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Major grant to aid science teaching

<, Carleton’s Science Education Research Center received the largest National Science Foundation grant in Carleton’s history. The center, which focuses on improving education through educators, received a $10 million grant from the NSF’s Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Talent Expansion Program.

The award “affirms that this is valuable work,” SERC director Cathy Manduca said.

“It affirms the priority Carleton places on teaching and learning.”

The grant will fund a project focusing on the creation of a Science, Technology, Engineering and Math curriculum, also known as STEM. Centered on the geosciences, the program aims to amply increase students’ understanding of issues such as natural hazards and environmental change.

The official project title is InTeGrate: Interdisciplinary Teaching of Geoscience for a Sustainable Future.  The website for the project ( states that “a geoscience perspective must be firmly integrated into educational pathways that lead toward informed personal and public decisions that move civilization toward a sustainable future.”

“The project reinforces the mission of the SERC,” Manduca said. It “helps faculty become better teachers.”

The overarching goal of the grant is to create a wide ranging geoscience curriculum, one that extends outside of its traditional fields, to reach those who are traditionally underrepresented in the geosciences. Additionally, it prepares K-12 educators to better incorporate ideas into their curriculum.

Joining Carleton in this project are centers at Pennsylvania State University, Stanford University, Central Washington University, North Carolina State University, University of Texas El Paso, Columbia University, University of Akron (Ohio) and University of Nebraska, as well as the National Council for Science and the Environment.
The grant is targeted towards undergraduates around the country.

According to SERC Technical Director Sean Fox, the project will “create new (educational) material for Carleton faculty to draw from.” This will hopefully result in general improvement to the Carleton Geology curriculum.
A particular area of improvement will be in the incorporation and discussion of sustainability in education, a major goal of the project, which runs from 2012 to 2016.

Currently the center is putting a schedule into place, establishing a public website, talking with the other universities in the project and coordinating the first set of seminars. The program officially begins on Dec. 1.

“The grant is in its early stages,” Manduca said. “The most exciting thing we are doing is talking to everyone we know about the project.”

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