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NSF awards nearly $12 million to CSUEB's middle school science education partnership

  • September 27, 2010
  • MEDIA CONTACT: Sarah Stanek, University Communications, 510.885.2036
  • or Rachelle DiStefano, ACOE, Director, Educational Support Services and Grant Development, 510.670.4147

In support of a long-term mission to transform science education for local K-12 students, California State University, East Bay received a five-year grant from the Math and Science Partnership Program at the National Science Foundation for $11.96 million to fund the San Francisco Bay–Integrated Middle School Science (IMSS) Project, serving predominately minority students and those from low-income families in the region.

The grant also includes funding for the Alameda County Office of Education (ACOE), which will partner with CSUEB in developing and implementing the program in Alameda, Contra Costa, Santa Clara and San Mateo county middle schools. The IMSS Project will be offered through the East Bay Science Project at CSUEB, which has been providing professional development programs for K-12 teachers for more than 10 years.

CSUEB President Mohammad Qayoumi said the award recognizes the university’s pioneering approach to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education. “Cal State East Bay is committed to providing a path to success for all students. It’s clear that STEM education is they key to their futures, as well as a critical part of our region’s workforce needs,” he said.

The IMSS program will serve as a national model for broad-based collaborations in engaging and motivating underserved students to pursue careers in science, according to Jeffery Seitz, professor and chair of the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Cal State East Bay. It will ultimately reach more than 400 regional science teachers and 68,000 students, in addition to school administrators and afterschool program providers.

“This grant represents one more in a series of successful partnerships between the Alameda County Office of Education and CSUEB,” said Alameda County Superintendent of Schools Sheila Jordan. “We share a deep commitment to making quality science teaching and learning for all students an expectation and a reality both in school and in afterschool programs.”

Faculty researchers from the university will work with school district staff in Hayward, San Leandro, San Lorenzo, Mt. Diablo, West Contra Costa, Santa Clara, San Mateo and other districts to increase “the quality, quantity and diversity of middle school science teachers and students engaged in transformative science teaching and learning,” said Seitz, who will lead the project.

Assistant Professor Michele Korb, from CSUEB’s Department of Teacher Education, will join Seitz to focus on teacher preparation and support. Prior to coming to CSUEB, Korb helped develop science education programs in other states and has experience working with teachers to blend effective teaching strategies with lesson plans.

California middle school science curriculum covers earth science in sixth grade, life science in seventh grade and physical sciences in eighth grade, Korb said. The IMSS science content will be provided by CSUEB science faculty members, including Seitz, earth and environmental sciences; Associate Professor Caron Inouye, biological sciences; Assistant Professor Danika LeDuc, chemistry and biochemistry; and Associate Professor and Chair Jason Singley, physics.

“Part of the science content we will be encouraging teachers to use comes from live data that is made available online by such government and research agencies as the USGS, NASA, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Energy and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, to name just a few,” Seitz said. “This is all in the public domain, and can help in making science current, interesting and relevant to the students. Much of the information the students will be exposed to will help them track hurricanes, the weather, and earthquakes in real time.”

“Teachers are really pressed to meet all the state standards and have students succeed on the state tests,” said Korb. “We want them to discover that learning includes exploring meaningful ways of inquiry-based science as a way to meet standards and succeed on state exams.”

The NSF funding will be distributed to CSUEB and ACOE during the next five years, covering the development, implementation and assessment of the program. The resources created for teachers will be shared with other CSU campuses and shared through state and national education databases.

“We look forward to working closely with other county offices of education and school districts to not only implement this project but also develop a support infrastructure that can sustain this initiative beyond the term of the grant,” said Superintendent Sheila Jordan.

The core partners will be the Hayward, San Leandro, San Lorenzo, Mt. Diablo, and West Contra Costa County Unified School Districts; as well as districts to be identified in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties. Other partners include the California State University Office of the Chancellor, NASA Ames, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Exploratorium, San Jose’s Tech Museum of Innovation, Chabot Space and Science Center, California Space Education and Workforce Institute and the California Academy of Sciences.

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California State University, East Bay is the San Francisco East Bay Area's high-access public university of choice. CSUEB serves the region with campuses in Hayward and Concord, a professional development center in Oakland, and an innovative online campus. With an enrollment of more than 14,000, the University offers a nationally recognized freshman year experience, award-winning curriculum, personalized instruction, and expert faculty. Students choose from among more than 100 professionally focused fields of study for which the University confers bachelor's and master's degrees, as well as an Ed.D. in education. Named a "Best in the West" college, as well as a Best Business School, by the influential Princeton Review, Cal State East Bay is among the region's foremost producers of teachers, business professionals and entrepreneurs, public administrators, health professionals, literary and performing artists, and science and math graduates.

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