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KU Science, Engineering Education Program Receives $2.9 Million

Thursday, July 3, 2008
[Sixth-, seventh-, and eighth-grade students get directions on mixing concrete from doctoral student Heather McLoed during KU’s Eureka Weekend.]

University of Kansas researchers and graduate students will work to instill a love for science, math and engineering in K-12 students in Kansas.

The National Science Foundation announced July 1 it will award $2.9 million over five years to the Kansas Partnership for Graduate Fellows in K-12 Education program at KU.

“The goal of the Kansas Partnership project is to assist graduate students to be better communicators of their science with K-12 teachers and students, in particular, and with the broader community of non-scientists, in general,” said N.T. Veatch Distinguished Professor Dennis Lane, the program’s leader. Lane is a professor in the Department of Civil, Environmental and Architectural Engineering at KU and associate director of research and education for the KU Transportation Research Institute.

The program will foster the incorporation of additional hands-on science experiences and cooperative learning strategies into middle school classrooms in the Topeka and Kansas City, Kan., public schools, Lane said. Highly qualified doctoral students in engineering and science will work closely with sixth-, seventh-, eighth- and ninth-grade students and teachers to remove barriers to student engagement. The project will look at delivering lessons and ideas in innovative ways using active learning strategies and science research activities based on national and state curriculum standards for those grade levels, Lane said.

The specific aims include “improving the science achievement of at-risk middle school students in two of the largest urban school districts in Kansas,” Lane said. The program also will work to establish a sustainable outreach partnership among the partner school districts, KU TRI, the Center for Remote Sensing of Ice Sheets at KU and Kansas City, Kan., Public Schools. The partnership will work to create a means of interpreting the significance of science and engineering for the intended audiences.

Faculty from the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences and the Center for Science Education will be integrally involved in the project. Steven Case, an assistant research professor with the CSE; Joseph Heppert, professor and chair of the Department of Chemistry; and Bozenna Pasik-Duncan, professor of mathematics, are all playing important roles in the Kansas Partnership project.



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