ASU professor receives Rankin Memorial Award for Excellence in Mathematics Education


BOONE—Dr. Deborah A. Crocker of Appalachian State University has received the W. W. Rankin Memorial Award for Excellence in Mathematics Education. The award was presented by the North Carolina Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCCTM) at its 42nd Annual State Mathematics Conference held in Greensboro Oct. 25-26. The Rankin Award is the highest honor that NCCTM can bestow upon an individual.

Crocker is a professor in Appalachian’s Department of Mathematics. She joined the faculty at Appalachian in 1995. She holds a Ph.D. from The Ohio State University, and her bachelor and master’s degrees from Appalachian.

According to an NCCTM release, Crocker was recognized as a tireless and effective mathematics educator and for her more than 30 years of service to the profession. As an expert in using graphing calculators, programming, and computers to enhance mathematics instruction, and through her publications and workshops, she has helped mathematics teachers in North Carolina make effective use of 21st century technologies.

Crocker was praised for her “singular focus on improving the education experiences of mathematics students by assisting both pre-service and in-service teachers in improving their practice…demonstrates her untiring devotion to helping improve mathematics education in North Carolina.”

Crocker has authored numerous scholarly publications and has presented or co-presented more than 100 sessions and workshops at NCCTM and National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) meetings.

Crocker is known for her outstanding service to the state through her contributions to NCCTM, for which she has served in numerous leadership positions, including NCCTM regional president, annual conference chair, NCCTM representative to NCTM caucuses and delegate Assembly, co-editor of the NCCTM publication, the Centroid and president-elect of NCCTM.


Cumberland's Communities in Schools program awarded $20,000 grant


Communities In Schools of Cumberland County has been awarded a $20,000 grant to promote science, technology engineering and mathematics education.

CIS of Cumberland County is one of five programs in the state to receive the grant.

The money is part of a $127,000 grant awarded to Communities In Schools of North Carolina by the Verizon Foundation to boost science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education in North Carolina.

CIS of Cumberland County's Fuller Performance Learning Center will used the money to implement C2C-Class to Career, a program designed to help develop interest in STEM related careers.

C2C will engage students on career and college prep track by using mobile technology, mentors, and various resources, said Cindy Kowal, CIS of Cumberland County's executive director.




STEM Network Conference aims to improve higher education

Faculty from 22 different institutions of higher education gathered at Elon University for the inaugural North Carolina Project Kaleidoscope STEM Network Conference.

The Oct. 12 conference brought together nearly 100 professors and administrators to discuss the best ways to educate students in the areas of science, technology, engineering and math.

“Faculty and administrators need to be networking and sharing ideas,” said Alison Morrison-Shetlar, dean of Elon College, the college of arts and sciences. “That’s really important. It’s big for North Carolina, and it’s big for Elon.”

Morrison-Shetlar has been an active member of PKAL, a branch of the Association of American of Colleges and Universities that focuses on enhancing STEM education since 1997.  She organized the conference with the intention of forming a North Carolina PKAL Network.

“We want to have a network so we can get together on a regular basis, share ideas and discuss what works,” Morrison-Shetlar said.

An important aspect of creating a successful network is including a diverse range of viewpoints, something that was taken into account when planning the conference, according to Morrison-Shetlar.

“We didn’t want there to be any boundaries in the types of institutions we invited,” she said. “So we had community colleges, large and small public institutions, and large and small private institutions represented.”

The conference began with a keynote address from Lee Willard, associate vice provost for undergraduate education at Duke University. A panel discussion on effective pedagogies and means of assessing their effectiveness followed the addressed.

Kathy Gallucci, associate professor of biology at Elon, shared some of the findings of her case study on pedagogies.

Many of Gallucci’s students at Elon are non-science majors, and working with them has taught her the importance of creating an interactive and hands-on environment in the classroom.

“For many of the students I teach, this is the last lab they are going to take,” she said. “We want a learner to be able to experience science and understand it in a way that is different from reading about it in a book or hearing about it in a lecture.”

Being able to share her findings and hearing about the experiences of other professors was highly beneficial, Gallucci said.

“To share knowledge with other professors is always a positive thing,” she said. “It works well, and it is part of our mission at Elon to collaborate with other professors.”

In the future, Morrison-Shetlar hopes to see the North Carolina network to continue to grow through bi-annual meetings, and to increase awareness of resources PKAL can offer to STEM professors.

“For our next meeting I want people to reach out to another institution that is not yet represented, or to faculty members at other institutions and bring them on board,” she said. “I would love to see an increase in the diversity represented. It’s a way to bring this information out, and to bring people to the network.”



STEM Plants seeds for NASCAR's future

CONCORD, N.C. -- Watch out Darian Grubb, your replacement is currently being groomed.

The "Ten80 Education Student Racing Challenge: NASCAR STEM Initiative" is using real-life racing competition to engage students and teach the fundamentals in science, technology, engineering and mathematics: STEM.

More than 100 students representing six local high schools and middle schools gathered at the NASCAR Research and Development Center in Concord, N.C., on Friday for the second-annual Carolinas Regional Green Flag event.

The kickoff competition is one of several regional events held from Massachusetts to California to start the season. More than 250 schools from across the country are expected to participate in the Student Racing Challenge this year.

