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SD Department of Education
Dec. 2017  

  Connect your students with SD researchers

SD EPSCoR (South Dakota Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research) has launched a free database of curriculum enhancement resources for STEM teachers serving middle and high school students.

The education portal offers curriculum modules based on current scientific research occurring in South Dakota’s higher education institutions and aligned with the new South Dakota Science Standards.

“We know how busy teachers are,” said Dr. Rhea Waldman, education outreach specialist with SD EPSCoR. “Our education portal will help teachers get students excited about STEM. By bringing local research into classrooms, students experience hands-on STEM, learn about careers in South Dakota and potentially meet their future mentor.”

The curriculum modules were developed by a team of South Dakota STEM teacher lead­ers and are being tested in their classrooms. The team’s goal was to create authentic classroom investigations that are connected to real-world scientists and their research. Each conversation and investigation is intended to lay a foundation for future discussions with the scientists.

Nicole Keegan, one of the lesson plan developers and a staff development manager with the Office of Teaching, Learning and Innovation at Rapid City Area Schools, is a strong believer in the connection these lessons create between research and the classroom: “Research has shown that exposure to STEM-related fields allows students to see and be active in the work of real scientists and researchers. This creates relevance and a genuine excitement for the learning.”

Building a strong STEM workforce will play a vital role in the sustained growth of South Dakota’s economy. Strengthening STEM education to get students excited about these fields is becoming increasingly important to the state’s future.

“I think the ability to bring a scientist into your classroom, even via video conferencing, will increase student engagement immensely,” said Alison Bowers, another one of the lesson plan developers and a science teacher in the Hanson School District. “Students will be able to show how the concepts they are learning are used in real-world science here in South Dakota and create crossover between different branches of science.”

Visit sdepscor.org/edportal to download the lesson plans. Questions? Contact Dr. Rhea Waldman at educationdirector@sd-discovery.com or 605-224-8295.

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