K’NEX®, Thermo Fisher Scientific, Allegheny Intermediate Unit To Host PA’s First State-Wide STEM Design Challenge

Event to Encourage STEM Education in 4th Through 8th Grade Classrooms

Hatfield, PA, April, 2014 – K’NEX Education®, America’s STEM Building Solution, is pleased to announce a new competition for Pennsylvania students in grades 4-8. The 2014 STEM Design Challenge will be hosted by Harrisburg University on May 2nd and is sponsored by three outstanding Pennsylvania organizations: K’NEX, Thermo Fisher Scientific, and Allegheny Intermediate Unit (IU3).

The STEM Design Challenge encourages students to work as teams to answer a challenge. This year teams are challenged to create an environmentally friendly “people mover.” The vehicle must be able to travel at least 4 feet across the table and must overcome at least one obstacle (hill, curves, landforms, etc.) Obstacles are to be chosen and designed by the team. Teams are only allowed to use K’NEX rods, connectors and motors and will have 2 hours to build their project at the competition. Each team also needs to bring a blueprint to the competition, and prepare a 2 minute presentation on how their model answered the challenge. Teams will be judged on creativity, teamwork, challenge success, design and presentation.

“The STEM Design Challenge teaches valuable science, technology, engineering and math concepts, and encourages teamwork, public speaking and presentation abilities that are vital to life-long success,” said Michael Araten, President and CEO of K’NEX Brands. “In a day and age in which STEM jobs are increasing faster than non-STEM jobs, the need for educated and excited workers is ever-growing. K’NEX, Thermo Fischer Scientific and the Allegheny Intermediate Unit are dedicated to helping to build the leaders of tomorrow.”

Registration for the STEM Design Challenge was open to schools state-wide, and 19 out of the 29 PA Intermediate units have enrolled in the competition. Participating intermediate units have hosted their own mini-challenges, and the top two teams in each division (grades 4-5 and 6-8) have been invited to compete at the state-wide competition.

Upon arrival at Harrisburg University on May 2nd students will be treated to opening remarks from Governor Tom Corbett. After welcoming the students, Gov. Corbett will tour the competition floor and get a closer look at some of the projects.

“We’re working every day to ensure our children in Pennsylvania are ready to learn, ready to grow and ready to succeed because our students are our future,” said Gov. Corbett. “I commend the vision and leadership of Michael Araten and K’NEX for creating the STEM Design Challenge and engaging students in skills that will help them succeed in the future. Companies like K’NEX and Thermo Fischer Scientific, and organizations like Allegheny Intermediate Unit are at the heart of what makes Pennsylvania great.”

“We are honored to have Governor Corbett at the STEM Design Challenge, and excited he will be welcoming the students to the competition,” said Araten. “STEM is the heart of innovation and innovation drives growth, profit and jobs of the future.”

Awards will be given to the top team in each age group and prizes include:

First Place: $500 K’NEX Education shopping spree for the teacher and a Thunderbolt Strike Roller Coaster Building Set, valued at $119.99 each, for each member of the team.

Second Place: $300 K’NEX Education shopping spree for the teacher and a Super Nova Roller Coaster Building Set for each member of the team.

Third Place: $150 K’NEX Education shopping spree for the teacher and a Super Nova Roller Coaster Building Set for each member of the team.

For more information on the STEM Design Challenge, please contact Kate Loffio at kloffio@knex.com or 215-996-4209.

About K’NEX Brands

Founded in 1992, K’NEX Brands, the world’s most innovative construction toy company, was established to make and sell what has become one of the world’s leading integrated construction systems for children, and is America’s STEM building solution. Winner of over 250 international awards and recognitions, K’NEX, America’sBuilding Toy® company, is focused on Building Worlds Kids Love® and encourages youngsters to “imagine, build and play.”  From the living room to the classroom, K’NEX has building toys specially designed for every age group and skill level.  The K’NEX family of brands includes K’NEX Building Sets, K’NEX Thrill Rides, K’NEX Education, Lincoln Logs®, Tinkertoy®, NASCAR®, Angry Birds, Mario Kart Wii, Mario Kart 7, Super Mario, PacMan, Titanfall, Family Guy, Plants vs. Zombies, and more. Since 1992, The Rodon Group®, a subsidiary of K’NEX Brands, L.P., has manufactured over 31 billion parts for the K’NEX building toy system. Join us as we help build the leaders of tomorrow.  For more information, please visit www.knex.com or www.rodongroup.com.


