Newswise — The Jodie Mahony Center for Gifted Education at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock has received nearly $2.5 million to develop and implement a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) program that identifies and serves academically promising second- and third-grade students in Arkansas.
Funded by a five-year $2,449,587 grant from the U.S. Department of Education, the STEM+C2 program is designed to identify promising students through universal screening and provide services to gifted and talented second- and third-grade students, including students from underrepresented populations.
“The STEM+C2 team assembled across three universities is a thrilling powerhouse of women devoted to developing academic and creative STEM talents in young children,” said Dr. Ann Robinson, director of the Jodie Mahony Center and principal investigator of the grant. “The current grant is the third in a series and builds on both STEM Starters and STEM Starters+. We published several research studies documenting the effectiveness of this intervention. In fact, one study, ‘A Talent for Tinkering,’ received two awards for research excellence. When we complete STEM+C2, we will have been funded for 15 years to develop, research, and disseminate an effective STEM intervention in elementary schools.”
STEM+C2 is the third five-year grant Jodie Mahony Center researchers have received through the Jacob K. Javits Gifted and Talented Students Education Program, which emphasizes serving traditionally underrepresented students in gifted and talented services to reduce the gap in achievement among groups of students at the highest levels of performance.
The Jodie Mahony Center will provide elementary students with the tools and resources they need to succeed in computer science, engineering, and science with creativity and innovation. Through professional development, STEM+C2 will prepare second- and third-grade teachers in gifted, creative, and talented education with summer institutes and academic year support.
Fellow researchers on the grant include Dr. Jill Adelson, research scientist with Duke University’s Talent Identification Program; Dr. Christine Cunningham, professor of education and engineering at Penn State University; Kristy Kidd, project director in the Jodie Mahony Center, and Dr. Christine Deitz, associate director of the Jodie Mahony Center.
“The STEM+C2 project will empower over 100 teachers to engage students in creative and innovative curriculum connected to STEM and computer science education,” Deitz said. “This exciting intervention is designed to develop learning talent in the primary grades and help teachers spot potential in young learners; especially children from low-income families and in populations who are traditionally underrepresented in gifted programs.”
The program’s professional development component will equip teachers with content related to STEM disciplines, strategies to identify promising students from underrepresented groups, a STEM+C2 toolkit with engineering design challenges and computer science explorations, and support for National Board Teacher Certification. The program will also prepare teachers to implement “Blueprints for Biography: Computer Science Series,” developed by researchers at the Jodie Mahony Center.
The series features STEM innovators Grace Hopper, a pioneer of computer programming; Ada King, an English mathematician and Countess of Lovelace; and Raye Montague, the 2019 recipient of UA Little Rock’s Fribourgh Award who created the first computer-generated rough draft of a U.S. naval ship.
Over the course of the grant, the program will serve nearly 1,400 second- and third-grade students, 60 classroom teachers, 30 gifted education teachers, and 30 elementary school principals across two cohorts at 30 elementary schools in the state.