MSU Receives $4M to Study How to Inspire Students in STEM Subjects

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After receiving a nearly $4 million grant from the National Science Foundation, Michigan State University researchers will join scholars in Finland to study how to motivate and excite students about learning science.

“Our interest is really to enhance engagement in science,” says Barbara Schneider, a professor in the college of education and department of sociology at MSU, and the principal investigator of the study. “Not everyone will be a scientist, but all students need scientific knowledge to understand and contribute to the world.”

Schneider says during the five-year project, the researchers will work with educators in the United States and Finland to design and implement curriculum units in physics and chemistry classes. The lessons will allow researchers to study the impact of new science teaching strategies modeled after the Next Generation Science Standards, a voluntary set of guidelines being introduced in schools across the nation.

The guidelines will help students deepen their understanding of core scientific concepts and increase their ability to evaluate scientific evidence. Its curriculum covers fewer topics, but goes more in-depth in certain areas.

Schneider says Finland was chosen as a partner since Finnish students outperform most of the world on international tests, but the country is also in the process of restructuring its science curriculum in an effort to increase interest in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics subjects. 

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