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2. Campus Projects to Improve STEM Teacher Training and Professional Development Quality

Entrepreneurial Leadership in STEM Teaching & learning (EnLiST)

National Science Foundation Award # 0831820
Mats Selen, Patricia Shapley, Fouad Abd-El-Khalick, Raymond Price, Dorland Norris
Physics, Chemistry, Curriculum & Instruction, Engineering, Champaign Unit 4

Dates: September 25, 2011–December 31, 2014 (estimated)

Science teacher doing hands-on project during EnLiST summer professional development.
Science teacher doing hands-on project during EnLiST summer professional development.

The Entrepreneurial Leadership in STEM Teaching & Learning (EnLiST) Partnership is comprised of Thornton High School District #205, South Holland, IL; Champaign Unit 4 School District, Champaign, IL; and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, which serves as the lead among these core partners. In addition, the following are supporting partners: the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy (IMSA), IMSA-affiliated school districts, and Thornton elementary and middle school feeder districts. EnLiST intends to develop and build the infrastructural elements necessary to sustain a state-wide Illinois community of highly qualified science Teacher Leaders who will effectively contribute to the transformation of science teaching and learning throughout the K-12 educational continuum in their districts. EnLiST will achieve these goals through a combination of intensive summer institutes and year-round professional development and collaborative activities. The synergy and continuity of these efforts will be ensured through establishment of an on-line community capitalizing on robust technological tools and infrastructure. EnLiST will commence with the development of core cadres of high school chemistry and physics Teacher Leaders organized into district teams. Next, the partnership will support and scaffold the activities of these core cadres as they engage in developing a cadre of middle school and elementary specialist science Teacher Leaders in their school districts. The activities of this latter participant group will focus on an interdisciplinary approach to science teaching and learning in elementary and middle school. Data collection and use will be a central theme in the development of Teacher Leaders and project operation as a whole.

The innovation of EnLiST is its intent to reconceptualize the very notion of a “Teacher Leader” by drawing on scholarship in the field of social and entrepreneurial leadership and theories of distributed leadership. EnLiST aims to create a new generation of Teacher Leaders who, armed with cutting-edge content knowledge, a strong pedagogical repertoire, and entrepreneurial spirit, can support their colleagues and transform their schools into responsive and data-driven institutions of teaching and learning. EnLiST will provide participant science Teacher Leaders with understandings, skills, attitudes, and habits of mind enabling them to perceive themselves, and to act, as agents of change. The entrepreneurial leadership skills that will be developed will arm these Teacher Leaders to meet the many challenges faced by teachers in the current US K-12 educational milieu, including dealing with resource constraints, uncertainty, and multiple goals often related to internally desired and externally imposed demands for change and innovation. They will be equipped to meet the challenges and tensions that have often impeded the adoption of innovative curricula and pedagogies and transformation of K-12 science instructional practices in service of addressing increasingly diverse student population needs.

The major research questions of the project will center on understanding and assessing the development of the target Teacher Leaders and the success of those leaders in transforming their own teaching. The ultimate aim is to develop a scalable national model for the preparation of social and entrepreneurial science Teacher Leaders who act as strong champions and effective initiators and implementers of change in pre-college science teaching and learning. The EnLiST research questions are: (a) What is the impact, if any, of the project's activities on participant Teacher Leaders' conceptions, attitudes, skills, and behaviors related to social and entrepreneurial leadership? (b) What is the nature of the perceived organizational culture in partner school districts in relation to barriers to, and encouragement of, innovation and change? What are the associated roles of Teacher Leaders and school administrators? (c) What is the differential impact, if any, of enhanced social and entrepreneurial leadership among Teacher Leaders on effecting innovation and change in science teaching and learning in partner school districts?

Nano@Illinois Research Experience for Teachers (RET)

National Science Foundation Award #1407194
Xiuling Li
Micro and Nanotechnology Lab
Project Dates: May 1, 2014-April 30, 2017

The nano@illinois Research Experience for Teachers (RET) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign will annually (from 2014-2017) expose a diverse set of in-service and pre-service science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) teachers and community college faculty from across the nation to cutting-edge research in nanotechnology. The RET will focus on recruiting underrepresented minority populations (focused on ethnicity, geography, disability, and veteran status) including women and will target teachers from high-need areas, including inner city, rural, low-income, and those with significant URM students. Participants will conduct research over 6 weeks in world-class labs with 4 follow-up sessions during the school year. Participants will have possibilities to extend the RET for 2 years.

Teacher professional development will include teacher-focused lectures, ethics seminars, hands-on modules, STEM education issues, career choices, and resources for implementing a nano lab and curriculum. With interest and experience in K-14 education, faculty's and staff's commitment to this RET Site will ensure positive outcomes for the teachers and their students. The RET Site will leverage institutional knowledge and educational resources developed through the NSF Center for Nanoscale Chemical-Electrical-Mechanical Manufacturing Systems (Nano-CEMMS). Teachers will develop modules to be disseminated widely. High-quality follow-up sessions and evaluation will be infused.

Project NEURON (Novel Education for Understanding Research on Neuroscience)

National Institutes of Health Award #1R25RR024251
Barbara Hug
Neuroscience Program, Curriculum and Instruction, Office for Mathematics, Science, and Technology Education

Dates: September 29, 2009–June 30, 2014 (estimated)

Project NEURON (Novel Education for Understanding Research On Neuroscience) will bring together scientists, science educators, teachers, and students to develop and disseminate curriculum materials that connect frontier science with national and state science standards. The wide-ranging research at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign will allow Project NEURON to link NIH-funded neuroscience research with educational research that examines how teachers and students learn. Project NEURON will also help teachers integrate the newly developed materials into existing state curriculum frameworks. Project NEURON will a) develop and disseminate curriculum modules for use in secondary science classrooms; b) improve instructional practices of secondary science teachers; and c) improve student engagement and learning of key science concepts. In addition to developing curriculum modules, the project will 1) create an ongoing series of professional development opportunities for teachers and graduate students; 2) perform a formative and summative evaluation; and 3) provide a dissemination mechanism for the modules, including presentations at science and science education conferences and article submissions to peer-reviewed journals.

SI2-SSI: A Productive and Accessible Development Workbench for HPC Applications Using the Eclipse Parallel Tools Platform

National Science Foundation Award #1047956
Jay Alameda; Marc Snir
National Center for Supercomputing Applications

Dates: October 29, 2010–September 30, 2014 (estimated)

As supercomputers become more powerful, they become more complex. In order to take advantage of the increased power, scientific applications that run on these supercomputers will have to become more complex and will have to take advantage of more processing cores. Even experts at optimizing these applications are quickly being overwhelmed. The Workbench for HPC Applications (W-HPC) project is transforming the way these experts develop, debug, optimize, and run their applications. Using the Eclipse platform, W-HPC provides a robust and portable way to manage computational science and engineering code development for a range of research disciplines. W-HPC also includes a targeted education and outreach program including outreach to minority-serving institutions that will train new users, explain the advantages of using Eclipse-based tools, and encourage users participate in the development of new tools.

The next generation of petascale systems will give unprecedented power to the scientific community as they tackle grand challenge problems. However, in order to take advantage of the huge potential performance improvements, application size and complexity will increase substantially as projects become multi-institutional and multi-disciplinary. W-HPC will transform the way the community develops, debugs, optimizes, and runs its applications. As part of the project, the Eclipse Parallel Tools Platform (Eclipse PTP) is being enhanced to provide an open source, robust, portable, and sustainable development environment suitable for use with a broad range of scientific codes.