University of Arkansas STEM Center

The University of Arkansas STEM Center provides high quality resources and materials to the home, private and public education community.

College of Education and Health Professions, University of Arkansas Main Campus
Established: 1993

Profile submitted by Lynne Hehr

Vision and Goals

The vision for the University of Arkansas STEM Center is to provide:

  1. K-20 education outreach to the home, private and public Northwest Arkansas education community;
  2. quality professional development for pre-service and in-service teachers at local, regional, state and national levels;
  3. access points for dissemination of educational materials, resources and information; and
  4. links to common education allies throughout the state and nation.

Center/Program Structure

The University of Arkansas STEM Center (originally CMASE- UA Center for Math and Science Education) is an independent unit within the University of Arkansas College of Education and Health Professions. The Arkansas NASA Educator Resource Center located within CMASE is an integral part of the Center and is the state's dissemination point for education materials provided by NASA. CMASE is a fifteen-room complex located 2 blocks from main campus center with two computer labs/classrooms, breakout rooms, storage areas, workrooms, and office space that houses math manipulatives, technology/science/engineering materials, and teacher guides available for free loan to the K-20 education community year round. The Center collaborates with all colleges on campus, working with faculty and staff on K-12 projects, grant submissions and various professional development opportunities. The Center is directed by a geology research-degreed administrator, formerly a K-12 classroom teacher. The two content specialists - one mathematics and one science - work through the Center with funding from the Arkansas Department of Education. The office manager rounds out the other staff position. During the school year, several part time work study students are hired for day-to-day reception and general office assistance. University of Arkansas faculty and staff volunteer as required for various programs determined by discipline specific needs.

Description of Programming

The Center structures each semester's professional development program (Fall, Spring and Summer) with the needs of the regional K-12 educators in mind. Surveys, personal contact and listserv communication facilitate this process. The Center's content specialists are also extremely involved with regional school districts concerning Arkansas Department of Education (ADE) initiatives for science and mathematics teachers. The Center director is the University of Arkansas ADE Assurance Officer for professional development and, as such, provides assistance to faculty and staff wishing to provide high quality professional development to the K-12 community. The most successful part of the Center, reaching hundreds of educators each year, is the people who work there. Whether in the office or on the road, CMASE personnel are readily available to provide mentoring, suggestions for materials, and/or direction to resources to assist in home, private or public education.

Successes and Impacts

The success of the University of Arkansas STEM Center can be measured by:

  1. hundreds of K-12 teachers from local, regional and state school districts who have participated in one to two week math and science summer institutes over the past 20 years. These institutes have each accommodated 20-30 teachers depending on availability of state and federal funding. As one example of success, this summer's ten-day math and science institutes both had a 10-20 person waiting list,
  2. the director holding international (GLOBE program International Advisory Council North American representative), national (Triangle Coalition for STEM Education past board member) and state (Arkansas Science Teachers Association president-elect, Arkansas Department of Education NGSS Lead Team member, and annual Arkansas Curriculum Conference current and past 15 years' general chair) positions on education boards,
  3. coordinating the Northwest Arkansas Science and Engineering Fair for the past 20+ years currently reaching 450+ 5th through 12th grade students and 50+ teachers in a fifteen county northwest Arkansas region,
  4. coordinating the University of Arkansas Science Cafe with four town/gown meetings per year that each average 60+ attendees. The UA Science Cafe received one of seven international Sigma Xi outreach awards out of 525+ chapters for 2012.

Elements Contributing to Success

The Center's success can be attributed to several factors:

  1. Foremost, University of Arkansas administrative support for the past 20 years both fiscally and physically.
  2. Successful grant writing and delivery of quality professional development from the funding that has enabled 20+ years of consecutive funding.
  3. Content specialists who have
    1. prior years of classroom teaching experience,
    2. strong, well-rounded content backgrounds and
    3. excellent pedagogical skills in working with both student and adult learners.
  4. Twenty years of building trust that has formed collegiate networks with local, regional, state, national and international educators.
  5. Utilizing opportunities that over a 20 year period have allowed content-related resources and materials to be accumulated for free loan to educators.