6,000 Catholic Educators to Attend 2014 National Catholic Educational Association Convention & Expo in Pittsburgh
Award winning event to offer professional development sessions, liturgies & expo of educational products and services for educators


Arlington, Va. – This week, nearly 6,000 Catholic educators will gather in Pittsburgh for the National Catholic Educational Association’s (NCEA) 2014 Convention and Expo.  Hosted by the Archdiocese of Pittsburgh, and in partnership with the Catholic Library Association and the National Association of Parish and Catechetical Directors, the event will take place from Tuesday, April 22 through Thursday, April 24 at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center.

“Catholic education has played a significant role for generations and continues to enrich the lives of individuals, the church and our society today,” said NCEA President Brother Robert Bimonte. “As we commemorate our 110th anniversary, we are delighted to gather educators from across the world to connect, share ideas and embrace innovation as we look to the future.”

As the largest private-education association gathering in the country, the convention will draw participants from all facets of Catholic education, including elementary and secondary schools, parish religious education programs, seminaries, and colleges and universities to exchange ideas and debut cutting-edge research and technologies related to education. The event will offer more than 300 professional development sessions, beautiful liturgies, networking events, and an exhibition of educational products and services.

“The Diocese of Pittsburgh is blessed to host the 2014 conference of the National Catholic Educational Association,” said Bishop David Zubik from the Archdiocese of Pittsburgh. “These educators, whose work ranges from preparing children for First Communion to teaching high school science to preparing men for priesthood, are building bridges for Catholic teaching to reach the wider world. It is my prayer that our entire community will be enriched through this gathering in the City of Bridges.”

This year’s keynote speakers include Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington, and author of the best-selling catechisms, The Teaching of Christ and The Catholic Way, who will discuss the New Evangelization; and Robert Marzano, Ph.D., cofounder and CEO of Marzano Research Laboratory in Colorado, who will explore the art and science of teaching. In addition,
NCEA will honor more than 60 individuals who have made outstanding contributions to Catholic education. To view a complete list of award recipients, please visit:  www.ncea.org.


NCEA’s Annual Convention & Expo has been recognized by Trade Show Executive as one of the Fastest 50 award winners for its dramatic growth in net square exhibit space and exhibitors during 2013.  And it also made the 2013 Trade Show News Network Top 250 Trade Show coming in at 238. For more information about sessions and speakers, visit:  www.ncea.org/convention.



NCEA, founded in 1904, is a professional membership organization that provides leadership, direction and service to fulfill the evangelizing, catechizing and teaching mission of the church. NCEA’s members include elementary schools, high schools, parish religious education programs, boards and councils, and seminaries.




Florida Voluntary Prekindergarten Scores Rise With New Curriculum

Manatee Community Action Agency implements The InvestiGator Club to overhaul curriculum and boost readiness rates

Chicago (April 21, 2014)­—Evaluation data released by the Manatee Community Action Agency (MCAA), home of Manatee County’s Head Start Voluntary Pre-K (VPK), demonstrates that readiness rates have increased for a majority of its schools over the past three years. The agency attributes its success to a new curriculum, The InvestiGator Club Prekindergarten Learning System®, a comprehensive inquiry-based program of instruction, teacher support and materials for the preschool classroom from Robert-Leslie Publishing.

Three years ago, MCAA VPK sites were put on probation for performing at a low level. This provided MCAA with the opportunity to try a new curriculum to help teachers deliver more effective instruction. After piloting The InvestiGator Club during a summer program, the curriculum was implemented at all eight agency schools.

“Implementing an entirely new curriculum was a daunting task,” said Kathy Patreka, Head Start director for MCAA. “Many of our educators were apprehensive about making the switch. However, once they saw the potential of The InvestiGator Club, teachers were excited to begin using the program in their classrooms.”

