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.
Kansas is one of 26 lead states that have been actively involved with the development of the NGSS and one of 45 states involved with the Building Capacity for State Science Education project of the Council of State Science Supervisors. Now that these standards are nearly complete, it is time to think deliberately about implications for adoption and implementation— 25 STRAND: Supportive Infrastructure for STEM Learning PRESENTER: Matt Krehbiel, Kansas State Department of Education Prepared for STEM Smart: Lessons Learned From Successful Schools, an NSF event held on March 22, 2013, at University of Maryland, Baltimore ways to leverage partnerships to increase capacity for science education not only within, but also between, states.
Supportive Infrastructure, Baltimore Workshop, Project or Program
The National Science Foundation (NSF)-sponsored Engineering Research Centers (ERCs) are a group of interdisciplinary centers located at universities all across the United States, each in close partnership with industry. ERC innovations in research and education are expected to impact curricula at all levels, from pre-college to lifelong learning, and to be disseminated to and beyond their academic and industry partners. A vital part of ERC education programs are outreach efforts to bring engineering concepts to pre-college classrooms, with the aim of attracting students to engineering and STEM careers. Because ERCs play a critical role by integrating research, education, diversity, outreach, and industrial collaboration, the NSF views ERCs as change agents for academic engineering programs and the engineering community at large.
Atlanta Workshop, Project or Program
The Pathways Professional Development Model for Precalculus Level Mathematics (P3DM) has developed resources including student curricula (e.g., in-class student activities, an online interactive textbook, online videos), teacher materials (e.g., teacher notes, exemplary lecture videos, and dynamic computer applets for use in instruction), and workshops designed to support teachers in engaging their students in genuine inquiry and mathematically substantive conversations.
Supportive Infrastructure, Baltimore Workshop, Project or Program
The STeLLA professional development program engages fourth-, fifth-, and sixth-grade teachers in using two powerful and often neglected lenses to analyze videocases of science teaching: the Student Thinking Lens and the Science Content Storyline Lens. Focusing on deep analysis of these two lenses and associated teaching strategies, teachers learn to be more analytical in planning, enacting, and reflecting on their practice. Through this analysis work, they deepen their science content knowledge, develop as analytical practitioners with rich pedagogical content knowledge about the subjects they are teaching, and improve their planning and teaching practices. Most importantly, the one-year intensive program improves their students’ science learning. In short, this is a professional development (PD) program that makes a difference in terms of <em>student</em> learning.
Supportive Infrastructure, Project or Program, Las Vegas Workshop
MESA initiative has a 40-year history of successfully engaging and sustaining minority and disadvantaged students’ participation in STEM coursework, from elementary school to college campuses. Temple University has been awarded the national license to coordinate MESA in Pennsylvania, joining prestigious institutions like the University of California, University of Washington, the Johns Hopkins APL, University of Denver, and others offering statewide STEM initiatives to underrepresented groups. PA MESA joins Arizona, California, Colorado, Maryland, New Mexico, Oregon, Washington, and Utah. The program relies on socially and culturally relevant teaching strategies, community engagement, and industry partnerships. MESA is also unique in its approach to STEM, addressing national priority needs in IT/Cyber Security, Engines Design, Alternative Energy, and Health Professions. More than 45,000 students are served each year in MESA programs across the nation.
Exhibit, Other, Philadelphia Launch Event
PTR is a teacher preparation program for STEM professionals and recent graduates who want to teach mathematics and science in Philadelphia’s high-needs schools. For a full year, PTR participants work alongside experienced math/science teachers while taking courses at University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education to earn both a master’s degree as well as Pennsylvania teacher certification. Participants commit to teach in Philadelphia public schools for at least three years after the residency year. During this time, PTR provides networking activities that support the professional growth of its novice teachers. A program of the Philadelphia Education Fund, a not-for-profit organization whose mission is to improve the quality of public education in Philadelphia, PTR is dedicated to the thorough preparation and subsequent retention of mathematics and science teachers in high-needs schools.
Exhibit, Other, Philadelphia Launch Event
To address the need for outdoor environments that are intentionally designed to elicit STEM learning while inspiring free play, the University of Cincinnati’s Arlitt Child and Family Research and Education Center and Cincinnati Nature Center partnered to create the Cincinnati Nature PlayScape Initiative. The premises and practices embraced by the initiative were derived from existing research and practice in the fields of early education, biological sciences, and environmental psychology. Subsequently, two playscapes designed to kindle free play, environmental awareness, and learning for young children in the Greater Cincinnati area were built to emulate the natural environment using plants and spaces indigenous to the locale. In both the 10,000 square foot urban playscape on the university campus and the 1.6-acre rural playscape at the Cincinnati Nature Center, affordances for exploration were key experiential goals. The Cincinnati Nature PlayScape Initiative is studying where preschool children play within these two respective playscapes, what materials they use, with whom they are playing, if science learning occurs through their play, and teachers’ perceptions of their experiences.
Other, Project or Program, DC Workshop
PARCC is an alliance of 24 states working together to develop a common set of K-12 assessments aligned to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in English Language Arts and mathematics, anchored in what it takes to be ready for college and careers. The CCSS call on students to have not only solid content knowledge but also the skills to apply their knowledge in ways demanded by colleges, careers and citizenship in the 21st century. Measuring the full breadth of the CCSS will require new kinds of tests that measure what matters for students’ futures. Moving to such an assessment system will require re-imagining assessments as we know them.
Equal Access, Presentation, Chicago Workshop
Industry is increasingly looking to high schools, community colleges, and four-year universities to graduate problem solvers—individuals who skillfully communicate and apply their knowledge of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) and other disciplines to solve real-world problems. Yet instructor-centered pedagogical methods paired with text-based exercises often do not address the interdisciplinary, ill-defined, and ambiguous problems graduates will face when entering the 21st century workforce. Since 2006, the New England Board of Higher Education (NEBHE) has been funded by the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Advanced Technological Education (ATE) program to develop a series of curriculum and professional development projects using PBL in collaboration with industry.
Needham Workshop, Other, Project or Program
Standards-based reform holds great promise for increasing the rigor and quality of mathematics education for students with disabilities. The recently released Common Core Standards in Mathematics (2010) and those of the National Council for Teachers of Mathematics (2000) clearly recognize that all students, including those with disabilities, “must have the opportunity to learn and meet the same high standards if they are to access the knowledge and skills necessary in their post-school lives.” (CCSSI, 2010). To date, however, this promise has not been readily fulfilled. Research shows that, while teacher quality is the single most powerful influence on student learning, teachers often are not well prepared to implement standards-based mathematics education with heterogeneous groups of students that include students with disabilities and students with different capabilities, needs, and learning styles.
Equal Access, Project or Program, Seattle Workshop