UML Wins Grant to Promote After School Learning

11/20/2006
By For more information, contact media@uml.edu or 978-934-3224

Also Contact: Sandra Seitz, 978-934-3225 or Sandra_Seitz@uml.edu

LOWELL ߝ UMass Lowell recently received an 18-month, $130,000 grant from the Noyce Foundation. The funds were awarded to help Doug Prime, director of UML’s K-12 educational outreach for the College of Engineering, spread his highly successful DesignLab after-school engineering workshops.

“Schools are very interested in expanding their after school offerings, especially science and technology programs,” says Prime, “but they face several obstaclesߞ;they need help training teachers; they need high quality, easy-to-use curricula; and they need relief from the time-consuming effort of collecting materials.”

Using the Noyce grant and an additional $95,000 in private donations, Prime’s team will develop 10 different invention kits that teachers can use to run hands-on, design-based workshops. The primary goal of DesignLab activities is to engage students in authentic problem-solving activities that stimulate creative thinking and an interest in science and technology.

Prime also plans to offer graduate education courses to prepare teachers to run workshops. Plans include a set of instruction videos and project guides that will help teachers and students get started on their own. Also included would be a comprehensive website for teacher support and exchange of ideas.

The need is critical for high quality STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) enrichment programs in Massachusetts.  Between 1999 and 2005 the percentage of SAT test takers in the state indicating interest in science, technology or engineering fields dropped from 26 percent to 19.6 percent, despite a 21 percent increase in the number of test takers.

The Noyce Foundation is dedicated to stimulating ideas and supporting initiatives designed to produce significant improvement in teaching and learning in mathematics, science and literacy in grades K-12.

UMass Lowell, a comprehensive university with a national reputation in science, engineering and technology, is committed to educating students for lifelong success in a diverse world and conducting research and outreach activities that sustain the economic, environmental and social health of the region. UML offers its 11,000 students more than 120 degree choices, internships, five-year combined bachelor’s to master’s programs and doctoral studies in the colleges of Arts and Sciences, Engineering and Management, the School of Health and Environment, and the Graduate School of Education. www.uml.edu.