In May of 2011 I received a call from Kristie Maher, Ex. Dir., SD Discovery Center, asking if I would be interested in managing their Summer of Innovation (SoI) program, a four year NASA grant they were just awarded. With STEM education being one of my passions, I naturally said yes to this wonderful opportunity.
The Summer of Innovation program is NASA’s response to a national need for improvement in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, education. This NASA project is designed to improve the skills and enhance the engagement of American students in STEM with a focus on informal education. After piloting the program in 2010, NASA put out a call for proposals to expand the program. The SD Discovery Center, located in Pierre, SD, was one of only eight grants that were awarded nationwide.
Having many years of experience in working with pre-service and in-service educators, this was the first time in which I worked with informal educators on an extensive basis. It has been a great journey of growth for me and the educators. In the next several posts I will share some takeaways in designing and developing STEM professional development for informal educators, particularly in a rural setting.