Dartmouth Works With Middle Schools to Enhance STEM Education

Dartmouth News

August 21, 2019

By David Hirsch and Bill Platt

The Science Education Partnership Award supports rural science curricula.

Vicki May and Michele Tine
From left, Professor of Engineering Vicki May and Associate Professor of Education Michele Tine are leading the Dartmouth collaboration, with the Montshire Museum of Science and area middle schools, to develop STEM-based curriculum with local science teachers. (Photo by Chris Johnson)

Dartmouth, the Montshire Museum of Science, and educators from area middle schools will participate in a five-year project to create new science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) programs for students and teachers in rural New Hampshire and Vermont.

The initiative, funded by a $1.3 million Science Education Partnership Award (SEPA) from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), will implement the educational units, build a STEM teacher network for rural New England, and create mentorships between middle school students and Dartmouth graduate students from across the sciences.

“This is a great opportunity for Dartmouth to join colleagues across the region in creating new educational opportunities within our local communities,” says Dean Madden, vice provost for research. “By working with local teachers and students, we hope to share the excitement of scientific discovery and to help foster the next generation of talent in our society.”

Faculty from Dartmouth’s Department of Biological Sciences and Department of Education and from Thayer School of Engineering will join the Guarini School of Graduate and Advanced Studies and the Montshire to work with area teachers and students on the project.

Vicki May, a professor of engineering at Thayer School of Engineering, and Michele Tine, an associate professor of education, will serve as co-investigators on the project. Amanda Skinner, assistant director of outreach and communications at the Guarini School, will serve as the lead outreach coordinator with school administrators and teachers. Roger Sloboda, a professor of biology at Dartmouth, is the project lead.

“Outreach to the community, particularly to under-resourced schools, is vitally important,” says May. “In engineering and sciences in general, the research shows a drop-off in interest in STEM in the middle school years, especially among girls, so if we want to keep those students coming through the pipeline, we need to start early.”

“I hope we’ll come up with some exciting curriculum that will be long-lasting, that the teachers can use for many years to come.”

May has already heard from graduate students from engineering, biology, brain sciences, chemistry, and mathematics who want to get involved in mentoring. “If we can figure out how to communicate with middle school kids and get them excited, it’s going to help us with our own curriculum and the grad students are going to gain a lot by working with the teachers and the middle school students,” she says. “It’s really a win-win.”

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