Category Archives: Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Education Center

Prepare2Nspire2 awarded two-year College Ready grant to boost high school math instruction

The University of Minnesota was one of nine colleges and community-based organizations that received a 2015-17 College Ready grant from Great Lakes Higher Education Guaranty Corporation. Nearly $528,000 will fund two full years of rigorous mathematics tutoring/mentoring for a cohort of 100 Minneapolis area high school students who are entering their junior year.

“The lack of academic preparation among college freshmen is a persistent problem we are determined to address,” said Richard D. George, Great Lakes president and chief executive officer. “The goal of our new College Ready grant is to learn whether and how an additional year of support and instruction can move even more students closer to college readiness—before they arrive on campus.”

Prepare2Nspire2 is an innovative, cascading, multi-grade mathematics tutoring and mentoring opportunity that includes advanced algebra, pre-calculus, and calculus. As University undergraduate students are tutoring and mentoring eleventh-grade algebra 2 students in the program, the eleventh-grade cohort is tutoring and mentoring eighth-grade algebra students.

Lesa Clarkson

Dr. Lesa Covington Clarkson, associate professor of mathematics education in the University’s College of Education and Human Development, has a history of working with diverse populations at urban schools in the Twin Cities.

“Too often, underrepresented students aren’t served in our urban classrooms,” she said, “This program will provide additional time and tools to support students in their mathematics learning.”

Every student profits from this model, according to Clarkson. Undergraduate and eleventh-grade tutors are developing mathematics communication and reasoning skills as they explain content in which they are recently engaged, and at the same time they are developing roots in mathematics that are fundamental to their current study. High school and middle school participants are receiving individualized tutoring and mentoring services designed to meet their unique challenges in the mathematics content studied. Simultaneously, grade-level skills will be continually addressed through mini lessons at weekly meetings.

Great Lakes’ two-year College Ready grants, totaling $4.2 million, were awarded to nine colleges and community-based organizations in Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin through 2017. Their established programs will expand to help more than 800 high school students reach college readiness benchmarks on the ACT or ACCUPLACER tests.

Wyberg and Billington Featured in Fall Issue of Connect

STEM Education Center Teaching Specialists, Terry Wyberg and Barbara Billington are featured in the fall issue of the CEHD Connect Magazine for their excellent work with CEHD’s Teacher Education Redesign Initiative (TERI).

TERI is a year-long collaboration between select elementary schools and CEHD Teaching Specialist designed to a provide professional development to teachers in the participating schools, to expand the Teacher Specialist’s experience in elementary education and specialty areas, and to ultimately enhance the quality of education for K-6 students and teacher candidates across grade-school to university settings.

Both Barbara Billington and Terry Wyberg committed half of every school day for the year to working in their partner classrooms. Billington was partnered with a science specialist at Linwood Monroe Arts Plus in St. Paul while Wyberg worked at Barton Open School in Minneapolis.

The experience proved rewarding for both parties “I’ll help him with the math, but then we’ll work together with the pedagogy,” says Wyberg. “It’s been a nice connection for both of us.” Barbara Billington plans to invite her co-teacher to guest teach her UofMN methods class next year.

Billington and Wyberg express their gratitude to the college, TERI, and their department for the support and opportunity to work side by side with their co-teachers. They look forward to starting this school year with their new knowledge and understanding of effective elementary education.

Karl Smith invited to talk at American Association of Physics Teachers Meeting

Karl Smith gave an invited talk at the 2015 Summer Meeting of the American Association of Physics Teachers at their meeting in College Park, Maryland on July 28, 2015.

The Session was Research on Teamwork, and his talk with titled Teamwork: Insights from 40 Years of Research and Practice.

Systematic research on teamwork (or groupwork as it is referred to by many researchers) has been conducted for well over 40 years. I started experimenting with cooperative learning in my engineering classes in the early 70s. Cooperative learning is the instructional use of small groups so that students work together to maximize their own and each other’s learning. High performance teamwork is at the heart of effective use of cooperative learning. I’ll summarize key findings of the research that informed the implementation of cooperative learning as well as the development of Teamwork and project management, now in its 4th edition. As physics instruction shifts to an increasing use of challenge-based learning (e.g., problem based, SCALE-UP, inquiry based, etc.) understanding and implementing effective teamwork is essential.

AAPT Summer Conference 2015
Session EK: Research on Teamwork
Smith – Teamwork: Insights from 40 years of Research and Practice [Smith-AAPT-Teamwork-v7.pdf]

STEM Education Center Recommends a New STEM Resource

The STEM Education Center would like to recommend a new resource for its STEM community members! is a website designed by the Minnesota Department of Education to provide links to STEM resources and activities for families, teachers, advocates and businesses. Check it out now!

EngrTEAMS Highlighted in Start Engineering Newsletter

Congratulations to the EngrTEAMS project for their mention in the latest Start Engineering newsletter. Start Engineering is a learning resources company dedicated to inspiring and engaging children from elementary to high school about engineering. Their newsletter highlights engineering education activities from a variety of sources from business to universities. For more information about the EngrTEAMS project, read here.

