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2012 News Releases

Longwood spearheads international STEM project expected to impact thousands

November 30, 2012

Dr. Manaroma (Mano) Talaiver Dr. Mano Talaiver, director of ITTIP

An international project funded by HP and spearheaded by Longwood University has the potential to improve the science knowledge and computer programming skills of thousands of young students from South Africa to India to Southside Virginia.

The online teacher-training project submitted by Longwood’s Institute for Teaching through Technology and Innovative Practices (ITTIP) was one of just five from around the world to receive support from the HP Catalyst Initiative, which advances STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) education.

Working with partners in India, South Africa, Ghana and around the U.S., ITTIP will use the $100,000 grant to create three online learning modules designed primarily to train teachers in science pedagogy and Scratch, a game design software. The modules, which will be similar to "massive open online courses," will be offered beginning June 2013 and can accommodate up to 1,000 participants, most of whom are expected to be teachers.

"We want teachers to implement what they learn in these modules into their classroom," said Dr. Mano Talaiver, director of ITTIP, adding that she expects 10,000-20,000 students around the world to be impacted by the project through the teachers who participate.

One module will focus on how science and language arts teachers can develop inquiry skills. The other two modules focus on Scratch—one will provide an introduction for K-4 teachers on using Scratch in the classroom on the beginner level, the other will be about how any teacher can introduce computer science concepts using Scratch.

The HP grant will also make possible the expansion of an existing after-school program for students at Dinwiddie County Middle School that involves working with Scratch and LilyPad Arduino, a sewable microcontroller that teaches students about physical science concepts such as electric circuitry.

The project, officially titled "Inquiry and Design Learning Experiences for Adults and Teens as New Learners," is expected to run two years and is ITTIP’s second HP Catalyst Initiative success story. The first project, which also involved international collaboration, began in 2010 and ended earlier this year.

"The grant we received is highly competitive and was based on our success with the earlier project," said Talaiver.

Based in South Boston, ITTIP helps K-12 teachers integrate technology into their classrooms and disseminates research-based best practices in 35 school divisions in Central and Southside Virginia. ITTIP works closely with the Southside Virginia Regional Technology Consortium, one of its partners in both HP-funded projects.