Center for Applied Informatics partners to provide STEM-related mobile learning experiences

For immediate release…
Friday – Dec. 20, 2013

HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ky. - The Northern Kentucky University Center for Applied Informatics is partnering with Cincinnati Public Schools (CPS), Milford Exempted Village School District, Partnership for Innovation and Education (PIE), Smarter Schools and the Mayerson Academy to advance and replicate a promising case-based method of teaching STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) at the public school level. The program, funded by a $1.1 million grant from the Ohio Department of Education’s $250 million Straight A Fund, is one of only 24 grants approved this week by the State of Ohio Controlling Board.

The NKU CAI will partner with the participating schools to provide cool STEM-related learning experiences in mobile apps. It will work with K-12 faculty to create a mobile curriculum and then assist in conducting classes for mobile apps.

“The partnership with PIE and Smarter Schools is a win-win for the College of Informatics,” said Dr. Kevin Kirby, dean of the NKU College of Informatics. “Our students get tremendous and innovative learning opportunities at the same time as helping advance the STEM disciplines in local school systems.”

With the CAI’s assistance, local K-12 students will create mobile apps that will make revenue for their respective school districts. The experience will teach critical technology and STEM concepts while also providing a lesson in business and entrepreneurism.

The grant proposal is designed to help address a shortage of students pursuing STEM careers. In the future, Ohio’s job base will require science, technology, engineering and math skills; 90 percent of those will require postsecondary education. Currently, only 19 out of every 100 bachelor’s degrees are in STEM fields. Researchers seek to harness the natural experimentation and curiosity of elementary school students to generate early interest in pursuing STEM fields.

CPS and Milford will work to implement the innovative STEM program in six Milford elementary schools (Meadowview, McCormick, Mulberry, Pattison, Seipelt and Boyd E. Smith) and 12 CPS schools (School for Creative and Performing Arts, Rothenberg Preparatory Academy,  Rockdale Academy Elementary School, Aiken College and Career High School, James N. Gamble Montessori High School, Clark Montessori High School, Pleasant Ridge Montessori School, Kilgour Elementary School, Academy for Multilingual Immersion Studies, Sands Montessori, Hughes STEM High School and Hyde Park School).

“I'm extremely excited about this opportunity to engage our students' creativity in real-world problem-solving while building the STEM skills that are so valuable in the 21st century economy,” said Mary Ronan, superintendent of Cincinnati Public Schools.

The grant proposal builds from a project piloted last year at CPS’ Kilgour Elementary, in which teachers worked with PIE to develop a case-based, vertically integrated curriculum. It featured the development and application of critical thinking skills using authentic STEM content and aided by technology. The case method places the student in a decision-making role. Case facts and context are presented but the student must actively pursue a solution. At Kilgour, students reviewed relevant facts, figures and data, and learned about the product life cycle, SWOT analysis, and the “5Ps” of marketing.

To apply these concepts, they developed an accompanying “app” and became the first public elementary school to launch an app available globally via the Google Android Store. Every $0.99 download of the “Cash Cow Lemon Smash™” app provides revenue to Cincinnati Public Schools.

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