Dr. Julie Brown to Receive Rising Star Faculty Award

Congratulations to Dr. Julie Brown, Assistant Professor of Science Education-C&I and STEM Education Center colleague for receiving the 2015 Rising Star Faculty Award from the CEHD Women’s Philanthropic Leadership Circle. Dr. Brown will receive the award at the Circle’s annual recognition ceremony on Tuesday, June 16th at the Town and Country Club in St. Paul.

The Rising Star Award recognizes a pre-tenure female faculty member in the College of Education and Human Development who has demonstrated leadership and creativity in an academic area as show by research, teaching, and service. This award requires a nomination process with a detailed letter describing the nominee’s qualifications as well as a letter from the nominee describing their teacher philosophy and research interests. The recipient will receive a $1,000 award for professional development.

Read more about this award and the CEHD Women’s Philanthropic Leadership Circle here.

The STEM Education Center is proud to have Dr. Julie Brown as a member of our team. Congratulations!

Dr. Clarkson Finalist for OPD President’s Community-Engaged Scholar Award

The Office of Public Engagement hosted an awards luncheon on Friday, April 3rd at the McNamara Alumni Center. Among the other finalists, Dr. Lesa Clarkson was recognized as for her accomplishments as a nominee for the 2015 President’s Community-Engaged Scholar Award. OPD Provost, Karen Hanson, hosted the luncheon and announced the winner, Kathleen Call-School of Public Health, at the end of the event.

Watch Dr. Clarkson’s finalist video as well as videos of the other nominees here.

CEHD Recognizes Dr. Post’s Many Accomplishments

The STEM Education Center would like to congratulate Dr. Tom Post for the wonderful recognition he received yesterday for his many years of service in CEHD.PostT The College of Education and Human Development hosted its Spring Assembly & Recognition Ceremony on Tuesday, April 21st at the DQ lounge of the TCF Bank Stadium. Along with Dr. Post, fifteen other retirees were  recognized and awards were given for various accomplishments by CEHD faculty, staff, and students. The STEM Education Center is proud to have such an accomplished colleague and will be sad to see him leave in the coming months.

STEM Education Center’s Karl Smith will receive ASEE Lifetime Achievement Award

The American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) is awarding Karl Smith, professor emeritus and co-director of the STEM Education Center, with the 2015 Lifetime Achievement Award. Smith will be presented with the award during the 2015 ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition on June 15 in Seattle, Washington.

The ASEE Awards Policy Committee identifies the recipient of this award through a thorough nomination process complete with references and a final selection.

The 2015 ASEE Lifetime Achievement Award consists of a $2,000 honorarium and up to $1,000 in travel reimbursement to accept the award, as well as a plaque and a framed certificate.

The STEM Education Center would like to congratulate Professor Smith with this outstanding achievement!

Read more about him and his work on his bio page and on the STEM Education Center website.

International Visitor Leadership Program Visits the STEM Education Center

From Left: Gyongyver Molnar, Ana del Pilar Letona, Gillian Roerhig, Karl Smith, Nasreen Mitu, Svetlana Sadakova, Laure El Chamy, Not Shown- Bill StJohn
From Left: Gyongyver Molnar, Ana del Pilar Letona, Gillian Roerhig, Karl Smith, Nasreen Mitu, Svetlana Sadakova, Laure El Chamy, Not Shown- Bill StJohn

Five emerging multi-regional leaders in the U.S. State Department’s International Visitor Leadership Program will visit the STEM Education Center today, February 11th to discuss issues and opportunities for women in STEM fields with Co-Director, Dr. Karl Smith and Associate Director, Dr. Gillian Roehrig. We welcome the team to the STEM Education Center and hope they have an enjoyable and enlightening experience in Minnesota.

Forbes highlights NSF I-Corps -L Initiative

Forbes magazine recently posted an article by contributing writer Neil Kane about the NSF I-Corps -L project. STEM Education Center co-director and I-Corps -L principal investigator Dr. Karl Smith is quoted in this piece. The project is designed to foster an entrepreneurial mindset among educators and encourage implementation of innovations. We are proud to share this news and thank Forbes for their recognition of our work at the STEM Education Center!

Read Article 

Dr. Karl Smith Collaborates on New National Academies Press Publication

Dr. Karl Smith, co-director of the STEM Education Center, was a major consultant for a project that recently published findings with the National Academy Press. The book, Reaching Students: What Research Say About Effective Instruction in Undergraduate Science and Engineering, was released January 15, 2015, and is available to purchase through the National Academy Press website-

From National Academies Press ( January 15, 2015:

The undergraduate years are a turning point in producing scientifically literate citizens and future scientists and engineers. Evidence from research about how students learn science and engineering shows that teaching strategies that motivate and engage students will improve their learning. So how do students best learn science and engineering? Are there ways of thinking that hinder or help their learning process? Which teaching strategies are most effective in developing their knowledge and skills? And how can practitioners apply these strategies to their own courses or suggest new approaches within their departments or institutions? Reaching Students strives to answer these questions.

