In October, the 2017 STEM Education Research Retreat was held on East Campus in Hardin Hall in partnership between the Center for Science, Mathematics, and Computer Education, IANR Science Literacy, and the Nebraska Collaborative for Food, Energy, & Water Education. Over 75 UNL faculty, postdocs, and graduate students representing nearly all of UNL’s academic Colleges and Extension participated in this year’s event. Over 30 posters were presented in two consecutive poster sessions, showcasing the high-quality and innovative STEM education research being conducted at the university and across the state. Participants also participated in an interactive webinar with NSF Program Officers to learn more about the NSF Improving Undergraduate STEM Education (IUSE) funding program. It was a pleasure to co-plan and host this event in conjunction with colleagues from across campuses. Kudos to Devarati Bhattacharya, Erin Ingram, Tina Vo, Diane Lally, Kari Nelson, Destini Petitt, and McKenzie Peterson for presenting their research, including work from the MoHSES, WELL, and UnICORN projects.
Congrats again to Jaime Sabel and Molly Brandt for successfully completing their doctoral and masters studies. Jaime graduates with her Ph.D. from the Department of Teaching, Learning, and Teacher Education in the UNL College of Education and Human Sciences. She begins her position as an Assistant Professor of Biology Education at the University of Memphis in August. Molly graduates with a Master of Applied Science degree from the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources. What a wonderful accomplishment. Good luck to both of you!
Congratulations to Molly Brandt for successfully defending her thesis study, entitled, “Exploring Elementary Students’ Agricultural and Scientific Knowledge using Evidence-Centered Design”. For the past two years, Molly has worked as a graduate assistant with the Science Literacy Initiative on STEM education projects supported with funding from USDA-NIFA and National Agriculture in the Classroom program. Her work involved developing and pilot testing assessment instruments to measure STEM-based agricultural literacy outcomes using interviews and assessment data from over 400 elementary students in school districts in Nebraska. It has been a pleasure to work with Molly as both project PI and her advisor. Molly’s thesis study was conducted in partial fulfillment of requirements for the degree of Master of Applied Science in the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources. Her committee members included Drs. Krista Adams from Teaching, Learning, and Teacher Education and Jennifer Keshwani from Biological Systems Engineering.
On Thursday, March 17th, we had the pleasure to host Dr. Troy Sadler from the University of Missouri at UNL to engage our community in discussions around science literacy and STEM education as part of our ongoing Science Literacy Initiative Seminar Series. Dr. Sadler is Professor of Science Education in the College of Education’s Department of Learning, Teaching, and Curriculum and Director of the ReSTEM (Reimagining & Researching STEM Education) Institute. His invited presentation, entitled, Socio-scientific Issues as a Central Element of Scientific Literacy: Toward a Framework for K-16 Teaching and Learning, was held in Henzlik Hall on UNL’s City Campus. We are deeply appreciative of Dr. Sadler’s time, his willingness to learn about STEM education and discipline-based education research being conducted at UNL, and his incredibly helpful insights and feedback to help advance these efforts.
We are enormously grateful for the generous support recently provided to the Science Literacy Initiative by Farm Credit Services of America. This $100,000 gift will have a significant impact on IANR’s ability to advance the initiative’s goals and objectives with a particular emphasis on K-12 STEM programming. It is wonderful to continue working to build capacity for this initiative with the strong backing of our partners and stakeholders.
This month we were lucky to be able to host Eleanor (Elly) Vandegrift as a visiting scholar at UNL. Elly is the Associate Director of the Science Literacy Program (SLP) and a Senior Instructor in Biology at the University of Oregon (UO). The UO SLP is an institutional effort, originally funded by an HHMI grant, to help science faculty transform the classes they offer to non-science majors to foster science literacy. Her trip to UNL was part of the 2015 Science Literacy Initiative Seminar Series, which has been ongoing in May. While on campus, she had the opportunity to engage with the Science Literacy team, give an invited presentation, and facilitate a faculty development workshop on effective undergraduate science instruction. The visit was highly informative and productive, particularly to learn about the SLP at UO, which provides a model for our own postsecondary STEM education efforts in IANR. We look forward to continued discussions with Elly and future collaborations to advance larger-scale science literacy efforts in higher education contexts.
During the month of August, IANR and UNL hosted Jan C. Schubert, Ph.D. as a visiting scholar from Germany. Dr. Schubert is Professor for Geographical and Geoscience Education at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, Germany. During his stay, he gave an invited presentation as part of the 2015 Science Literacy seminar serites, entitled, How does German schnitzel effect the environment? Preparing students and teachers for a scientifically-literate society through STEM-based education, in which he shared information and research focused on an environmental science course for preservice secondary science teachers in Germany. Dr. Schubert’s work provides a model for innovative STEM teacher education efforts at the undergraduate level that integrate experiences with science, scientific research, and pedagogy. During his stay, he was also able to participate in teacher professional development workshops associated with the TASRs program, observe AGRI 103, and work collaboratively on a new project focused on research and development on 6th-grade students’ STEM-informed decision-making about wind energy. We look forward to ongoing collaboration with Dr. Schubert and future opportunities to work together and learn from one another.
It has been a pleasure to host Mike Barnett as a visiting scholar at UNL over the past few days. Dr. Barnett is Professor of Science Education and Technology in the Lynch School of Education at Boston College. As the inaugural participant in the 2015 Science Literacy Initiative Seminar Series, he had an opportunity to give an invited presentation, entitled Seeding the Future: Examining learning about urban ecosystems through learning technologies and community partnerships. Dr. Barnett also engaged with faculty and students from both East and City campuses, contributed to faculty working groups convened in support of the Science Literacy Initiative, and even got to visit Nine-Mile Prairie with Dave Wedin, Doug Golick, and myself. It was wonderful to learn of the great work Dr. Barnett and his team are doing at BC. We all appreciate his willingness to travel to Lincoln immediately after returning from a week-long trip to China.
Congrats again to Laura Zangori for successfully completing her doctoral studies and graduating from the Department of Teaching, Learning, and Teacher Education in the UNL College of Education and Human Sciences. It’s been a long journey across three states (and many different classrooms, professional development workshops, and conferences across both the PIESC3 and MoHSES projects) to arrive at this point. What a wonderful accomplishment. Good luck next year at Mizzou!
An article in this week’s Lincoln Journal Star highlights the work we’re doing as part of the National Center for Agricultural Literacy. This initial phase of the center’s life will lay the foundation for longer-term work to support nationwide K-12 science and ag literacy efforts in partnership with the Agriculture in the Classroom program. We’re looking forward to our upcoming summer program linking high school science teachers with IANR researchers to produce science instructional materials grounded in ag and natural resource topics and issues.