The program uses 1:10 scale electric radio-controlled cars and a national competition to teach a STEM-based curriculum. Students are charged with building and racing their cars, and are awarded points throughout the year.

"STEM education programs are critical to the future of our country and tie very well back into our sport," said Mike Fisher, NASCAR managing director, research and development. "It continues to amaze me -- the excitement and the energy the students put into this, which tells me the program seems to be working."

The Student Racing Challenge is a NASCAR STEM initiative, and is one of many NASCAR programs aimed at youth audiences to help develop the competitors and fans of the future.

"We are really focused on where our next engineers and team members will come from," said Christine DeMichael, NASCAR senior manager of consumer marketing. "Hands-on programs like this tie the science to something they can actually touch and feel and be a part of. The competition aspect helps them get excited about learning math and science and applying it in real ways."

Beverly Simmons, a former acclaimed middle school teacher, is the founding educator of Ten80 Education.

"I could teach calculus -- I won the Presidential Award [for Excellence in Education] -- and everybody told me I was doing this right," Simmons said. "But I didn't have a clue how to use any of it."

So she added a few like-minded individuals to the mix -- and it was a recipe for innovation.

Fifteen years ago, Simmons invited local scientists and engineers into her classroom to show students real-world applications of the lessons they had been learning. The initial group of volunteers went on to develop engaging programs and career paths for students who might not have discovered an interest in science and math.

The results are tangible.

Pedro Santa Cruz was a four-year participant in the Student Racing Challenge at Garinger High School in Charlotte. After graduating, his experience in the program inspired him to attend North Carolina A&T, where he is now pursuing degrees in architectural engineering and mechanical engineering. He stays involved, mentoring schools that are new to the Student Racing Challenge.

"It really gave me a hands-on feel for what I was learning in math and science," Santa Cruz said. "It showed me that I could do something with what I was learning."

The Student Racing Challenge is more than just cars, however. The program gives students ownership of their own race teams and all related aspects of the racing business.

In addition to the STEM elements, the full curriculum awards points for skills such as business and project planning, public relations and social marketing. Teams are even responsible for developing and designing their own team name and logo.

"If Ten80 Education can utilize NASCAR and RC car racing to generate excitement in children around STEM education topics, then we've all collectively accomplished our mission," Fisher said.




Charlotte Latin School first in U. S. to teach using popular Raspberry Pi computer

The Raspberry Pi has jumped the Atlantic Ocean from its home in Great Britain to Charlotte Latin School for its debut in an American classroom, announced Headmaster Arch N. McIntosh, Jr.

The credit card-sized computer provides an open source operating system and features that give students the opportunity to learn physical computing and programming by allowing them to take apart and reassemble the $35 unit.

As he introduced the Raspberry Pi to his students this week, engineering teacher Tom Dubick said, "It's like a sandbox and you get to play and try new ideas. I am excited to see what you will do with the Raspberry Pi that hasn't even been thought of yet."

The engineering class will utilize the Raspberry Pi to learn programming in Scratch and Python and to build systems using sensors, motors, lights and microprocessors such as robotics solutions. Traditional productivity applications like word processing and web browsing also will be explored.

Dubick, a longtime champion of science and engineering education, was a local finalist in Time Warner Cable's Connect a Million Minds educator competition in 2011. "At Charlotte Latin School, we are excited by the possibilities and challenges that come with being a leader in this exciting development in STEM education. Our students are doing math and science when they learn how a computer works or a microcontroller can be programmed. They are doing engineering when they develop a unique use of the Raspberry Pi to solve a problem.  It will be a great opportunity for our students to experience the creativity and beauty found in engineering and design."   The idea of providing a tiny and cheap computer for children was conceived in 2006 by computer scientists at the University of Cambridge's Computer Laboratory who were concerned by the decline in numbers and skill levels of their student applicants. The combination of powerful and expensive desktops, laptops, pads and smart phones resulted in young computer enthusiasts paying less attention to exploring physical programming and more on designing and working with feature-rich multimedia applications. The affordable Raspberry Pi lets students boot into a programming environment and explore technological concepts without fear of damaging an expensive computer.

Introduced in Great Britain in 2011, the Raspberry Pi has been deployed in British and European classrooms and in developing countries where its low power requirements and affordability are making computers accessible. The amazing popularity of the computer led the developers to create the Raspberry Pi Foundation to ensure support for this educational initiative (visit for more information).



A-B Tech receives NSF grant to recruit women for STEM programs

Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College has been awarded a nearly $200,000 grant from the National Science Foundation for a project to recruit and retain female students to create more highly-skilled employees in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) careers.

The $199,896 grant will fund Skilled Students Get Jobs: Recruiting Women and Engaging ALL Students. The project will increase the number of highly-skilled workers in STEM priority areas, according to Business Computer Technologies Chair Pamela Silvers, principal investigator of the project. It is funded through March 31, 2015.

"The goal of the project is to increase the number of female students in technology programs. Increasing the number of female graduates will increase the number of qualified graduates overall and fill the needs of employers," she said.

