Colorado State Awarded $12.5 Million National Science Foundation Grant for STEM Teacher Development

Colorado State University’s Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory is the lead institution of a $12.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation’s Mathematics and Science Partnership program to create a dynamic teacher development program targeted at middle school and high school teachers in the STEM disciplines – science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Researchers will create a framework where environmental science literacy drives learning of core science and mathematics concepts. The program has the potential to reach 1,000 teachers and 500,000 students in the country.

Colorado State is partnering with 11 other universities and K-12 school districts from across the nation on the grant. Three of those partners are from Colorado.

The collaborative, CSU-led program spearheaded by John Moore, director of CSU’s Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory, will connect the environmental sciences research and education of partner universities and sites within the NSF-funded Long-Term Ecological Research, or LTER, network with K-12 science and math teachers in partner schools and districts. The focus will be on human-ecosystem interactions to develop culturally relevant ecology from scientific and educational perspectives.

"Dr. Moore must be commended for his efforts to secure this STEM award. Workforce preparation in the STEM disciplines is an area where CSU is well-positioned to make an important impact on the educational pipeline of students heading to college," said Colorado State Interim President Tony Frank. "CSU’s focus in engineering, environmental sustainability research, and new energy research provides us the opportunity to offer leadership as we prepare for future workforce needs."

Providing teachers with content knowledge and increasing student preparation and interest in STEM disciplines is an urgent need. Collectively, four LTER research sites will partner with 22 local K-12 schools/districts focusing exclusively on middle schools and high schools serving more than 250 science and mathematics teachers and 70,000 students across the United States.

"Our plan is to develop, implement and disseminate our teaching models through the LTER Network Office which each year interacts with upwards of 1,000 teachers and impacts nearly 500,000 students of diverse ethnicities across the United States," said Moore.

Collaborators on the project aim to develop models of professional development that integrate the research efforts of scientists with professional development needs of teachers. Collaborators also plan to include a teacher-in-residence program, research internships for teachers, placement of graduate students into K-12 classrooms, professional development workshops leading to graduate credit and/or graduate degrees and professional learning communities.

Additionally, grant collaborators will examine existing K-12 curriculum and then refine and extend current frameworks and assessments for learning progressions leading to environmental science literacy and associated mathematics that focus on carbon cycling, water systems and biodiversity in socio-ecological systems.

Core partners on the NSF-funded grant are Greeley-Evans School District No. 6; Poudre School District; Michigan State University; Plainwell Community Schools; University of California, Santa Barbara; Santa Barbara School District; Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies; Towson University; Baltimore City and County Public Schools; University of Northern Colorado; University of Wyoming; and the LTER Network Office at the University of New Mexico.