But the archeologist’s goal is to form a cohesive narrative about the past, and that can’t occur until what’s underground is unearthed.
Today’s big find
While some students dig, others sift through dirt as if looking for gold. They mostly find pieces of ceramic and glass, but every so often, something unexpected turns up. The big find so far today? The base of a flat-bottomed drinking glass, which, it seems, was used as a tool. The broken edges have been chipped in the same way a flint stone is chipped into an arrowhead.
Volunteer Phil Cook says the process of digging and sifting can be a little mind-numbing, but it is totally worth it when you find something unexpected.
“You're out here for 8 hours a day, especially in the heat,” Cook says. “Your eyes kind of widen when you see it sticking out of the ground and you really don’t know what it is at first.”
An understanding of history gives context to the dig, but some artifacts — like the broken base of the tumbler — yield more questions than answers.
“Someone was here making a tool out of broken glass,” Landon explains. “Why would there be this handmade tool here when they really had the ability to buy any tools they wanted for this greenhouse?”
Landon says a lot of times artifacts like these found in New England are associated with Native and African Americans. “So who exactly is working here and what kind of skill set are they bringing?”
The dig's next phase
The answers to the past will not come quickly. This portion of the excavation will round up at the end of June. Then the UMass team will spend a few months analyzing the artifacts before beginning the next phase of excavation at the same site in October.
“We’re going to use every bit of evidence we can get — any kind of historical evidence, or artifactual evidence, or archeological evidence — to try and understand, try and imagine the greenhouse when it was in use and people were moving in and out of it,” says Landon.
The story promises to slowly unfold. And right here in New England an archeological adventure is underway.
By Cristina Quinn & John Hockenberry | Friday, June 15, 2012
June 15, 2012
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — MIT's president is addressing the high cost of a college education. On the WGBH coproduction The Takeaway, Susan Hockfield said that despite shaky employment figures, the chances of finding employment with a college degree are significantly greater than with only a high school diploma.
If cost is an issue, she said there were avenues students and families should consider.
"For a family that is deeply concerned about the cost of college education, I would offer two important directions to pursue. The first is that public universities in almost every state are outstanding and can offer an outstanding education. Education is largely the responsibility of the student, so a well-motivated student can get an education at any one of the public universities in America," she said.
Hockfield added that most people don’t know about the financial support private universities provide.
"Here at MIT, Harvard, at Yale, Stanford, Princeton, we admit students in a need-blind application process. We don’t consider a family’s ability to pay for an education when we review who comes to MIT," she said. "We decide on which students are prepared to make the best use of MIT’s resources. We make it financially possible for every one of those students to come to MIT. If you’re a family with an annual income of $75,000 a year, we cover all of your tuition costs, and in some cases, more."
> > EXTRA: John Hockenberry of The Takeaway reflects on the value of college in his family.
By Sarah Birnbaum | Wednesday, June 6, 2012
June 6, 2012
BOSTON — The University of Massachusetts Board of Trustees approved a 5 percent hike in student fees on June 6 over the objections of Gov. Deval Patrick.
In-state student fees will go up by about $580 next year, making annual tuition and fees $12,481. That doesn't include room and board, which is about $10,000 at UMass Amherst. The hike comes on top of increases in student fees over the past 10 years.
It left UMass Amherst student Steve Donahue wondering how he'd afford it all.
“How am I going to do this? I’m really anxious," he said. "I’m in college now. My sister's starting college next year. My family has to cover the fees for both of us.”
At the State House, Patrick voiced his opposition. “It’s a crummy time to ask students to pay more. The economy is tough; their prospects after graduation are uncertain.”
He said the university system had to do a better job managing its money so students don’t have to pay the price.
In a press release, university officials blamed the hikes on a steady decline in the proportion of education costs the state has shouldered over the past decade — from 61 percent in 2003 to an estimated 43 percent next year. They've agreed to freeze student fees for the next 2 years at the new rate if the legislature agrees to bring the state's commitment up to 50 percent of the burden.
The board of trustees took swift action on the fee hike — proposing it at a Dartmouth campus meeting Tuesday night and ratifying it first thing the next morning. University officials did not return calls for comment.