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How the Pandemic May Help More Students See Themselves as Scientists – EdSurge News

Jacob Scott

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“Ooo, it didn’t explode,” shouted Megan as her undergraduate student mentor supervised her pouring liquid into a beaker at the Oregon Institute of Marine Biology.

“It didn’t explode.” It’s less a statement of fact and more an exclamation of relief. But during 2020, it seemed as if everything was exploding with no relief in sight. Not just COVID-19, but also hateful political rhetoric. Police brutality, racial injustice, widening inequality. Record levels of anxiety, depression, stress. And just as our eight-person research team was about to launch our years-in-the-making classroom intervention to boost science outcomes, the pandemic changed everything.

Megan was one of seven high school students we worked with in a multi-year project called My STEM Story, a transdisciplinary collaboration led by scholars of media, education and psychology at the University of Oregon, University of Kentucky and an education research nonprofit called Inflexion. Funded by the National Science Foundation, this project uses documentary-style storytelling videos to capture unscripted interactions and authentic stories from high school student mentees and undergraduate student mentors to motivate students of color and other underrepresented young people to pursue science careers. We planned to study how highlights from these stories of overcoming obstacles might affect how high school students view their potential as scientists. However, unanticipated roadblocks tested our own resolve—giving us our own experience of struggling through science. That pushed us to have more empathy for the students we aim to inspire and to think more creatively about our research approach.

To create the videos, we filmed mentor and mentee pairs of students who identify as Black, Latino/a, South Asian, and Persian as they shared lunches and laboratories while studying material science, chemistry, microbiological organisms and neurological brain functions. The pairs discussed their personal and professional interests from favorite foods to physics. Mentors shared stories about the obstacles and opportunities they faced in their undergraduate education. Mentees looked for advice and feedback from their near-peer mentors who had been in their shoes not too long ago. The mentors gave personal, authentic guidance to the mentees who asked questions as they explored what science could mean for them and their future.

Courtesy of Ed Madison.

These scenarios placed our subjects in tight quarters with shared equipment. Luckily, most of the mentoring took place prior to the pandemic, in summer 2019. Our research’s next stage called for showing video highlights of these mentoring experiences to students in local high schools and engaging them in self-reflective exercises to boost their science motivation and achievement. In fact, we had completed the in-person training with enthusiastic and excited partner teachers just days before COVID-19 stopped our data collection, upended our intervention implementation, and challenged us to rethink how to proceed.

When our universities halted in-person research operations in March 2020, we presumed the closures would be temporary. Initially, we focused on shifting timelines and making minor adjustments to our in-classroom pilot tests. Yet as the weeks turned to months of campus and community closures, it became clear that we were not returning to normal anytime soon. Our team acutely felt the stress of the internalized drive for productivity that academia instills through ever-increasing reliance on profit maximization and austerity measures. Competitive national grants demand returns on investment through publications and scalable intervention materials. Professors and graduate instructors spend increased energy on emotional labor with struggling undergraduates who are also expected to proceed with “business as usual.” Although these stressors always simmer just below the surface in higher education, the pandemic highlighted them.

One effect COVID-19 exposed was pressure to press on to meet institutional goals and expectations from the “before time” despite needing an ethic of care for ourselves and each other as humans in the “after time.” This became more evident as our team dealt with personal challenges, such as undergoing medical procedures, facing mental health concerns, losing loved ones, balancing child care, managing lockdown isolation, and battling on-going screen fatigue. Despite trying to stay cooperative and supportive, we felt internal antagonism between pushing forward and pulling back in our research plans as team members disagreed on how to proceed, at what pace, and in what ways. Pre-tenure professors worried about productivity. Graduate students worried about meeting program milestones. Researchers worried about funds running dry. Tenured professors were thrust into leadership roles having to make impossible decisions.

In the midst of that tension, we witnessed and participated in the grassroots, global movement for equality and racial justice that swelled during 2020. As researchers and educators dedicated to developing STEM identity and equity approaches in racially diverse and historically marginalized youth, we reflected on these twin pandemics of COVID-19 and systemic racism colliding. We saw that the populations we seek to support through our research are the same populations most negatively affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and the least represented in the STEM fields working to stop the virus. Our research felt even more urgent.

Our digital storytelling videos showed undergraduate mentors modeling ways to overcome difficulties with their high school mentees. But these mentors also had lessons they taught us during this time. They told their mentees about the personal and academic challenges they faced: an unsupportive teacher, a parent’s mental illness, a disruptive health diagnosis. They also shared the strategies they used to overcome them, like creating routines and identifying supportive family members and friends. They revealed their experiences with self-doubt and uncertainty and explained how finding internal and external motivation kept them moving toward their goals. Surrounded by the rich stories of roadblocks and resilience from our near-peer mentoring pairs, we shifted from being experts to being learners. We adjusted and tried to respond to each other with support and kindness. In the face of a system that demands productivity at all costs, we created space to focus intentionally and purposefully on our humanity, and in slowing down, we found opportunity sparked again.

