SD EPSCoR trains secondary school science teachers in research project development workshops
October 21, 2016
BOOKINGS, S.D. — South Dakota’s Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (SD EPSCoR) recently completed the first series of its 2016-2017 Educator Academy programs that provide professional development activities to encourage and support science fair participation among K-12 students.
This fall’s SD EPSCoR Educator Academy series took place at six campuses across South Dakota throughout September and October engaging 45 middle and high school science teachers representing 33 school districts. The workshops were the first segment of the annual academy that focuses on providing teachers the knowledge, skills and tools to assist students in the development of hypothesis-driven research projects. This effort is being made to boost student participation in each of South Dakota’s four regional science fairs and encourage research exploration in the classroom.
Attendees had the opportunity to actively participate in activities that showcased the process of developing a research project, how to gain a deeper understanding of implementing the scientific method and how to develop resources to assist students in designing award-winning research projects. Participants were also able to network and generate ideas from fellow teachers on ways to encourage and mentor students in science fair research.
The Educator Academies were led by Phillip Huebner, SD EPSCoR director of STEM partnerships.
“Science fairs have proven to be an essential activity on the path toward a STEM-based education and future,” said Huebner. “Preparing students to participate and excel in quality research projects begins in the classroom. That is why the Educator Academy has been designed to focus its attention on educating teachers and equipping them with the necessary training to assist students as they embark on a research path,” Huebner said.
Paul Buisker, academy participant and middle school science teacher at Sioux Valley Schools said, “The workshop provided valuable training to both experienced and new teachers alike in the science fair process and taught us useful techniques to guide our students in becoming successful in their research inside and out of the classroom.”
Participants also had the opportunity to learn how schools can win prize money towards improving classroom laboratories and resources through their participation in regional science fairs. Prize money exceeding $43,000 annually, is awarded through SD EPSCoR and Fisher Scientific and dispersed at each of the regional science fairs.
SD EPSCoR promotes and supports educators, research faculty and programs in STEM fields. Part of its mission is to strengthen research and education in STEM, increase science literacy and provide educational opportunities for K-12 students. SD EPSCoR is funded by the National Science Foundation/EPSCoR Grant Number IIA-1355423 and by the State of South Dakota.
In 1980, the National Science Foundation (NSF) established the Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR). The EPSCoR program is designed to assist states to establish a self-sustaining academic research enterprise with the competitive capability that will contribute to the states’ economic viability and development. SD EPSCoR’s mission is to strengthen research and education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) across South Dakota to increase science literacy and drive science-based economic development. SD EPSCoR helps build South Dakota’s research infrastructure and increases its capacity to successfully compete for federal funding.