Resources from STEM Smart Workshops

The Successful STEM Resource Library includes programs and projects featured at STEM Smart workshops, as well as briefs based on research and recommendations from the National Research Council reports, Successful K-12 STEM Education and Monitoring Progress Toward Successful K-12 STEM Education.
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.
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.
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.
“Recent research emphasizes that teacher quality alone cannot improve student achievement at scale. School leadership, staff collaboration, and a positive climate are among essential organizational elements that contribute to meaningful change.” Read this brief to learn more about suggested methods for properly supporting STEM educators.
“The majority of U.S. students, particularly low-income and minority youth, lacks foundational skills and knowledge in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.” Read this brief to find out more about the efforts that are making change across the nation.
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.
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.
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.
Administrators and leaders of professional development have, in recent years,developed professional learning communities (PLCs)—one of the most common professional development strategies in use today across education at large. And leaders in STEM education have universally advocated their use—the Successful K–12 STEM Education report specifically urges considering “factors that strengthen and sustain learning communities.” There are exciting rationales for PLCs, such as the desire to morph teaching from solo artisan instruction to a synergy of great teaching.
Mathematics INstruction using Decision Science and Engineering Tools (MINDSET), a National Science Foundation (NSF) funded project (DRL-0733137), is a collaboration between educators, engineers and mathematicians at three universities to achieve the following goals: (1) Enhancement of students’ mathematical ability, especially their ability to formulate and solve multi-step problems and interpret results; (2) Improvement in students’ attitude toward mathematics; and (3) Adoption of the curriculum in two states