Texas Tech graduate student Dipika Patel, Abilene Wylie Middle School teacher and Texas Tech doctoral student Robin Hart, Abilene Wylie Middle School teacher Lynlee Ueckert and Texas Tech graduate student Jo Ramos-Lewis.

Face-to-Screen: Graduate Students Use Tablets to Connect with K-12 Students

Middle school teacher Robin Hart joined forces with Texas Tech graduate students to bring math, science and engineering expertise to her students.

Every middle school teacher could use another adult in the classroom, answering questions, explaining difficult concepts and keeping an eye on 30 students.

Abilene Wylie Middle School teacher Robin Hart has had a few extra adults in her classroom – or at least their heads. A unique grant Texas Tech University received allowed Texas Tech graduate students to partner with area math and science teachers to create a curriculum and help in their classrooms.

Hart, also a doctoral student in curriculum and instruction in the College of Education, said handing her students a tablet so they can interact with STEM graduate students is increasing her effectiveness in the classroom as well as giving her students an opportunity to talk with other experts.

“Students will usually talk to a graduate student one-on-one,” Hart said. “They just kind of pass the head around.”

This tutoring is part of a math-engineering-science bridge program started in 2008 with a National Science Foundation grant. The purpose of the Graduate STEM Fellows in K-12 Education (GK-12) grant, chemistry professor Dominick Casadonte said, is to bridge the gap between math and science, Texas Tech and surrounding schools, and education, engineering and science programs at Texas Tech. The program started with high school classes in Lubbock and expanded throughout the South Plains and into Hart’s middle school class.

“She was doing sort of exciting things,” said Texas Tech mathematics professor Jerry Dwyer, who administered a second grant that funded Hart’s program. “She was getting her students interested in science. They were inquiring about stuff, they were exploring, they were really doing science, and to me it’s difficult to find a teacher and a group of students who are all interested in actually doing that sort of thing.”