Several grants provided to colleges and universities this year are benefiting educational endeavors at the K-12 levels. The federal government, along with private foundations, has provided colleges and universities with grants that might boost interest in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), subjects and enhance special education at the elementary school level. Researchers at one institution are even working on developing a mobile app that can help individuals who are afflicted with autism.
A technology institution in Rochester, New York, for example, was provided a $420,000 Toyota Foundation Awards Grant. The grant money, to be provided over the course of three years, is designed to help the institute’s engineering college develop an interactive educational program for teaching STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) subjects at the K-12 levels. The Relevant Education in Math and Science Program, as it’s known, is to begin with students in the 5th to 12th grades and then, through an online component, expand beyond that, an announcement from the institute suggested.
In Athens, Georgia, a university was provided a $1.5 million National Science Foundation grant for use also related to STEM studies. This grant money was provided to establish a project that would enhance access to STEM studies for students with disabilities and better ensure their success with them, according to a November college announcement. Through a five year Georgia STEM Accessibility Alliance that the university would create with the grant money, students from the high school through graduate school levels would be provided high-tech offerings such as social networking and “virtual” mentoring as well as instructor preparation and more, the announcement noted.
Ji Shen, an education researcher at this same university was also provided a National Science Foundation grant – this one for $248,610. The grant money that Shen was awarded is designed to study a method for teaching science at the K-12 levels. Shen, an assistant professor in the college’s mathematics and science education department, plans to study the method known as Modeling-Based Instruction.
Teaching students with disabilities is the focus of a $1.2 million US Department of Education grant provided to a Washington university in Washington, D.C. The grant money, provided through the Department of Education’s Office of Special Educations Programs, is to benefit a program known as “Innovation for Infants, Toddlers and Preschoolers.” The program would prepare students for work in special educators in Washington, DC, Virginia and Maryland, an area where autism has been on the increase, an October announcement from the university noted.
Another $1.2 million grant, this one provided by the Institute of Education Sciences to a Georgia university, is to be used to develop an application for mobile communication devices. The “app,” known as iSkills, would help people with autism and other disabilities carry out their daily responsibilities, according to an announcement from the college. iSkills would be intended to help these individuals with working, living independently and more, the university release noted.
The Institute of Education Sciences also awarded education researchers in Georgia a $2.9 million grant to explore the effects that an elementary school-level teaching method for English language learners has on the academics of students. The model, known as “Instructional Conversation,” is designed to improve interaction between students and their classmates and students and their teachers. Other instructional methods include a “cemetery” model, where students listen to the instructor, and a “cooperative learning” model, where students learn from each other and the teacher.
One of the researchers at the Georgia college suggests that instructional conversation could particularly help reach Latino students who come from poverty and, in falling behind in high school studies, tend to drop out of high school. The study is to take place over the course of four years in high-poverty schools. Results are to be measured, at least on part, by standardized tests.