UO boosts high school STEM studies with state grant

EUGENE, Ore. -- (Aug. 28, 2012) -- The Oregon Department of Education recently awarded $450,000 to the University of Oregon and the Eugene School District to improve high school and middle school students’ performance in STEM studies.

Under the two-year Title IIB Math/Science Partnership, the university and the school district will match secondary teachers across Lane County with workers in the STEM fields – science, technology, engineering and math.

Teachers spanning grades 5 to 10 from the Eugene, Bethel, Springfield, Crow, Junction City and Creswell school districts will present classroom projects in the context of real-world problems. They’ll be assisted by professional engineers, scientists, technicians and analysts from biotechnology company Life Technologies and electric vehicle maker Arcimoto, both of Eugene, as well as Lane Transit District, the city of Eugene, the Eugene Water & Electric Board and university faculty.

“The best possible scenario is to have middle and high school students experiencing and learning science and engineering in the context of how it is practiced by scientists and engineers,” said Dean Livelybrooks, a senior physics instructor with the university and co-director of the partnership.

According to the 2010 Report to the President on K-12 Education in STEM, U.S. elementary and secondary students’ performance in science and mathematics consistently place the United States in the middle of the pack or lower, internationally. Less than one-third of U.S. eighth graders show proficiency in mathematics and science and even those who are proficient – including minority students and women – are gravitating toward other professions.

“There seems to be a disconnect between what employers are asking for and what schools are preparing students to do,” said Mark Freed, mathematics education specialist for the Oregon Department of Education. “We’re hoping to pull in employers so we can ask, ‘what do you need your employees to do – and how can we prepare our students to be potential employees in the future?’”

About the University of Oregon

The University of Oregon is among the 108 institutions chosen from 4,633 U.S. universities for top-tier designation of "Very High Research Activity" in the 2010 Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. The UO also is one of two Pacific Northwest members of the Association of American Universities.

MEDIA CONTACT:Matt Cooper, UO media relations, 541-346-8875, mattc@uoregon.edu

SOURCE:Dean Livelybrooks, UO physics instructor, 541-346-5855, dlivelyb@uoregon.edu

Note: The University of Oregon is equipped with an on-campus television studio with satellite uplink capacity, and a radio studio with an ISDN phone line for broadcast-quality radio interviews.