Kemi Jona Named HP Catalyst Academy Fellow for STEM Education

Kemi Jona Named HP Catalyst Academy Fellow for STEM Education

Kemi Jona

SESP professor Kemi Jona, director of the Office of STEM Education Partnerships (OSEP), has been named one of 15 inaugural HP Catalyst Academy Fellows. These leaders in STEM education will provide free, high-quality, online learning experiences to educators around the globe.

The HP Catalyst Academy, designed to strengthen STEM education, enhance teaching practices and address the global skills gap, was launched at the 2013 HP Catalyst Summit in São Paulo, an international meeting of educators and policy makers. Beginning in June 2013, the HP Catalyst Academy will offer its first set of online mini-courses for educators, covering a wide range of topics.

As part of this effort to strengthen STEM education, Jona has received a $16,000 grant from HP to develop online workshops for science teachers. Three learning experiences, to be developed over the next year, will focus on preparing teachers to use online remote laboratories for their science classes.

Through online remote laboratories, high school students can access world-class laboratory equipment online. Real instruments, rather than simulations, may be used to carry out experiments from anywhere at any time. Unlike conventional facilities, remote online labs can be used widely by schools that do not have the resources to purchase costly lab equipment. OSEP’s current project focusing on online remote laboratories is called the iLab Network.

Jona and other HP Catalyst Fellows, are working with International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE®) and the New Media Consortium (NMC) to develop innovative online professional learning experiences. Through a grant process, HP Catalyst identified this group of established "STEM trailblazers" with experience in successfully developing and launching large-scale projects that positively impact thousands of teachers and students.

The HP Catalyst Academy expands the work of the HP Catalyst Initiative, which seeks to improve K-12 science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) learning through a network of leading educators and education institutions who are exploring innovative approaches.

OSEP specializes in both teacher professional learning and the development of new learning technologies. The goal of OSEP is to connect K-12 teachers and students with the world-class STEM resources of Northwestern University in order to enhance education in the STEM fields.

Numerous online remote lab experiments are already in use worldwide through OSEP’s iLab project. For example, in the Powder X-Ray Diffraction iLab, one of the newest modules, students study the crystalline lattice structure of a silicone sample by remotely accessing an X-ray diffractometer located at Northwestern University. In addition, an iLab on radioactivity examines the intensity of radiation over distance, using a Geiger counter housed at the University of Queensland in Australia.

The new online teacher professional workshops will prepare educators to make effective use of remote lab experiments such as these. Studies of iLab have shown that remote online labs can overcome many common school laboratory constraints, provide more real-world scientific inquiry tasks, and support the development of learning that is better aligned with authentic science.

By Marilyn Sherman
Last Modified: 3/7/17