Superintendent Luna and the State Department of Education have partnered with the University of Idaho as well other industry partners Boise State and Idaho National Laboratory to develop educational programs and solutions for STEM education. This collaborative effort is known as i-STEM.
This week, for example, the state is kicking off the first i-STEM Institutes in Twin Falls and Coeur d’Alene to give Idaho teachers the opportunity to explore research-based practices and cross-curricular applications along with specific STEM content. Sessions will focus on astronomy, energy, and applied mathematics and science.
The University of Idaho’s STEM Educational Research Initiative, funded by the Micron Technology Foundation, will further assist the state in gathering current, accurate data we can use to shape future STEM programs to engage Idaho students.
Specifically, the study will analyze current barriers that hinder STEM education, while also understanding how cultural, socio-economic, and rural and urban factors impact students’ ability to grasp the STEM disciplines, and STEM teacher education and development.
The University of Idaho’s STEM Educational Research Initiative has distinctive elements that will help it affect deep changes in attitudes, learning and outcomes in how science, technology, engineering and math are perceived, taught and learned.
The multi-year initiative includes:
- Conducting focus groups and interviews statewide with citizens, teachers, parents, students and school administrators to identify community-specific factors that shape attitudes toward STEM disciplines and how those attitudes impact success;
- Identifying challenges to success in science, technology, engineering and math and formulate programs and courses of study that engage and excite students to succeed;
- Sharing information through a statewide dialog and discussion on barriers and paths forward; and
- Developing educational programs to create a corps of STEM-literate teachers.
Through these efforts and the University of Idaho’s STEM Educational Research Initiative, Idaho is aiming to set the national standard of excellence in STEM education.
~ Eva C.