January 05, 2011

Helping middle schools improve science, engineering education

Posted: January 05, 2011

Networking group will provide resources and training to enhance teaching of mathematics and technological subjects

Arizona State University is launching an effort to improve science, mathematics and engineering education for Arizona’s youngsters and teens.

STEMnet – the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Network – will kick off Jan. 25 with the first of a series of events to introduce middle school and high school teachers to cutting-edge research in STEM fields and to innovative courses, classroom activities and teaching methods.

STEMnet’s goal is to establish a teacher-driven professional development community through which ASU’s researchers working in STEM fields and STEM education specialists can establish relationships and share knowledge with Arizona’s secondary educators.
 
“There are many middle school and high school teachers who want to become better prepared to teach science, mathematics and engineering. With STEMnet we want to provide them the resources to deepen their knowledge in the STEM disciplines,” says James Middleton, a professor of mathematics education in ASU’s Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering.
 
The network will connect secondary education teachers with faculty members in many of ASU’s schools, colleges and research centers – including the engineering schools, the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College, the School of Life Sciences, the School of Earth and Space Exploration, the Global Institute of Sustainability and the Center for Research on Education in Science, Mathematics, Engineering and Technology.
 
“We have a lot of STEM research and education talent at ASU. Teacher professional development and educational innovation are among our great strengths,” says Colleen Megowan, an assistant professor of science education in the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College.

“This initiative is meant to improve the quality of STEM education in Arizona’s K-12 schools by helping university researchers and K-12 teachers connect,” she says. “Our aim is to embed K-12 STEM educators in the ASU community—to improve their access to ASU’s to intellectual resources and opportunities for professional growth.”
 
STEMnet is supported by a portion of the funding from a $1.25 million National Science Foundation grant awarded to ASU in 2009.

The Innovation through Institutional Integration grant has been used to establish the Modeling Institute, which is designed to give K-12 teachers access to STEM education and research programs.

The institute has launched a master of natural science degree program in science, technology, engineering and mathematics for elementary and middle school teachers.
 
The institute also is seeking to expand the Summer College-for-Kids program it began in 2010. The program brings middle school students together with ASU scientists and engineers to learn the basics in areas such as computer game design, physical computing and sustainability science.  The institute’s leaders hope to have at least 250 students participate each summer.
 
For more information on the upcoming STEMnet meeting or to register to attend the workshops or banquet, visit http://modelit.asu.edu or e-mail megowan@asu.edu

A second meeting is scheduled for May 17. By the fall, STEMnet leaders expect to begin organizing three networking meetings each year.
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SOURCES:
Colleen Megowan, megowan@asu.edu
Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College
Division of Teacher Preparation
(480) 727-7074

James Middleton, james.middleton@asu.edu
Professor of mathematics education
School for Engineering of Matter, Transport and Energy
(480) 965-9644; (480) 965-3291

MEDIA CONTACT:
Joe Kullman, joe.kullman@asu.edu
(480) 965-8122 direct line
(480) 773-1364 mobile

Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering
Arizona State University
Tempe, Arizona  USA
http://engineering.asu.edu/