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NASA awards Texas State $15 million grant for STEM teacher training

Posted by Jayme Blaschke
University News Service
August 22, 2014

Texas State University has been awarded a $15 million grant from NASA to help train teachers in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) disciplines.

The grant, the largest ever for Texas State, will be distributed over five years to the university's Colleges of Education and Science and Engineering. Texas State President Denise Trauth announced the grant during her Fall 2014 Convocation address.

"Texas State is proud to announce this significant grant award from NASA, which will impact more than 400,000 educators in the country by leveraging the research and professional development expertise of faculty in our College of Education and College of Science and Engineering along with partners at several Minority Serving Institutions on behalf of NASA," said Texas State Provost Gene Bourgeois. "By creating a national STEM educator professional development model capitalizing on NASA's unique assets, the initiative aims to strengthen the STEM content knowledge and instructional skills of our nation's teachers, thereby resulting in greater student interest and success in STEM-related courses and an increase in the national STEM workforce pipeline."

Texas State was awarded the grant after the university responded to a NASA challenge to minority-serving institutions to propose innovative ways to share the agency's unique content to enhance professional development for STEM teachers.

Under the agreement, Texas State and its partners will create experiential learning opportunities for educators, with a strong emphasis on digital technology for accessing and using NASA content.

"This is truly a team accomplishment and recognition of the prestige and quality of our College of Education. Collaborating with NASA in this way positions us to extend our reach to a national audience of teachers, teacher educators and other informal educators," said Araceli Martinez Ortiz, director of the LBJ Institute for STEM Education and Research at Texas State. "This opportunity will allow us to understand and leverage NASA technical innovations as contexts for teaching and learning and to carry out important research in STEM educator professional development. 

"Over the next five years, we will develop, research and facilitate the delivery of various forms of professional learning experiences for educators nationwide," she said. "Through these STEM educators, we seek to positively affect more students in grades K-20."

NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va., supports NASA's goal of providing high quality STEM professional development opportunities for formal and informal educators using NASA’s unique assets and capabilities.

"As one of the largest single awards made to Texas State University, the NASA grant to support STEM education research is a resounding endorsement of our institutional strength and role as a national leader in STEM education research," said Michael Blanda, assistant vice president for research and federal relations at Texas State. 

"We are pleased and excited that NASA is teaming with Texas State and our team of collaborators to provide research and educational development opportunities for STEM educators nationwide," said Bill Covington, associate vice president for research and federal relations.

This is Texas State's second high-profile NASA-related announcement in the past four months. In May, the Texas State University System Board of Regents approved a multi-million dollar contract between the university and Jacobs Engineering to collaborate on advanced engineering and science work for NASA.

To learn more about this EONS-EPD award, visit http://go.nasa.gov/1qabkDI. For information about NASA's education programs, visit www.nasa.gov/education.