The grant aims to increase the number of women by 45 percent in information-systems security, computer engineering, computer information, electronics engineering, mechanical engineering, networking and sustainability. At A-B Tech, women comprised only 12 percent of the students in those technology programs, while they made up about 57 percent of the College's total students during the 2010-11 school year.

Nationally, women represent about one-half of the workforce but only 24 percent of the workers in the STEM fields, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce 2009 statistics.

Research indicates that women typically aren't attracted to the science, technology, engineering or math fields because they are traditionally male professions, Silvers said. Few women role models also play a role in the gender imbalance.

To recruit students, female student ambassadors will visit high-school career fairs, hold an education expo to inform high-school counselors and teachers about the programs, and attend area events to let non-traditional students know of the opportunities in STEM careers. Women enrolled in the targeted programs will automatically become members of a Women in Technology group, which will connect females through meetings and social media.

"This project is the result of numerous conversations, meetings, and relationships with industry. Growth during the economic downturn has highlighted the need for more skilled workers and drives the project goal of increasing the number and diversity of skilled technicians," Silvers said.



North Carolina school moving to Google Chromebooks for its one-to-one program

Educators at Millennium Charter Academy in North Carolina are seeing to it that their students will, so to speak, have their heads in the “cloud” this school year.

The cloud refers to where students will store their work from new Google Chromebook model laptops that will be rolled out this fall. According to MCA Director of Development and Information Technology Lu Anne Browne, this is the eighth year of the school’s one-to-one computing initiative—but the first year the school will be using Chromebooks instead of fully featured laptops.

“Our philosophy with technology is to teach our students that it is a tool and not an end in itself,” said Browne. “We want them to be comfortable with the understanding that technology is a wonderful toolbox for them to use to research subjects such as math and history. There are not just research papers but PowerPoint presentations and slide shows students can produce as projects.”

Browne said this approach makes Millennium students comfortable using technology and gives many a head start as they advance to high school already knowledgeable about using laptops and software for school work. She said the school previously had used Macintosh or Windows-based programs on student computers—but the Chromebooks and the application browser software will open up another world of possibilities.

“How many times has a student found themselves in trouble after they haven’t saved or backed up their work and their computer crashes?” asked Browne. “With their information being stored on the cloud, students will not lose their work.”

She explained that the Chromebooks rely on the cloud as the source for applications and data storage, connecting to Google’s Chrome browser as the interface for student work in Google Apps. The devices also “boot” up faster (eight seconds) and have a nine-hour battery life. Students can collaborate on projects much easier than they can on laptops that store data in their own internal drives.

Browne did say that some software programs would not be able to run on the Chromebooks, but she emphasized the benefits outweigh that drawback.

 “I’m excited,” said Browne. “I think this is the next natural progression of laptops for our children. We want students to not only be consumers of technology but to use technology as producers.” She said that the group from the academy that traveled to McDowell County was impressed seeing students use their Chromebooks “like adults,” even choosing a claymation medium to produce a school presentation.

Browne said that the school is replacing the laptops for its 6- and 7-year-old students with the Chromebook project. She said the academy will maintain a high level of administrative control over websites. The older laptops that are replaced will be re-purposed and used for the school’s math programs and for its teaching assistants.

“This will help parents, too,” added Browne. “Children with internet access to the cloud will not have to take laptops back and forth to school. The ease of collaboration means they can access school work from home, saving wear and tear on their laptop.”

She indicated that the Chromebook project was part of the academy’s board and headmaster’s academic vision for the school where technology gives them a leg up on learning as they progress to higher grades.




Mobile App Competition Engages High School Students in STEM
By his own admission, Andrew Rothstein, curriculum director at the National Academy Foundation, has a steep learning curve where technology is concerned.
"I can't even keep up with what was, let alone adapt to what is, or even imagine what will be," Rothstein said to a room full of educators and students last week at the foundation's annual conference.
The former teacher's lack of technical expertise illustrates why high schools need to leverage industry expertise when trying to determine what to teach young adults about information technology.
"You can imagine the challenge of being the architect of something about which you know nothing," he said. "I've never downloaded an app. But fortunately I have a safety net."
For the National Academy Foundation, that safety net was Lenovo, a computer company that manufactures PC laptops, desktops, and tablet computers.
NAF and Lenovo launched a competition at the start of the spring 2012 semester, challenging high school students to develop Android-based mobile applications using Lenovo's ThinkPad Tablet. The foundation piloted the program in five NAF academies: Grover Cleveland High School in New York, Apex High School in North Carolina, Pathways to Technology Magnet High School in Connecticut, Downtown Magnets High School in California, and A.J. Moore Academy of Information Technology in Texas.
The National Academy Foundation builds curriculums focused on bridging the gap between education and business communities. The foundation’s network includes more than 500 career academies that serve more than 50,000 students. Schools must submit proposals and an application to become a career academy or start one on their campus.
Lenovo provided the tablets and the focus—mobile technology—but left the structure and implementation up to the teachers and administrators at each high school.
The competition succeeded at getting students, teachers, and the foundation excited about STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math). Students developed business plans and built apps from scratch—everything from a note-taking program with voice-to-text capability to an app stocked with Dominican food recipes.
The NAF-Lenovo competition also highlighted the logistical challenges of implementing this type of program on a larger scale.
Three of the five schools ran the programs as an after-school or enrichment option due to restraints in their curriculum, and Grover Cleveland High School was the only one able to dedicate the class time needed to take their students' apps from concept to completion.
The mobile app class at Grover Cleveland was allotted a double class period, giving the 40 seniors participating in the project enough time to complete their mobile apps, and students used an app-building program to assist them with the coding and design. Of the 20 apps created by the students, 17 are available for download on Google Play, the Android App store.
In contrast, Robert East and Pete Baus, seniors at A.J. Moore Academy, estimate they only had 24 hours of class time over 12 weeks to devote to their note-taking app. The time constraints and the duo's limited coding knowledge made it difficult to pull together a functional program, they said at the conference.
While NAF plans to take what it learned from the partnership and revamp what its career tech academies look like, JD Hoye, president of the NAF, said it will take several years to revise and roll out a new curriculum to all of its schools.

