Shoring Up STEM Education in Lake County, a partnership between Indiana University-Bloomington, Indiana University-Northwest, Purdue University-W. Lafayette, Purdue University-Calumet, the School City of Hammond, the Gary Community School Corporation, and the City of Gary, was designed to enhance teacher quality in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) for secondary grades. The partnership between the school districts created a unique opportunity to establish a regional community of practice among teachers to sustainably support project-based learning (PBL) and capitalize on the shared community asset of the Lake Michigan watershed.
The objectives of the Shoring Up project were:
- Increase junior high and high school teachers’ STEM content knowledge
- Build a network of science educators in northwestern Indiana who use project-based and place-based learning
- Increase student and teacher exposure to STEM-related careers and their educational pathways
- Improve teacher understanding of the Indiana academic core content standards in biology, chemistry, and earth science
This project incorporated place-based learning by including the environmental community into the teacher professional development and student learning experiences to provide rich local context, relevance, expertise, and career awareness. To cultivate a regional to state-wide community of practice around PBL, which would increase the sustainability of the professional development, this project included collaborative PBL unit development work sessions and technology-infused activities that support discussions and collaboration within the group and with other PBL professional development groups in the state.