After one year, six of the eight VPK sites increased their readiness rate scores, with three sites earning scores high enough to boost them out of low performing status. Palmetto, one of the VPK program sites, increased its readiness rate from 47 to 70 percent in 2012-13. Another VPK site, Pine Village, achieved a 92 percent readiness—the highest rate ever scored at MCAA.

“The InvestiGator Club taps into children’s curiosity and sense of wonder by connecting play, imagination and content to the real world,” said Judith Coffey, CEO of Robert-Leslie Publishing. “Purposeful inquiry, the heart of this curriculum, challenges children to use their senses, ask questions, and find the answers in a supportive, language- and literacy-rich environment.”

More information about MCAA’s success using The InvestiGator Club is available in a recent case study (http://investigatorclub.com/portals/0/pdf/Case_Study1r.pdf) from Robert-Leslie Publishing.

About The InvestiGator Club®
The InvestiGator Club Prekindergarten Learning System is a fully integrated, developmentally appropriate curriculum that utilizes children’s natural curiosity to build skills in ten critical learning domains, including language, literacy, science, and math. Evidence gathered from an extensive national study conducted by the Educational Research Institute of America (ERIA) with more than 500 children in 32 classrooms shows that this learning system is significantly effective with all groups of children, including those considered “at-risk”. InvestiGator Club products have received numerous awards, including the Teacher’s Choice Award and Creative Child Magazine’s Kids Product of the Year, Preferred Choice Award, and Seal of Excellence. For more information, contact customer.service@robert-leslie.com or visit the website at www.investigatorclub.com.

About Robert-Leslie Publishing
Robert-Leslie Publishing, The Early Childhood Company® is dedicated to the principle that the early years are the most valuable time to build the foundation for a child’s lifetime of success. The company’s founders, James and Judith Coffey (CEO), with more than thirty years of educational publishing experience, assembled a team of early childhood experts in 2005, to accomplish RLP’s mission of helping children succeed through the publication of research-based learning materials. For more information, visit http://www.robert-leslie.com/


Smart Sparrow and Arizona State University to Launch HabWorlds Beyond!


Adaptive online science course uses rich content and game-like simulations to explore one question: are we alone?


San Francisco, April 22, 2014 – Today, Smart Sparrow, (www.smartsparrow.com) a platform that lets educators create rich, interactive and adaptive learning experiences, announced in collaboration with ASU Online (www.asuonline.asu.edu) the launch of HabWorlds Beyond, (www.habworlds.org) a new type of online course. HabWorlds Beyond teaches students about space exploration, climate science, and the search for life on other planets.  Centered on one of the most profound questions in science – does life exist elsewhere in the Universe? HabWorlds Beyond uses game-like simulations to expose students to the thought processes and practice of science in a fun and engaging way.


HabWorlds Beyond stems from Habitable Worlds – ASU Online’s successful adaptive course that was developed over three years of collaboration between education technology company Smart Sparrow, ASU Online, and Professor Ariel Anbar of ASU’s School of Earth and Space Exploration (www.sese.asu.edu).  Beginning in fall 2014, college professors from any university will be able to teach HabWorlds Beyond in their classrooms, using the Smart Sparrow platform.


“With all the problems facing our planet, we want people to understand the power and limitations of science,” says Anbar. “Large lecture courses can describe scientific results but they can’t teach how science really works. “We wanted to create a new way of teaching science to people who aren’t necessarily science majors, so that they can be smarter voters and decision-makers about the future of our planet.”


Anbar and course designer Dr. Lev Horodyskyj hypothesized that the right online course could do more than a large university lecture-lab course in giving students a taste of the scientific process. To that end, HabWorlds Beyond is not a collection of taped lectures, multiple choice questions and PowerPoints. Instead, it features game-like simulations, immersive virtual field trips, and a semester-long individualized quest, all integrated entirely into Smart Sparrow’s Adaptive eLearning Platform. Students create and destroy stars, hunt for planets, search for signs of life, and travel around the world and back in time, to explore the limits of Earth’s habitability. As of today, 1,500 ASU students have taken the course, and its popularity continues to grow.


