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STEM

Science center leaders are heading to Tallahassee this week to ask for more STEM education funding. Leaders from the Orlando Science Center are joining the group.

The nearly 500 science centers across the state received about $11 million dollars last year in state dollars though an arts and culture fund. That works out to only a few tens of thousands of dollars for each organization.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

Tampa's MacDill Air Force Base put on an impressive show of skill and threw in a bit of fun for some 1200 school students who visited the base this month to check out military careers linked to science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

“Never before in our nation’s history have we depended more on technology and the application of technology to win – not only in the air – but in space and in cyber space,” said MacDill Commander Col. April Vogel. “You know our mission is to fly, fight and win. So, we need to create people who can do that. And there are some amazing young minds here today which is why this is so special.”

Cathy Carter/WUSF

A St. Petersburg teacher was surprised with an award and a $25,000 prize during an all-school assembly Thursday.

Lukas Hefty, a science and math coordinator at Douglas Jamerson Jr. Elementary School, is Florida's only recipient of the national Milken Educator Awards. Its aim is to encourage early to mid-career education professionals.

It’s lunchtime at Jacksonville’s Lee High School, and Principal Scott Schneider walks down the school’s math hall. He says Lee has had its share of teacher vacancies.


Laura Spence

When kids gaze up at the moon -- many dream about becoming astronauts. But how many look to the sea for similar inspiration?

The ocean covers more than seventy percent of the planet's surface and less than five percent of it has been studied.  But at least one submarine pilot is working to motivate a new generation of ocean explorers.

At a Pinellas County summer camp -- middle school girls learn about marine technology.   

Cathy Carter/WUSF

Think like an engineer. That’s what students at Jamerson Elementary School in St. Petersburg have been hearing the past 13 years.

Now, Jamerson isn't the only school that applies science, technology, engineering and math into all of its classes.

Robin Sussingham

Physics is the most  fundamental of sciences; it's an essential stepping stone for  careers in engineering or science. But around the country, fewer than 40 percent of high school students take a physics class. In Florida , that number is much lower -- only about a quarter of high school students take physics. Experts say that the trend affects the future earning potential of the state's students.

In a makeshift operating room inside a hospital north of Tampa, Payton Santana is learning to fix a broken leg.

The 18-year-old and 49 other young women donned scrubs recently for a day of mock surgeries at the Medical Center of Trinity, taking turns breaking polyurethane bones and restoring them with rods and power tools.

M. S. Butler

Gov. Rick Scott was in Tampa Wednesday to talk about  education, particularly his push to expand funding for  STEM programs - or science, technology, engineering and math.

Surrounded by the hum of machinery and the smell of smoldering solder, Gov. Scott touted his plan to expand funding for STEM education and to expand his four-year, $10,000 community college degree program.

But still on the minds of many was the firing of former head of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

Mark Schreiner / WUSF 89.7 News

Since we're going to talk science and math here, let's start with an equation: (Bill Nye the Science Guy + Batman) x 3 = The Scientific League of Superheroes. 

We introduced you to the trio of University of South Florida graduate students who don superhero costumes to teach STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) concepts in local elementary schools two years ago. 

Now they're back for a sequel - and this time they're looking for some help from their fans.

But before we get to that, let's recap the origins - both the real-life and the comic book ones.

Florida Polytechnic University

In-state undergraduate students who enroll at Florida Polytechnic University next year will get free tuition. The school's Board of Trustees approved the scholarships Monday at its meeting at the Orlando International Airport.

John O'Connor / StateImpact Florida

The algebra problem asked the Sarasota County middle school students to figure out how much Sheldon, Amy and Howard – characters on the television show “The Big Bang Theory” – spent on tickets and popcorn while seeing “The Lord of The Rings.”

The students talked through their work in small groups around the room. A tutor helped them set up the equations.

The tutor? Mayim Bialik, who plays Amy on “The Big Bang Theory.”

Ryan Dillow / WUSF

Last summer, USF Pre-College made its debut as the first comprehensive summer college preparation program created by USF and led by university faculty.

Around 200 high school juniors and seniors-to-be took part in one of seven different courses, with the hope of getting ready for the next step in their education.

Now, it’s coming back bigger than ever. Kathy Barnes, the director of USF Pre-College, says last year’s success has led to the expansion of the program, which plans on taking in 240 students across nine courses in this summer’s session.

Best Online Colleges/flickr

Curtis Nyarko is putting in a lot of late nights followed by early mornings at the lab – hoping to snare a high wage job in a high-tech field.

Nyarko is a junior at Florida State University majoring in biology. He wants to stay in Florida and pursue a career in medicine.

Nyarko says his STEM degree — science, technology, engineering and math — will be worth it.

“This degree is not an easy degree at all. But at the end of it all when you have your career – and it’s a good career – it is worth it,” Nyarko said. “You know, nothing great comes without great sacrifice.”

Superhero Training Network

Sam DuPont and Audrey Buttice were once mild-mannered USF Ph.D. students. As part of a National Science Foundation-funded fellowship program, they’d visit elementary schools around the Tampa area and do science demonstrations. But they thought that they could reach more students by videotaping their work—they just needed a hook. DuPont says they found their answer while waiting in line at Disney World.

"At first we’re like, ‘Pirates!’ and we’re like, ‘Nah, that’s not good.’ Then we’re like, ‘Clowns!’ and we’re like, ‘Ah, that’s a little too juvenile,’ and then we were like, ‘Ah, I got it, superheroes!’ and from there, that’s history!”

So, along with classmate Robert Bair, they came up with new alter egos and a back story--a lab accident that transformed them from normal scientists to super-powered members of The Scientific League of Superheroes.