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PRISM Program Helps Vigo County Schools Earn State STEM Honor

Thursday, April 21, 2016
Prism Partnerships

STEM Lessons: PRISM educational liaison Bob Jackson (right) helps Vigo County School Corporation science and mathematics teachers understand learning concepts in one of the hands-on projects featured in the summer workshops sponsored by the Indiana Department of Education.

A decade-long partnership with Rose-Hulman's Portal Resource for Indiana Science and Mathematics (PRISM) program has been recognized as providing promising practices in math and science education for the Vigo County School Corporation (VCSC).

This designation from the Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) in honor of Indiana's bicentennial celebration will provide a grant to fund math and science content training for fourth and fifth grade teachers this summer. The Vigo County Education Foundation provides local support for the program.

Rose-Hulman professors have worked with nearly 100 VCSC fourth through 12th grade teachers on activities in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) during three-week summer workshops. PRISM has provided engaging learning units to foster STEM competencies and career awareness among young people.

These learning units have been aligned with state education standards covering such topics as emerging alternative energies, advancements in nano-sciences, the mathematics of robotics, and materials science in food packaging. As a follow up to the summer component, during the academic year, PRISM team members visited the classroom of middle school science teachers to help with implementation.

"PRISM staff members have spent countless hours designing innovative and future-focused STEM contact workshops for our teachers," says Karen Goeller, VCSC's deputy superintendent.

VCSC Curriculum Coordinator John Newport adds, "Rose-Hulman's high tech, digital platform training gives our teachers access to the latest STEM lessons that are vetted for classroom use. Students benefit the most from these presentations as teachers engage them in these STEM activities."

PRISM also has received a grant from the Indiana Commission on Higher Education to implement a workforce development program. The funding is administered through the Independent Colleges of Indiana STEM Teach initiative. Fourteen Indiana high school science and pre-engineering teachers will participate in the Sustainability and Alternative Energies Bootcamp on campus July 10-15. Topics being covered include: current state of energy and production (including the U.S. power grid / distribution systems), solar technologies, geothermal, biomass, and other emerging sources, alternatives such as wind and nuclear, and social action and public policy for influencing conservation.

The PRISM program is directed by humanities and social sciences professor Pat Carlson, with assistance from Ryan Smith, system administrator and project leader; Bob Jackson, educational liaison; and Ashlee Scherwinski, outreach facilitator.