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08-20-2007

State Education Department Awards $2.4M to Morristown-Clarkson-BOCES Partnership to Support North Country STEM Education

The New York State Education Department has awarded $2.4 million over three years to Morristown Central School District for the St. Lawrence County STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) Partnership.

The grant represents a continuation of the successful partnership between Clarkson University and the local K-12 community through the St. Lawrence-Lewis BOCES. The two offices of Educational Partnerships have been successful with a number of programs in the recent past bringing several million dollars to the North Country's schools.

STEM is the primary target area for educational investment both at the national and the state level. The STEM Partnership is based at Morristown and is led at BOCES by Gail Gotham, BOCES administrator for Program Planning and Development. The lead faculty member at Clarkson is Peter Turner, chair of Mathematics and Computer Science. There is a substantial team involved at each institution.

I am convinced that our partnership with Clarkson University and this grant initiative will change the way we teach math and science in the North Country, said Gotham. "Also, the Educational Outreach programs that will be available to students in all 18 school districts will change the way our students view math and science. This grant is a wonderful opportunity for a rural collaboration that will be a model across the state."

The ultimate goal of the partnership is improvement in science and mathematics education and the number of well prepared students progressing from North Country schools into STEM programs in college, and then into technically oriented careers. The focus of the STEM Partnership is professional development for teachers. This is based around a wide range of summer institutes given by Clarkson faculty. Topics range from robotics and computer graphics, through energy and nanotechnology, to environmental biology, physics and mathematics. All science, health and engineering departments at Clarkson will be involved.

The first of the summer institutes were held July 23 - 27. One, Vex Robotics, is aimed at introducing middle school students to the world of robots and potentially competing in the Vex Robotics competitions run through the FIRST organization. The other was an Integrated Math & Physics workshop centered around the IMPETUS (Integrated Mathematics and Physics for Entry To Undergraduate STEM) for Career Success Roller Coaster project, which is also funded by New York State under the STEP (Science & Technology Entry) program. Other institutes will be held during the early fall as the program gets into full swing.

The program is being overseen by the new STEM Advisory Board established this summer to further the benefits of the collaboration among the local schools, BOCES and colleges. Independent assessment of the program is being conducted by Bruce Brydges of SUNY Potsdam's Institute for Applied Research.

[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Michael P. Griffin, director of News & Digital Content Services, at 315-268-6716 or mgriffin@clarkson.edu.]

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