BGSU gets close to $1 million to bolster area education

BOWLING GREEN, O.—A nearly $1 million grant to improve the teaching of science, technology, engineering and mathematics in northwest Ohio school districts has been awarded to Bowling Green State University on behalf of the Northwest Ohio STEM Consortium. Ensuring that all students graduate with a solid knowledge of the subjects known collectively as STEM is considered critical for fostering the development and growth of the most promising businesses and vital for the economic strength and success of the region. 

BGSU received the $999,484 STEM Initiatives grant, for January-June 2011, from the Ohio STEM Committee, the Ohio Board of Regents and the Ohio Department of Education. The money will be used for new initiatives designed to improve STEM education throughout the 29 counties of northwest Ohio.

STEM education represents much more than just preparing new scientists, engineers or mathematicians, according to Dr. Robert Midden, an associate professor of chemistry and director of the Northwest Ohio Center for Excellence in STEM Education (NWO) at BGSU. “It’s an innovative approach to teaching and learning, integrated across the curriculum with all other disciplines including the arts, humanities and social sciences, that is intended to benefit all students. It is designed to promote mastery of all the STEM knowledge and skills that students need in order to be savvy consumers and responsible citizens in a 21st-century global society.”

The consortium is led by NWO and consists of several higher education institutions and a number of K-12 education agencies, businesses and nonprofit organizations who are all committed to promoting the highest quality STEM education for all students.

Best practices in STEM education include hands-on inquiry and problem-based learning as well as the development of the skills employers have identified as critical for all of their employees.

The primary elements of the new initiative are: creating a new STEM learning platform to serve as a prime example for highly effective STEM education in rural environments; creating a Web-based clearinghouse of information designed to meet the specific needs of northwest Ohio STEM educators, and creating a long-term strategic plan for advancing K-12 STEM education in northwest Ohio, building on existing achievements and partnerships and establishing new collaborations to optimize use of limited resources.

The new STEM learning platform is being developed among the nine public school districts of Putnam County, coordinated by the Putnam County Educational Service Center. The effort is based on the impressive record of achievement of these schools in their highly effective STEM programs, Midden said. It will involve creating as many as 18 new, innovative STEM courses that will be shared among all nine school districts and made available to all students throughout the county through multiple modes of distance learning.

All K-12 schools and career centers in northwest Ohio are invited to participate in the development of a long-term strategic plan.

For more information, contact Midden at 419-372-0563 or midden@bgsu.edu.

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(Posted March 23, 2011 )