Michigan Tech Receives $5 Million from Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation to Reform Middle-School Science Education

Young children are naturally curious about everything around them. They want to know how and why things work. Then, around middle school age, many of them lose that natural attraction to science and engineering.

A team of university and public school educators in Michigan say they know what’s wrong with middle school science education. And, with a $5 million, three-year grant from the Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation, they intend to develop and test some solutions.

“In Michigan and most of the nation’s schools, STEM instruction consists of a series of seemingly unrelated courses that require students to memorize large numbers of facts but fail to engage them in the practice of using science as a tool to address real-world problems,” says Jacqueline Huntoon, a geology professor, associate provost and dean of the Graduate School at Michigan Technological University.

The Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation, based in Midland, Mich., has funded the Michigan Science Teaching and Assessment Reform (Mi-STAR) program to develop a model for reforming middle-school STEM education that will include a new curriculum supported by updated teacher education and teacher professional development strategies.

The program focuses on integrating the sciences, using a problem-based approach, cutting across the traditional disciplines of biology, physics, chemistry and earth science to emphasize core ideas and show how science can be used to address society’s needs.

Huntoon will direct the Mi-STAR project in collaboration with four other Michigan Tech faculty members: Brad Baltensperger, Amy Lark, Doug Oppliger and Chris Wojick. Faculty members from Grand Valley State and Western Michigan Universities and a scientist from the American Geosciences Institute will also be heavily involved in helping the program achieve its goals.

Additional team members include representatives from schools where the pilot project will be tested: Midland Public Schools, Grand Rapids and Eaton Rapids Public Schools, and the Calumet-Laurium-Keweenaw and Houghton-Portage Township Schools. Also represented on the team will be faculty members from other Michigan universities: Saginaw Valley State, Central Michigan, Michigan State and Eastern Michigan Universities. The team will collaborate with the Michigan Department of Education, Michigan Science Teachers Association, American Chemical Society, American Institute of Biological Sciences and American Physical Society.

“Most of the members of this team have been working together for many years, and our plans are informed by our experiences in many other STEM education projects,” Huntoon says.

Mi-STAR has been in the making for nearly a decade. It is a direct outgrowth of MiTEP (Michigan Teacher Excellence Program), a National Science Foundation-funded partnership among Michigan Tech and Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo and Jackson Public Schools. It builds on research conducted by the National Academies of Sciences and Engineering.

The project will test its reforms in the partnering public schools. If successful, Huntoon says, Mi-STAR will be a model for improving STEM education across Michigan and throughout the United States.

“We are excited to partner with Michigan Tech and the Mi-STAR team to improve STEM education in the Midland Public Schools and across the state of Michigan,” says Brian Brutyn, associate superintendent of curriculum, instruction and assessment for the Midland Public Schools. “As STEM education continues to grow in importance, we continuously seek innovative ways to achieve related institutional and student learning objectives. This initiative promises to have a sweeping impact, as it addresses the essential components of effective instruction: engaging curriculum, aligned assessments and comprehensive teacher training.”

The Michigan Department of Education (MDE) also is enthusiastic about Mi-STAR. “The Michigan Department of Education (MDE) is very excited about the potential that this project brings to our state to find ways to better align pre-service teacher training with in-service teacher practice,” says Megan Schrauben, the integrated education consultant with the MDE. “We are also greatly interested in the research findings from the integrated curriculum that will be developed and used in schools. We know that this type of instruction is what the research on student engagement and achievement calls for, and it aligns well with our goals at MDE.”

A Michigan Tech alumna herself, Schrauben earned a Master of Science in Applied Science Education and has worked with the University on previous science education projects, including MiTEP.

The Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation—established by Grace A. Dow in memory of Herbert H. Dow, the founder of The Dow Chemical Company—also sees great promise in Mi-STAR.

“Michigan Tech’s proposal aligned with our interests and had some truly unique attributes, connecting to Midland as it does and assembling a diverse team of partners to explore new ideas and learn from each other in the process,” says Macauley Whiting Jr., president of the foundation. “The University has rich expertise in STEM education and a productive history with our foundation. We are especially pleased that Michigan Tech is investing the entire amount in active programming to spur system change.”

