Center for Enhancing Education in Mathematics and Sciences
The Center for Enhancing Education in Mathematics and Sciences (CEEMS) was established in 2010 to serve as the organizational unit for projects related to mathematics and science education and the discovery of new strategies that generate effective STEM education in the P-16 arena.
Jointly managed by the College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences, The University of Tennessee
Profile submitted by Susan Benner
Vision and Goals
- To form a collaborative unit between the Colleges of Arts and Sciences (CA&S) and Education, Health, and Human Sciences (CEHHS) to strengthen STEM education in P-16 settings, and
- To secure external funding for innovative STEM teacher preparation programs.
CEEMS is a collaborative unit between the Colleges of Arts and Sciences (CA&S) and Education, Health, and Human Sciences (CEHHS), serving as an interdisciplinary base for the development of proposals to secure external funding for STEM education projects. The intention of the Center is to use these funds not only to prepare effective P-12 STEM teachers, but also to identify, implement, and evaluate the efficacy of novel training strategies and lesson plans that serve the goals of P-16 education in the State of Tennessee and beyond.
Dr. Susan Riechert (Distinguished Professor in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology) from CA&S and Dr. Susan Benner (Professor and Associate Dean for Professional Licensure) from CEHHS serve as co-directors. Current CEEMS staff include: Diana Beeler (10% time), accounting specialist; and Sally Zurcher (10% time), administrative assistant. Faculty engaged in work orchestrated through CEEMS from CA&S include Chuck Collins and Suzanne Lenhart from Mathematics; Ted Labotka, Earth and Planetary Sciences; Stu Elston and Jon Levin, Physics; Bruce Bursten, Chemistry; and Beth Schussler, Director of Biology Teaching and Learning/Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Cary Staples and Evan Meany, School of Art. Faculty from CEHHS include Mehmet Aydeniz, Science Education; JoAnn Cady, Math Education; Barry Golden, Science Education; Lynn Hodge, Math Education; Kristin Rearden, Science Education; Patty Stinger-Barnes, science education; Nita Ganguly, master teacher and clinical assistant professor; Theresa Hopkins, master teacher and clinical assistant professor; Peggy Bertrand, master teacher and clinical assistant professor; Yolanda Kirkpatrick, master teacher and clinical assistant professor, and Geri Landry, clinical assistant professor (math education). Xeuping Li from Industrial Engineering is a participating faculty member from the College of Engineering. CEEMS is housed on the first floor of Greve Hall. This dedicated space includes two instructional laboratories, a library, a conference room with video-conferencing capacity, a commons area, work rooms and offices.
Description of Programming
CEEMS has broadened its partnerships and made connections with other units on campus and beyond (e.g., NIMBioS, CASNR, CURENTS in College of Engineering, Institute for Biomedical Engineering, TN-SCORE, L&N STEM Academy). This past year the Biology in a Box Project added 6 new school system partners, bringing the total to 91. Development of Unit 11 STEM I: Biomechanics has been completed with the series of four topics (From Skeletons to Bridges, Projectile Motion, Whirligigs & Seed Dispersal, Sound in Biology & Engineering) in production mode. We are incorporating exercises on wind and bacterial generated electrical power into this 1st STEM unit in collaboration with TN-SCORE. Progress towards dissemination of the project continues with two publications to date and formal tests of education goals underway. While the first applications for funding of Biology in a Box's Virtual efforts were unsuccessful, reviews were encouraging and corrections are being made for a second submission.
Connections and Networking
- Susan Riechert continues to serve on the Governor's STEM Advisory Council. This council is charged with dispersing Tennessee's Race to the Top monies with respect to RFP initiatives, the establishment of STEM platform schools and hub networks. The Council developed a strategic plan for the STEM network.
- Susan Benner attended the National Defense Industrial Association STEM Workforce Division meeting at Arnold Air Force Base September 5-6, 2012.
- Susan Benner is serving as a vice-chair of the STEMspark Advisory Board (East TN STEM Hub).
- CEEMS is now the home the Tennessee Junior Science Olympiad and the Junior Science and Humanities Symposium under the directorship of Ted Labokta from the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences.
- CEEMS has assumed responsibility for the selection of the Marian E. Oates Teacher Enrichment Award, which provides outstanding East Tennessee middle school science teachers with opportunities to make new discoveries in the environmental sciences. These discoveries can be shared with students and will ensure others continue advocating for environmental conservation.
Successes and Impacts
CEEMS serves as the home for two external awards secured to support STEM teacher preparation programs. VolsTeach, a replication of the UTeach model of STEM teacher preparation established at the University of Texas was funded through a $1.825 million contract from THEC. The NSF Robert Noyce Scholarship award of $1.2 million for VolsTeach is providing internship and scholarship support for select students. Thus far 8 students have received scholarships and 16 received paid educational outreach internships. This award also includes funds to support a seminar series designed to strengthen and support effective STEM instruction blending content knowledge with effective pedagogy. TEACH/Here based upon an urban teacher residency model for post-baccalaureate STEM majors, is funded with a $2.8 million Noyce Scholarship grant from NSF. Between 2010 and 2013 32 teaching fellows completed their year of residency and began teaching STEM subjects in high needs schools.
Elements Contributing to Success
Campus and state level support for the VolsTeach program have been critical to the establishment and ongoing achievements of CEEMS. The campus provided CEEMS with excellent space that was renovated to the specifications needed for VolsTeach, including two wet laboratories, library and conference room facilities, work rooms, office space, and student lounge areas. The Tennessee Higher Education Commission provides state-level oversight and continues to serve as advocates for the work.