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PRIME Center wins outstanding afterschool program award

November 14, 2012

The Practice, Research, and Innovation in Mathematics Education (PRIME) Center at Arizona State University received the 2012 Outstanding Afterschool Program Award of Excellence from the Arizona Center for Afterschool Excellence, and a certificate of recognition from Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer. The award and certificate were presented to PRIME Center Staff during the Arizona Statewide Afterschool Conference.

The award was based on the PRIME Center’s two programs: Prime the Pipeline Project (P3), Putting Knowledge to Work for high school students, funded by the National Science Foundation (2008-2013), and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) in the Middle’s Club STEM for students in grades 5-8, funded by the Helios Education Foundation (2010-2013).

Both programs offer explorations, designed and led by scientists, to engage youth in the solution of long-term challenging problems that require them to learn and apply key concepts, skills and reasoning methods of science and mathematics, engineering design principles, and workplace technologies.

Among the projects for high school students were wind turbine design, development of computer apps for the iPod and iPad, composition of music using various software, solution of crime scenes using forensic techniques, and flying and landing a plane in a flight simulator.

Among the STEM in the Middle Projects were Sumo robot design and competition, design of computer-based 3-D models of buildings and parks, study of why objects fly, and design and construction of Rube Goldberg contraptions.  In both projects, students are introduced to STEM careers.  Both programs have components designed to deepen teacher content knowledge in their own and related fields, as well as expand their talents for conducting STEM explorations with students in their classes and designing and offering enrichment programs for students in their schools and districts.  

Among the unique features of the Pipeline Project is the “Scientific Village” approach in which high school students and high school teachers worked side-by-side as learners and explorers. Unique in both projects, is the requirement that students confront complex problems, and they are given sufficient time-on-task to discover solutions. In both projects, mentors (ASU STEM undergraduates and high school STEM students) assist the scientist leaders, help the villagers, and for students, serve as role models of successful and enthusiastic learners. Both projects have extensive and intensive research components.  

Results of evaluations show that inquiry-based explorations of challenging ideas, where students learn at point of need, are more effective than the lecture-and then-apply instructional approach for understanding and retention of fundamental concepts, skills and reasoning methods in the content areas.          

For more information about the projects, go to:

PRIME is a research unit in ASU's College of LIberal Arts and Sciences.

Shelley Tingey,