Wednesday, May 22, 2024

2019 Awardees

Teacher Enrichment Program, Center for Excellence in Education– Natasha Schuh-Nuhfer, Director, Joann DiGennaro, President, Center for Excellence in Education, McLean, Virginia

Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) jobs are projected to grow 13% between 2017 and 2027, compared to 9% for non-STEM jobs, with positions in computing, engineering, and advanced manufacturing leading the way (Education Commission of the States, 2017). U.S. universities are expected to produce only 29% of the required number of math and science graduates needed to fill the 1.4 million STEM related job openings, according to a 2017 U.S. Department of Labor report. The Center for Excellence in Education aims to empower underserved and underprepared students to pursue careers of excellence and leadership in STEM by working with community colleges, universities, state agencies, and fellow STEM organizations to improve STEM teaching and learning. The Center’s Teacher Enrichment Program aims to ensure a future talented U.S. Workforce in STEM by providing opportunities for middle and high school teachers in underserved schools to connect with leading experts in industry, and academia, to explore cutting- edge research and make meaningful professional links with direct benefits for their students.

The Comprehensive Instructional ProjectMatt Hurt, Director, Wise, Virginia

The Comprehensive Instructional Project was initiated in 2014 as a consortium of 30 public school divisions in Virginia’s Region VII. The CIP was designed to support instruction in all core content areas and improve student achievement outcomes as measured by SOL tests. The most successful teachers who taught some of the most at-risk students were recruited from the highest performing division on each SOL test to prepare pacing guides, lesson plans, instructional materials, assessments and benchmark assessments. All of these materials were uploaded to the CIP website ( Teachers were trained to access the materials on the CIP website and instructions were given to follow the pacing guides. Prior to the advent of the CIP, Region VII ranked 7thout of 8 regions in Virginia. Region VII took the lead in 2016, and has only increased that lead since then. In 2018 Region VII realized the highest pass rates on the following SOL tests: Math 3, Math 4, Math 5, Math 6, Math 8, Geometry, and Algebra II. Also in 2018, Region VII ranked 3rdin Math 7 and second in Algebra I.

Operation: Breaking the Code to College and Career ReadinessAngela R. de Mik, Senior Project Director, Chesapeake, Virginia, Norfolk Public Schools

The primary goals are to engage stakeholders in understanding the codes in the military culture and the educational community, introduce computer science coding into K-5 for early exposure to skills for careers, secondary and college education pathways. The grant currently serves 8 elementary schools: Sewell Point, Tarrallton, Camp Allen, Granby Elementary School, Ghent, Larrymore, Poplar Halls, and W.H. Taylor Elementary School.  All PreK-5 students are learning coding, programming and robotics skills that are being integrated during content instruction so that both teachers and students learn that computational thinking can and is being demonstrated daily and often without touching a device. Our pilot study with Tufts University is specifically using STEM program KIBO to integrate into content and measure student academic growth. We are also implementing tools like Scratch, ScratchJr, BeeBot, Dash and Dot Robot, KIBO robot, and computer science curriculums that demonstrate this integration of CS education and VA SOLs. 

Knowledge through Experience for Youth in Science (KEYS)– Melani Loney, Program Manager, Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Initiatives. Supported through Old Dominion University, the Center for Educational Partnerships, Norfolk and Portsmouth Public Schools

The Knowledge through Experience for Youth in Science (KEYS) teacher professional development program was funded through a Math and Science Partnership (MSP) grant as a partnership between The Old Dominion University Center for Educational Partnerships, Norfolk and Portsmouth Public Schools. KEYS targeted the improvement of middle school science teachers understanding of the student-centered instructional strategy, Argument Driven Inquiry (ADI). The following program goals were addressed: 1. Increasing teacher understanding of scientific concepts and the associated equipment which are aligned to the Virginia Standards of Learning through college level science instruction. 2. Increasing teacher understanding of scientific inquiry and argumentation methods for implementation in the middle school classroom by utilizing the ADI instructional strategy. 3. Increasing teacher’s opportunity for professional networking. 4. Facilitating administrator support for the implementation of a new instructional strategy.

Hampton Environmental Literacy Program (H.E.L.P.)-Venicia Ferrell, Hampton City School Science Curriculum Leader, Dr. John Caggiano, Hampton City Schools

The Hampton City Schools (HCS) Hampton Systemic Environmental Literacy Program (H.E.L.P.) is an environmental education program tasked with reaching Hampton City School students in grades 4-8, in biology, oceanography, ecology, and environmental science with high quality and impactful watershed experiences embedded into the science curricula. The program was developed to build teacher capacity in the development and implementation of engaging and relevant field investigations and meaningful watershed education experiences (MWEEs) with students. The ultimate goal of the H.E.L.P. program has been to ensure that each HCS student has at least 3 MWEE or field investigations prior to graduation, one at elementary, middle school, and high school, so that they graduate ready to assume leadership in environmental planning and decision making within their communities. To do this, HCS, partnered with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF), the James River Association (JRA), to provide quality training for teachers, field experiences, and opportunities to engage in service learning, and citizen science projects for students.

