The University of California, Davis, School of Education will join forces with K-12 schools in the towns of Davis and Dixon to improve STEM education, thanks to a $1.6 million grant from the S.D. Bechtel Jr. Foundation.
The four-year grant will be implemented through a partnership of UC Davis professors, including education scholars, scientists, mathematicians and engineers, together with math and science teachers from the Davis Unified School District and Dixon Joint Unified School District. STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and math.
UC Davis associate professor Cindy Passmore, who is leading the project, said she hopes it will serve as a model for raising student achievement in STEM courses regionally, statewide and nationally.
"We are thrilled to have the support and partnership of the Bechtel Foundation,” said Harold Levine, dean of the UC Davis School of Education. “This level of support makes our innovative and comprehensive approach possible. Together, we are embarking on a critical attempt to fundamentally reshape STEM education in ways that can truly develop STEM-literate Californians who are able to compete in the 21st century."
The project, Innovations in STEM Teaching, Achievement and Research, or I-STAR, will bring together a team of 34 school district participants and UC Davis faculty who will design learning experiences that focus on reasoning as the path to STEM mastery.
To measure outcomes of the program, participants will look not only at test scores, but UC Davis graduate students and researchers will also interview students and observe them in classrooms to assess improvements in their reasoning skills.
“Our foundation believes strongly in the importance of STEM learning in developing an informed student population,” said Julie Kidd, program officer for the S.D. Bechtel Jr. Foundation. “We are happy to be partnering with UC Davis and the school districts of Davis and Dixon to implement innovative approaches to STEM learning that can be shared across the state and beyond.”
UC Davis has been a leader in STEM education across all subjects, and the UC Davis School of Education has forged ongoing partnerships with local schools to provide professional development for area STEM teachers.
About The S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation
The S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation was created in 1957 by Stephen D. Bechtel, Jr., a dedicated philanthropist and successful business leader. The foundation currently has a nine-person board of directors that governs grantmaking. A committed staff develops and advances grantmaking objectives, works closely with grantee organizations, and builds relationships throughout California to advance the state’s economic prosperity. Annual grantmaking has increased over time, and the foundation is committed to spending down the majority of its assets by 2016, with targeted investments in capacity building continuing through 2020.