MNU Collaborates with School Districts and Garmin through Kansas Board of Regents Grant

 
February 6, 2014

OLATHE, KAN, -- MidAmerica Nazarene University has been awarded a $280,000 grant from the Kansas Board of Regents to fund collaboration between MNU, The Turner School District, The Kansas City Kansas School District and local technology giant Garmin. The Improving Teacher Quality (ITQ) grant will provide professional development for grade 6 through12 in-service science teachers on Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). These standards have been adopted by Kansas school districts and must be implemented throughout P-12 education. According to the National Science Teachers Association, NGSS establish learning goals in science that will give all students the skills and knowledge they need to be informed citizens, college ready, and prepared for careers.  

There is great need to for this professional development since NGSS changes how students are taught science as well as what they are taught.

“What is now part of the new Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) was not a part of most teachers’ preparation,” says Nancy Damron, PhD, dean of MNU’s School of Education. “NGSS emphasizes crosscutting science concepts as well as the engineering design model. It’s a new approach to the way science is taught.”

According to NextGenerationScienceStandards.org, crosscutting science concepts are a means of linking different domains of science. They include: patterns, similarity, and diversity; cause and effect; scale, proportion and quantity; systems and system models; energy and matter; structure and function; stability and change. These concepts provide a way to interrelate knowledge from various science fields.

Damron says the collaboration will begin with a week-long summer workshop this summer at MNU. Teachers will continue to meet throughout the 2014-15 academic year both in person and by utilizing virtual tools like Adobe Connect. This continued professional learning community will help teachers both in implementing what they learn and through sharing what works best in the classroom.

An aspect of NGSS that may present the most challenge to current teachers is implementing the engineering design model into all science classes. Collaboration with Garmin engineers will bridge this gap as volunteers will educate institute participants on the subject.

“They will also consult with the teachers throughout the program to help them implement this information in their science classes,” Damron adds. 

The program will culminate in summer 2015 with a week-long workshop for science teachers and a design fair for high school students. These events will expose both groups to a wider network of science support and a broader learning community.

“The grant provides resources and a forum for collective growth and for MNU to serve the education community,” Damron remarked.

The ITQ grant is one of two other KBOR grants at MNU, one of which is in year eight of ten, and provides a portion of salaries and supplies for the School of Nursing and Health Science.

For more information about MNU’s Institute for science teachers contact Nancy Damron, PhD, dean, School of Education, at nldamron@mnu.edu or (913) 972-3521.

This project is funded in part by a federal grant under Title II of the No Child Left Behind Act (O.L. 107-110) administered by the Kansas Board of Regents.  $280,000 of the cost of the project was financed with federal funds.  $135,802 was provided by non-federal sources.

Opinions and findings expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the position or policy of the U.S. Department of Education or the Kansas Board of Regents.