A MOMENT OF SCIENCE

NASA gives $2.8 million boost to Texas university's innovative program

NASA gives $2.8 million boost to Texas university's innovative program

Texas State University
The NASA-funded program has already helped more than 320,000 STEM educators in the U.S.  Texas State/Instagram

Texas State University is getting extended funding for its STEM educators from a universally admired science organization.

The school recently announced that NASA extended a STEM-based Educator Professional Development Collaborative at Texas State with a $2.8 million grant.

The grant extends the program — known by the lengthy name of the NASA Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Engagement and Educator Professional Development Collaborative, or NASA STEM EPDC for short — at Texas State through 2022.

This marks the continuation of a previously funded seven-year, $21 million NASA STEM EPDC project that, according to the school, has reached more than 320,000 educators.

Leslie Huling, the interim director of Texas State’s LBJ Institute for STEM Education and Research and a professor in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, will oversee the grant as principal investigator, with Kristina Collins, assistant professor in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, serving as co-investigator. However, the project includes more than 20 Texas State faculty and staff members who work with students and educators to share STEM learning experiences through the lens of NASA.

“Dr. Huling and I submitted this proposal to NASA in December of 2020,” says Araceli Ortiz, senior advisor with the LBJ Institute for STEM Education and Research, a research associate professor of engineering education in the College of Education, and an educator who’s locally known as “the game changer” for her work in elevating STEM education at Texas State. “This continued NASA support is a testament to the great leadership and management of the EPDC team we have provided since 2014 and to the research and best practices that we are now able to share with great impact.”

The goal of the school’s LBJ Institute for STEM Education and Research is to prepare students and faculty to conduct STEM-based education research and form a supportive academic community that enhances teacher prep and faculty professional development, contributes to the recruitment and production of more STEM-literate professionals, and supports Texas students — all objectives that will be strengthened with the new NASA funding.

Texas State’s research-based NASA STEM EPDC aims to support at a national level NASA’s strategies that are focused on STEM engagement and educator professional development. The specific mission of the project is to understand the impact NASA’s vast educational resources can have on educators, and how this can motivate diverse groups of students to consider pursuing STEM careers.