Local educators fans of STEM teacher corps

Local educators are in favor of President Barack Obama’s recent announcement of plans to roll out a national STEM Master Teacher Corps.

The $1 billion project would begin with 2,500 teachers: 50 from 50 sites across the country before expanding to 10,000 teachers within four years.
The teachers, who would receive up to a $20,000 stipend for a commitment of four years, would be tasked with promoting and expanding STEM education.
Members of the STEM Teacher Master Corps would also develop lesson plans and strategies to improve teaching along with hosting mentor programs and professional development for their peers.
The U.S. Department of Education would work with businesses, nonprofit groups and school districts to select teachers for the program.
“Educators are one of our nation’s greatest resources,” said Lisa Wear, director of the Rowan-Salisbury School System’s Horizons Unlimited. “President Obama’s plan to create a platform for collaboration between teachers, government and business partners is a move in the right direction as a growing demand for STEM skills and competencies is evident across the economy.”
Wear called the move a “vital sign for our nation and an important step in opening doors for all students.”
“Investment in a STEM Master Teacher Corps will impact every child every day,” she said. “STEM skills are resilient in changing markets and technologies.”
Dr. Marcy Corjay, dean of science, biotechnology, mathematics and information technologies at Rowan-Cabarrus Community College, said the president’s plan is an excellent idea.
“We need folks on the ground who are excited about STEM and who are therefore effective teachers of STEM,” she said. “The United States is at a critical state right now as far as being able to produce STEM graduates.”
Corjay said students with boring math or science teachers could end up checking out of the subjects completely. It could be because a teacher lacks passion for the curriculum or it’s outside of their comfort zone.
“Very often those attitudes come across in how they teach,” she said. “I think it’s important that we have STEM teachers who convey enthusiasm to the students.”
Kevin Garay, principal of A.L. Brown High School, said he approves of Obama’s idea to have teachers leading teachers.
“I think he’s on the right track for sure,” he said. “The actual teachers are the ones who are really shaping the students regardless of grade level.”
Garay also likes that the STEM Master Teacher Corps will have the ability to reach students of all ages and all areas.
“I think this will help level the playing field,” he said. “Part of the state and certainly part of the county have very little knowledge of what’s going on with STEM.”
A.L. Brown has ties to the North Carolina Research Campus and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. A new STEM wing was completed at the school last year, Garay said.
“Other areas are not as fortunate,” he said. “I think a national effort is really going to impact some of these outlying areas that have very little exposure to STEM.”
Corjay agrees with Garay that it’s vital to make sure all students are exposed to adequate STEM education.
“It’s really going to take something that impacts students from K-2 and beyond,” she said. “It’s too late to start in high school.”
That’s why Rowan-Cabarrus is hoping to secure a grant to partner with Catawba College to train highly-qualified STEM instructors. The fellowship program would allow Rowan-Cabarrus students to complete their education degrees at Catawba College and commit to teach STEM subjects.
“This very much parallels the federal initiative described by Obama,” she said.
Rowan-Cabarrus is also playing host to a variety of STEM camps to appeal to a wide range of students.
“We just hosted a weeklong camp with students from A.L. Brown to provide exposure to STEM,” Corjay said. “They engaged in various hands-on activities and got a chance to discover career possibilities.”
Garay said 10 students at A.L. Brown could also get an opportunity to do a yearlong internship at the Research Camp if a grant comes through.
“They would be trained by researchers on campus and then go to the elementary schools in Kannapolis and do mini lessons and labs with students there,” he said.
The school will also add rigor to its current STEM offerings by developing honors level curriculum for bioethics and research along with ecological science courses.
Three of A.L. Brown’s engineering classes will take on Advanced Placement (AP) status, allowing students the chance to receive college credit.
Knox Middle School will launch a variety of STEM courses including biotechnology, honors environmental and earth science, integrate math I and a foreign language.
And Wear pointed out a numerous of STEM initiatives that will take shape throughout the district that include a focus in engineering, nutrition, the environment, space exploration and forensics.
She said Horizons Unlimited will also offer STEM programs that are aligned with the “new and more rigorous” state curriculum standards.


