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Universities, Foundations Working on Better Technologies, Methods for STEM Education

October 24, 2012

As evidenced in the recent presidential debates and on the campaign trails, STEM teaching and learning is a national priority for maintaining global competiveness. Several universities and foundations have taken the lead, working with partners to design innovative learning tools and create research-based, professional development support for new math and science teachers. Recent examples of these initiatives include a partnership between Arizona State University and Battelle to develop new technologies to educate students, a $2 million grant to the University of Florida to establish better teaching methods, and an education initiative from the Verizon Foundation to accelerate the use of mobile technology in the classroom.

ASU and Battelle Collaborate on New Technologies
As many educators have pointed out, STEM teaching and learning is maximized with a hands-on approach and state-of-the-art technology. Drawing on established resources and programming, Arizona State University (ASU) and Battelle will design, build and implement innovative learning tools such as video libraries and mobile apps that allow students and teachers to share knowledge using interactive devices. The agreement also allows for more interconnectivity across the states through Battelle's STEMx initiative. Launched earlier this year, STEMx is a network of 13 states working to expand the number of STEM teachers and increase student achievement in STEM education. Battelle and ASU hope to distribute the apps throughout its STEM networks and schools. Read the press release...

University of Florida Awarded $2M to Enhance STEM Teaching
With a $2 million grant from the state, the University of Florida (UF) is launching a statewide effort to produce more graduates in STEM fields by providing better training and support for teachers. Ahead of the 2012 legislative session, Gov. Rick Scott presented a job-growth agenda that prioritized STEM education. Specifically, the governor called on universities to increase the number of graduates in the state with a STEM degree to meet workforce needs and stay competitive (see the Oct. 26, 2011 issue of the Digest).

The two-year grant awarded to UF will be used to create a research-based, professional development support system for new math and science teachers. To coordinate the program, UF established a program called Florida STEM-Teacher Induction and Professional Support or STEM-TIPS. To help keep math and science teachers from leaving the field, the program involves a teacher induction during the first two years on the job with online and face-to-face mentoring, professional development and networking opportunities. Read the press release...

App Challenge, Online Learning Among Foundation's STEM-Focused Programs
Hoping to use mobile devices as a means to capture the interest of middle and high school students, the Verizon Foundation announced three new STEM programs to help improve performance. The programs focus on integrating mobile technology into STEM instruction and challenging students to be creative. The Innovative App Challenge is a competition to design concepts and mobile apps that both integrates STEM and addresses a problem in the students' school or community. Ten winning schools will be selected to receive a $10,000 cash grant and training and support to build the apps and bring them to market. To help teachers utilize technology and integrate mobile devices into their instruction, Verizon announced the Innovation Learning Schools Program geared toward underserved areas. The third program is an integrated platform for educational resources and an online professional learning community called Thinkfinity.org. Read the announcement...

Arizona, Floridahigher ed, foundations, stem