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Science Education

CWU Co-leads $3 Million Consortium Grant to Improve STEM Education

Central Washington University is co-leading a $3 million National Sciences Foundation grant designed to improve science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) teacher preparation programs across Washington State. Jennifer Dechaine, biological sciences, and Anne Egger, geological sciences, will receive $298,289 for their work over the next four years on the project, “Collaborative Research: The Next Generation of STEM Teacher Preparation in Washington State.”

“This is the first time that universities across the state have worked together on a project of this type,” Dechaine said. “And while there are seven lead partners, many more institutions, including corporations and non-government organizations will be involved.”

In addition to Central Washington University, six other institutions received funding: lead institution Western Washington University, Eastern Washington University, Seattle Pacific University, WSU-Vancouver, UW-Tacoma, and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland. Also participating in the study are faculty from the University of Washington, Washington State University, Walla Walla University, Whitman College, Heritage University, Northwest University, Western Governor’s University, and Seattle University as well as a number of two-year institutions.

“Each of the partner institutions has strengths they bring to the table,” said Ed Geary, director, WWU Science, Math and Technology Education Program, and principal investigator for the grant. “The idea of a large collaboration, instead of individual competition was one of the factors that made our proposal attractive to the NSF.”

The goal of the grant is not only to improve STEM teacher preparation, but also to encourage and enable collaboration statewide.

“Our goals are to improve how we train STEM teachers, recruit more candidates, and increase diversity in the teaching ranks,” Dechaine added. “We need to create a STEM teacher population that reflects the diversity of our students.

“We also want to develop an educational system that can adapt to rapidly changing technology and science breakthroughs.”

Both Dechaine and Egger have exceptional experience in developing innovative science education programs for future K-12 teachers. Dechaine is currently leading the development of an innovative new STEM teacher preparation program at CWU, and Egger is the first Washington scientist to receive the American Association for the Advancement of Science Prize for Inquiry-Based Instruction. Egger is also coordinator for CWU's participation in a $10 million, 12-institution National Science Foundation grant, "InTeGrate: Interdisciplinary Teaching of Geoscience for a Sustainable Future."

“As the Next Generation Science Standards are being implemented in Washington, we have an incredible opportunity to truly prepare teachers to be successful,” Egger said. “It requires reimagining what we do and how we do it, and acknowledging that education is a complex system. It is a daunting challenge, but an exciting one, when committed educators and professionals from across the state join forces.”

Media Contact: Valerie Chapman-Stockwell, Public Affairs, 509-963-1518, valeriec@cwu.edu

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