CSME Accomplishments 2015-2016

Accomplishments from the 2015-2016 annual report are described below.

2015-2016 Accomplishments & Milestones

Enhancing the quality and equity of K-12 math and science instruction in Utah

Launched the Elementary STEM Endorsement in Fall 2015, through a collaborative partnership with the Urban Institute for Teacher Education. ESE offers a six-course sequence over 20 months to provide practicing K-6 teachers with pedagogical content knowledge in science, technology, engineering, and math. In 2015-2016, the first four courses were developed and two were implemented; 36 teachers participated.

Developed a framework for a new Physics Cohort for the Master of Science for Secondary School Teachers (MSSST) and accepted 20 teachers to the program. Classes began in June 2016 and included Math, Physics, Chemistry, and Earth Science; teachers graduating from the program will receive endorsements in both Physics and Physical Science. While the Physics Cohort was in development, the existing Earth Science cohort continued to progress towards graduation; 15 teachers will graduate from this cohort in December 2016.

Provided 10 teachers a preparatory training in a “Science Practices” workshop designed to prepare teachers to think about science in terms of the Next Generation Science Standards. In Summer 2016, these teachers will conduct research and participate in a follow-up workshop to develop curriculum for secondary classrooms.

Led a 2015 Workshop on Earth Science from Western and Navajo Perspectives for 22 teachers from Salt Lake City area and the Navajo Nation. The annual workshop provides an opportunity for teachers to learn about the connections between traditional Navajo knowledge and western science while they explore new ways of teaching diverse students. Another workshop is planned for June 2016.

Contributed to a transformative excellence proposal (TEP) around Science and Mathematics Education Research and participated in the search for new faculty members. This proposal resulted in the addition of a science-focused teacher educator faculty position to an existing math-focused position in the College of Education. The TEP also requested two new positions for discipline-based education researchers in the College of Science; those positions are on hold pending the appropriate support from COS departments.

Promoting academic success and career readiness of undergraduates in math and science at the University of Utah

Developed and launched the College of Science Internship Program to connect advanced undergraduate students with internship opportunities. This cohort-based program included 15 employers and placed 8 students in its first semester (Summer 2016). It will continue to be offered year-round on a semester basis.

Enrolled 14 incoming freshmen from underrepresented backgrounds in the 2015 REFUGES Summer Bridge Program. To help ease the transition to the University of Utah, the summer science bridge course is offered for incoming undergraduate students. In 2015, the program was offered for the third year in a row; 14 incoming students participated in the Summer Bridge course, 3 rising sophomores from the 2014 cohort were placed in labs, and 80% of students from the 2013-2015 cohorts were retained in STEM. The program will not be offered in 2016 due to lack of funding.

Brokered an agreement to integrate Utah students into REU cohorts in Physics & Astronomy and Chemistry. In Summer 2015, this resulted in 20 University of Utah students participating in REUs. CSME is also facilitating assessment of these REU programs in 2016.

Developed and taught “Science Communication and Mentoring for the Next Generation” (STEM Mentors),  an upper division undergraduate science course that develops students’ science communication and mentoring skills. Students worked in interdisciplinary teams to develop and teach science concepts in elementary school classrooms. A total of 18 undergraduates and 18 K-12 teachers participated in the program; student evaluations were extremely positive and well above University averages; 100% of teachers said they would participate again.

Continued support of US2TEM (Undergraduate Sustainability, Science, Technology, Engineering & Math Scholarship Program). US2TEM, offered in collaboration with the Global Change and Sustainability Center, provides scholarships, academic support and engagement opportunities for academically talented, economically challenged and/or diverse students. US2TEM supports undergraduates who are interested in addressing issues related to sustainability. Participants receive scholarships for up to 4 years. Now in its third year, US2TEM has two cohorts with 23 total students.

Established a collaboration between the U and SLCC and to submit a pre-proposal to the Inclusive Excellence program at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.  This partnership has also been leveraged for other projects and proposals such as a recently submitted $5M Scholarships in STEM (S-STEM) proposal to the NSF.

Participated in the on-going development of a new integrated curriculum for the Crocker Science Center that will incorporate science practices with content from all College of Science disciplines. As part of the process, a new Nature of Science course and Science and Society course are being developed to fulfill several general education requirements while engaging students in the processes, practices, and implications of the scientific endeavor. In Spring 2016, the Biology Department invited CSME to facilitate 9 town hall meetings to discuss curriculum revisions. CSME also participated on a curriculum revision team to develop a new model core curriculum for Geology & Geophysics.

Launched the CSME Exchange, a brown-bag discussion group that provides an informal opportunity for math and science faculty/instructors to explore best practices in undergraduate instruction. The Exchange meets once/month; 6 exchanges were held in 2015-2016 with 10-20 attendees at each meeting.

Hosted 10 Hugo Rossi Lectures with a focus on undergraduate education. These lectures bridge the College of Science and College of Education by attracting speakers whose scholarly pursuits include K-16 math/science education research. Lecture attendance varied from 20-60 participants at each lecture.

Offered faculty resources. CSME compiled course data and conducted statistical analyses for two instructors who wished to analyze their course performance data across different sections of Math 1010, 1310, 1320, and 2250. In addition, packets of resources were compiled and distributed to 17 new and incoming faculty members in the College of Science; materials addressed best practices for course design, instructional techniques and assessment.

Increasing access for K-12 students to high-quality math and science experiences at the University of Utah

Ran the REFUGES afterschool program for under-represented and refugee students (grades 7-12) from September 2015-May 2016 on the University of Utah campus. Program components included academic support, math and science enrichment activities, health and wellness workshops, and college and career readiness. Approximately 100 students participated; over 90% were minorities. The Sudanese, Bhutanese, Rwandese, and Nepalese refugee communities were well-represented. Of the 16 graduating seniors in the program, 8 have announced post-graduation plans; two will attend the University of Utah, four will attend other in-state institutions (SLCC and UVU), and two are headed out of state (one to Ohio State University, and one to the Army). Many of the students (5) will receive financial aid through federal Pell grants and/or additional scholarships.

Piloted a week-long summer camp on the University of Utah campus to provide continuity of programming for the REFUGES afterschool program students. A total of 46 students participated in academic enrichment and recreation activities. The summer program will be continued in the future if funding is available.

Coordinated the 2016 Salt Lake Valley Science and Engineering Fair (SLVSEF), which took place in March 2016 at Rice-Eccles Stadium for students in grades 5-12. The fair included 680 students from 7 different school districts; 6 top projects progressed to the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF). SLVSEF engages on- and off-campus science stakeholders as mentors and judges; 161 volunteer judges participated (approximately 50% were affiliated with the University of Utah). SLVSEF successfully raised over $19,000 from community and industry partners this year and has secured on-going funding from the SVPAA for future years. In 2016, SLVSEF completed a formal three-year review through the Utah Education Policy Center.

Supporting Activities

Redefined CSME mission. A 2015 staff retreat provided an opportunity to clarify CSME’s mission and engage in team-building exercises. The CSME website was redesigned and restructured to reflect the redefined mission.

Provided faculty consultations on developing broader impacts for NSF grant proposals. Participating faculty were from Geology & Geophysics, Physics & Astronomy, and Engineering.

Sponsored a limited number of high-impact campus events, including the 2015 “TI Leadership Summit: College and Career Readiness in STEM” for secondary math and science teachers and the “U Can Change the World” event focused on the role of women in STEM.

CSME staff attended and/or presented at 15 different conferences, 10 of which were national-level events.