By reflecting on the challenges we faced in our lives, we began asking how living within the boundaries of COVID-19 restrictions might affect the students we had planned to study only a few months earlier. We asked ourselves: Could experiencing the world during COVID-19 lead students to engage with science in new and immersive ways? Might watching a mentor’s video about how their motivation to give back to society shaped their science career choice have some significant influence on 10th-grade audiences?

We articulated our hypothesis in a formal request for additional funding, and the National Science Foundation awarded our team a Rapid Response Research grant to explore matters related to COVID-19. We created a new digital storytelling video about science in the pandemic, in which we also broadened our underrepresented populations to include a queer-identifying marine biologist mentor and Megan, a high school mentee with Native American indigenous heritage. Under pandemic guidelines, we filmed this new pair’s mentoring experience along the Oregon coast. This allowed us to challenge the dominant narratives about who can be a scientist and advance conversations about science’s role for the public good.

On the day we filmed, we experienced classic Oregon winter weather—cloudy, chilly, and drizzly. But Megan’s words—“It didn’t explode!”—were bigger than a chemical reaction inside a glass beaker. It was a statement of optimism. Despite the challenges we faced in 2020 and continue to face well into 2021, we found opportunities to reimagine academic life in a pandemic and move meaningful work forward.

While COVID-19 thwarted our plans to assess students’ responses to our videos in classrooms, it also created new opportunities. We decided to modify our intervention and migrate it online. And it looks as though we’ll be able to implement it flexibly, demanding little energy from already-fatigued teachers. This self-directed online delivery may make the student experience more accessible and potentially available to more students, and with extended longevity, too.

We believe these changes will have a positive influence on more students, hopefully leading to increased equity and inclusion that will strengthen science as individuals from differing backgrounds collaborate and solve problems to benefit the greater good.

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‘Moon Knight’ Took Marvel in a Different Orbit, but It Didn’t Rise to the Occasion

Jacob Scott

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Before anyone writes that off as an anomaly, “Eternals” tackled a similar introduction of a dense mythology on the bigger screen, with equally mixed results. It’s a reminder that while film-goers have had more than a decade to get to know characters like Iron Man, Captain America and Thor, introducing some of these lesser-known heroes can pose a more formidable challenge beyond catering to the most ardent fans.
For Marvel, there are warning signs in that, since “Moon Knight” will be followed by several series based on second-tier characters, although the next two on the horizon, “Ms. Marvel” (which is due in June) and “She-Hulk,” at least have the benefit of sharing franchises and name recognition with existing Avengers.
Ultimately, “Moon Knight’s” murky storytelling appeared to squander its principal assets, which included the cool look of the character — a costume that was too seldom used — and the presence of Isaac, who possesses additional genre credentials via the “Star Wars” sequels.

Taking its time in peeling back the layers of the character’s complicated backstory, “Moon Knight” took a weird plunge into the Egyptian mythology behind it, in ways that became increasingly confounding and surreal.

By the time the protagonist’s two halves, Steven Grant and Marc Spector, wound up in a psychiatric hospital talking to an anthropomorphic hippo in the penultimate chapter, the question wasn’t so much being able to keep up with the story as whether bothering to do so was worth the effort.

The sixth and final episode brought the plot to a messy close, seeking to stop the goddess Ammit from proceeding to “purify the souls of Cairo, and then the world.” In the customary credit sequence, the producers capped that off by introducing a third personality, Jake Lockley, also rooted in the comics. While that seemingly spelled the end for the show’s villain (Ethan Hawke), the finish — giving the god Khonshu the protégé he sought — paved the way for further adventures should Marvel so choose.

That last twist might be cause for celebration in narrower confines of the Marvel fan universe, but “Moon Knight” too often felt like it was one long Easter-egg sequence, conspicuously preaching to that choir.

Granted, Marvel has made clear that Disney+ offers the chance to explore different kinds of stories, but “Moon Knight” feels at best like a quirky showcase for Isaac and at worst a failed experiment in terms of execution and tone.

That doesn’t mean this “Moon” won’t somehow rise again, if the closely held streaming data justifies it. But the promise that surrounded this property has faded, providing further evidence that even Marvel isn’t immune from setbacks as it moves into its next phase.

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Start-up Pony.ai says it’s the first self-driving company to get a taxi license in China

Jacob Scott

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Autonomous driving start-up Pony.ai can collect fares for robotaxi rides in parts of two major Chinese cities as of Sunday.

Pony.ai handout

BEIJING — Self-driving start-up Pony.ai announced Sunday it received a taxi license, the first of its kind in China.

The license allows Pony.ai to operate 100 self-driving cars as traditional taxis in the Nansha district of the southern city of Guangzhou, the company said.

The Chinese start-up, which is backed by Toyota, received approval from Beijing city late last year to charge fees to operate a commercial robotaxi business in a suburban district of the city. It is not the same as a taxi licence.

