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NSF Funds 7 STEM Programs

Seven American colleges and universities received funding from the National Science Foundation in 2009 to support their science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) initiatives. The grant program, titled Innovation through Institutional Integration, or I3, offers awards for up to $1.25 million over four years. Among the programs: Arizona State University's professional development efforts to help elementary school teachers to become middle school science and math teachers and a project at City University of New York (CUNY) New York City College of Technology to create a cross-project management structure for grant funded STEM-related lab research programs.

I3 pursues an ambitious agenda: increased collaboration in and among institutions, broader participation of underrepresented minorities in STEM, identifying critical educational junctures, integrating research and education, and promoting a globally savvy workforce.

"Through I3, institutions have opportunities to strategically integrate the STEM educational enterprise in ways that can dramatically change the student experience," said Wanda Ward, NSF's acting assistant director for the Education and Human Resources directorate. "The innovations being implemented by I3 awardees are impressive and illustrate the creativity of the nation's colleges and universities at all levels. We expect this effort will change the way many institutions think about STEM education and its impact on the nation's diverse student population."

Arizona State University in Tempe has created the Modeling Institute, housed within the Mary Lou Fulton Institute and Graduate School of Education, with a goal to produce 200 middle-grades STEM educators, develop 10 STEM sustainability-themed master's level courses, and support these STEM educators as professionals through the establishment of professional learning communities, a professional development network, and learning opportunities. Graduates of the program, ASU anticipated, will be better equipped to engage students in dynamic mathematics and science learning.

"In the fields of mathematics, science and engineering, we are working collaboratively with school districts and the various departments and colleges on our four campuses to provide continuing education for teachers, said Executive Vice President and Provost Elizabeth Capaldi, in announcing the grant. "Among our major priorities is ensuring that all teachers are equipped with deep content knowledge, are passionate about their fields of expertise and their teaching, and are well-prepared to develop the talents of their students."

The Brooklyn-based City Tech "I-Cubed Incubator" project will create a common framework for outreach, student engagement, industry involvement, diversity goals, and significant learning outcomes for grant-funded STEM lab research programs. The idea is to broaden participation of underrepresented students in applied STEM learning, integrate research and education with a focus on inquiry-based research as a means of learning, and develop a global workforce by expanding industry representation within the college to work on collaborative education projects.

"This initiative will change the way that STEM lab courses are taught at the college by reimagining the lab experience in the College and building outside relationships." said Provost Bonne August.

Other grant recipients included Rutgers University in New Jersey; Texas Tech University in Lubbock; Fort Belknap College in Montana; Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN; and Michigan State University in East Lansing.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a writer who covers technology and business for a number of publications. Contact her at dian@dischaffhauser.com.

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