Building Teacher’s Capacity with Children’s EngineeringSuzanne Bevans, Principal, Henderson Elementary, Prince William County Public School System

Henderson’s vision and mission includes building teacher’s capacity by providing Children’s Engineering professional development that promotes a common language and culture dedicated to creating a hands-on, inquiry based learning environment that offers students the opportunity to design and create while integrating the content area curriculum. The Henderson Elementary Engineering Team received professional development from the Virginia Children’s Engineering Council, Chesterfield County Schools, James Madison University, and began with the VDOE teacher created design briefs to implement at least one design challenge in their classroom. The outcomes of our Building Teacher’s Capacity, have included: 100% teacher buy-in to the Children’s Engineering Program, two teacher leader positions in the school, the development of 20 different engineering mini-lessons to support the staff, the week long “Camp Invention” programs during the summer, and Family STEM nights. In 2017-2018, 250 families participated in Family STEM night. Henderson Elementary has improved on their ranking on SOL tests from 33rdout of 58 schools in 2011 to 3rdout of 60 in 2015. 

SPARK STEMAndrew Gilbert, Jennifer Suh, Padhu Seshaiyer, George Mason University

The project goal for SPARK STEM was to develop and deliver an integrated professional development for upper elementary/middle grade 4-6 teachers. The project focused on “Ambitious teaching” which prepares teachers to build STEM lessons that integrate content with authentic tasks and problems and included a strong emphasis on engaging underserved students in STEM through modeling and PBL strategies. The SPARK STEM program served 55 teachers and coaches with summer workshops including fall follow-up lesson study. Summer institutes ran in parallel with a STEM lab on similar STEM concepts with about 20 K-6 students. This parallel structure allowed teachers the opportunity to work with students and reflect on student sense making around specific stem activities and concepts. Across 2017 and 2018, this program continues to impact teachers and schools involved. The principles and process of the program have been incorporated into our current mathematics and science methods courses.

VCU Bridges to the Baccalaureate- Dream to Goal Program (DTG)– Karen Kester, Sarah Golding, Jennifer Stewart, VCU; Martin Zahn, Thomas Nelson Community College (TNCC); Shijian Chu, John Tyler Community College (JTCC)

The VCU Bridges to the Baccalaureate Dream to Goal Program (DTG) is an NIH funded Undergraduate Student Development Program for students from underrepresented (UR) backgrounds with interest in careers in the biomedical and behavioral sciences. The program goals are to: (1) enhances life skills, including health education and health careers counseling opportunities for UR students, (2) enhance the academic preparedness with the acquisition of  both laboratory and quantitative skills for UR students, and to (3) provide research training experiences for UR students. Students participate in a summer boot camp experience and have an opportunity to participate in undergraduate research experiences. Faculty from VCU, TNCC, and JTCC developed a 2 credit Biology Techniques course taught on all three campuses. Articulation agreements between the three institutions have been developed and strengthened through participation in the program.  Student outcomes have included up to 70% and higher of the cohorts having completed the Associates degree and up to 87% of the students within cohorts having successfully bridged to a four-year school and are on track to earn the B.S. degree. The NIH renewed funding for the DTG program for an additional 5 years, continued funding will build upon the successes and experience gained in the past 5 years and seeks to influence larger institutional and system wide changes.

Virginia Earth System Science Scholars, Mary Sandy, Director, Virginia Space Grant Consortium

The Virginia Earth System Science Scholars (VESSS) program is an interactive on-line Earth System Science course combined with a problem-based summer academy at NASA that uses the excitement of NASA’s work in Earth resource monitoring and planetary research as the platform for learning. The program emphasizes the study of Earth as a “system of systems” and focuses on the dynamic systemic interplay. This free student program is a partnership between the Virginia Space Grant Consortium, NASA Langley Research Center’s Science Directorate and Hampton University’s Center for Atmospheric Research and Education. Funding is provided by the Virginia Space Grant Consortium and the NASA Minority University ResearchProgram through Hampton University with industry support from the Virginia Aerospace Business Association and the National Institute of Aerospace and substantial in-kind support from NASA Langley Research Center’s Science Mission Directorate. 

