Office of STEM Education Partnerships Receives Catalyst Award

Office of STEM Education Partnerships Receives Catalyst Award


Forging high-impact, innovative partnerships has won the Office of STEM Education Partnerships (OSEP) this year’s Evanston Catalyst Award. OSEP shares the award with Evanston Township High School and other organizations partnering in its efforts to enhance science learning.

The Evanston Catalyst Award is presented annually to business or community leaders who foster partnerships that create innovation and spark positive growth in Evanston. “We are recognizing this partnership and its efforts to improve STEM education for youth and how it is sparking other work in this area across the community,” says Patrick Hughes, co-chair of Evanston MashUp, which presents the award.   

OSEP is making a difference by connecting Evanston schools to the cutting-edge STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) resources at Northwestern University. For example, at Evanston sites OSEP coordinates after-school programs filled with highly motivating STEM activities such as programming robots and designing apps. Another program places Northwestern graduate students as resident scientists in Evanston classrooms.

OSEP staff

In addition, this fall OSEP staff member Kristen Perkins will staff the Northwestern-ETHS Partnership Office at Evanston Township High School. She will not only coach science teachers but also develop links between ETHS and Northwestern.

“As someone who grew up here and has a business here in town, I want to thank you for your leadership and support of these and other efforts that are making a difference in Evanston schools,” Hughes wrote to SESP dean Penelope Peterson. OSEP, which is housed at the School of Education and Social Policy (SESP), draws on STEM resources throughout Northwestern University as well as the teaching expertise at SESP.

OSEP director Kemi Jona, says,  “OSEP has evolved into an important component of supporting the University’s mission in terms of community engagement. … We’re supporting and broadening the idea of being a good neighbor by helping the community and delivering the value that Northwestern can provide. Being a resource to schools is core.”

As a bridge to schools, OSEP offers three main areas of assistance: teacher professional development, creation of new STEM programs and technologies, and capacity building. Beyond Evanston, OSEP works with schools centered in Chicago and northeast Illinois, and is gradually expanding throughout the state of Illinois. Its programs include an innovative biotechnology curriculum, remote online laboratories and teacher professional development in areas such as computational thinking, biotechnology and STEM across the curriculum.

The Catalyst award will be presented at Evanston’s third annual MashUp from 5:30 to 9 p.m. on September 19 at the Northwestern beachfront. Tickets are available on the website. Elizabeth Tisdahl, mayor of the City of Evanston, and Morton Schapiro, president of Northwestern University, are the event co-captains for the third year in a row.

Caption: OSEP staff members John Bohan, Kristen Perkins, director Kemi Jona and Amy Pratt.

View a video from the MashUp about OSEP's partnerships with Evanston Township High School.

By Marilyn Sherman
Last Modified: 3/7/17