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ASU director builds collaborative solutions in STEM classrooms

April 28, 2017

As Math Awareness Month comes to a close, helping teachers to maximize their teaching potential is a year-round effort. Training and retaining science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) teachers is vital in ensuring the next generation of learners and innovators become skilled problem solvers.

The goal of 100Kin10 is to collaborate with the nation’s top institutions, across vast expertise areas in order to train and retain 100,000 excellent science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) teachers over 10 years.

ASU Preparatory Academies, in partnership with the Center for the Future of Arizona (CFA), was one of nine organizations from across the country that was chosen by 100Kin10 for the 2017 Fellowship. They join other organizations such as National Geographic Education and National Network of Science State Teachers of the Year. The CFA-ASU Prep Fellowship team members include Amanda Burke, CFA senior director, education and workforce, and Megan McWenie, CFA manager, education innovation and student success, and Nicolle Karantinos, ASU Prep STEM curriculum director.

As part of a team, they will look at research and test different solutions that prepare and empower teachers to experiment in the classroom. Karantinos, in her current role at ASU, is bridging the gap between K–12, the university and career. She works with outside school districts to enhance STEM awareness.

“The goal is to build interest and proficiency in STEM fields and to make sure that our students are prepared for the workforce needs of the future,” she said.

The university is no stranger to community outreach and working collaboratively with the community. As the No. 1 university in innovation two years in a row, it’s important to build relationships and share the vast knowledge and expertise that exists among faculty and staff.

“We really want to be the STEM hub of excellence to make sure we are providing teachers with the support and resources they need to be able to engage students in the classroom and most importantly to make sure they are able to contribute to the community and the world,” Karantinos said.

She added that students need to be encouraged. Students have to develop an interest and find the confidence of seeing themselves in those roles and notes that math is the gatekeeper for STEM-related fields. Part of testing solutions is to make sure that teachers feel proficient in math and science in order to teach it.

“That’s one thing that we’ve really been working on at ASU. We provide collaborative structures where elementary and high school teachers are able to engage with ASU faculty and engage with industry to be able to have confidence in what we’re doing but also to make sure we understand the skills that are needed.”

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