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STEM Outreach

NSF Grant Connects Grad Students with Middle Schoolers

In an effort to promote science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education in K-12, the National Science Foundation has awarded Dartmouth College a $2.5 million grant to bring together graduate students with middle school teachers.

The award is a five-year grant, part of NSF's Graduate STEM Fellows in K-12 Education Program (GK-12), which is designed to fund efforts to bring supported STEM disciplines into K-12 settings.

NSF describes the program this way: "Through collaborations with other graduate fellows and faculty from STEM disciplines, teachers and students in K-12 environments, and community partners, graduate students can gain a deeper understanding of their own research and place it within a societal and global context. The GK-12 program provides an opportunity for graduate students to acquire value-added skills, such as communicating STEM subjects to technical and non-technical audiences, leadership, team building, and teaching while enriching STEM learning and instruction in K-12 settings."

As part of the program, Dartmouth grad students will work with five school districts in New Hampshire and Vermont: Claremont School District (School Administrative Unit #6), Mascoma Valley Regional School District, Thetford School District, Woodstock School District, and Dresden School District (School Administrative Unit 70).

"One problem with getting kids interested in science is that by middle school, they begin seeing it as a boring collection of facts to be memorized," said Nancy Serrell, director of the Office of Outreach at Dartmouth and a member of the team that will help coordinate the program. "They don't hear that creativity is just as important to success in science as, say, getting good grades in math. And they don't actually meet scientists or see scientists they can relate to on television or in the movies."

Judy Filkins, K-8 math and science curriculum coordinator at Lebanon School District in New Hampshire, will work with faculty and administrators at Dartmouth to develop the program, including principle investigator Carl Renshaw, a professor in Dartmouth's Department of Earth Sciences; Cindy Tobery, associate director of the Dartmouth Center for the Advancement of Learning; Janet Zullo, instructor in the Department of Education; and Vicki May, lecturer in the Thayer School of Engineering.

According to Dartmouth, middle school teachers will be matched with Dartmouth graduate students beginning this summer, with classroom visits expected to start this fall.

About the Author

David Nagel is the former editorial director of 1105 Media's Education Group and editor-in-chief of THE Journal, STEAM Universe, and Spaces4Learning. A 30-year publishing veteran, Nagel has led or contributed to dozens of technology, art, marketing, media, and business publications.

He can be reached at [email protected]. You can also connect with him on LinkedIn at .

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