Texas Pioneer Foundation awards $174K grant for new STEM mobile learning center

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STEPHENVILLE (June 17, 2015) — Tarleton State University has received a $174,879 grant from the Texas Pioneer Foundation to equip a STEM Mobile Learning Center, which will serve as an outreach program and resource for educators and students across North Texas.

Developed as an outreach program to educate and recruit pre-service educators and professionals into science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields, the new Mobile Learning Center (MLC) concept will also serve as a resource for STEM-related education in rural communities.

Once outfitted and delivered to Tarleton, the MLC will bring STEM education to Texas public schools in a 90-mile radius of Stephenville. The MLC will be a sophisticated and fully equipped science and engineering laboratory that emphasizes the integration of mathematics, connecting remote, rural schools to new learning opportunities, explained Dr. Denae Dorris, director of Tarleton’s Office of Academic Outreach & Engagement.

“This target area is geographically remote, which creates unique challenges when trying to provide field trips to area museums and exhibits,” said Dorris. “The new Mobile Learning Center, as a project of the Office of Academic Outreach & Engagement, will schedule approximately 10 venues per month. Site selection will be based on research suggesting STEM education has the most potential to influence students in fifth through eighth grades.”

Content and lessons offered via the MLC “will be dynamic, yet semi-permanent due to collaboration with the Fort Worth Museum and industry partners,” added Dorris. “This partnership will ensure best practices are utilized to deliver quality curriculum.”

The grant from the Texas Pioneer Foundation and new MLC is in response to recent educational initiatives, including the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board’s P-16 initiative and Texas House Bill 5. The Office of Academic Outreach & Engagement, in collaboration with cross-disciplinary faculty at Tarleton, developed the MLC concept to help recruit and educate additional pre-service educators and professionals into the STEM fields, Dorris explained.

“Pre-service educators are university students pursuing teacher certification who develop career skills through observation, labs, student teaching and more,” said Dorris. “The Mobile Learning Center is a direct response to the growing need for STEM educated graduates and provides challenging, hands-on learning to public school students who do not have access to similar resources.

“Furthermore, the Mobile Learning Center will engage teachers and students in the authentic integration of science, technology, engineering and mathematics through research-based curriculum,” she added. “By cultivating passion, and improving attitudes towards STEM disciplines, Tarleton hopes to increase the number of high school graduates interested in pursuing careers in STEM fields while engaging our university students in real-world STEM experiences.”

Tarleton plans to deploy the new MLC during the 2015-2016 academic year.

To learn more about Tarleton’s Office of Academic Outreach & Engagement, visit www.tarleton.edu/aoe.

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