The Mi-STAR team is excited about the opportunity to partner with the foundation to develop a new model for STEM education in the middle grades, says Huntoon. “The Herbert H. Dow and Grace A. Dow Foundation has a long history of supporting science, and we are very pleased to be collaborating with them once again.”

2014 Engineering Fundamentals Design Presentations & PACE Contest

The 2014 Engineering Fundamentals Design Presentations were held on April 23. Over 50 student teams presented their projects in three classrooms; each team consists of three to four students. The eight finalist teams presented to judges from the PACE Partners for the Advancement of Collaborative Engineering Education Competition on April 24.

Photos of the winning teams and finalists are in the Photo Gallery, followed by photos of some of the other fifty teams.

PACE judges selected first place, second place, etc. presentations.

The list of judges is as follows:
Ryan Schumacher, GM, Warren, Michigan
Laura McCausland, GM, Warren
John Baker, Siemens PLM Software
Don Wirkner, GM Milford, Michigan
Nancy Neikirk, GM, Warren
Vinay Gunasekaran, Mathworks, Novi, Michigan

First Place Award PACE 2014: Autonomous Fire Suppression Unit Nils Miron, William Reck, Tristan Slabaugh, Sam Wachowski

1st Place

1st Place Award for 2014: PACE Partners for the Advancement of Collaborative Engineering Education
Section L09, Team C: Autonomous Fire Suppression Unit
Nils Miron, William Reck, Tristan Slabaugh, Sam Wachowski

2nd Place

2nd Place: Section L12, Team 9: Human-Powered Vehicle
Nikolai R. Hedler, Joshua Nicholas, Derryl Poynor, Thomas Tetzlof

3rd Place

3rd Place: Section L09, Team L: Snowmobile Trail Autonomous Groomer (S.T.A.G.)
Leonard M. Harri, Brett M. Michaud, Jesse J. Olson

4th Place

4th Place: Section L04, Team 3: HEAT UP; Kemin Fena, Parker McColl, Erin Nicole Richie, Bradley Turner, Joel VanLanen
Photos of the winning teams and finalists

Design Expo 2014

The Design Expo highlights hands-on, discovery-based learning at Michigan Tech. More than 600 students in Enterprise and Senior Design teams showcase their work and compete for awards. A panel of judges, made up of corporate representatives and Michigan Tech staff and faculty members, critique the projects. Many of them are sponsored by industry, which allows students to gain valuable experience through competition at the Expo, as well as direct exposure to real industrial problems. The fourteenth annual Expo is a combined effort of the College of Engineering and the Institute for Leadership and Innovation. The event was held in the J. Robert Van Pelt and John and Ruanne Opie Library Third Floor exhibit area on Thursday April 17, 2014. Continue reading

Selecting a Major

If you are still deciding on a major, there are several items you may want to consider.

1. Meet with an academic advisor before you leave for campus for the summer.

- Biomedical Mr. Mike Labeau (344 M&M, malabeau@mtu.edu))
- BSE & Engineering Undecided Ms. Amy Monte & Dr. AJ Hamlin (112C Dillman, efadvise@mtu.edu)
- Civil & Environmental Ms. Julie Ross (103 Dillman, jzross@mtu.edu)
- Chemical Ms. Katie Torrey (202M Chem Sci, cmadvise@mtu.edu)
- Computer Mr. Trever Hassell (131 EERC, tjhassel@mtu.edu)
- Electrical Ms. Judy Donahue (131 EERC, eceadvise@mtu.edu)
- Geological Ms. Kelly McLean (627 DOW, kelly@mtu.edu)
- Materials Dr. Daniel Seguin (U-101 M&M, mseadvise@mtu.edu)
- Mechanical Ms. Danise Jarvey & Mr. Ryan Towles (204AMEEM, dnjarvey@mtu.edu & 205A MEEM, ratowles@mtu.edu)

2. Take an engineering seminar course Fall 2014 to see if a particular major is right for you. The courses that are offered are listed below.

