STEM Center receives $145,310 grant

Henderson State University’s STEM Center has received a $145,310 grant that will enhance professional development for math and science teachers.

The STEM Center will use the three-year Arkansas Department of Education grant to focus on life science education this year with the help of Henderson State biology professors. Earth and physical science will be covered over the next two years.

“We chose life science this year because it is the most familiar branch of science with teachers,” said Betty Ramsey, STEM Center director. “This area is one that teachers feel the most at ease with. We will teach lessons to our participants that involve the three dimensions of the new Arkansas Science Standards.”

The STEM Center promotes science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education to P-16 teachers by providing research and standards-based professional development, curriculum assistance and assessment support.

For example, a group of middle school science teachers and high school biology teachers come to the center six times during the year for long-term professional development, Ramsey said. And several one-day workshops are held to help teachers with technology and lesson design.

Ramsey said improving STEM education is a national goal.

“So many careers, jobs, and services are computer-based and students need to be educated in these areas in a manner which allows them to learn how to think and problem solve,” she said. “The business sector is crying out for employees who can think through a problem to a solution, read and follow directions in a technical manual, work as a team, and communicate information with others.”

The new standards, which are based on the Next Generation Science Standards, are written for students to understand concepts, not facts, and find solutions to problems, she said. “These are the types of lessons we will use to help teachers as they begin the process of emphasizing problem solving to their young students.”

For more information about Henderson’s STEM Center, go to hsu.edu/stemcenter.