What we implemented:
At Lake Hills STEM Magnet we partnered with the local campus of Purdue University to provide enhanced STEM opportunities for all our students. Purdue supports us with curriculum development and implementation of our STEM labs. University professors deliver lessons to Lake Hills’ students and student teachers do their methods course at Lake Hills in science classes. There is a strong history of Lake Hills’ staff either teaching or learning at Purdue University. As the Teacher Leader I made the initial reach out to Purdue because we already had an informal relationship with them and thought we could work together more closely.
As we developed our integrated STEM Curriculum, I met multiple times with the Chancellor, three Deans (Science, Engineering, Liberal Arts) and various professors to keep them up-to-date on our plans and to enlist their ideas for incorporating best teaching practices into the curriculum. This two-way communication gave Purdue ownership in the creation and success of our program while we benefited from their expertise in multiple disciplines.
Over the years the partnership has grown and developed. We thought to ask about ways our traditional field trips could be STEM focused. Many times all it took was us asking about it and they were happy to help. We have fostered this relationship over the years through continuous communication. I play phone tag with university people and make sure to make contact in person during visits to say thank you. All STEM partners are also invited to an annual recognition at our STEM Supporters’ Potluck Luncheon.
One lesson learned:
Be specific in your ask. Some people have never been asked but can be very receptive to the idea. Always have a reason to reach out NOT just ‘how can you help?’ For example, we reached out to Purdue about our 3rd graders doing experiments in the lab on their upcoming field trip.