Earth Force– Porsche Ray, Program Manager and Vince Meldrum, Program Director, Alexandria and Fairfax Public Schools

Earth Force supports Alexandria City Public Schools and Fairfax County Public Schools with implementing a project-based approach into their middle school science classrooms. The cornerstone of our work is our six-step innovative Community Action and Problem-Solving (CAPS) Process. CAPS is a project-based learning tool used to guide educators and students to identify root causes of an environmental issue they care about, develop an action plan, and work with decision makers to implement that plan. Through this program Earth Force is providing professional development to educators as they develop the skills to effectively investigate student-led projects. Last year the program met 2 goals: (1) to support 20 educators as they incorporated CAPS into their STEM classrooms; and (2) engage 750 young people in the implementation of projects to address environmental issues. The NGSS performance expectations offer a tight integration of 8 science and engineering practices as they relate to learning and applying disciplinary core ideas while making connections to cross-cutting concepts-a 3D model of learning. Central to this process is that educators are being asked to guide students through the application of scientific processes to solve problems, including analyzing and interpreting data, asking questions and defining problems, using math and computational thinking, constructing explanations and designing solutions, engaging in an argument from evidence. 

Norfolk Technical Center:Pharmacy Technician Program– Brandon Bell, Norfolk Technical Center, Site Director, Norfolk Public Schools

The Norfolk Technical Center’s Pharmacy Technician Program was started to address a growing employment need. Pharmacy Technician jobs have been on the rise over the last 10 years and are projected to grow 12% from 2016 to 2026. By addressing this need, the program is addressing the lack of employable Virginians in a STEM related career. Students become members of Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA) and participate in professional development HOSA activities. The Norfolk Center’s Pharmacy Technician’s Program is dedicated to providing opportunities for high school students to: 1) demonstrate commitment to excellence in the pharmacy profession and to continuing education and training, 2) demonstrate knowledge and skills in areas of science relative to the pharmacy technicians role including anatomy and physiology and pharmacology, 3) perform mathematical calculations essential to the duties of a pharmacy technician in a variety of contemporary settings, 4) demonstrate understanding of the pharmacy technicians role in the medication-use process and 5) demonstrate an understanding of the non-traditional roles of the pharmacy technician. Since 2007 NCT Pharmacy Technician students have had a 100% pass rate on the Board of Pharmacy State Exam. Since the programs inception, over 100 students are employed or have been employed as a Pharmacy Technician and over 40 students have continued on to graduate from a 4 year college or university.

STEM Experimen tal Design @ Norcom High School–Heather L. Overkamp, Portsmouth Public Schools

The research class Experimental Design, is for students who want to conduct independent research. Included in this activity is an after-school Science club for students who conduct independent research. Students conduct research and submit their work to several science symposia and science fairs. The science symposia include the Virginia Junior Academy of Science, the Tidewater Science Fair, and the Junior Science and Humanities Symposium. Students in the class also work in groups to submit research and design ideas for solutions to local environmental problems to the U.S. Army Educational Outreach Program called eCybermission. The goal of this program is to mentor students interested in conducting research to help them learn about the process and the skills necessary to be successful in the fields of science and engineering. A main goal of the course for students to be accepted in at least one qualifying science symposia. An additional goal is to collaborate with local community members who can provide their expertise as mentors to students. This includes business owners, university professors, other high school teachers, scientists in non-profit organizations, and scientists and engineers in professional organizations such as ACS and ASBE.

 E-STEM: Engineering Solutions to Real Environmental Problems- Nancy Stalik, Daria Christian, Friends of the Rappahannock, Fredricksburg

This E-STEM program engages elementary, middle and high school students in engineeringsolutions to real river pollution problems in a mobile makerspace lab. Students are presented witha design challenge and given access to a range of materials, tools and equipment, as well asresearch support, in order to design a solution to the problem. These challenges focus on theprotection of an important local natural resource, the Rappahannock River. Each design challenge incorporates science investigations through data collection, hands-on lessons and experimental design. For example, the litter catcher lesson encourages students to discuss all types of litter and contaminants that wash over and across the watershed and eventually dump into the river. In this lesson students use their conclusions to creatively design a physical barrier against litter. During the oil spill collection lesson students design the best ways to absorb an oil spill. Both lessons extend student interaction with the water by considering water chemistry and possible unseen contaminants. The lessons allow students toexamine chemical water quality by testing river water samples for suspended sediment(turbidity), dissolved oxygen, pH (acidity), and temperature before and after they have preventedphysical litter from entering the water source. The design challenges created allow students tocompare the different measurements found in healthy bodies of water to those headed towardeutrophication, or unhealthy conditions. Students have options to use technology as they design solutions for all E-STEM challenges.