Partnerships Advance K-20 STEM Education & Research at Lehigh University
Article Posted On 10/24/2010
Since the summer of 2003, a team of Lehigh University faculty representing STEM (science, technology, engineering, and technology) disciplines from the colleges of Engineering, Arts and Sciences, and Education received multiple National Science Foundation (NSF) STEM grants designed to advance K-20 STEM education and research. The first grant focused on curriculum development by creating teams of faculty, teachers and students that composed and disseminated interactive coursework in STEM fields. The second and current grant project refocused the goals on graduate student communication, developing a model that utilizes graduate students, university faculty, and K-12 teachers to enhance and assess the graduate student fellow's skills.
Furthermore, in collaboration with the NSF STEM project, the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (NASA GSFC), PITA and several local companies, a new NASA Space Center was constructed and recently opened at one of the local middle schools. The facility includes a Mars Yard Lab with specially built robots (as shown in the picture above) and a Mission Control Center, designed to facilitate curriculum development, teacher training, and research at the undergraduate and graduate student levels. To the best of our knowledge, this NASA Space Center is one of only two such centers at this level in the country.
These efforts are producing a diverse group of scientists and engineers who are now working for industry, the military, and serving as faculty members in Pennsylvania institutions of higher education; increasing the students pursuing undergraduate and graduate degrees; better preparing teachers at the K-12 levels; and increasing university/agencies/industry collaboration designed to sustain the broader economic impact for a skilled future workforce.
In addition to the involvement of Lehigh University, Lehigh's PITA project, the NSF GK-12 Graduate Fellows and NSF ITEST programs, and the NASA GSFC, several local companies are contributing financially and in-kind, including Air Products and Chemicals, Alvin H. Butz, Inc., PPL, Roberson Butz Architects, Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce, PQ Energy, and Lutron Electronics Company, Inc.