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Media Release Archives
For Immediate Release

Oct. 30, 2009

Contact: Pam Joseph (419) 995-8284 or Lesley King Fry (419) 995-8671

Ohio State Lima wins $864,000 National Science Foundation grant

Focus is on careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics

The Ohio State University has received a $864,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to engage high school students and their teachers in critical thinking skills that focus on Science, Technology, Engineering or Mathematics, or STEM, content areas. It’s About Discovery uses the new Ford Partnership for Advanced Studies (Ford PAS) science curriculum as a foundation for the project that includes students and teachers from Ohio and North Carolina. Teachers across the two states will engage in a new professional development model that encourages inquiry based teaching and enables them to partner with teachers in different schools and states.  Students will create projects through on-line conversations.  These hands-on, inquiry-based learning experiences engage students and prepare and encourage them to pursue science, engineering, and technology in high school and beyond. All Ford PAS curricula use real world experiences, open-ended problems and result in real world applications.

“The Ford PAS career exploration modules we are using as a basis for this project focus on higher order thinking and critical thinking skills. They are designed to prepare and encourage students to pursue STEM options in high school and beyond,” said Dr. Dean Cristol, Associate Professor of Education at Ohio State Lima and Principal Investigator. “We are measuring whether the curriculum helps students acquire the necessary knowledge and attitudes about STEM careers to influence them to choose such an educational and career path.”

Technology will be integrated throughout the program to enable students to create inquiry-based projects across state lines and for teachers to continue their professional development. Community partners will serve as mentors, host field trips, and engage in on-line conversations with students.

The grant from the National Science Foundation allows the program to be offered at no additional cost to the participating schools. Program teachers can earn up to six graduate credits per year and participate in national conferences and professional development. The schools will receive the supplies and new technology to make the curriculum a success and form partnerships with industry and business in their areas. Students will be exposed to careers in science and have the opportunity to go on field trips and to present their projects at a national level. Classrooms in different areas will be sharing their experiences with others through video upload. For example, students on a visit to a North Carolina nuclear energy facility will share with Ohio students who have visited a wind plant and vice versa.

It’s About Discovery implements a brand new Ford PAS curriculum module called Working Toward Sustainability, which has four modules: We All Run on Energy, Energy from the Sun, Is Hydrogen a Solution? and The Nuclear Revolution. While the primary focus is on students, throughout the life of the project all teachers will participate in professional development centered on the Ford PAS modules to ensure quality teaching and understanding of the content.

“Teachers across the two states will engage in a new professional development model that encourages inquiry-based teaching and enables them to partner with teachers in different schools and states,” Dr. Cristol said. “This program will help teachers to better understand how to positively affect and encourage young people to think about STEM careers, especially young people living in rural communities and suffering from high poverty.”

Over the course of the grant between now and 2012, approximately 400 students and 20 teachers are scheduled to participate in the program. While the program is primarily geared toward ninth graders, It’s About Discovery begins with a few introductory activities for eighth graders that focus on STEM careers before moving into the Ford PAS modules through ninth grade physical science. Teachers and students will then become engaged in different Ford PAS modules that relate to 10th grade science and mathematics.  While the grant-funded portion of the program only extends through two academic years, teachers will come away the curriculum and supplies to continue. Participating districts include Bath, Perry and the schools in the Western Buckeye ESC (Paulding and Van Wert counties) in Ohio and Douglas Byrd High School in Fayetteville, North Carolina.

It’s About Discovery is a partnership between The Ohio State University, University of North Carolina at Greensboro and Fayetteville State University.

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