The Key Worldwide Paving the Way to STEM Studies

Welcome to the Key Worldwide STEM student connector website. The Key is a worldwide leader in coaching students  to identify their strengths, unlock their potential, choose the right college, position themselves for admission, and outline a course of study and extracurricular experiences to lead to a life of success.  Many Key students go on to excel in careers focused on science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The Key STEM site is maintained by Key students and focuses on all things related to STEM.



STEM is a U.S. government initiative to increase Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics education in the classroom. It is the goal of STEM programs to create an environment that enables students to explore STEM subjects and prepare themselves for careers in STEM fields. Like the Key, STEM programs focus on problem solving,  designing experimental projects, working collaboratively and thinking outside the box. The Key’s STEM program deepens career awareness, coaches students on what they need to study in school, providing proven techniques for learning, as well as an in depth knowledge base for students to draw from.

Letter from the Editor:

by: Katherine Gillette

STEM Job Growth Expected to Continue

The U.S. Department of Commerce is projecting continued growth in STEM related jobs for the next decade, driving demand for students that major in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.


The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that STEM jobs will continue growing at a fast clip relative to other occupations: 17.0 percent between 2008-2018 (BLS’ most recent projection), compared to just 9.8 percent for non-STEM jobs.  STEM is more than just the study of these important subjects, it is also about teaching students to be problem solvers,  inventors and innovators.  STEM students are taught to design creatively, test their theories, adjust their thinking and finally to implement their solutions to the problems they face.

Biometric Facial Indentification: Now, also, Under Your Skin

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A biometric identification system is, in its most basic sense, a more “personal” security system. The reason why I say personal is due to the fact that biometric security recognizes physiological characteristics of the user; these systems commonly, but not exclusively, use fingerprints, palm prints, DNA, hand geometry,  iris and retina recognition, and facial recognition. However, all of these systems can be thwarted, in theory. A thief could get a mask of perfect proportion to the user or get fingerprints as well–you can even use a wet photocopy of a fingerprint to get through a fingerprint-scanning lock. Recently, at Jadavpur University in Kolkata, India, a group of scientists have developed a new–and supposedly impossible to foil–facial recognition biometric security system.

The group–Ayan Seal, Suranjan Ganguly, Debotosh Bhattacharjee, Mita Nasipuri, and Dipak Kr. Basu–wanted to solve the problems of the flawed biometric systems, as stated above. What could be as unique as your fingerprint, but nearly impossible to copy? According to the scientists: blood vessels. Each and every one of us has a unique pattern of intertwined veins, arteries, and capillaries under our skin. The face, in particular, is an area of the body with very thin skin and a very high density of blood vessels–the perfect choice for an ultra-high security biometric lock in the group’s opinion.

An image of the user is taken by a thermal imaging camera using an infrared scan, which will detect the blood vessels. This image is then taken from the camera and sent to a computer using a specially-designed algorithm to process every single vein, artery, and capillary in the user’s face. Using this alone, the system is said to be over 97% accurate–an incredibly high percentage considering current percent accuracy ratings of facial recognition software can fall anywhere from 47% to 90% accurate depending on the image the user supplied to the computer. This team of scientists believes that this system alone will be impossible to foil because the replicators would have to create a blood vessel “mask” identical to that of the user.

Many also think that this new blood vessel-scanning system could be used alongside other forms of biometric security such as facial imaging, fingerprint scanning, and hand geometry to form a nearly 100% accurate biometric security system.



Innovation Toronto


Inderscience Publishers

The New York Times

Ayan Seal, Suranjan Ganguly, Debotosh Bhattacharjee, Mita Nasipuri, Dipak Kr. Basu. Automated thermal face recognition based on minutiae extractionInternational Journal of Computational Intelligence Studies, 2013

Image from Flickr

Posted in Healthcare Science Technology by Max Jorgensen. Comments Off

Microchip Memories

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What if your memories could be downloaded, backed up, and implanted into your brain? According to CNN, scientists from MIT, University of South Carolina, and Wake Forest and other prestigious schools, are saying that major memory rejuvenation has been achieved on test mice and other specimen. Soon this technology will make its way into curing human memory and brain degeneration.