“This collaboration with ASU has resulted in a one-of-a-kind learning experience that gives students the opportunity to learn science in a whole new way,” said Dror Ben-Naim, CEO of Smart Sparrow. “HabWorlds Beyond will bring world class science education to classrooms around the world. Teachers will be able to use our platform to adapt the material specifically to the needs of their own classroom.”


What sets HabWorlds Beyond apart from the current generation of online courses and MOOCs?

·         It emphasizes learning by doing by offering students gamified, simulative learning experiences.

·         It’s adaptive and personal. Students get unique, adaptive feedback, and their learning pathways adapt as they continue to learn.

  • It gives faculty control. Faculty can create a continuous cycle of improvement for their course. They use a lesson-authoring tool to create and deploy content and real-time learning analytics to analyze how their students learn. They can then tailor their lessons to their students’ specific needs.


“HabWorlds Beyond is the latest example of how ASU is continuing to harness technology and innovation in redefining higher education online,” said Phil Regier, Dean of ASU Online and ASU Executive Vice Provost. “Working with education technology innovators such as Smart Sparrow showcases ASU’s commitment to excellence through access and impact – the values of the New American University.”



About Smart Sparrow

Smart Sparrow is an adaptive eLearning platform that lets educators create rich, interactive and adaptive learning experiences. Smart Sparrow was founded in 2011 by Dr. Dror Ben-Naim who led a research group in the field of Intelligent Tutoring Systems and Educational Data Mining at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia. Smart Sparrow’s mission is to empower teachers to make the world smarter. For more information please visit: www.smartsparrow.com.


About Habitable Worlds and HabWorlds Beyond

Discover the science behind the search for life beyond Earth in Habitable Worlds. Experience science as an exploration of the unknown and not a dry accounting of observations and facts. Beautiful scientifically accurate simulations and informative lectures are woven together with a powerful adaptive eLearning platform. Habitable Worlds redefines online science education. For more information please visit: habworlds.org.


HabWorlds Beyond is derived from the fully online class Habitable Worlds (SES 106/GLG 106) offered by ASU’s School of Earth and Space Exploration since 2011. Habitable Worlds teaches basic science to non-science majors.


About ASU Online

ASU offers over 60 undergraduate and graduate degree programs entirely online, providing the opportunity to learn from the same great faculty, engage with the same rigorous academic content, benefit from the same services and resources, and earn the same diploma as students who attend on campus. For more information, please visit: http://asuonline.asu.edu.

About ASU’s School of Earth and Space Exploration

Launched in July, 2006, SESE is a bold initiative to combine science and engineering research and education to achieve a better understanding of the universe and, especially, our home world. At present, the School unites earth and planetary scientists with astronomers, and has strong collaborative ties with several other academic units at ASU, especially the Fulton Schools of Engineering. While maintaining core strengths and developing new transdisciplinary links among the sciences, SESE will broaden the scope to include engineering faculty with research interests in the development and deployment of scientific instrumentation on Earth and in space.



Robots4Autism Name Our Robot Contest Determines Name of Social Robot

Participants suggest and vote on name for RoboKind robot used in autism intervention.

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Since the robot will assist teachers and act as a mentor to the kids, we wanted a name they’d be able to relate to. So we gave them the chance to get involved and suggest a name.

Dallas, TX (PRWEB) April 22, 2014

RoboKind, the world leader in social robotics, announces the Robots4Autism Name Our Robot Contest results. The contest invited members of the autism, special needs, education and technology communities to suggest and vote on a name for the company’s humanoid robot. After tabulating votes, the company is eager to introduce Milo the Robot.

“We had a lot of great suggestions,” said Claude Bove, RoboKind director of school sales and marketing. “It was really hard to choose, but we loved the sound of Milo. It just seemed to fit his personality.”

Robots4Autism, a comprehensive autism intervention program, uses the purpose-built social robot to deliver developmental instruction to children with autism. Milo the Robot features life-like facial expressions and natural social engagement to teach critical emotional and social skills to these individuals.

