OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY

TeachEngineering Puts Free Science and Math Curriculum in Teachers’ Hands

08/23/2006

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Teachers trying to meet federal “No Child Left Behind Act” standards now have a new tool at their disposal – a free online library called TeachEngineering.

Oregon State University’s René Reitsma, an associate professor of information management, helped design the innovative web site, which provides teacher-tested, standards-based engineering content for K-12 teachers to use in science and math classrooms.

Through TeachEngineering.com, teachers can get hands-on, free curricular content that meets individual state standards, as well as national math, science and engineering standards.

TeachEngineering is a national collaborative effort involving eight universities and organizations and is spearheaded by the University of Colorado, Boulder. It is funded partially through the National Science Foundation and is one of hundreds of programs in the National Science Digital Library (nsdl.org).

Reitsma, a member of the College of Business faculty, and his students designed the unique online system that allows teachers to search for curriculum content based on a number of criteria, including keywords, grade levels, educational standards and more.

Reitsma said the system puts together curriculum developed to meet national STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) standards in a uniform and easily searchable format.

For instance, a search under the word “electrons” yields a number of results, including 11 different lesson plans and 16 different hands-on activities supporting the lessons. Clicking on one of the listed activities, such as “Build a Charge Detector,” the site tells a teacher how long the activity takes, what grade it is designed for, what educational standards the activity meets, and the details on the activity itself.

“Teachers don’t have time to figure out what part of their curriculum meets their state or federal standards,” Reitsma said.

“They are very busy and resource challenged. They are saying, ‘You need to tell us the standards a curriculum provides and you need to give it to us in an easy-to-follow, effective and consistent format. Don’t just give us a bag of stuff and tell us to sort through it.’”

Much of the curriculum available on the TeachEngineering Web site comes from the National Science Foundation’s GK-12 program, or Graduate Teaching Fellows in K-12 Education.

Through this program, graduate students in the sciences, mathematics, engineering, and technology collaborate with K-12 teachers to assist in their science and mathematics education and to build bridges between the colleges and the K-12 school system.

OSU’s Open Source Lab provides the hosting for the TeachEngineering Web site. The lab is a global, world-class facility and data center for open source software knowledge, hosting, infrastructure, development and collaboration.

TeachEngineering provides standards matching for most national standards; and four states: Colorado, Massachusetts, Oklahoma and North Carolina. By the end of the year, Reitsma expects to have the standards of all 50 states integrated into the site. In the meantime, all teachers can freely use TeachEngineering to help navigate national standards, as well as find new, creative hands-on lessons and activities related to math and science.

“Everything is classroom tested and peer reviewed,” Reitsma said. “It really is an exciting project that has tremendous potential.”

For more information, go to www.teachengineering.org