This is not as far fetched as it seems. For the past 15 years, doctors have been able to provide brain implants to treat neurological diseases like epilepsy and Parkinson’s. According to Rob Hampson, an associate professor of pharmacology and physiology, patients’ biggest critique and fears of these procedures are placing large, electrically charged pieces of hardware in their brain. Only about 80,000 people have had procedures for these bulky implants for deep brain stimulation in the 15 years they have been available. However, scientists now believe they can replicate the brain’s process of creating long-term memories and can condense the implants to a microchip.

Scientists, such as Ted Berger, a biomedical engineering professor at the University of Southern California, have targeted the hippocampus, which is key for converting short to long-term memories. Using high level math modeling based off of the hippocampus, the scientific team has been able to create a template for how memories are converted for majority of the brain. Berger claims that soon scientists will be able to record a memory being made in an undamaged part of the brain and then use the data to predict what a “downstream” damaged area should do. The chip would replaced the damaged section provide more normal brain function.

The ultimate goal of this technology is learning more and reversing degenerative memory diseases such as Alzheimer’s or Dementia and alleviate the fears many people have by making the procedure minimally invasive. However, these types of procedures have not been as effective on advanced stages of Dementia or Alzheimer’s where multiple areas of the brain are affected simultaneously.

However, the United Kingdom’s Alzheimer’s Society and others are still optimistic about the advancements. The U.S. military is excited to incorporate this type of technology with the many brain injuries soldiers face in combat. This type of technology could be available for volunteers within the next two years and can be used in hospitals as soon as five years from now. And who knows, soon people may even be able to store every event in their lives in something that could fit in the palm of their hand.


Posted in Engineering Healthcare Mathematics Science Technology Uncategorized by Matt Kaufman. Comments Off

Troubling Tornadoes

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I often associate tornadoes with the Wizard of Oz because Dorothy was transported to the magical land of Oz by a tornado. However, for many Americans, tornadoes represent the exact opposite of a magical land, they represent loss and destruction. On May 20, 2013, a massive tornado struck an area outside of Oklahoma City. As a Plaza Tours Elementary School was hit and destroyed, our hearts went out to the victims and families whose lives were torn apart. Now we must keep them in our thoughts and work together as a nation to aid them.

The calamitous storm reached 190-mile per hour winds and measured nearly two miles across. The National Weather Service classified the destructive tornado as an EF5, which is the most powerful category of tornadoes possible. About fifty-one people were killed, of which nine were children, and at least 167 adults and seventy children were injured. In addition, numerous schools, buildings, and homes were leveled to their foundations. However, the three high schools in the school district will still have graduation ceremonies on Saturday at the Cox Convention Center in Oklahoma City.

A tornado is a violently rotating column of air that extends from the base of a cumulonimbus cloud down to the ground below. If the rotating column of air does not reach the earth’s surface, it is called a funnel cloud. If it extends down to contact a body of water, it is called a waterspout. Tornadoes only form under cumulonimbus clouds, the same clouds that generate thunderstorms.

The epicenter for severe thunderstorms and tornadoes is the Texas-Oklahoma panhandle. Oklahoma and Kansas have more tornadoes per square mile than any other region of the U.S.. However, tornadoes are relatively frequent across “tornado alley,” the area between the Rocky Mountains and the Appalachians.

The central states of America are such fertile tornado breeding ground because that is where cold, dry arctic air flowing down from Canada meets warm, moist air flowing northward from the Gulf of Mexico. The clash of cold, dry air and warm, moist air produces violent weather and the most powerful storms. Tornado alley is also relatively flat, and mountains and high structures inhibit tornado formation. Tornadoes occur most frequently in the U.S. from April through early June.