“The original name, Zeno-R25, sounded too technical,” said Fred Margolin, RoboKind CEO and founder. “Since the robot will assist teachers and act as a mentor to the kids, we wanted a name they’d be able to relate to. So we gave them the chance to get involved and suggest a name.”

RoboKind offers the world’s most affordable humanoid robot. The Robots4Autism program shows that Milo engages children more quickly than traditional therapy by intrinsically motivating them to learn. The social robot program supports traditional special education and autism therapy, delivering research-based lessons that improve a child’s ability to use social behaviors in natural contexts, both now and into adulthood.

To meet Milo the Robot and find out more about Robots4Autism, visit http://www.robots4autism.com.

About RoboKind

RoboKind, the world leader in social robotics, designs and builds a series of robots that enable people to engage with robots on a personal level. Through the Robots4Autism and RoboSteps programs, RoboKind leverages these advanced social robots to supplement autism therapy, special education and STEM instruction. The programs use humanoid robots that feature life-like facial expressions, natural social interaction and comprehensive curriculum to assist educators and therapists in helping students learn and grow. For more information, visithttp://www.robokindrobots.com.



Paul Smith’s College and Cornell University Unite for the Environment

“Because humans are the chiefs of the ecological system, we have the environmental responsibility to integrate people with landscapes in a harmonious union.”

Paul Smiths, NY – Nestled in the forests of the Adirondacks, Paul Smith’s College is known for setting the bar in environmentally-focused education. On April 21, Paul Smith’s announced the launch of its newest project to enhance sustainability as a campus-wide initiative, a joint effort with the Cornell Cooperative Extension.

“This collaborative project will enable our students at Paul Smith’s College to connect what they learn in the classroom with real world applications,” explains Brett McLeod, Associate Professor and Program Director.

The Adirondack Center for Working Landscapes (ACWL) is a multi-phase project that will link policy, education and practice through healthy land, healthy food and healthy communities.  The program will connect people with the landscapes to promote positive environmentalism that establishes harmony between humans and the earth.  As a joint effort with Cornell Cooperative Extension, the ACWL will invest in educational outreach and reframe environmental issues with a practical approach.

“Cornell has a reputation for its strengths in agriculture, and Paul Smith’s College has been the leader in forestry, tourism and natural resource management for nearly 70 years,” explains John W. Mills, PhD., President of Paul Smith’s College.  “The ACWL partnership will enable the play-off of these strengths.”

The ACWL is the integration of education and economic reality —beyond sustainable agriculture and forestry—to related sectors such as agro-tourism, nutrition, lost arts, traditional skills, food systems and environmental education.

“Because humans are the chiefs of the ecological system, we have the environmental responsibility to integrate people with landscapes in a harmonious union,” says Mills. “This is essential for preserving our landscapes while fostering eco-tourism, agriculture and community development.”

On April 21, the announcement of the ACWL took place at the opportunity symposium, Forest, Farm & Fork, at Paul Smith’s Visitor Interpretive Center (VIC): 8023 Rt. 30, Paul Smiths, NY, from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

The announcement was made by U.S. Representative Bill Owens, followed by a discussion on the 2014 Farm Bill. Farmers and associated business owners were provided the opportunity to learn how to attain grants for their North Country businesses from the recently passed Farm Bill and other private and New York State sources.

“We at Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) Franklin County are extremely pleased to be a founding partner of the ACWL.  Our educational mission as the outreach arm of the land grant institution of Cornell and tied to USDA makes our programs in agriculture and natural resources, nutrition and youth development an excellent fit with those of Paul Smith’s College and the VIC,” says Rick LeVitre, Executive Director of the Cornell Cooperative Extension.

About Paul Smith’s College

Paul Smith’s College was founded in 1946 and is the only four-year college in the Adirondacks. The college provides an experiential learning environment, with an interdisciplinary core curriculum and undergraduate programs in forestry, natural resources and recreation; hospitality, resort and culinary management; and the sciences, liberal arts, and business. Paul Smith’s College community, residing in the Adirondack Park, promotes economic, social, and environmental sustainability.