Network names regional partners and Executive Director

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (May 21, 2007) — The Indiana Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (I-STEM) Resource Network announced today that it is the recipient of a $3.4 million operating support grant from Lilly Endowment. The I-STEM Resource Network is a statewide consortium of higher education institutions dedicated to measurably improving K-12 student achievement in the STEM disciplines by focusing on professional development for K-12 STEM teachers, the creation of formal relationships between K-12 STEM teachers and institutions of higher education, and hands-on activities and learning opportunities for students and families. It will also focus on the relationship of STEM studies as an important factor in regional workforce development.

“We’re pleased that this program will complement the other Endowment-funded initiatives underway throughout Indiana to address the issues of STEM education,” said Sara B. Cobb, Endowment vice president for education. “These initiatives include the Homework Hotline and PRISM at Rose-Hulman and the Drive of Your Life College website at the Indiana Youth Institute. We have been most impressed with the coming together of the higher education community with the K-12 and business communities in an effort to marshal their efforts to advance this important objective of improving student achievement.”

According to a recent study, Indiana is expected to see more than 40,000 new jobs in the life sciences by 2012. The I-STEM Resource Network will help position Indiana’s workforce to take advantage of these job opportunities by creating programs to improve STEM knowledge in K-12 students.

“Having a partnership of public and private higher education institutions, K-12 schools, business, and government working together to encourage strong skill sets in STEM disciplines helps us maintain and enhance our high tech and life sciences workforce,” said Anne Shane, Vice President of BioCrossroads, who spearheaded a task force that recommended the creation of the I-STEM Network.

The institutional partners, located throughout the state, will direct the regional K-12 STEM efforts, and Purdue University will provide day-to-day management. The participating institutions are: Ball State University, Indiana University Bloomington, Indiana University Purdue University Fort Wayne, Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis, Indiana University Southeast, Marian College, Northwest Indiana Consortium for Teacher Education (Valparaiso University, Purdue University Calumet, Indiana University Northwest and Purdue University North Central), Purdue University West Lafayette, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, University of Notre Dame and University of Southern Indiana.

The first professional development project for the I-STEM Resource Network will be a course on middle level mathematics focused on algebraic concepts and will start this year at six institutions. The course was developed with practicing teachers in mind to help them address classroom needs, individual student needs and Indiana Academic Standards in Mathematics. The course helps to lay the groundwork for better success in high school STEM classes.

Each institution will recruit middle level mathematics teachers to attend these courses. The Governor’s office, through a grant from the National Governor’s Association to improve STEM education in Indiana, provided $315,000 to support the development of this program and create a statewide STEM Web site. Local and other sources are also providing funds for tuition stipends and institutional support.

“Students who struggle in mathematics, especially algebra, often do not or cannot enroll in demanding science and mathematics courses later in their studies,” said Bill Walker, Director for Purdue University’s College of Science K-12 Outreach program and the newly-named I-STEM Resource Network Executive Director. “We hope that by supporting the instructors we can, in turn, foster interest in this subject matter and encourage students to continue to take these kinds of courses.”

The I-STEM Resource Network is the result of a task force created in 2004 by BioCrossroads, with support from the Lumina Foundation for Education and the University of Indianapolis’ Center of Excellence in Leadership of Learning. The task force sought to evaluate and implement best-practices in STEM education to help support Indiana’s workforce needs. In 2005, the task force recommended the creation of a statewide science and mathematics resource network for K-12 teachers, students and parents with the support of higher education officials, corporate leaders and policy makers. The Science Education Foundation of Indiana also endorsed the effort to create a statewide STEM resource.

“For our region to effectively compete in the global, high-tech economy, our educational system must position our students for the jobs of tomorrow,” said [insert regional representative name]. “[name of institution], along with the other participating academic sites, is dedicated to continuing to expand our resources to improve our overall science and math performance and graduation rates.”