SRI- Supplies for Racing and Industry Equips STEM Education Program for NC 8th Graders

For the second straight year, the North Carolina Biotechnology Center kicks off its BioMoto Program, an education course designed to excite 8th-grade students about Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education. Fueled by product sponsors such as SRI Inc., the primary shop supplier to NASCAR teams, the long-term program begins to take shape in the summertime. Teachers (in these circumstances, they prefer to be called "coaches") from north-Charlotte area school districts begin to take some lessons from the motorsports industry, which will apply to the students from September 2012-March 2013.


An intersection of ideas allows the ideas of STEM and Human Performance to be placed into an appealing package for Junior High students- with the combination of Biotechnology and Motorsports. The goals are simple, yet appealing and fun: let the students construct simulation vehicles and tools to work on them, and then maximize the efficiency of work by enhanced physical fitness and repetitive practice. With the help from SRI, there may be future NASCAR engineers, mechanics, and pit crew members emerging out of this group of youngsters.


Coaches and directors amassed a list of necessary shop supplies for the coming months, and SRI was glad to donate a large amount of fasteners, tapes, adhesives, and safety glasses to the one-of-a-kind BioMoto program.


"SRI has been instrumental in terms of partnering with the BioMoto program. The supplies that they have afforded our students and coaches give them real-world, hands-on experience with all of the disciplines that they are learning in the classroom, in addition to all of the experiences that they have from tours and interaction with the entire motorsports community," states Corie Curtis, Executive Director of the NC Biotechnology Center Charlotte Office.


Friday, July 13th marked the beginning stages of this year's program, as the BioMoto coaches got to experience firsthand what they will introduce to the students in September. Andy Papathanassiou, Director of Human Performance at Hendrick Motorsports, challenged the coaches to perform a NASCAR-style tire change with only basic instructions given ahead of time. The participants were separated into two groups, and they naturally developed with teamwork and observation. Their performance improved greatly after the third four-minute practice session.


Papathanassiou (simply known as "Andy Papa") spoke about the subconscious improvements and role development that occurred during the practice session: "It's important to understand that innovation is built on a lot of failure. You have to fail early and fail often build on early failures to ultimately innovate to a successful process."


In preparation for the challenges that face the 8th-grade students this fall, Andy Papa left the coaches with a concept to instill in the minds of the aspiring students. "Innovation has to be a continual process, and not just one big 'Aha! Moment.' By the time you bring that 'Aha! Moment' to market, some else has probably figured it out, they're doing it better than you, and now it's back to you. What have you got that's coming next?"





Students get up-close science lesson on Carowinds' newest attraction


CHARLOTTE -- A new thrill ride at Carowinds is taking STEM education to new heights and students get a behind-the scenes look at the park's newest attraction.


Towering 301 feet above the ground, Windseeker is the tallest structure ever built at Carowinds, designed to give riders the sensation of flying. Now, students are getting a behind-the-scenes look at how it works.

Students got a virtual test ride of Windseeker during Carowinds' Engineering Day, learning all aspects of the ride's mechanics and all stages of a typical project.

“You show it to them on paper and it looks like one thing but when it's all assembled and up in the air, it's something totally different. When they can get on it and ride it, it's even better,” Jamie Gaffney, director of maintenance and construction

Park engineers said a lot more work goes into the park's attractions than meets the eye.

So they challenged the teens to create a master plan for the development of Carowinds' recently purchased 61-acre property.

Elmuzamil Suliman's group drafted the winning proposal.

It has fields for sports and a winter park area on the outside and there's an indoor area too,” said Suliman.

The idea netted his school $500 dollars and a display of the plan at the park.

“We started working on it as a class. I guess I just got lucky,” said Dimitriy Gutuleac, a Butler High school student.

Most importantly, engineers say the project gets students' wheels turning, taking STEM education to new heights.




U.S. Department of Education sends representative to Eastern N.C.




North Carolina’s Eastern Region — specifically Lenoir and Craven counties — hosted U.S. Assistant Secretary for Vocational and Adult Education Brenda Dann-Messier Wednesday as she toured several STEM East facilities and participated in a roundtable discussion with students, teachers and public and private partners.


“We need to find out what’s happening on the ground,” Dann-Messier said of the reason for her visit. “We don’t have the answers in Washington — they are on the ground with those of you doing this work on a daily basis.”


The day started with a tour of Contentnea-Savannah K8 Schools’ math center — one of the first in the state. During the tour, she spoke with students and instructor Kenny McNeil about the innovative approach on math education.


The project-based center is housed at the school’s computer lab and will allow students to have hands-on experience with Math 1 — which replaces Algebra 1 in the new common core standards. Modules will be based on topics such as sports statistics, unsolved mysteries, climate change and projectile motion. Dann-Messier called the lab “phenomenal.”


The assistant secretary also had the opportunity to meet with community leaders about the way STEM has caught hold in the area.


Tom Vermillion, who has been involved with STEM East since its inception in 2009, told the assistant secretary the effort came about through several groups deciding to work together.


“You were in your own little bubble and we’ve tried to bring those groups together,” he said. “Just two years ago, we were trying to find places that were doing this (STEM) and now people are coming to us, which is kind of neat.”


Craven County School Director of Career-Technical Education Chris Bailey also participated in the discussion. He led a tour of STEM Career Investigation’s Lab — which was implemented by the N.C. Eastern Region, through the Golden LEAF Foundation.


