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At the beginning of 2007 the Colleges of Education, Engineering, and Technology here at Purdue University began an unprecedented collaboration. These colleges joined forces to recruit three to six outstanding new faculty members to develop the Innovations in P-12 STEM Education Initiative. This strategic initiative aims to develop new ways of engaging P-12 students in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields—with an emphasis on technology and engineering. It is vitally important to encourage young students in these areas in order to prepare the next generation of engineering or high-tech career professionals.

As a result of this initiative, three new faculty members joined Purdue in August. Monica Cardella, Eric Mann and Johannes Strobel come to Purdue with varied interests and backgrounds but a common goal—providing leadership in developing strategies to guide students towards technology and engineering pathways.

Monica Cardella, assistant professor of engineering education, comes to Purdue from the Center for Design Research at Stanford University where she was Postdoctoral Engineering Education Researcher at a Center for the Advancement of Scholarship in Engineering Education. She received her Ph.D. in Industrial Engineering at the University of Washington where she was a Graduate Research Associate at the Center for Engineering Learning and Teaching. Cardella’s research interests include engineering education, engineering design, mathematical thinking, and sketching.

Eric Mann, assistant professor of gifted education, was previously a Purdue University Department of Curriculum and Instruction visiting professor. He completed his Ph.D. in Educational Psychology with specializations in Gifted and Talented Education and Mathematics Education at the University of Connecticut. As a research associate with the National Research Center on the Gifted and Talented, he worked with a team to develop an enriched mathematics curriculum for under identified gifted populations. Mann’s research interests include the identification and development of creative talent in mathematics and science.

Johannes Strobel, assistant professor of engineering education (.75) and educational technology (.25), comes to Purdue from the Centre for the Study of Learning and Performance at Concordia University, Montreal, Canada where he was an assistant professor in Educational Technology. His interests include the intersection between learning and technology. His research focus is on computers as modeling tools, problem solving in ill- structured and complex domains (engineering and history), epistemological beliefs and conceptual change, participatory design, and social computing.

The search continues. In the coming year the search committee will pursue highly qualified, interdisciplinary faculty to prepare and motivate the next generation of technology and engineering professionals through research and collaborative projects.

More information

If you are interested in more information about the Innovations in P-12 STEM Education Initiative, contact Melissa Dark, search committee chair and College of Technology assistant dean, at 765-494-7661 or dark@purdue.edu.

  • college of education magazine FALL 2007

A resource network with an important mission—The Indiana Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (I-STEM) Resource Network aims to improve Indiana K-12 student achievement in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines. Through collaboration among Indiana’s higher education institutions, K-12 schools, businesses, and government entities, the network provides easily accessible professional development for teachers, hands- on learning for students and families and grassroots support for better STEM education policies across all Indiana communities.

I-STEM Roots and Growth

I-STEM Resource Network, the result of a task force created in 2004 by BioCrossroads with support from the Lumina Foundation for Education and the University of Indianapolis’ Center of Excellence in Leadership of Learning, has made significant progress just in the past year. Purdue was selected as the managing partner to initiate the network. The network is now managed by Bill Walker, executive director, along with Brandon Sorge, director of operations, and a new Website has been launched—serving as a center of K-12 STEM information for Indiana.

Other significant developments include the completion of the first STEM content course at four institutions across Indiana and I-STEM receiving two major grant awards.

During the summer of 2007 the I-STEM Resource Network enrolled over 50 teachers of middle level mathematics and provided their tuition for the “Algebra and Functions for Teachers of Middle Level Mathematics” course. The educators took the course at either Ball State University, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, Purdue University Calumet, or Purdue University.

Summer Course Topics

  • Mathematical content knowledge—focused on understanding algebra as a study of patterns, a symbolic language and a tool for problem solving

  • Instructional strategies aimed at helping students understand the content and applications of algebra in the classroom

  • Indiana Academic Standards and NCTM Standards for Mathematics

  • Meaningful and engaging mathematics instruction for all students

“Students who struggle in mathematics, especially algebra, often do not or cannot enroll in demanding science and mathematics courses later in their studies,” said Bill Walker. “We hope that by supporting the instructors we can, in turn, foster interest in this subject matter and encourage students to continue to take these kinds of courses.”

To aid in startup costs, professional development costs and operating costs the I-STEM Resource Network was awarded $315,000 by the National Governor’s Association and $3.4 million by the Lilly Endowment. These substantial awards will aid in the I-STEM Resource Network achieving its goals.

What’s Next

“In the coming years, I-STEM will focus on teaching, learning, applied research, community partnerships, and network development,” said Walker.

“The focus on teaching will allow I-STEM to support STEM teachers with continuing education, teaching strategies, and addressing academic standards. Addressing learning will disseminate information for students on experiential learning opportunities and the importance of STEM in daily activities,” he said. “Applied research will focus on effective practices for teachers and schools and program evaluation. By building community partnerships, I-STEM will help provide Indiana education leaders and policymakers with knowledge about teaching, learning, and important STEM education issues and support district-level partnerships to bring about comprehensive improvements in STEM education provided by schools and districts. Finally, network development will promote resource awareness and communication focused on public advocacy for STEM education.”

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