Exemplary Programs in Successful STEM Education

The following resources are examples of programs and projects—many of which are funded by the National Science Foundation—that outline elements that contribute to successful STEM education, and that also are aligned with the recommendations of the National Research Council reports, Successful K-12 STEM Education and Monitoring Progress Toward Successful K-12 STEM Education.
There is a growing demand for engineering education in the pre-college classroom, particularly in ways that work with other aspects of curricula. Integrating Engineering and Literacy (IEL) projects use children’s texts as contexts for students’ initiation and early progress in practices of engineering. In particular, we focus on students’ (1) recognizing and scoping problems, with attention to the “client’s” situation, (2) conceptualizing and planning possible solutions, and (3) fabricating, testing, and revising their ideas. Time limitations generally do not permit students to dive deeply into all three respects, but we intend that any particular experience involves the first and second or the second and third, with opportunities for all three over the year. What is important throughout is that students get to come up with their own ideas, and one indication of success is the diversity of ideas the class considers—such as regarding clients’ needs, ideas for solutions, or possibilities for improving on prototypes.
Atlanta Workshop, Project or Program
The 2012 Science Standards will place an emphasis on data collection and explanations. This session will provide a free iPhone app that supports grades 4–12 students in data collection and explanation building about biodiversity in schoolyards in the Great Lakes region. The session will provide inquiry activities and Web resources that guide students to construct explanations to questions such as, What habitats are in my schoolyard? and Which zone in the schoolyard is the most diverse?
Effective Instruction, Presentation, Chicago Workshop
IQWST, as the “next generation” of middle school curricula, was designed to enable teachers with diverse knowledge and experiences to teach science effectively to students with a variety of backgrounds and strengths. IQWST materials align with national standards, are rooted in principles of project-based scientific inquiry, focus on science’s “big ideas,” and employ research-based practices to promote students’ science content and science literacy learning. This coordinated sixth- to eighth-grade curriculum sequences one unit each year in physics, earth science, biology, and chemistry instruction in a manner that builds upon students’ prior knowledge and everyday experiences to build deep understanding of core science ideas from unit to unit both within and across the middle school years. Students learn complex scientific ideas by engaging in practices that include working with models, constructing scientific explanations, engaging in argumentation and debate, analyzing data gathered either from students’ own investigations or represented in complex datasets, and presenting ideas to peers. The interdisciplinary team of science teachers, scientists, literacy experts, curriculum designers, and university researchers works collaboratively with teachers to ensure that the materials provide appropriate and sufficient support for teachers and their students in urban, suburban, and rural school contexts.
Exhibit, Other, Philadelphia Launch Event
Our research focuses on university/public school partnerships to develop effective mathematics programs for all students. Through National Science Foundation funding, New Mexico State University (NMSU) has engaged in the Gadsden Mathematics Initiative (GMI), Scaling up Mathematics Achievement (SUMA) and currently the Leadership Institute for Teachers. Through our research efforts, we better understand what it takes to build viable sustainable learning systems and how to support English language learners in mathematics achievement.
Equal Access, Project or Program, Las Vegas Workshop
The NRC report, Successful K–12 STEM Education: Identifying Effective Approaches in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics recommends that schools and districts provide professional development for instructional leaders that will support their efforts to create school conditions conducive to STEM learning. The Lenses on Learning professional development materials support K–12 principals, teacher leaders, and district leaders to develop their instructional leadership for mathematics by focusing on issues of equity, assessment, data use, and support of high-quality mathematics instruction in schools.
Supportive Infrastructure, Project or Program, Seattle Workshop
The recent NRC report emphasizes the important role that school leaders play in promoting and supporting STEM learning in their schools. They play a role in setting a vision for STEM learning and teaching, identifying and hiring highly qualified teachers, providing and/or identifying relevant professional development opportunities, and establishing and sustaining school structures that support high-quality instruction. EDC has been engaged in a long-standing program of research and development aimed at understanding the nature of “leadership content knowledge” in mathematics in school principals, and in creating professional development supports for principals and other school and district leaders to help them improve STEM learning. The core set of materials consis of Lenses on Learning professional development programs designed to support K–12 principals, teacher leaders, and district leaders to develop their instructional leadership by focusing on issues of equity, assessment, data use, and high-quality mathematics instruction. A number of districts and educational organizations have trained Lenses on Learning facilitators who offer professional development courses for administrators and district leaders as well as facilitator training institutes. In addition, the Lenses on Learning materials have been adapted for use in other programs that take a broader, systemic view on STEM learning and teaching. The development of the Lenses on Learning professional development materials was based on years of research about administrators’ knowledge about mathematics instruction and their professional practice supporting and supervising mathematics instruction in their schools. Although the Lenses on Learning materials predate the Common Core State Standards, they were designed around the same mathematical processes and proficiencies.
Exhibit, Other, Philadelphia Launch Event
The long-term goal of the Living in Relations project is to improve science learning and school achievement for Native American children. Data from our project’s studies of children’s understandings of biology indicate that Native American children begin school with an advanced understanding of biology compared to their non-Native peers. This finding is also supported by early positive performance on standardized tests. However, this early overachievement is not sustained and leads to significant under-representation of Native American students in STEM fields. Understanding why and how this happens is a central purpose of our research. To do this, we explore the ways in which culture, cognition, and development are intertwined and impact teaching and learning, particularly at the epistemological level. In partnership with local Native American communities, our research team develops innovative science learning environments that build on students’ cultural ways of knowing to develop robust, engaging, and empowering learning environments for Native American students. While our work explores these issues in Native American communities specifically, our findings are applicable to other non-dominant students.
Equal Access, Project or Program, Las Vegas Workshop
The mission of the Loudoun County Public Schools Academy of Science (AOS) is to provide an academic environment where students are encouraged to develop creative scientific endeavors of their own design, while having the opportunity to pursue a rich, well-rounded high school experience.
Effective Instruction, Baltimore Workshop, Project or Program
The LPPSync project (Learning Progress Profiles Synchronized for Networked Wireless Devices) at North Carolina State University is developing an Interactive Diagnostic Assessment System for K–8 mathematics. LPPSync integrates empirically validated mathematics learning trajectories with corresponding diagnostic assessments that focus on critical topics of rational number reasoning—the foundation of algebraic preparation. The environment is delivered through Web-browsers on mobile devices (tablets and laptop computers) via a centrally-hosted dynamic database on the North Carolina Education Cloud server system. Assessment results are instantaneously processed and scored, with feedback rapidly provided to teachers and students. LPPSync provides mathematics diagnostic tools for formative use, and provides explicit guidance to support instruction. The system includes a diagnostic, a practice, and a targeted intervention mode. In two modes, students can collaborate through chat and work-sharing tools. This exhibit will highlight the design, components, and research methodology and use model of the LPPSync system, and will include live access to the system’s diagnostic and practice features.
Exhibit, Other, Philadelphia Launch Event
The Maker Movement is inspiring thousands of young people across the nation to tinker with and tackle problems involving design, engineering, and programming. There is a strong sense that young makers are accomplishing much more than producing objects—they also seem to be acquiring a host of valuable knowledge and skills. Because making is a relatively recent phenomenon, there are not yet frameworks in place for identifying and documenting these benefits to youth. What are makers learning? How is making changing the way young people engage in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM)?
Needham Workshop, Other, Project or Program