“I think it is highly important for her to see how we have made our program more rigorous,” Bailey said. “(The students are) more in tune to STEM-type careers … and that makes our area more attractive to business and industry because we’ve made our students more employable.”




Trollinger chosen as recipient of prestigious award

Screams of joy erupted from Nancy Trollinger’s classroom on Monday afternoon when the math teacher received the news that she had won the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching.

Trollinger was one of 97 math and science educators chosen for the award that recognizes outstanding teachers in both subjects.

The Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching is awarded annually to outstanding K-12 science and mathematics teachers from across the country.

The winners are selected by a panel of distinguished scientists, mathematicians and educators following an initial selection process done at the state level.

 Each year the award alternates between teachers teaching kindergarten through sixth grade and those teaching seventh through 12th grades.

Trollinger was surprised when she received the email confirming her win.

“This whole thing is surreal to me,” she stated when talking about her award. “I never thought a little girl from a small town could accomplish something like this.”

Later this month, Trollinger and other educators chosen for this honor will receive their awards in Washington, DC.

“Ira and I will leave for Washington on June 26,” stated Trollinger. “During our trip we’ll visit the White House and meet the president, attend an award ceremony for all the award recipients and get to meet members of congress.”

Winners of the Presidential honor receive a $10,000 award from the National Science Foundation to be used at their discretion. They also are invited toWashington,D.C.for an awards ceremony and several days of educational and celebratory events, including visits with members of Congress.

The prizes are great, but Trollinger sees this win as a way to validate all the years she’s spent teaching.

“The highlights in my career have always been those ‘a-ha’ moments for children,” said Trollinger. “The Presidential Award is a validation of the value of the time and energy spent to give them those moments in their lives.”

President Obama has committed to strengthening science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education and preparing 100,000 effective science and mathematics teachers over the next decade.

These commitments build on the president’s “Educate to Innovate” campaign, which has attracted more than $700 million in donations and in-kind support from corporations, philanthropies, service organizations, and others to help bolster science and technology education in the classroom.

“America’s success in the 21st century depends on our ability to educate our children, give our workers the skills they need and embrace technological change,” President Obama stated in a release. “That starts with the men and women in front of our classrooms. These teachers are the best of the best, and they stand as excellent examples of the kind of leadership we need in order to train the next generation of innovators and help this country get ahead.”




Wake Forest graduate student wins NASA fellowship

NASA scientists will help Aaron Willey become a better teacher. Willey, who earned her master’s of arts in education degree from Wake Forest in May, was one of 51 teachers awarded an Endeavor Fellowship with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The highly competitive program provides special training for teachers focused on STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) education.

Online and in-person, the teachers selected for the fellowship engage with education experts, NASA scientists and each other to carry back to the classroom a greater understanding of NASA discoveries to inspire a next generation of explorers, scientists, engineers and astronauts.

“The whole point is to make science relevant to students,” Willey said. “The program provides such a wealth of resources, a huge online learning community where other fellowship winners share lesson plans and their ideas for STEM education,” said Willey, who plans to teach high school science in the fall.

Fellowship winners will also visit Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla., for two weeks of training in the summer.

Willey discovered a love for teaching while she was working as a materials engineer at Michelin North America Inc. When given the opportunity to train new engineering hires, she realized how much she liked teaching. So, she changed career tracks and enrolled in the master’s in teaching program. She said she likes focusing on the physical sciences because there is not a good representation of women in physics and chemistry.

Education professor Michelle Klosterman has been Willey’s mentor at Wake Forest.

“Dr. Klosterman has been a huge influence,” she said.  “She is the epitome of what I hope to be one day.  She truly walks the walk when it comes to education.  Not only does she teach us how to be effective teachers, but she also models current, research-based instructional methods in her own classroom at Wake Forest.”

In addition to the NASA fellowship, Willey was one of four students selected to participate in a program in Dublin, Ireland, sponsored by the National Computational Science Institute. While there, she explored online tools to help make abstract ideas more understandable to high school students.  Education Professor Leah McCoy, another mentor to Willey, suggested she apply for the program.

“The Master Teacher Fellows program is not only a gateway into teaching, but also to all kinds of other opportunities,” Willey said.
She is passionate about sharing ideas with students for what they can do with science when they graduate from high school.  “They just don’t know how many science-related careers are open to them.”




NCCU science education gets another $1.4 million


DURHAM — Science education at N.C. Central University continues to receive significant boosts. 

A month ago, the school announced a grant of $1.5 million from the N.C. GlaxoSmithKline Foundation for science and math student scholarships and program enhancements. 

Wednesday, the school announced a new grant, this time from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, for $1.4 million over four years. The money will support Course-based Undergraduate Research Experiences (CUREs) and help increase the number of students who are attracted to the sciences, retained and graduate competitively prepared for success.

“The HMMI grant will allow NCCU to revolutionize our biology curriculum with state-of-the-art teaching, including innovative mechanisms delivered through research modules in the classroom,” said Sandra White, director of NCCU’s Center for Science, Math and Technology Education. 

“This is an important opportunity to learn how to effectively provide all students with a course-based authentic research experience.”

The goal of the funding is to introduce research to all biology majors through a research-focused lab modeled after the HHMI-Science Education Alliance. 

