Designed to make lasting changes to the elementary teacher education program at Iowa State University (ISU), this project will:
- Align ISU elementary teacher education STEM curricula with state and national standards, and incorporate engineering design into the elementary teacher education program;
- Create a program for pre-service and in-service teachers to work in partnership with ISU engineering graduate students (Trinect Fellows) on a regular weekly basis during the student teaching semester;
- Support science, mathematics and engineering education Des Moines Public Schools;
- Create a dual-listed undergraduate/graduate course, Engineering and Public Outreach, for engineering students to sustain collaboration after project funding has ended.
Trinect utilizes a novel triad approach, consisting of a pre-service teacher, an in-service teacher and a graduate student majoring in engineering. The triad will work collaboratively in 3rd – 5th grade classrooms to teach science well and implement engineering concepts, mathematics and technology as recommended by the Next Generation Science Standards and required by the Iowa Core Curriculum. The inclusion of engineering students working side-by-side elementary pre- and in-service teachers, their students, schools and the community, together with the ISU graduate level course Engineering and Public Outreach, addresses a secondary but important intent of this project: to enhance engineers’ communication and public engagement skills.
The research agenda of Trinect will determine the effectiveness of this approach to improve elementary teachers’ STEM practice and efficacy and to determine reciprocal effects on the participating engineers.
Thus Trinect stands to make a contribution at the local level by creating an innovative elementary teacher preparation program involving engineers and engineering concepts. It will also make a national contribution to educational/organizational research as the evidence of the impact of this work, which engages STEM disciplinary faculty members (Agriculture and Biosystems Engineering, Physics, Chemistry, Chemical and Biological Engineering, and Mechanical Engineering) working with education faculty and school district personnel, is studied during its development and implementation.