- Biomed BE2100 – Tue 4-5
- Chemical CM1000 – Tue 11-noon
- Civil CE1000 – Mon 2-3
- Environmental ENVE1501 – Tue 2-5
- Geological GE1100 – Wed 4-5 & Sat 9-11
- Sciences and Arts Undecided SA1000 – Tue & Th 10-11
- Career Development Foundations UN2525 – Tue 4-5

3. Meet with Career Services for career guidance, discuss your MyPlan results, or gain career development strategies.

4. Check out the information about different engineering fields at the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Spring Waiver Forms and Required Signatures

It is best to check course pre-reqs, co-reqs, and restrictions before registration opens. This will allow you time to get appropriate signatures or make other plans for your schedule. You can check the course pre-reqs, co-reqs, and restrictions in the course descriptions listing by clicking the CRN (Course Registration Number) in the Schedule of Classes or by looking at the undergraduate course descriptions.

When registering, if you get an error, read the error. Many times the error is due to a time conflict or lack of a co-requisite course (i.e. MA2321 has a co-requisite of MA3521). You can easily correct these errors by selecting a class at another time or adding the co-requisite course. If you still are unable to register, check the course pre-reqs, co-reqs, and restrictions to see if you may need a waiver.

Continue reading

Last Day to drop with a “W” (Withdrawal), March 28, 2014, 5pm

The last day to drop a class with a withdrawal (W) grade is Friday of Week 10 (March 28, 2014, 5pm). All first-year students must meet with their academic advisor and instructor to drop a class. This allows the student to discuss the ramifications before dropping a class. All students must go to the Student Service Center to drop classes through the Friday of 10th Week.

After the last day to drop, students who have extenuating circumstances must appeal to the Student Affairs office for a Late Drop. The instructions for requesting a Late Drop can be found at: www.admin.mtu.edu/dos/latedrop.htm.

Continue reading

Spring Registration

Fall and Summer 2014 registration will open March 20th, 10:00 pm through April 11th, midnight. If you have questions regarding what classes to take, you should make an appointment to meet with your academic advisor.

Registration typically opens each night at 10:00 pm. Due to the large number of students, some days will have two start times, 10:00 pm and 11:00 pm. To find out what day and time you register go to: www.mtu.edu/registrar/pdfs/registration-priority-schedule.pdf.

  • Priority is based on the number of credits earned at the time of registration. This does not include the number of credits the student is currently taking.
  • Students may register anytime on or after their scheduled day.
  • The web will be unavailable for registration from 2:00–2:30 am each day.
  • Registration closes at midnight Sunday, April 11 and reopens again later in April.
  • Students with questions or problems should contact the Student Service Center at 487-2319 or e-mail schedule@mtu.edu.

Transfering Classes to Michigan Tech

If you are going to take classes elsewhere, make sure that the course(s) will transfer to Michigan Tech as the course(s) you need BEFORE you take the class.

1) Check for the course on the Transfer Equivalency System.

2) If the course you want is NOT on the Transfer Credit Equivalency list, you may request to have it evaluated by sending information to the Michigan Tech Transfer Services Office.

Transfer Services Coordinator

Required Information for Transfer Evaluation

  • University or college name
  • Course ID and title
  • Course Catalog Description

Continue reading

Taking Summer Classes

Some students take summer classes at Michigan Tech to replace a grade, to lighten the credits of a future semester(s), or for a great excuse to enjoy the Copper Country summers. Summer 2013 course offerings at Michigan Tech are now available at: www.mtu.edu/registrar/students/registration/prepare.
When you are scheduling, please note that some courses run the full summer semester and some run the first or second half of the semester. The dates the course will run are listed on-line when you register. Keep in mind a half-semester course requires the full amount of work in half the time (i.e., the course is taught at an accelerated pace). Continue reading

Need Help in a Class?

As you are getting into your classes, you may find that you need extra help on a topic. If you have questions, go see your professor during office hours, or e-mail your professor to set up an appointment. Learning Centers are another resource on campus:

  • Chemistry: 208 Chem Sciences and Eng Building
  • Computer Science: 114 Rekhi Hall
  • Engineering Fundamentals: 208 Dillman Hall, Sunday- Thursday, 7pm-9pm
  • Mathematics: 234 Fisher Hall
  • Multiliteracies Center (formerly the Writing Center): 107 Walker Arts and Humanities Center
  • Physics: 128 Fisher Hall
  • Visit the link for all Michigan Tech Learning Centers