The money will assist faculty in developing curriculum revisions that will permit research and create an interactive learning environment for non-major courses so students are equipped to be scientifically curious and critical thinkers. 

Officials said the grant will enable NCCU to develop a research-infused curriculum which is an effective mechanism for enhancing retention rates in undergraduates, providing a gateway for interdisciplinary training and helping teach students to solve problems that cross disciplinary boundaries. 

NCCU plans on expanding the HHMI Science Education Alliance innovative genomics research course to all first-year science students, integrating authentic research modules throughout the curriculum. Initially the course was offered to 24 beginning freshman biology majors. 

“What happens during the undergraduate years is vital to the development of the student, whether she will be a scientist, a science educator or a member of society who is scientifically curious and literate,” said Sean Carroll, HHMI’s vice president of science education. 

“HHMI is investing in these schools because they have shown they are superb incubators of new ideas and models that might be replicated by other institutions to improve how science is taught in college.”

Four years ago, NCCU received $900,000 from HHMI to provide a four-year program of supplementary science education to students from 11th grade through their second year of college, should they attend NCCU. The students that were part of the previous program will serve as peer teaching leaders for the new initiative.

Last month’s grant was designed to help the school increase the number of women and minority students who graduate with a STEM (science, technology, engineering or mathematics) degree and pursue STEM careers.

That funding will underwrite scholarship support for four years for 40 STEM majors, along with student and faculty support services.

The Glaxo foundation previously had given more than $2 million for science education at NCCU. 


North Carolina GlaxoSmithKline Foundation Awards $1.5 M to NCCU for Stem Education

North Carolina Central University (NCCU) announces a grant of $1.5 million from the North Carolina GlaxoSmithKline Foundation for science and math student scholarships and program enhancements. The grant will assist NCCU in its efforts to increase the number of women and minority students who graduate with a STEM (science, technology, engineering or mathematics) degree and pursue STEM careers.


The funding will underwrite scholarship support for four years for 40 STEM majors, along with student and faculty support services. Students will be assigned peer, faculty and professional mentors according to their goals and interests. They will take part in a learning community, live together in dedicated residential space and obtain professional internship experiences each summer. The grant will help to fund a new staff person to coordinate this program and recruit professionals to serve as mentors and provide internships.


“The intention is to surround these students with faculty and staff who demonstrate a passion and commitment to science education that will help carry them through these challenging programs,” said Chancellor Charlie Nelms. “We are so grateful to the North Carolina GlaxoSmithKline Foundation for enabling us to differentiate and enhance our STEM programming in a way that benefits our students and faculty.”


Marilyn Foote-Hudson, executive director of the North Carolina GlaxoSmithKline Foundation said, “At the NC GSK Foundation, we have a long history of furthering science education. We are especially proud that this funding will encourage women and minorities to successfully pursue STEM studies and careers.”


In addition to the recent award of $1.5 million to develop and implement a multi-year educational program to support STEM majors, NCCU has received the following grants from the NC GSK Foundation: 

  • $1 million supporting the Biotech Institute;
  • $1 million supporting the research and training programs at the Institute;
  •  $50,000 for the Ruvane Endowment;
  • $52,000 for the Women In Science Scholars Endowment;
  • $6,000 supplementing the Women In Science scholarship awards.




Grant from GlaxoSmithKline Supports STEM Education for NC Students


North Carolina's growing network of innovative STEM-focused schools is getting a boost from a three-year, $750,000 grant from GlaxoSmithKline.

The funding from 
GSK will support the professional development of teachers and principals in the schools, which emphasize science, technology, engineering and math. These schools are part of a statewide STEM network, developed by the North Carolina New Schools Project in partnership with local districts, the State Board of Education, the Department of Public Instruction, higher education and businesses and industry. Mary Linda Andrews, director of community partnerships for GSK, said the STEM schools play a critical role in helping students graduate well prepared for the demands of a new economy.

"North Carolina is taking solid steps in the right direction to ensure that its workforce of the future will be ready," Andrews said. "The funding from GlaxoSmithKline will ultimately help many students graduate with the STEM knowledge and skills needed for success in college and careers." 

The grant from GSK will also help sponsor an annual conference organized by the North Carolina New Schools Project for STEM educators in North Carolina and across the nation, the first of which will be held April 16-18 in Raleigh. The conference includes a symposium for students from STEM-focused schools to share research and projects.

GSK provided early support for the development of North Carolina's first STEM-focused schools, which during the last five years have developed into places of innovative approaches to teaching and learning and of real opportunity for students whose horizons might otherwise have been limited. Seven of these first nine STEM schools graduated more than 90 percent of their inaugural classes in 2011.

NCNSP President Tony Habit said GSK's support has been important to the success of the STEM schools and that the additional support helps advance educational transformation in North Carolina.

"GlaxoSmithKline's leadership for STEM education was instrumental in the establishment and professional development for those initial STEM schools," Habit said. "Their early support of STEM education, long before it became such a national focus, also was critical in helping the NC New Schools Project develop an effective approach to STEM education that is being expanded statewide. This new contribution will help more schools reach more students. "

The schools share similar career themes: health and life sciences, energy and sustainability, biotechnology and agriscience, and aerospace, advanced manufacturing and security. The networks are supported in part by the state's $400 million Race to the Top grant, awarded in 2010 by the U.S. Department of Education in a competition won by just 11 states and the District of Columbia.

