Initiating New Science Partnerships in Rural Education (INSPIRE): Enhancing Scientific Communication by Bringing STEM Research into the Classroom

Tuesday, 16 December 2014
Donna Pierce1, Sarah Radencic1, William K. Funderburk2, Ryan M. Walker1, Brenda Jackson3, Kelli Sewell Dawkins3, Darrel Schmitz1, Lori M. Bruce1 and Karen McNeal4, (1)Mississippi State University, Mississippi State, MS, United States, (2)The Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science, Columbus, MS, United States, (3)Starkville High School, Starkville, MS, United States, (4)North Carolina State University at Raleigh, Raleigh, NC, United States
INSPIRE, a five-year partnership between Mississippi State University and three local school districts, is designed to strengthen the communication skills of graduate Fellows in geosciences, physics, astronomy, chemistry, and engineering as they incorporate their research into inquiry-based lessons in 7th – 12th grade science and math classrooms. All lesson plans designed and taught by the graduate Fellows must include one or more connections to their research, and these connections must be demonstrated to the students during the lessons. International research partnerships with Australia, the Bahamas, England, and Poland provide valuable opportunities for graduate Fellows to conduct field work abroad and allow our partner teachers to have authentic research experiences that they can bring back to their classrooms. Program effectiveness has been examined using pre- and post-year attitudinal surveys, formal lesson plan documents, Fellow and teacher journals, focus group meetings with a project evaluator, and direct observation of Fellow-led classroom activities. Analyses of data gathered during the past four years of the partnership will be presented that examine the diversity in approaches taken by Fellows to communicate big ideas, changes in the ability of Fellows to find connections between their research and classroom lessons while keeping them aligned with state and national standards, and the quality of the mentorship provided to the Fellows by our partner teachers. INSPIRE is funded by the Graduate K-12 (GK-12) STEM Fellowship Program of the National Science Foundation (Award No. DGE-0947419).