MSU President's column for Traill County Tribune

July 11, 2015

Mayville State’s STEM Education programs impact area teachers and students


There is growing concern across North Dakota and the nation about the low number of students, teachers, and professionals prepared in the areas of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Somewhere between the fourth grade and high school, students are falling behind in mathematics and science ability. By the time most students reach their final two years of high school, fewer than 15% have enough mathematics and science knowledge to pursue science and technology degrees in college (U.S. Department of Education).

Mayville State University has been granted funding to assist with this issue. The funding has been used to implement several initiatives impacting Mayville State University’s teacher education program, collaborative P-12 partners, and the community. Mayville State University STEM Education has hosted professional development trainings and community outreach programs since the spring of 2010.

“Exhilarating” is the definitive term when it comes to the STEM-related opportunities offered at Mayville State University. As has been the case for several years, the month of June was packed with three very big events, STEM Boot Camp for Educators 2.0, STEM College for Kids, and the Educational Engineering Institute.

The three-day STEM Boot Camp for Educators 2.0 provides professional development opportunities for K-12 teachers in North Dakota. The purpose of Boot Camp 2.0 is to engage educators in STEM concepts and provide networks to allow for peer support that extends beyond the three days of the program. Twenty-five area teachers participated this year. Topics covered included integration of STEM concepts, problem-based learning, and technology integration.

Mayville State STEM Education has partnered with the University of North Dakota School of Engineering and Mines, Red River Valley Education Cooperative, Northeast Education Services Cooperative, and Dakota Science Center to create the Educational Engineering Institute (EEI). The EEI is part of the Mathematics and Science Parnterships federal project and is an intensive professional development program in which 20 teachers attend a summer institute and complete a year-long online graduate class. The program focuses on increasing participants’ knowledge of the various fields of engineering and the use of the engineering design process in their classrooms.

The Educational Engineering Institute took place June 15-18 and provided an outstanding engineering and STEM experience for 20 K-12 teachers. Topics covered included a focus on engineering, advanced STEM concepts, advanced problem-based learning and understanding by design unit planning, and technology integration. The experience is open to K-12 teachers in the Red River Valley Education Cooperative and Northeast Education Services Cooperative schools first. If all spots do not fill, they are then opened to all North Dakota K-12 teachers.

Eleven of Mayville State’s students who are studying to become teachers were called upon to run the STEM College for Kids June 22-25. This four-day event gave young learners a time during the summer to become scientists and engineers. About 80 students in grades 1K-7participated in this year’s College for Kids. 

College for Kids is one of two main community outreach programs held at Mayville State each year and designed to spark interest in STEM. The STEM carnival gives Mayville State University’s pre-service education students a chance to showcase their knowledge of STEM. It is held each spring. Area children have an opportunity to visit 20+ booths demonstrating a STEM lesson. The booths are set up by Mayville State teacher education students. The STEM carnival has been a huge success each year, with an average annual attendance of more than 300.

Another valuable contribution of Mayville State’s STEM Education program is their supplementing of curriculum in area schools with kits from Mayville State’s STEM library. The library includes more than 200 kits that help integrate STEM principals into a teacher’s current lessons. One aspect of the lending library includes a classroom set of iPads that are in use almost daily in area schools. The iPads are used to reinforce skills taught and as a way to integrate technology.

We are extremely proud of the contributions Mayville State’s STEM Education program is making to assist with a critical need for the area, state, and nation. Congratulations to Mayville State’s STEM Education program coordinator Sarah Sletten, and to all Mayville State faculty and teacher education students who have been involved with STEM education, for a job well-done!