As North Carolina moves forward in STEM education, the schools within the growing network will serve as models for the development of additional schools, as well as for scaling STEM education in other schools across the state.





RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. – North Carolina is uniquely positioned to lead the nation in education reform, especially in the areas of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), says IBM’s Stanley Litow.

Litow is president of the IBM International Foundation and vice president of IBM Corporate Citizenship and Corporate Affairs. He oversees numerous philanthropic initiatives at IBM, but his passion lies in education.

“What’s unique in North Carolina is the degree to which leaders have consensus,” Litow says. “In many states, the political, business, and education leadership is divided. What’s unique about North Carolina is that the consensus has already been developed.”

Litow should know.

As former deputy chancellor of the New York City School system, he has been involved with many of the epic education battles of the past 20 years; including charter schools, curriculum, and the length of the school day.

During a recent phone interview, Litow expanded on the remarks he made two weeks ago at the N.C. Chamber Education Summit in Durham. He said advancing STEM education will require new, inventive approaches that can easily be scaled to meet local, state, and national needs.

Litow pointed out that changing STEM education can’t be done at just the local level. For example, he said trying to encourage young people to consider STEM careers means extending education to get those degrees, but the drop-out rate is very high – especially among minority students.

“Solving that problem can’t be done without cooperation among K-12 educators, community colleges, business leaders, and others,” Litow added. “Some interesting things are being done on the local level but to ramp them up will require major innovative change.

“It’s hit or miss for many local programs,” he continued. “The difficulty has often been getting programs to scale.”

Litow emphasized the role business can play in filling gaps in STEM education. One successful program is IBM’s Transition to Teaching, which trains recently retired IBMers for second careers as STEM teachers.

The U.S. Department of Labor estimates that more than 260,000 new math and science teachers are needed right now. Simultaneously, 76 million baby boomers are approaching traditional retirement age, with many reporting they plan to continue working in fields where they can give back to their communities.

IBM launched Transition to Teaching in the United States in 2006. Today, 100 IBMers are participating in the program and recently expanded to Great Britain, where it has garnered favorable support from the Prime Minister’s Office.

“In a wide range of areas, people are no longer interested in a traditional retirement,” Litow said. “People look at a 10-to 15-year second-career window, and Transition to Teaching is a good way to help with that.”



STEM Education News Goes Online in North Carolina

  Triangle - RALEIGH, N.C.  – Local Tech Wire recently announced a new partnership with the NC STEM Community Collaborative, MCNC, and the North Carolina Science, Mathematics, and Technology Education Center (SMT Center) to advocate for the importance of STEM education and to launch a special section devoted entirely to coverage of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education. Today, that new section goes live at

With content provided by NC STEM, MCNC, the SMT Center and other sources, this “STEM News” section has editorial plans to touch on legislative and policy issues, funding opportunities, industry impacts and economic development, knowledge workforce demands and transformation, discussions on 21st century schools, the importance of high-speed connectivity in classrooms, Race to the Top, STEM events, what local communities are doing on the ground, exclusive interviews with state and national thought leaders, and much more.

This weekly update will provide critical information and the real-world impact STEM has in North Carolina and nationwide. Additionally, Local Tech Wire will be inviting STEM students to its Executive Exchange programs, which focus on information technology and life science issues, and plans to sponsor a STEM-focused Executive Exchange later this year.

“Local Tech Wire has been an aggressive provider of STEM coverage in the past, and we will be even more so in the future,” said LTW Editor Rick Smith. “Workforce preparation is a growing concern in North Carolina and the United States. Companies need more well-educated employees who are skilled in STEM. Our intention with this new section is to help bring more attention to STEM. By involving students, we hope to ultimately encourage more young people to choose a career in STEM.”

"The reality is that North Carolina's economic future is tied to having a STEM-educated workforce in all areas of the state," added Karl Rectanus, leader of NC STEM, a state organization working with communities to ensure students engage in rigorous STEM education. "This exciting new section in LTW will provide leaders in the tech and business sectors information to help us all drive STEM education and our economy further faster."

MCNC President and CEO Joe Freddoso said there continues to be a strong link between high-quality STEM education and economic development.

“Through Local Tech Wire, we will highlight the good work being done in communities all over the state, pose and inspire new ideas, share leading-edge news, collaborate with state and national experts, and increase awareness of STEM education to ensure all of our students are prepared for 21st century jobs,” added Freddoso. “This will provide an outlet to gain additional understanding of the role of STEM in our economic prosperity, improved healthcare, and care of the environment. Our future depends on it.”

“The importance of STEM education applies not only to students, but to the citizens of this state,” concurred Sam Houston, president of the SMT Center, which aims to systematically improve performance in science, mathematics, and technology preK-12 education. “The future of the state’s economy is knowledge based, and that begins with STEM.”

Story ideas and contributions are welcome. For information about how you, your company, school or organization can participate, contact Rick Smith at Local Tech Wire ( or Noah Garrett at NGC Communications (