Mines has received a grant valued at more than $150,000 to participate in HP’s Catalyst Initiative, a global social innovation program designed to develop more effective approaches to science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education worldwide. The project will explore how the use of Tablet PCs can be used to enhance learning and nurture creativity at Mines.
As part of the program, HP is donating $6 million to 35 educational institutions, including Colorado School of Mines, across five consortia that will use the award to explore innovations in STEM learning and teaching. The consortia themes concentrate on: approaches to teacher preparation; online education; using technology to measure learning outcomes; and engaging students in global, collaborative learning experiences.
Frank Kowalski, professor of physics, and Susan Kowalski, coordinator of the CSM Classroom Communicator project, will lead the HP Catalyst Initiative at Mines. In the teaching model Mines instructors continue to develop, students use “digital ink” — a special pen that lets them write or draw directly on the computer screen — to respond to instructors’ questions in the form of graphs, diagrams or words. Instructors receive student responses instantaneously through web-based software created by students in Mines Department of Physics — and available for free to other educators worldwide. The instructor can gauge how well students understand the material and make clarifications immediately.
The HP award will enable the Kowalskis to examine how the instructional model works across different subject matter and teaching styles. The model will also be tested in summer programs for underrepresented engineering students, professional development courses for K-12 teachers and in a new course designed to nurture and assess creativity in physics and engineering physics students.
“This funding from HP puts Colorado School of Mines at the cutting edge of efforts to shape the way education and ultimately society evolves,” said Frank Kowalski. “In a class where each student has a Tablet PC, an instructor can pose a question, receive instantaneous responses from the class, and evaluate learning on a real-time basis. We have been successfully using this technology in physics and chemical engineering classes for the past few years, but this award will help us to see how it works with other subjects and instructional styles.”
Gabi Zeldmayer, vice president for HP’s Office of Global Social Innovation, said “The HP Catalyst Initiative underscores our vision of a world where innovation and collaboration are enabled by investments in technology and education. The program is designed to help foster potential solutions to society’s most critical challenges by educating and nurturing leaders that will be critical in ensuring we develop new communities and find new ways of doing things.“
About HP Catalyst Initiative: HP is building a global network of consortia that is attempting to develop more effective approaches to science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education. The goal is to create international collaborative “sandboxes” of innovation that will explore what the future of STEM education can look like—a future where students use their technical and creative ingenuity to address urgent social challenges in their communities and around the world.