Office of STEM Education Partnerships Awarded HP Grant for Online Education in Science

iLab
Northwestern University has received a grant to participate in HP’s Catalyst Initiative, a global social innovation program designed to develop more effective approaches to science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education.

Northwestern’s Office of STEM Education Partnerships (OSEP) was selected for its work with remote online laboratories, providing students access to authentic laboratory equipment and experiments over the Internet.

As part of the initiative, HP is donating $6 million to 35 educational institutions, including Northwestern University, across five consortia that will use the award to explore innovations in STEM+ learning and teaching. OSEP will receive $130,000 worth of computers and data probes to use with Illinois schools for online education in science and technology.

Through this project, Northwestern also becomes a member of a global consortium called Multi-versity that focuses on online education. This consortium investigates and demonstrates new and best practices in online education for STEM students and the professional development of instructional faculty.

“We are excited about the opportunity to collaborate with educational partners around the globe to bring new science education technologies to students. HP’s generous donation of laptops and data probes will allow us to bring these technologies to rural school districts as well as other underserved areas. We’re really excited about the numbers of students we’ll be able to reach and the future possibilities of this consortium,” says OSEP director Kemi Jona, research associate professor in learning sciences at the School of Education and Social Policy.

OSEP has plans to create “resident sites” for the new HP technology to leverage limited resources in rural and underserved urban areas, according to OSEP associate director Susan Ipri Brown. Partnerships with Chicago’s large-scale After School Matters after-school program and rural school districts in Illinois will focus on STEM education.

The project will expand OSEP’s remote online laboratory project (www.ilabnetwork.org) that enables students and educators to use real instruments to carry out science experiments from anywhere at any time, a major benefit for schools that cannot afford costly lab equipment. Using OSEP’s web site, more than 1,000 students are currently accessing a remote laboratory based at the University of Queensland in Australia to analyze real experimental data using authentic scientific processes.

OSEP at Northwestern University supports K-12 students and teachers by connecting them with the world-class science, technology, engineering and mathematics resources of Northwestern University. Formed as a unique partnership between the School of Education and Social Policy and the Office of Research, OSEP brings expertise in curriculum, technology and program design to create effective outreach and programs. Through new cyberlearning technologies, curriculum materials, teacher professional development and student programming, OSEP brings both time-tested and cutting-edge research from the university to the K-12 learning community.

The HP Catalyst Initiative is building a global network of consortia that seeks to develop more effective approaches to science, technology, engineering and math education. The goal is to create international collaborative “sandboxes” of innovation that will explore what the future of STEM education can look like — a future where students use their technical and creative ingenuity to address urgent social challenges in their communities and around the world. More information is available at http://www.hp.com/hpinfo/socialinnovation/catalyst.html.

By Marilyn Sherman with photo courtesy of Southtown Star
Last Modified: 9/29/10