Science, technology, engineering, math

Lynchburg College’s Graduate Studies and Donovan Media Development Center have teamed up with Sweet Briar College for a collaborative grade school curriculum development project.

Sweet Briar received a Mathematics and Science Partnership Grant from the Virginia Department of Education for $199,502. Other partners in the project are public schools in Lynchburg and Amherst, Appomattox, Bedford and Campbell counties, and Holy Cross and James River Day private schools.

The teams have begun recruiting fourth- and fifth-grade teachers for the project, which is titled, “Central Virginia Collaborative for Developing STEM Lessons to Improve Learning in Grades 4 and 5.”

From August 2011 to June 2012 the teachers will develop integrated STEM lessons – science, technology, engineering and mathematics. These will result in a set of instructional videos to be disseminated and incorporated into the curriculum by the participating school systems in the next academic year.

Several circumstances led to the collaboration with Lynchburg College, said Jill Granger, project director and professor of chemistry at Sweet Briar. The DOE’s video requirement was a hurdle, because Sweet Briar doesn’t have the infrastructure that Lynchburg College has at its media center. The schools also realized they were going after the same funding.

“Collaboration allowed us to develop a more comprehensive grant proposal that capitalized on each college’s expertise,” said Paula Lichiello, assistant dean of graduate studies and project coordinator.

STEM lessons that will track with Virginia’s Standards of Learning for each grade. The introduction of engineering components is also new, and it makes problem-based learning more important to the process.

The 18 teacher participants will test the teams’ initial lesson plans in their classrooms, evaluate and revise them, and repeat the process. Three of four iterations will be taped and edited by the teachers to capture what works best. LC’s media center will produce the video set, which will be disseminated at a regional conference for fourth- and fifth-grade teachers. The training videos and materials will be made available online.

At Lynchburg College, Bill Noel, associate professor of communications and director of the Donovan Center, will lead the video production, and dean of graduate studies Ed Polloway serves on the Partnership Leadership Team.