Roane State Assistant Professor of mathematics Ben King (right, standing with notebook), leads one of the “Lab-in-a-Box” training sessions provided by the Rural Communities Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, or STEM, Initiative at ORAU’s Center for Science Education. Photo courtesy of Owen Driskill. Click image to enlarge.
Through a partnership with Roane State Community College, ORAU hosted middle school teachers from nine rural school districts in East Tennessee to participate in two days of hands-on training. It was all part of a brand new pilot program where middle school teachers receive “Lab-in-a-Box” kits—materials that support the new statewide curriculum for math and science education.
The Lab-in-a-Box concept was originally developed by Roane State Community College as a business-education partnership formed under the Rural Communities Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, or STEM, Initiative. Professors at the college developed lab prototypes based on subject areas that school system directors and superintendents had identified as subject areas in which students were not testing well: math, biology, geology and chemistry.
ORAU collaborated with the kit designers to review the resources and provide recommendations for how to better align the materials to K-12 curriculum. Once the Lab-in-a-Box kits were finalized, ORAU also coordinated and designed the training sessions that were hosted on ORAU’s main campus.
During the training, participants received a set of seven Lab-in-a-Box kits (each kit is valued at $7,500), which contained a year’s worth of lesson plans and hands-on activities. Ultimately, Roane State plans to expand the Rural Communities STEM Initiative to other schools and grade levels within the state of Tennessee.
To contribute to the Lab-in-a-Box initiative, individuals and organizations can help in two ways: make a tax deductible donation to the Roane State Foundation or deliver kits by adopting a classroom.
Check out the Lab-in-a-Box video on YouTube that Roane State posted featuring the Lab-in-a-Box training at ORAU’s Center for Science Education Classroom June 28-29, 2011.