By Lillian Bowe
PNT staff writer
Eastern New Mexico University has received a grant that will bring together formal and informal education to teach the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) to students of all ages and the public.
The grant is a $50,000 Science Education for New Civic Engagements and Responsibilities (SENCER) project from the National Center for Science and Civic Engagement. It will bring together a group of New Mexico science educators and a group of state’s university-based researchers to find the best ways to teach STEM to students.
The science educators are from museums across the state including Blackwater Draw Museum and Archeological Site at ENMU, New Mexico State Parks and New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science in Albuquerque. They are part of the New Mexico Informal Science/Current Research Network Partnership (NMISENet).
John Montgomery, Ph.D., professor of anthropology at ENMU, has been representing ENMU at two meetings with the other NMISENet partners.
Montgomery said the meetings has been about planning.
“We are looking at the best practices to teach STEM to students that is engaging and different from learning from a textbook,” Montgomery said.
Montgomery and other representatives from across the state are looking for ways to use museums as a new way to teach the STEM field.
Blackwater Draw Museum will be part of this new teaching program and the money from the grant will go to educational outreach and what best practices will be used at the museum.
Selena Connealy, education and outreach coordinator for New Mexico Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR), said the grant was made to improve STEM teaching across New Mexico.
“This is a state-wide grant of $20 million dollars over the course of five years and the utilization of the museums are a part of the larger grant,” Connealy said.
Connealy said with the museums across the state meeting, they will be sharing what works best to teach and support each other.
Montgomery said they are still at the planning stage and there will be two more meetings this year.