Chemwiki free textbook effort expands with $600,000 grant

By Becky Oskin

College students in the STEM fields could see sizable savings thanks to a $600,000 grant awarded to an open source textbook project developed at the University of California, Davis.

The ChemWiki project recently received $600,000 from the National Science Foundation to support further expansion of its open source textbooks into fields including statistics, math, geology, physics, biology and solar energy.

Digital course materials are steadily climbing in use in response to textbook cost concerns, according to an annual survey released in July by the National Association of College Stores. In August, the University of Maryland announced plans to completely eliminate print textbooks this academic year.

IVAN network helps communities fight environmental hazards

A partnership that helps residents of underserved communities in California report environmental hazards to enforcement agencies should be enhanced and expanded, a University of California, Davis, report says.

The UC Davis Center for Regional Change released the report on the Identifying Violations Affecting Neighborhoods (IVAN) program July 13 in Sacramento. The “neighborhood watch” for environmental hazards has been used in the Wilmington area of Los Angeles, the Imperial Valley, Coachella Valley, Kern County, Fresno County and Kings County.

End the U.S. innovation deficit, universities urge

A new video recently released online draws attention to the “Innovation Deficit” and the need for federal investments in research and education to support economic growth and American leadership in science and technology.

The video was produced at Colorado State University for the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) and the Association of American Universities (AAU), both organizations to which UC Davis belongs. It’s part of a continuing campaign, including a website and Twitter feed, to draw attention to the negative effects of budget cuts and sequestration on federally-funded research.

UC Davis boosting STEM for students, faculty and kids

STEM education — Science, Technology, Engineering and Math — is a hot topic these days and UC Davis is in the lead in new developments and approaches. The campus is working to improve teaching and retention of students, encourage more diversity in STEM jobs, and excite school children about math, science and technology.

The campus recently won a grant of $500,000 from the The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust, through an initiative of the Association of American Universities which aims to improve undergraduate education and retention of students, especially from underrepresented groups, in STEM majors. The university will also invest $575,000 in campus funds in the project.

UC Davis to offer summer internships in physics, math to students from Mexico

Undergraduate math and physics students from Mexico will be able to take up research internships at UC Davis this summer under a new program supported by the Consulate General of Mexico in Sacramento.

The program will add an additional place each to the existing Research Experience for Undergraduates programs in the Departments of Mathematics and Physics. The REU program is sponsored by the National Science Foundation, but NSF rules allow non-citizens to be added to the program if other funds are used, said Manuel Calderón de la Barca Sánchez, associate professor of physics at UC Davis.

Robots teaching math: C-STEM Day and one-day conference

Two upcoming events showcase how teachers can bring robots into the classroom to help teach algebra, math and science and get kids fired up about careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.

C-STEM Day, May 4 — Middle and high school students from across the region will test their skills in math, robotics and programming May 4 at the third annual C-STEM Day, organized by the Center for Integrated Computing and STEM Education at the University of California, Davis.

Teachers, want to be a robotics fellow?

The UC Davis C-STEM Center has two fellowship opportunities, Robotics Fellows and CREST Fellows, for teachers in science, technology, engineering and math. Application deadline for both fellowships is April 5.

The Center is also once again offering its Summer Institute, June 24-July 5, with two week-long courses for teachers on robotics technology and computer programming and on algebra/pre-algebra teaching with robotics.

The programs culminate on C-STEM Day, when participating students and teachers gather to showcase their robots and take part in the Roboplay competition. This year’s C-STEM Day is May 4.

Girls Who Code summer program kicks off with Girl Rising premiere

Intel Corp.’s Girls Who Code program will be coming to UC Davis this summer. Now in its second year, Girls Who Code aims to educate and inspire 13- to 17-year-old girls to pursue opportunities in technology and engineering.

UC Davis is the first university to be a Girls Who Code training site, according to Professor Ray Rodriguez, director of the Global HealthShare Initiative at UC Davis, who is coordinating the local effort.

‘This projects fits will with Global HealthShare’s mission to improve health, wellness and prosperity in the developing world, starting with health and education for girls and women.  Global HealthShare has a collaboration with a agricultural college in India who will be working with us toward this end,” Rodriguez said.

Tour campus museums on Super Science Saturday, Feb. 2

Museum Day FlierThe day before Super Bowl Sunday, take an afternoon for some super science museums. UC Davis’s second annual Biodiversity Museum Day will take place Saturday, February 2, from 1 to 4 pm.  The event is a special opportunity to go behind-the-scenes to learn how research is conducted and to see some of the curators’ favorite pieces. Visitors are invited to spend time exploring displays, talking with scientists, and participating in fun activities and crafts.

UC Davis C-STEM Center Wins NSF Grant for Learning Math with Robots

10-graders from Hiram Johnson High School working with robots at C-STEM Day, UC Davis, May 2012

Contributed by Harry Cheng

The UC Davis C-STEM Center has received a grant of $300,000 from the National Science Foundation to study collaborative mathematics learning with robots. The two-year project aims to transform math education by integrating computer programming, robotics, and handheld computing into middle and high school math classrooms.

“Algebra is one of the most important and also one of the most difficult courses for students in K-12 grades,” said Harry H. Cheng, professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and the Center’s director.