Helping middle schools improve science, engineering education

January 5, 2011

Networking group will provide resources and training to enhance teaching of mathematics and technological subjects

Arizona State University is launching an effort to improve science, mathematics and engineering education for Arizona’s youngsters and teens.

STEMnet – the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Network – will kick off Jan. 25 with the first of a series of events to introduce middle school and high school teachers to cutting-edge research in STEM fields and to innovative courses, classroom activities and teaching methods.

STEMnet’s goal is to establish a teacher-driven professional development community through which ASU’s researchers working in STEM fields and STEM education specialists can establish relationships and share knowledge with Arizona’s secondary educators.
“There are many middle school and high school teachers who want to become better prepared to teach science, mathematics and engineering. With STEMnet we want to provide them the resources to deepen their knowledge in the STEM disciplines,” says James Middleton, a professor of mathematics education in ASU’s Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering.
The network will connect secondary education teachers with faculty members in many of ASU’s schools, colleges and research centers – including the engineering schools, the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College, the School of Life Sciences, the School of Earth and Space Exploration, the Global Institute of Sustainability and the Center for Research on Education in Science, Mathematics, Engineering and Technology.
“We have a lot of STEM research and education talent at ASU. Teacher professional development and educational innovation are among our great strengths,” says Colleen Megowan, an assistant professor of science education in the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College.

“This initiative is meant to improve the quality of STEM education in Arizona’s K-12 schools by helping university researchers and K-12 teachers connect,” she says. “Our aim is to embed K-12 STEM educators in the ASU community—to improve their access to ASU’s to intellectual resources and opportunities for professional growth.”
STEMnet is supported by a portion of the funding from a $1.25 million National Science Foundation grant awarded to ASU in 2009.

The Innovation through Institutional Integration grant has been used to establish the Modeling Institute, which is designed to give K-12 teachers access to STEM education and research programs.

The institute has launched a master of natural science degree program in science, technology, engineering and mathematics for elementary and middle school teachers.
The institute also is seeking to expand the Summer College-for-Kids program it began in 2010. The program brings middle school students together with ASU scientists and engineers to learn the basics in areas such as computer game design, physical computing and sustainability science.  The institute’s leaders hope to have at least 250 students participate each summer.
For more information on the upcoming STEMnet meeting or to register to attend the workshops or banquet, visit or e-mail

A second meeting is scheduled for May 17. By the fall, STEMnet leaders expect to begin organizing three networking meetings each year.
# # #

Colleen Megowan,
Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College
Division of Teacher Preparation
(480) 727-7074

James Middleton,
Professor of mathematics education
School for Engineering of Matter, Transport and Energy
(480) 965-9644; (480) 965-3291

Joe Kullman,
(480) 965-8122 direct line
(480) 773-1364 mobile

Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering
Arizona State University
Tempe, Arizona  USA
Download Full Image ">

Joe Kullman

Science writer, Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering


Student with big dreams wins MLK Student Servant-Leadership Award

January 5, 2011

Inspired by the example of mentors in his life, last summer ASU senior Alex Wilson went to Tanzania, where he taught in a community about health and HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment, and tutored in an orphanage. The experience made him dream even bigger.

  Download Full Image

Now the ASU pre-med senior is raising funds to build a trade school in Tanzania, and he plans to move there to start construction following his graduation in May. He began a 120-mile pledge walk at 7 a.m., Jan. 3, to raise funds for the endeavor.


Wilson has been chosen for ASU’s 2011 MLK Student Servant-Leadership award, for his commitment to leading others through volunteer service. He will be honored at the annual MLK celebration breakfast on Jan. 20, at 7 a.m. in the Memorial Union of the Tempe campus. He also will speak at an MLK Student Rally at 11:30 a.m. Attorney Herb Ely will receive a Servant-Leadership award at the breakfast also.


For Alex, the seed of an idea started when he taught free swim lessons to 20 children in the summer of 2009, asking them to donate canned foods for a food bank in exchange. At the time he was working full-time, running the city swimming program for his hometown. He saved his money to make the initial trip to Tanzania.


To further his efforts overseas, the energetic, goal-driven young man has founded a non-profit organization, R.I.S.E. Worldwide. His 120-mile pledge walk is taking him from his hometown of Sandwich, Mass. to Provincetown, near Cape Cod, and back. He plans to walk all day and night.


Next summer Wilson plans to ride his bike across the United States, from San Diego to Boston, to raise funds for the school construction. He also hopes to get other ASU students involved the Tanzanian project, and he plans to sell wrist bands on a website and apply for grants.


Wilson hopes to create partnerships between schools in the United States and those in Tanzania, for tutoring activities and a language exchange via laptop computers and video cameras. He’d like to recruit young adult volunteers to teach for a period of time in Africa.


He hopes eventually to establish trade schools in other African countries, to encourage education and entrepreneurship in struggling communities.


Currently Wilson sponsors an 18-year-old young man in Tanzania whom he met begging on the streets. He is paying his $400 per semester private school tuition.


During the school year, Wilson works as a biomechanical obesity researcher in the lab of ASU Professor Devin Jindrich. In May he’ll receive a degree in kinesiology with an emphasis in human physiology, and a minor in non-profit management. Eventually he plans to get an M.D. and Ph.D. so he can practice in third world countries and teach part-time.