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MSTA project highlights STEM integration

MSTA-HP.jpgTeacher participants in the Math and Science Teacher Academies project were given a chance to showcase the knowledge gained throughout the yearlong program at a special Celebration of Learning held May 12, 2011 at the University of Minnesota. Throughout the course of the past year, participants learned about the nature of science and engineering for grades 3-6.

The Region 11 Math and Science Teacher Center Project Coordinator, Cynthia Stevenson said, "Today is the culmination of a year of learning and growth for 218 teachers from 36 schools in 25 metro area school districts. Collectively, more than 17,000 students have received the benefit of the time and effort their teachers have spent engaging in learning how to implement science inquiry and engineering concepts into their classrooms. This is professional development at its finest."

The focus of the day was to conduct assessment of teacher content knowledge growth over the year, engage participants in grade-level Model Eliciting Activities (MEAs) to take back to their classrooms with intent to extend this year's learning, and for teachers to demonstrate implementation of inquiry and engineering activities in their classrooms. Dr. S. Selcen Guzey from the STEM Education Center at the University of Minnesota noted, "It was great to see that a wide variety of engineering projects were implemented in elementary classrooms this year. These engineering projects may change hundreds of students' lives. We heard teachers saying that students who do not usually participate in class activities are excitedly engaged in these engineering challenges. It is very nice to hear that teachers want to include more engineering challenges into their teaching."
The districts participating in this year's MSTA teacher training include:

Anoka cross district 6th grade team: Coon Rapids Middle, Jackson Middle, Roosevelt Middle, Northdale Middle (18); Bloomington Poplar Bridge /elementary (10); Burnsville-Eagan-Savage 6th grade cross district team (13); Concordia Creative Learning Academy (7); Cyber Village Academy (1); Emily O Goodridge-Grey (6); Inver Grove Heights Salem Hills Elementary and Inver Grove Heights Middle (12); Lakeville Eastview Elementary (15); Lakeville Oak Hills Elementary (9); Minneapolis Northrop School (4); Minnetonka Excelsior Elementary (14); Minnetonka Scenic Heights Elementary (8); Mounds View cross-district 6th grade team Chippewa MS, Edgewood MS, Highview MS (8); New Prague Raven Stream Elementary (13); N.St. Paul-Maplewood-Oakdale cross district 6th grade team: Maplewood Middle, Skyview Middle, John Glenn Middle (6); Northeast Metro 916 Valley Crossing Community School (6); Orono Intermediate (12); Robbinsdale Noble elementary (10); Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan cross-district 6th grade team: Falcon Ridge Middle, Blackhawk Middle, Rosemount Middle, Scott Highlands Middle, Dakota Hills Middle (15); Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan Cedar Park Elementary (12); South Washington County Woodbury Elementary (11); South Washington County Armstrong Elementary (4); St. Anthony-New Brighton Wilshire Park Elementary (11); White Bear Lake Birch Lake Elementary (4) .

This all-day event featured a keynote presentation, "How to Design Engineering Experiences to Engage ALL Students" by Dr. Christine Cunningham, Vice President of Research & Educator Resource Development at the Museum of Science, Boston and founder of the Engineering is Elementary project. Through her presentation, Dr. Cunningham explored the 14 design principles used to guide the development of inclusive engineering curricula and materials when educators work to incorporate engineering into K-12 education. Dr. Cunningham noted the importance of educators ensuring that all students are able to engage through use of equitable and inclusive engineering criteria. An additional 30 school administrators attended the Leadership Forum in the afternoon to hear Dr. Cunningham's message.

The year culminated with poster presentations by the teachers highlighting how they've put what they learned into practice. Teachers used pedagogy and content based on their students' needs and the MN Science and Engineering Standards for the corresponding grade level taught. Results emphasized the implementation of the nature of science and engineering concepts from the training and how their students were impacted by the teacher's approach. School administrators from the majority of the participating schools were on hand to view the teachers' poster presentations.

The Region 11 Math and Science Teacher Academies is a component of a statewide initiative, funded by the Minnesota Department of Education, that is providing in-depth professional development opportunities in the STEM areas for teachers in 48 metro area school districts. During 2008-2011, more than 1100 teachers have received in-depth content training and learned classroom application strategies in Algebra for grades 3-8, The Nature of Science and Engineering for grades 3-6, and STEM Integration for grades 7-12. Training is designed and delivered through a significant partnership of eight higher education institutions including the STEM Education Center at the University of Minnesota, school districts, regional education agencies, and SciMath MN.

The MSTA training structure requires school teams consisting of all teachers of math or science to attend five full days of content training throughout the year. Teams commit to apply new learning in their classrooms, use assessment tools to determine student growth in understanding, and meet weekly to discuss student progress and share strategies that work to reach all students.

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