New grants of almost $500K to extend Science Outreach

01-15-2014

Science Express truck

Two grants were recently awarded that will allow Purdue faculty and staff to work with secondary teachers in Indiana to improve standards-based instruction in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). The first award is a $246,000 Math Science Partnership grant from the Indiana Department of Education titled Content Thematic Units for Integrated STEM Education (CTU 4 ISE). CTU 4 ISE was awarded to Lafayette School Corporation who partnered with Purdue College of Science, Purdue College of Education, Purdue College of Engineering, and Science Express. The second grant is a $230,000 an Improving Teacher Quality grant from the Indiana Commission for Higher Education which partnered the Gary School Corporation with Science Express, the Purdue Department of Curriculum and Instruction, and Purdue Science K-12 Outreach.

The goal of CTU 4 ISE is to address the professional needs of high school STEM teachers and the learning needs of students in STEM courses by developing and implementing interdisciplinary curricular units aligned with national STEM education standards. This partnership will include professional development on integrated STEM education, content learning for teachers, a summer STEM experience for Lafayette School Corporation students, and the development of STEM curricular units. The partnership with Science Express allows the teachers to develop curricular units that incorporate analytical instruments like Nuclear Scalars or High Performance Liquid Chromatographs which will advance the technical ability of the students.

“Partnering with Purdue provides access to resources that will help Jefferson High School address our goals for STEM education with our students,” said Barbara Payton, Assistant Principal at Jefferson High School.

During the school year teachers will implement the curricular units and participate in additional professional development consisting of lesson planning, classroom observations, and further technology training. Evaluation of CTU 4 ISE will be conducted by the STEM Education Research Institute at IUPUI and will include the extent to which teachers implement the curricular units, student learning on thematic units, student interest in STEM careers, and use of technology to enhance learning.

“We are excited to be working with Lafayette School Corporation and Jefferson High School on this Mathematics and Science Partnership,” said Bill Walker, Director of Purdue Science K-12 Outreach. “It is a great opportunity to work with a school that has made a commitment to the STEM education of its students.”

Science Express teacher

The second partnership with Gary Community School Corporation will help teachers better understand science content, utilize inquiry-based teaching strategies, and use integrated science curricula. Teachers will participate in professional development that takes an integrated approach to science education through the exploration of a problem within a system. Teachers will use physical, chemical, biological, mathematical, and earth science concepts to collect evidence to support solutions, gaining the knowledge and experience needed to enhance student learning of core concepts through the application of science in everyday life.

Science Express is a key to this partnership by providing professional development, technology integration, and long term support to help Gary science teachers and their students acquire the knowledge and expertise to conduct experiments with modern analytical science technologies and methods. Gary Community School Corporation science teachers will receive training on the theory, use, and care of analytical instruments. Teachers will have access to the over $750K worth of instruments for use in their classrooms, and ongoing support by Science Express staff.

“When teachers and students have the opportunity to use scientific instrumentation in the classroom the excitement for the subject is overwhelming,” said William Bayley, Purdue University K-12 Chemistry Outreach Coordinator and Science Express Director. 

“When I walk into the classroom to deliver the scientific instrumentation the students start asking what the equipment will be able to do?” said Zach Grigsby, Science Express Coordinator.  “It’s like I am bringing them presents,” said Grigsby. 

The four current Science Express coordinators will serve as experts in the classroom integration of the labs provided by the program. Bayley, the Director of the project, Steven Smith, Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Science Outreach Coordinator, Isidore Julien, Biology Outreach Coordinator, Dr. David Sederberg, Physics Outreach Coordinator.  In addition, Zach Grigsby, Science Express Associate Director and Dr. David C. Eichinger, Associate Professor of Science Education in the College of Education will help with integration and implementation. 

During the summers of 2014 and 2015, 25 high school teachers from the Gary Community School Corporation and other Northwest Indiana schools will complete a two week workshop held in Gary. In order to provide the highest quality teacher professional development possible, the two week summer workshop aligns with the Indiana academic standards, Common Core State Standards for Mathematics, and the Next Generation Science Standards. The professional development will focus on helping teachers better understand science content, utilize inquiry-based teaching pedagogies and authentic assessment, use integrated curricula, and align their curriculum to the state standards.

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