Reaching Students presents the best thinking to date on teaching and learning undergraduate science and engineering. Focusing on the disciplines of astronomy, biology, chemistry, engineering, geosciences, and physics, this book is an introduction to strategies to try in your classroom or institution. Concrete examples and case studies illustrate how experienced instructors and leaders have applied evidence-based approaches to address student needs, encouraged the use of effective techniques within a department or an institution, and addressed the challenges that arose along the way.

The research-based strategies in Reaching Students can be adopted or adapted by instructors and leaders in all types of public or private higher education institutions. They are designed to work in introductory and upper-level courses, small and large classes, lectures and labs, and courses for majors and non-majors. And these approaches are feasible for practitioners of all experience levels who are open to incorporating ideas from research and reflecting on their teaching practices. This book is an essential resource for enriching instruction and better educating students.

Justin McFadden Accepts Position at University of Louisville

The STEM Education would like to congratulate Graduate Research and Teaching Assistant, Justin McFadden, for accepting the Assistant Professor of Science Education position in the Department of Early Childhood & Elementary Education at the University of Louisville. Beginning in the fall, Justin will teach elementary science methods. Justin is looking forward to working with his three new colleagues, Tom Tretter, Sherri Brown, and another new hire that begins in the summer. Much like the STEM Education Center, Justin’s new department and colleagues have strong connections with the local and statewide school systems; Justin is looking forward to continuing outreach work within his new community. The Department of Early Childhood & Elementary Education at the University of Louisville recently received a $5 million donation from the Mary K. Oxley Foundation. This money will hopefully support further research opportunities for Justin and his colleagues.

Justin McFadden began working at the STEM Education Center in 2011. He has been a graduate research assistant on a variety of projects such as EngrTEAMS and the WSC/River Run project. He has also taught courses in the initial licensure program for pre-service science teachers.

The STEM Education Center will miss Justin but wish him the best of luck in his new position.

CEHD Connect Magazine Features STEM Education Center and 3M Relationship

The recent issue of the CEHD Connect Magazine includes a feature about the valuable relationship between the STEM Education Center and 3M. The STEM Education Center and 3M created a fellowship program to service the local St. Paul Districts. In this program, 3M provided new engineering curriculum to these select school districts and the STEM Education Center provided graduate students to help guide teachers in implementing the curriculum in the classroom. From this successful program, the STEM Education Center was able to leverage their strong partnerships with these school districts to win an $8 million dollar NSF-funded grant named EngrTEAMS. Read more about the great work done by the STEM Education Center 3M Fellows and the EngrTEAMS project here.

ECE and STEM Education Center Collaborate to “Flip” Classrooms

The Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering highlights a collaboration between the STEM Education Center and ECE in their recent edition of their SIGNALS newsletter. Dr. Jia-Ling Lin of the STEM Education Center worked with Prof. Paul Imbertson of ECE to present and test student learning of a newly developed Power Electronics curriculum. Read more about their collaboration and results in the Fall 2014 SIGNALS newsletter.

Sousada Chidthachack Highlighted in UMN Women’s Center Blog

Congratulations to STEM Graduate Research Assistant, Sousada Chidthachack for her recent post on the UMN Women’s Center blog. As a Dr. Nancy “Rusty” Barcelo (Woman’s Center) Scholarship recipient, Sousada’s tell’s her inspiring story as a Thai refugee to STEM Ph.D. candidate to encourage all women to pursue their dreams and overcome obstacles. We thank Sousada for all of her hard work at the STEM Education Center and look forward to her many accomplishments to come.

Prepare2Nspire in UofM Legacy Magazine

The Fall 2014 issue of Legacy magazine published by the University of Minnesota Foundation featured an article about the STEM Education Center’s Prepare2Nspire project. Funded by the Great Lakes Higher Education Guaranty Corporation the Prepare2Nspire project is a team-based tutoring project focused on helping urban students master math. Congratulations to the Prepare2Nspire team for this wonderful recognition.

Learn more about the Prepare2Nspire project here

College of Biological Sciences Partners with STEM Education Center

The College of Biological Sciences, in partnership with the College of Education and Human Development, has recently established the Department of Biology Teaching and Learning. The initiative of this new department is to transform biology education through research and innovation. As a strong partner with CBS, the STEM Education Center is proud to offer outreach initiatives to K-12 schools for the new department. With this new collaboration, intentions to create a joint faculty position between the STEM Education Center and the Department of Biology Teaching and Learning as well as a new Ph.D. program in Biology Education are underway.

“The STEM Education Center’s partnership with the Department of Biology Teaching and Learning will expand our focus in education research to the undergraduate level and bring cutting edge biology into K-12 schools” – Gillian Roehrig, Professor of Science Education and Associate Director of STEM Education Center.

On October 3rd, 2014 the STEM Education Center hosted Tyler Koep, a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Biological Sciences. Tyler presented on the InSciEd-Out Project that has become the foundation for the Department of Biology Teaching and Learning initiative to transform existing research into “integrated science education for discovery in introductory biology experiences (InSciEd-In)”. The STEM Education Center congratulates the College of Biological Sciences on the development of this new department and is excited to see the growth of this collaboration.

Learn more about this collaboration on the College of Biological Sciences blog page.