Baidu’s Apollo Go also received approval in the same Beijing district last year.

Pony.ai was valued at $8.5 billion in early March. The company said its Nansha taxi license required 24 months of autonomous driving testing in China and/or other countries, and no involvement in any active liability traffic accidents, among other factors.

The start-up said it plans to launch commercial robotaxi businesses in two other large Chinese cities next year. The company is already testing self-driving cars in those cities and in California. 

Robotaxis in China currently have a human driver present for safety.

— CNBC’s Arjun Kharpal contributed to this report.

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How to watch Timberwolves vs. Grizzlies: TV channel, NBA live stream info, start time

Jacob Scott

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Who’s Playing

Memphis @ Minnesota

Current Records: Memphis 2-1; Minnesota 1-2

What to Know

The Memphis Grizzlies’ road trip will continue as they head to Target Center at 10 p.m. ET this past Saturday to face off against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Memphis will be strutting in after a win while Minnesota will be stumbling in from a loss.

The Grizzlies are hoping for another victory. They beat the Timberwolves 104-95 this past Thursday. The victory came about thanks to a strong surge after the first quarter to overcome a 39-21 deficit. Memphis’ success was spearheaded by the efforts of power forward Brandon Clarke, who had 20 points in addition to eight rebounds, and shooting guard Desmond Bane, who shot 7-for-15 from beyond the arc and finished with 26 points and six boards.

Barring any buzzer beaters, Memphis is expected to win a tight contest. They might be worth taking a chance on against the spread as they are currently on a two-game streak of ATS wins.

Memphis’ win brought them up to 2-1 while the Timberwolves’ defeat pulled them down to a reciprocal 1-2. A couple offensive stats to keep in the back of your head while watching: The Grizzlies come into the game boasting the second most points per game in the league at 115.6. But Minnesota is even better: they rank first in the league when it comes to points per game, with 115.9 on average. Tune in for what’s sure to be a high-scoring contest.

How To Watch

When: Saturday at 10 p.m. ET Where: Target Center — Minneapolis, Minnesota TV: ESPN Online streaming: fuboTV (Try for free. Regional restrictions may apply.) Follow: CBS Sports App Ticket Cost: $76.96

Odds

The Grizzlies are a slight 2.5-point favorite against the Timberwolves, according to the latest NBA odds.

The oddsmakers had a good feel for the line for this one, as the game opened with the Grizzlies as a 3-point favorite.

Over/Under: -110

See NBA picks for every single game, including this one, from SportsLine’s advanced computer model. Get picks now.

Series History

Memphis have won 19 out of their last 28 games against Minnesota.

Apr 21, 2022 – Memphis 104 vs. Minnesota 95 Apr 19, 2022 – Memphis 124 vs. Minnesota 96 Apr 16, 2022 – Minnesota 130 vs. Memphis 117 Feb 24, 2022 – Minnesota 119 vs. Memphis 114 Jan 13, 2022 – Memphis 116 vs. Minnesota 108 Nov 20, 2021 – Minnesota 138 vs. Memphis 95 Nov 08, 2021 – Memphis 125 vs. Minnesota 118 May 05, 2021 – Memphis 139 vs. Minnesota 135 Apr 02, 2021 – Memphis 120 vs. Minnesota 108 Jan 13, 2021 – Memphis 118 vs. Minnesota 107 Jan 07, 2020 – Memphis 119 vs. Minnesota 112 Dec 01, 2019 – Memphis 115 vs. Minnesota 107 Nov 06, 2019 – Memphis 137 vs. Minnesota 121 Mar 23, 2019 – Minnesota 112 vs. Memphis 99 Feb 05, 2019 – Memphis 108 vs. Minnesota 106 Jan 30, 2019 – Minnesota 99 vs. Memphis 97 Nov 18, 2018 – Memphis 100 vs. Minnesota 87 Apr 09, 2018 – Minnesota 113 vs. Memphis 94 Mar 26, 2018 – Memphis 101 vs. Minnesota 93 Dec 04, 2017 – Memphis 95 vs. Minnesota 92 Feb 04, 2017 – Memphis 107 vs. Minnesota 99 Nov 19, 2016 – Memphis 93 vs. Minnesota 71 Nov 01, 2016 – Minnesota 116 vs. Memphis 80 Oct 26, 2016 – Memphis 102 vs. Minnesota 98 Mar 16, 2016 – Minnesota 114 vs. Memphis 108 Feb 19, 2016 – Memphis 109 vs. Minnesota 104 Jan 23, 2016 – Minnesota 106 vs. Memphis 101 Nov 15, 2015 – Memphis 114 vs. Minnesota 106

Injury Report for Minnesota

No Injury Information

Injury Report for Memphis

Dillon Brooks: Game-Time Decision (Foot) Santi Aldama: Out (Knee) Killian Tillie: Out (Knee)

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