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Stem Integration

group meeting

INSPIRE researchers explore how using engineering as a connection to teach engineering, mathematics, science, and technology can improve students' learning and engage more students in the classroom and beyond.

INSPIRE Projects

For more details on individual projects, select one from the following:

Description of Project:
With a $2.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation, FCR-STEM is building an electronic performance support system that will save teachers considerable time, money and duplication of effort. Dubbed iCPALMS, it will feature a powerful portal linking teachers across the nation to online tools for planning and implementing instruction. INSPIRE provides ongoing consultation in program development, teacher professional development and quality assurance of instructional materials for the MEA portion of the project.

Dr. Johannes Strobel
Graduate Students: Ronald L. Carr

Florida Center for Research In Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (FCR-STEM) at Florida State University
Melissa Dyehouse, Ph.D.
Rabieh Razzouk, MBA

EngrTEAMS - Engineering to Transform the Education of Analysis, Measurement, and Science in a Team-Based Targeted Mathematics-Science Partnership

Description of Project:
This project is designed to help 200 teachers develop engineering design-based curricular units for each of the major science topic areas within the Minnesota State Academic Science Standards, as well as data analysis and measurement standards for grades 4-8. With focus on vertical alignment and transition from upper elementary to middle-level, this project will impact at least 15,000 students over the life of the grant.

Research Question:
What are the effects of engineering design pedagogies and curricula combined with a strong coaching model on student learning in science, data analysis, measurement, process skills, and critical thinking?

Project Website:

Project Funding:
National Science Foundation Grant No. DUE - 1238140

Lead Principal Investigator: Dr. Tamara J. Moore
Co-Principal Investigators: Paul Imbertson, Marshall Davis, Selcen Guzey, Gillian Roehrig

Project Director: Cynthia Stevenson
Project Coordinator: Kelly Auxier
Event Coordinator: Barbara Wojcik

Technical Assistance:
ECSU/GRO: Julie Frame
ECSU/GRO: Jean Jordan
ECSU/GRO: Jane Holmberg

School District Partners:
South Washington County: Emily Larsen
Saint Paul: Molly Leifeld, Marshall Davis
North St. Paul: Sharon Burrell
Minneapolis: Elizabeth Stretch, Charlene Ellingson

Lead Evaluator: Timothy Sheldon
Evaluator: Delia Kundin

As people engage in real-life situations, they draw from their full knowledge base and skillset. Integrating science, engineering, mathematics, computational thinking and literacy in educational experiences for pre-college students can better prepare students for real-world situations while also allowing teachers to add engineering and computing to the school day without diminishing their focus on mathematics and literacy. At the same time, we know children only spend about 18% of their waking hours in formal school environments -- thus we can promote learning by capitalizing on the time spent in out-of-school settings and making connections across school and out-of-school settings.

In this project, we integrate computational thinking into the PictureSTEM curriculum (which integrates STEM+literacy), develop extension activities to further support computing learning, develop science center exhibits, and develop resources for parents to help K-2nd grade students learn engineering design and computational thinking skills while also developing proficiency in mathematics, science, and literacy.

At the same time, we develop assessment frameworks, tools and approaches and conduct research on the student learning that takes place in the school and science center settings. Specifically, we investigate:

  • What does student learning look like in an integrated STEM+C school-based environment?
    • What does integration of STEM+C in K-2 classrooms look like?
    • How do K-2 students demonstrate engineering thinking in the refined PictureSTEM+C curriculum? (and How is this different from the ways K-2 demonstrated engineering thinking with the original Picture STEM curriculum?)
    • How do K-2 students demonstrate computational thinking in the refined PictureSTEM+C curriculum?
  • What does student learning look like in an integrated STEM+C informal learning environment?
    • What does integration of STEM+C in a science center look like?
    • How do K-2 students demonstrate engineering thinking as they engage with the STEM+C exhibits?
    • How do K-2 students demonstrate computational thinking as they engage with the STEM+C exhibits?
  • In what ways (if at all) do students make connections across the school and science center (and potentially other) settings?

Partners include:
New Community School , Glen Acres Elementary School, Imagination Station, WBAA Public Radio and the Covenant Homeschool Corporation.

The study of engineering can advance the problem solving and critical thinking ability of all students and prepare them for the technological workplace. Early exposure to engineering principles may increase all students' interest in STEM fields, while embedding problems in social issues may aid in the recruiting of underrepresented groups to the STEM enterprise. The INSPIRE program implements these ideas and tests their impact on learning and teaching. The face-to-face workshops used in the INSPIRE program at Purdue are extended through cyber-infrastructure with the use of video-based mentoring in real time and an asynchronous learning experience. A video and audio network links elementary school teachers with researchers and educators at Purdue to form a community of practice dedicated to implementing engineering education at the elementary grades. A learning progression, based on the Engineering is Elementary and model-eliciting mathematics materials, is developed for elementary school teachers to increase their ability to adapt and refine engineering learning materials in their classrooms. Existing assessment instruments will be revised and new ones developed, as necessary, to measure the impact of the professional development that includes engineering on teacher, student, administrator and parent knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors about engineering and engineering education. The research plan identifies the changes in teacher and student knowledge, the abilities and behaviors resulting from the introduction of engineering, and the attributes of face-to-face and cyber-enabled teacher professional development and community building that can transform teachers into master users and designers of engineering education for elementary learners. The study involves about 120 teachers in three cohort groups.

Description of Project:
The PictureSTEM Project includes an instructional module at each grade level, K-5, which employs engineering and literary contexts to integrate science, technology, and mathematics content instruction in meaningful and significant ways. These transformative new models for STEM learning use picture books and an engineering design challenge to provide students with authentic, contextual activities that engage learners in specific science and mathematics content while integrating across traditional disciplinary boundaries. Currently, there are limited curricula that address this need for integration. The goal of PictureSTEM is getting these high-quality, research-based materials into practice in a form that fits with teachers’ current implementation structures.

Dr. Tamara J. Moore (Purdue), Dr. Kristina M. Tank (Iowa State)

Elizabeth Gajdzik, M. Terri Sanger

Graduate Students:
Anastasia Rynearson, Bunmi Babajide

Project Website:

Funding Source of Project:
National Science Foundation (Grant No. EEC - 1442416 & IIP - 1519387)