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For Immediate Release
Press Contact: Rebecca Vieyra

100Kin10 Partners STEMteachersNYC, AAPT, and AMTA Win $195,000 Grant:
Innovative Response to President Obama’s Computer Science for All Challenge

The American Association of Physics Teachers announced that the organization was selected, in partnership with lead organization STEMteachersNYC, and the American Modeling Teachers Association, to receive a $195,000 grant from 100Kin10. The grant will fund their project to equip physical science teachers with the skills and curriculum needed to integrate computational thinking into their classrooms with leaders from the Bootstrap project. The award was one of a handful of grants awarded to expand the reach and quality of engineering and computer science education across New York State.

The project, entitled “Modeling Physics, Computational Thinking, & Bootstrap,” helps students understand basic physics concepts by incorporating computer programming as one of the key tools for building models of the physical world. Targeted to ninth grade, during which every student is expected to take science, this initiative is designed to spark students’ interest in subjects related to science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) for the rest of their academic careers. This initiative also combats a root cause of inequality of opportunity in pursuing STEM careers: disparate access to quality teaching in middle and high school.

“We chose to fund this project from among many applicants because of its integrated solution to the challenge of eliminating barriers to computer science and engineering. Bringing together the expertise of three of our partners and a fourth collaborator is a real source of strength, and we look forward to success in ninth-grade classrooms across NY State,” said Maya Lundhagen, 100Kin10 Co-Founder and Director of Partner Commitments and Growth. 

The project will be led by STEMteachersNYC, an organization dedicated to training teachers to use highly-effective teaching methodologies to get students engaged in mastering the critical STEM subjects. The two-year project will involve 20-24 teachers and reach about 1,000 students each year.  It will equip teachers with a hands-on, inquiry-based pedagogy supported by a set of tested, engaging curriculum modules for classroom use.  After the project period, all four project partners plan to promulgate the approach through professional development workshops for teachers throughout the country.  The project includes an evaluation of its effectiveness.

Rebecca Vieyra, AAPT K-12 Program Manager shared, “We are excited to be a partner in this grant, because we recognize that computational modeling is a vital 21st century skill for students. We look forward to the standard inclusion of computational modeling in introductory physics curricula, especially in Physics First courses where we can guarantee that all students get exposure to these experiences.”

The project employs the proven teaching approach known as “Modeling Instruction.”  Modeling uses student-driven authentic laboratory investigations to help students construct, refine, and apply the fundamental conceptual models that form the content core of the sciences, represent these models in multiple ways, and share their understanding with fellow students to promote deep understanding.  STEMteachersNYC, in affiliation with the American Modeling Teachers Association, trains teachers to be effective at bringing Modeling Instruction to their classrooms. Unlike many educational reforms, Modeling Instruction has proven to be very “sticky” – around 90% of the teachers who participate in professional development workshops and learn the pedagogy use it for the rest of their careers.

The project will train 20-24 New York-based physics and physical science teachers who are already skilled in Modeling Instruction to learn the novel math-based programming approach known as Bootstrap, and to employ these integral tools for exploring and understanding the conceptual models that are at the core of the physical sciences. During the summer of 2016, participating teachers will infuse computational thinking into several existing Modeling Instruction science curriculum modules. During the 2016-17 school year, teachers will test the modules in their classrooms, with monthly meetings to discuss issues and share best practices. In the summer of 2017, this first group of teachers will help train a new cohort of teachers, refine the first modules, and create 3-4 additional curriculum models for classroom testing in the 2017-18 school year.

In addition to STEMteachersNYC, the project brings together the expertise of the American Modeling Teachers Association (AMTA), which has a 20-year history of training and supporting science teachers who use Modeling Instruction; Bootstrap, a project founded at Brown University and Worcester Polytechnic Institute that uses the Pyret programming language to “bootstrap” middle school algebra learning; and the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT), the national professional organization. STEMteachersNYC will organize the workshops, which will be held at Teachers College, Columbia University, with all partners participating in various aspects of the recruitment, instruction, curriculum development and evaluation.

100Kin10 unites the nation's top academic institutions, nonprofits, foundations, companies, and government agencies to train and retain 100,000 excellent STEM teachers by 2021 to educate the next generation of innovators and problem solvers.  STEMteachersNYC, AAPT, and AMTA are all members.

The American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT) is the national professional organization of high school, two-year college, and four-year university physics teachers and physics education researchers. The AAPT was established in 1930 with the fundamental goal of ensuring the dissemination of knowledge of physics, particularly by ways of teaching. Learn more about the AAPT at http://aapt.org/.