Tornadoes normally rotate cyclonically, which means that when viewed from above, they rotate counterclockwise in the northern hemisphere and clockwise in the southern hemisphere. While large-scale storms always rotate cyclonically due to the Coriolis effect, thunderstorms and tornadoes are so small that the direct influence of the Coriolis effect is unimportant. However, only about 1 percent of tornadoes rotate in an anticyclonic direction in the northern hemisphere.

Works Cited:


Posted in Science Uncategorized by priyachat. Comments Off

New Key Summer Intensive Camps Just Announced

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The Key recently announced that it will be holding 3 new summer intensive camps for high school students on the UCLA campus this summer.  The camps run from late July to early August, and cover entrepreneurship, writing and leadership.  Each camp includes housing in the dorms at UCLA, food, local transportation and all course materials.  The all inclusive fee for each camp is $1,200 for students that already work with the Key, and $1,600 for non-members.  Space in these camps is extremely limited, and the leadership camp is capped at only 25 students, so don’t delay in registering today.

Click on the camp below for more information or to register:

The Key 2013 Business and Entrepreneurship Summer Intensive Camp





The Key 2013 Creative Writing Summer Intensive Camp





The Key 2013 Leadership Summer Intensive Camp









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Immortal Jellyfish

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Immortality. But that’s not possible in real life, right? I mean, only in Tuck Everlasting for god’s sake! Well then, you’d be surprised to learn that Turritopsis nutricula comes pretty close. It is a hydrozoan whose medusa, or jellyfish, after becoming sexually mature, can revert to its original polyp stage. But how does such a process occur? When a Turritopsis is threatened, say due to injury or starvation, its umbrella reverts and the tentacles and mesoglea are broken down. It attaches itself to a surface in warm ocean waters and polyps start rising to form the new colony. The jellyfish converts its cells to their original form, allowing the cells to grow again, in a process called cell transdifferentiation. The cells can transform, so muscle cells can become nerve cells and nerve cells can become egg or sperm.

So far, the process has not been observed in nature yet because it happens so fast. But theoretically, this process could go on forever, making the jellyfish biologically immortal. However, Turritopsis are likely to die due to predation or disease in the plankton stage, without reverting to the polyp form. But hey, why dwell on that part? I think it’s pretty cool that Leonard wasn’t lying on Big Bang Theory when he mentioned “immortal jellyfish!”


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STEM Graduates Prove to be Vital in Curbing Unemployment

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Recently, I was told to write a short memo on American joblessness and its effects on personal self-worth as well as some possible economic solutions to this crisis for a sociology class.  After doing my own preliminary research, some obvious answers came up.  Though we are not in a recession by economic definition the effects of the 2007 crash have not yet been resolved. , After delving deeper into the given dilemma, however, I realized that the real root of the American joblessness issue is that students are not preparing themselves adequately for the jobs that are available.

Many people are not getting hired out of college because they are not meeting workforce demands.  As sociologist and contributor for The Atlantic, Don Peck, describes, younger generations “dislike work for works sake” and feel more strongly that their job reflects their personal interest, meaning that many recent graduates feel that they will not entertain the trade-off between occupational satisfactions for financial stability. Although most people would arguably prefer to enjoy their existing job, the present-day labor market is requiring that prospective employees have broader skillsets that differentiate from what might be their comfort zone.

With unemployment around 8.3% for adults, entering the paid labor force is frightening, but entering with a sometimes undervalued or generalized degree creates even more anxiety for current students.  Richard Pitt, an expert sociologist, says that students should double major in order increase their breadth of knowledge and their likelihood of being hired. An educational diversification in concentration allows students to pursue what they enjoy as well as learn something practical and transferable in the job market.  Pitt paid particular attention to graduating with a science and a non-science degree in tandem.

