Some 200 K-12 teachers and parents attended the second Partnership for Education and Research Forum on Jan. 24 at the Jordan Hall of Science – nearly twice as many as the initial forum drew in 2007, with many of them returning after successful application of forum ideas and activities in their classrooms. The event was part of the University’s increasing efforts to connect faculty and graduate students to local educators and students in K-12.
The Joint Institute for Nuclear Astrophysics (JINA), Expanding Your Horizons career conference for middle school girls, the Indiana AP Bridge Project, the Northern Indiana Regional Science and Engineering Fair, RET@ND and EngRET@ND, NDeRC, the Notre Dame QuarkNet program, Interactions in Understanding the Universe (I2U2), the Northern Indiana Science Mathematics & Engineering Collaborative (NISMEC), and the Hoosier Environmental Council’s Our Place: Place-Based Education Program promoted their programs for students and teachers.
Tim Hardt, science department chair at Washington High School, said the opportunities offered by Notre Dame and allied agencies have renewed enthusiasm for science in his department. Some parents, invited to the forum for the first time, said they see a difference in their children’s approach to science because of Notre Dame’s involvement in the classroom, and they expect to participate in more of the extracurricular programs.
Much of the one-day meeting, which included demonstrations of the Digital Visualization Theater and tours of the Museum of Biodiversity in Jordan Hall, also involved lively discussions among participants. Teachers talked about how to meet the challenges in their classrooms, including unprepared students, large classes, varying abilities and inadequate equipment.
“What we’re here for is to foster science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) community and culture,” said Tom Loughran, a Professional Specialist in the Department of Physics. “This is not about finishing something. It’s about starting something.”
The forum was organized by the Notre Dame extened Research Community and sponsored by the Office of Public Affairs and Communication, the Office of Research, the Graduate School, the College of Science, the College of Engineering, the Department of Physics, the Department of Biological Sciences and seven National Science Foundation-supported programs. Further information is available at: http://michianastem.wikispaces.com/.