Center for Excellence in Education Launches National Lab Skills Symposium

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The Center for Excellence in Education strives to address the challenges of laboratory instruction and learning in our nation’s science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) classrooms to assure a future talented and diverse U.S. workforce. The National Lab Skills Symposium will unveil exemplary programs of “best practices” in laboratory education.

“The Center’s Lab Skills initiative will address leveling the playing field for all secondary school students to successfully complete science studies and pursue careers in STEM.” - Joann DiGennaro, CEE President

The Center for Excellence in Education (CEE) announces the launch of the National Lab Skills Symposium to cultivate the next generation of scientific leaders today with improved practical laboratory skills. The Symposium, underwritten by Life Technologies, will take place at the Holiday Inn Capitol located at 550 C. Street, SW, Washington, DC 20024.

The Center strives to address the challenges of laboratory instruction and learning in our nation’s science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) classrooms to assure a future talented and diverse U.S. workforce. The National Lab Skills Symposium will unveil exemplary programs of “best practices” in laboratory education.

“CEE has been at the forefront of improving STEM education world-wide for over 25 years through its nationally and internationally recognized Research Science Institute and U.S.A. Biology Olympiad,” said Joann DiGennaro, President of CEE. “The Center’s Lab Skills initiative will address leveling the playing field for all secondary school students to successfully complete science studies and pursue careers in STEM.”

The Center has examined programs from throughout the United States for the Symposium roll-out based on cost-effective, replicable, sustainable, assessed, virtual, and/or hands-on laboratory models which include public/private partnerships, and strategies for maximizing lab skills training in the United States. CEE selected six exemplary models of laboratory education to receive recognition at the National Lab Skills Symposium.

The programs are as follows:

  •     Alabama Math, Science, and Technology Initiative (AMSTI)
  •     Biogen Idec Community Lab
  •     Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago’s Institute for Quality Science Teaching
  •     NASA Explorer Schools
  •     Partnership for Research and Education in Plants
  •     UTeach

Symposium attendees will participate in discussions and learn from presentations about these best practices in laboratory education based on common core components of excellence. Participants will evaluate the selected models to determine best pedagogy for laboratory education.

The opening of the Symposium on April 8th will lead off with a panel discussion from 2:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. entitled “Status of Science Learning in U.S. High Schools, STEM Education, Education Policy Issues, and Why Lab Experience is Important for STEM.”

The panelists leading this much needed discussion are:

  • Dr. Jan Cuny, Program Director, Broadening Participation in Computing, National Science Foundation
  • Mr. Michael Lach, Special Assistant, Elementary and Secondary Education, U.S. Department of Education
  • Dr. Susan Rundell Singer, Laurence McKinley Gould Professor of the Natural Sciences, Department of Biology, Carleton College

Dr. Noreen Hynes, Director, Geographic Medicine Center, Division of Infectious Diseases, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine is the keynote speaker on Friday, April 9th from 2:15 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. at the National Lab Skills Symposium.

CEE plans that the Symposium’s recommended best practice models will be launched in several carefully selected states within two years, and eventually adopted nationwide, to ensure that our nation’s high schools reach the Gold Standard in science education in order to remain a leading, innovative and competitive nation.

CEE assembled three Focus Groups comprised of influential members of academia at the high school and university levels, non-governmental organizations, governmental agency representatives, corporate leaders, and designees of U.S. Congressional members. These groups defined necessary components and best practices for teaching and learning of high-quality lab experiences. The group offered suggestions for addressing the challenges of the leaky pipeline for this nation’s future workforce in science and technology. The Center also held a special meeting of renowned members of the STEM community at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute to discuss these best practices in further detail and to help determine the focus of the National Lab Skills Symposium.

Partners to date are National Lab Day, National Association of Biology Teachers (NABT), and the Association of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC). For more information about the Center and for the Lab Skills Initiative, please contact Gillian Goldmark, National Lab Skills Symposium Manager, at (703) 448-9062 ext. 230.

The Center for Excellence in Education was founded in 1983 by the late Admiral H.G. Rickover and Joann P. DiGennaro, president of the Center. The Center's mission is to nurture young scholars to careers of excellence and leadership in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, and to encourage collaborations between and among leaders in the global community. CEE sponsors the Research Science Institute (RSI) and the USA Biology Olympiad (USABO). For more information about the Center and its programs, visit CEE’s Web site, http://www.cee.org.

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