GAITHERSBURG, MD—The Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) today announced that they have joined forces in a cooperative effort to design and implement innovative strategies that will help graduates of MCPS schools to have the necessary science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) skills to successfully compete in a global economy.
The signing of a memorandum of understanding by NIST Director William Jeffrey and MCPS Superintendent Jerry Weast marks the beginning of a planned five-year partnership aimed at enhancing pre-college STEM education via collaborative programs for MCPS students, teachers and administrative staff.
"This agreement empowers NIST's science and engineering talent with the means to actively benefit MCPS teachers and, in turn, their students. Through this collaboration, we hope to show students the excitement inherent in science and math, produce a better educated workforce, and nurture the next generation of scientists and engineers," said Jeffrey.
"NIST is providing teachers with a wonderful opportunity to develop their content expertise in math and science—areas that are key to student success in the 21st century," said Superintendent Weast. "I am particularly pleased that middle school teachers will participate in the pilot institute, as improvements to middle school instruction are a top MCPS priority."
A pilot two-week institute for approximately 20 MCPS middle school (Grades 6-8) teachers at NIST's Gaithersburg, Md., headquarters is planned for this summer as the initial project under the new agreement. At the institute, teachers will spend the first week learning from NIST scientists and engineers—both in lectures and laboratory sessions—about a wide variety of STEM subjects such as reaction chemistry, optics and lasers, superconductors, quantum mechanics, robotics, nanotechnology, building and fire research, and computer security. This will give participants the opportunity to see measurement research in a real-world environment and build mentoring relationships with their NIST hosts.
During the second week, plans call for the MCPS teachers to shadow NIST staff in the laboratory to gain hands-on experience that builds upon and strengthens the lessons learned in Week 1. Participants also will use this time to develop draft lesson plans utilizing the knowledge and skills gained.
The process for selecting participants for the pilot summer institute will be defined by NIST and MCPS within the next few weeks.
The NIST-MCPS agreement supports the science and mathematics education goals of the President's American Competitiveness Initiative (ACI), which also seeks increased support for critical research and development efforts at NIST and two other federal agencies.
MCPS is the largest school system in Maryland and the 16th largest in the country, with approximately 138,000 students enrolled in 199 schools.
As a non-regulatory agency, NIST promotes U.S. innovation and industrial competitiveness by advancing measurement science, standards and technology in ways that enhance economic security and improve our quality of life.
"I am so proud of NIST and Montgomery County for building this new partnership that will bring teachers into NIST's labs to spark excitement and inspire our kids about science and math. Programs like this will help give our students the science skills they need to keep America competitive in the 21st century. As Chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee that funds science agencies, I will continue to fight to increase America's science talent pool, and to support innovative programs like this partnership."