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Texas Tech Announces New T-STEM Center

William M. Marcy, PhD, PE Executive Director, Texas Tech T-STEM Center

July 17, 2006

Texas Tech University has been awarded a $1 million dollar grant to create one of five new T-STEM Centers for training and supporting K12 teachers across the state of Texas in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education.

T-STEM — Texas Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics — is a $71 million initiative designed to improve instruction and academic performance in science and math related subjects in Texas schools. T-STEM was developed by the Texas High School Project, a $261 million public-private initiative focused on increasing high school graduation and college enrollment rates in every Texas community.

"The T-STEM initiative focuses our efforts where they are needed most — in areas where there are a high number of disadvantaged students who are too often left in the shadows of opportunity," Gov. Rick Perry said. "This initiative will help us close the science and math gap that exists in our schools today before it becomes a salary gap for tomorrow's workers, and an opportunity gap for Texas families."

Texas Tech sees T-STEM as an opportunity to address a serious gap in the math and science foundations of high school students.

Only 35 percent of the freshmen who entered Texas Tech's College of Engineering in 1999 graduated with engineering degrees, according to university figures.

"The truth is there are a lot of students that are interested in those areas," stated William M. Marcy, provost and former dean of engineering. "The problem was a lack of preparation in science, technology and mathematics."

Addressing that lack of preparation is exactly where the university will start, by developing project-based, engineering curriculum that gives students and teachers new opportunities to learn math and science.

"The grant is going to allow us to develop curriculum that makes sense to everyone," said John Chandler, Ph.D., one of the centers two directors. "Math and science are subjects that so many students have difficulty with simply because they don't understand how it can be used."

"The idea is that engineering projects are going to provide a way to illustrate the concepts that students are getting in their academic classes, in their math classes, in their science classes," Chandler continued. "We can develop curriculum that can be engaging, that everyone will be involved in, that we can support."

The T-STEM Center will provide support for the new classroom curricula by providing professional development workshops for K-12 teachers and offering mobile labs that can visit schools with all of the engineering equipment needed to start learning. Online resources will also be available through the center's Web site.

The new program draws upon the success of current programs in the Center for Engineering Outreach, Outdoor School, and Howard Hughes Medical Institute/Center for the Advancement of Science Education & Research.

The center is also partnering with a number of education and industry partners from the West Texas area, including Lubbock ISD and Education Service Centers in Abilene, San Angelo, Amarillo, Lubbock and Midland.

"Our partners will play a major role in developing the engineering-based, design curriculum for this project," said Dean Fontenot, Ph.D., who is also directing the center. "Their expertise and knowledge will ultimately give K-12 teachers an advantage when they train with us and use our curriculum in their classrooms."

Additional Information

Educate Texas

About the T-STEM Initiative

In addition to 5 T-STEM Centers, the
T-STEM initiative will also designate 35 T-STEM Academies at high schools across the state.

The T-STEM initiative is overseen by the Texas Education Agency and is part of the Texas High School Project.

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