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College of Science and Mathematics

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Cal Poly Receives Grants to Help Improve Local STEM Education

Women working at STEM Saturday WorkshopCal Poly received two grants totaling more than $3 million to help local school districts prepare for new science and mathematics standards. The grants, both from the state Department of Education, bring local teachers together to develop ways to bring Learn by Doing into their classrooms.

The first grant funds the Math and Science Teacher Leadership Collaborative, which consists of 60 third through fifth-grade teachers in San Luis Obispo County. The teachers collaborate on learning activities based on the Next Generation Science Standards, which will be used in schools beginning in 2016.

“It’s so important for the people who will be teaching the next generation of scientists to have the resources they need to become experts,” said Lola Berber-Jimenez, chair of the Liberal Studies Department.

Central Coast STEM Institutes, funded by a second grant, follow a similar model. More than 70 teachers from the Santa Maria-Bonita School District will receive instruction in mathematics content and best teaching practices. They will then partner with Cal Poly faculty members to construct lessons that address the Common Core Standards and include activities.

"Applying mathematics in other contexts, such as simple engineering projects, helps students relate math to the real world," said Kate Riley, the mathematics professor who will lead the program. 

"I'm gaining a huge amount of content knowledge that will help me better convey scientific concepts to my students," said Charlie Berry, a fourth grade teacher at Kermit King Elementary School in Paso Robles and member of the Teacher Leadership Collaborative. "The students in my class have been able to do a variety of hands-on STEM activities and put their ideas to work by developing new inventions."

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