Though Pitt did not offer a specific statistic, he suggested that these type of graduates are predicted are likely to secure a job offer six months out of graduation. Experts have reiterated this story claiming that a degree in a science-related field is becoming more valuable given recent economic hardships.   President Obama has agreed that improving STEM education as well as urging for the continued pursuit of STEM degrees, is of critical importance, particularly for women.

Some statistical evidence seems to support Obama’s urgency.  According to, a nonprofit organization which aims at promoting computer science and coding education, over the next 10 years 1.4 million jobs will be created within the industry, but only about 400,000 graduates will qualify for these jobs. While the market allows for employment, it would seem as though graduates are not taking full advantage of their collegiate opportunities to secure their future in a respective industry.

In a conglomerated survey with sources such as The Wall Street Journal and Time Magazine, 21 out of the top 25 careers with the lowest unemployment percentages are in fact STEM careers.  In addition, US News goes as far as to claim that employers desire engineering majors the most out of any degree because of their large expected job growth.

In the end, we may have to put less blame on firm hiring practices and the economy and instead focus on the future of education and professional development within university populations. We cannot expect to be handed our dream job that mirrors directly our passions, and instead accept that we need to work for that career for the future.


Peck, Don. 2010. “How a New Jobless Era Will Transform America.” Atlantic Monthly (March): 42-56.

Posted in Uncategorized by Matt Kaufman. Comments Off

Blood Testing: Now, Quite Literally, Under Your Skin

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Scientists at the Swiss Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) have created a prototype of a new blood test, one that doesn’t remove blood from the body. The implant contains five customizable sensors, making the applications of it range from monitoring thechronically ill to chemotherapy personalization. The device measures only a few cubic millimeters in size. It runs on 1/10 of a watt of power, which is supplied through the skin through a battery patch. The patch removes the need to operate every time the battery needs charging. The implant emits (safe) radio waves sending information to the patch for storage; the patch then sends the device to a cellphone via Bluetooth. This information is then sent to the patients doctor from the phone.

The implant’s diverse sensors have an extremely large range of possible tests. While this could be used to monitor blood sugar levels in a diabetic, the device can measure substances such as carboplatin – a drug used in chemotherapy to fight certain cancers. This ability would allow oncologists, who normally check how a patient is responding to a certain chemotherapy regimen every few weeks with a blood test, to be able to allows be checking up on their patients’ responses. This creates a far more personalized form of chemotherapy.

The research results from the EPFL on their implant will be presented today (March 20th) at Europe’s largest electronics conference and later published.


Sources: EPFL and Gizmag

Posted in Healthcare Science Technology Uncategorized by Max Jorgensen. Comments Off

Physical Therapy Without Physical Interaction

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Scientists and engineers are working together to change the entire practice of physical therapy. Scientists are now trying to perfect the art of telemedicine, or medical treatment that is conducted by a doctor without a physical interaction between doctor and patient, according to an article by

Whether it is regaining mobility or returning to athletic prowess, successful physical therapy can be based heavily on whether or not patients do their in-home exercises as prescribed by their physical therapist. Prior to new innovations in virtual physical therapy, doctors and patients would speak to one another about the progress the patient has made with their exercises using video chat or similar mediums.

Doctors can ask patients if they did their assigned exercises, but that is the limit to their facilitation. The patient could be doing the exercises incorrectly if they are taking the initiative to complete them at all. The issue is analogous to a parent monitoring their children’s homework; the parent could only assure accurate completion if they physically checked that the child had completed their assignment. There is no accountability or feedback in a process without advancements in telemedicine.

Professors from the University of Texas Dallas Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science developed a system to address this limitation. Using a series of 3D cameras, body sensors, and haptic devices, the program creates avatars for both doctors and patients, and places them in a virtual space where they can interact.

The 3D cameras allow motion to be captured and transmitted from the home to the doctor’s office in real time, thus allowing the physician to comment on how the patient performs the exercise, ensuring it is done correctly. The body sensors provide a more lifelike image and tracking of the patient’s movements. However, the most important innovation of this new system is the implementation of haptic devices, which is breaking new ground on how patient-doctor relationships will evolve.

