Comments/Questions from nCASE Executive Director:
Well, it’s the beginning of a new year full of opportunities and possibilities.
Our efforts for the year began in Charleston, South Carolina, with our friends from SPAWAR-Atlantic, Gary Scott and Shanda Johnson. During our previous visit, we assisted them with a DimensionM tournament, but this time we delivered MWM training.
With lead instructors, Stu Schultz and Carl Fornell, we offered the Materials World Modules, Food Packaging and Sports Materials, to 30 teachers and three scientists and engineers (S&Es). These modules have been adopted by the Dorchester 2 County school system as part of its regular curriculum. The trainings were primarily for new teachers and those who will be teaching science courses for the first time.
Currently, all of Dorchester’s sixth-grade science teachers have been trained on the Food Packaging module; all eighth-grade science teachers on Sports Materials. The County is requiring that all teachers instruct these within this school year. They are proposing to train all seventh-grade science teachers in another module soon.
This bold curriculum design initiative was sustained for the past two years by SPAWAR-Atlantic. In fact, approximately 300 S&Es have been trained and are available to work within SPAWAR’s outreach programs, which is extremely impressive. This is probably the most comprehensive curriculum integration (using lab professionals) in NDEP. This is no simple task, and we applaud the collaboration that made this happen.
A week later, we traveled west to Detroit, Michigan, to partner with NDEP POC, Greg Chappelle. Even though we’ve worked with Greg on several projects over the past year, this was our first visit to his area.
Nancy, Stu Schultz, Carl Fornell, and I had the pleasure of providing two orientation sessions of Smart Sensors to attendees of the 2013 NAIAS Education Day held at the Renaissance Center in downtown Detroit. Unfortunately, attendance was much lower than anticipated due to extremely inclement weather. But, those who attended really enjoyed the workshops. These orientations were offered to motivate teachers to become interested in STEM professional development using inquiry and design processes. These programs were sponsored and financed by the American Indian Higher Education Consortium-(AIHEC), Department of Indian Affairs.
We continue to prepare for upcoming training programs. We have an extensive list of activities planned through September. It was necessary to cancel February trainings because they were dependent upon 2013 funding, which has not yet arrived. We are confident that everything will be resolved in time for March.
Also during the month, we had the pleasure of meeting with Dr. Laura Adolfie, Director of the STEM Development, who oversees NDEP. This meeting was a follow-up to our conversations with Dr. Adolfie at the IITSEC we attended in December.
We enjoyed great conversation about everything from national STEM efforts to initiatives specific to NDEP. In particular, we focused a lot of our discussion on the importance of credible research and evaluation of NDEP’s outreach efforts. Our Points of Contact do a phenomenal job working with their local school districts and communities in delivering quality educational outreach programs, which include MWM and DimensionM professional development opportunities for teachers in partnership with laboratory S&Es.
In order to keep these initiatives sustained and growing, we must do a better job of promoting them to all the applicable audiences--Congress, national STEM agencies, economic development agencies, higher education institutions, the K-12 NDEP network, the general public--who can support and benefit from them.
Our mission at nCASE is to positively impact national STEM education. I believe we, along with our many NDEP colleagues and partners, have done so, and we hope to have the opportunity to continue our efforts well into the future.
Dr. Stephen M. Priselac
National Center for the Advancement of STEM Education (nCASE)