Haptic devices are able to send resistance, vibration, or motion from person to person. Patients feel the force of a physician massaging their muscle or therapists provide resistance exercises, which is an important tool in the physical therapists arsenal.

After speaking with Cameron Alcala, a student who recently had physical therapy for a torn labrum, I had a greater understanding of the implications of how this technology could affect the field from a patient perspective. Alcala claimed that he was a little “skeptical [of virtual therapy] because [he] enjoyed the relationship that was formed with [his] therapist.” After speaking more about the topic, Alcala added, “the virtual therapy could definitely supplement scheduled appointments”. Alcala attributed this to the fact that he has poor posture and wished that a professional could analyze his in-home exercises and place him in the right positions.

Patients now can be held accountable for doing their exercises and doing them properly. According to Dr. Balakrishnan “Prabha” Prabhakaran from UT Dallas, this technology is a massive forward and can be applied to many teacher-student interactions such as dance lessons or any type of education where a teacher and student share the same space. Realistic feedback technology could be the future for education. Now doctors can check their patients’ “homework type” exercises on a day-to-day basis without an arranged appointment in the office.

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Renaming Pluto’s Moons

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In 2011, the Hubble Space Telescope spotted a tiny object next to the dwarf planet Pluto. It turned out to be a moon! It was named P4, and about a year later, P5 was discovered as well. Both moons have an estimated diameter of 15 to 20 miles.

Moons are typically associated with the mythological god that their planets are named after. Mars is a perfect example. Mars is the God of War, and Ares is his Roman counterpart. The moons of Mars are named after the sons of Mars, Phobos and Deimos. Pluto is the God of the Underworld, and his Greek name is Hades. Pluto’s other three moons, Charon, Nix, and Hydra, are affiliated with the Underworld just like Pluto.

The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) Institute wants to rename the moons. The moons have to be assigned names derived from Greek or Roman mythology. Vote on the new names at the PlutoRocks website by Monday, February 25. You can vote on existing possibilities or write in your own suggestions. The final names will be announced after they are formally approved by the International Astronomical Union.


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Letter from the Editors

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In addition to snow and ice, winter brings a much more serious threat: influenza. Although for most people the flu is little more than an inconvenience, for infants and the elderly, it can result in death.  In fact, nearly every winter the flu accounts for over 7% of all reported deaths in the United States. The flu is ingrained in our public consciousness for another reason, too: in 1917-1918, over 500 million people were infected by the Spanish flu. Ever since, the entire country has been wary of the yearly disease. It mutates every year, so a catch-all vaccine cannot be developed, but that does not stop scientists from creating a new one for each particular strain, including this year’s. Known as H3N2, this year’s flu has been especially virulent: from January 13-19, 9.3% of all deaths were attributed to influenza, and more than twice as many cases have been reported this year than at the height of last year’s epidemic. This strain has not been vaccinated against in the past few years, which leaves most people susceptible. This leads to an interesting question, however: with such a persistent illness, mutating and continuing to affect people annually despite every vaccine created to combat it, is it ultimately a good idea to continue vaccinating the general public for the flu? The flu is deadly for infants and the elderly, so these groups should of course be vaccinated for safety, but the more people who are vaccinated, the more likely the flu is to mutate to a resistant strain. For example, due to inconsistent and substandard antibiotic usage, the staph infection has mutated to a penicillin-resistant strain, which is becoming an increasingly serious threat to the public. Furthermore, the flu has consistently shown itself to be unable to be eradicated, so giving the vaccine to everyone will not have a long term effect on the disease as a whole. It is important to note here that the CDC does advocate flu vaccination, especially for at-risk groups, but perhaps discussion should begin about the state of influenza as a whole.


Jack and Katie,P00625/

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