PCS Announces Systemic Institute Success
Boise, Idaho – October 20, 2009 -PCS Edventures (OTCBB: PCSV-News) today announced the successful start of the second year of the Idaho SySTEMic Solution, a U.S. Department of Education funded initiative to advance STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) achievement, enthusiasm and confidence among elementary–age and middle school learners and their teachers. PCS Edventures! provides learning materials, teacher education workshops and consulting services for the initiative, which is led by Boise State University, the recipient of the U.S. Department of Education award.
SySTEMic is being implemented and studied in seven schools in the Meridian Joint School District, the largest district in Idaho. The overarching vision of Idaho SySTEMic Solution is for participating elementary school students to progress to middle school and high school with greater interest and abilities in STEM, to provide an inquiry learning educational model that will be transferable throughout Idaho and to other states, and to equip teachers to foster STEM interest and literacy. SySTEMic provides a model of hands-on, project-based learning through the use of the PCS BrickLab.
“Through project-based experiential learning, children solve problems, think creatively and critically and become comfortable with math and science, and more engaged and motivated to learn,” said Louis Nadelson, an assistant professor of curriculum, instruction and foundational studies at Boise State University and a co-principal investigator on SySTEMic.
The first two years of the Idaho SySTEMic Solution have focused on teachers, with the goal of supporting their STEM content knowledge, instructional practices, awareness of engineering, and overall confidence in teaching STEM concepts. Teachers attend a three-day Idaho SySTEMic Summer Institute, then implement hands-on lessons in their elementary classrooms throughout the school year, with support from Boise State and PCS staff. Last year 38 teachers participated, and this year an additional 37 have joined the project.
Brenda Kramer, a SySTEMic Instructor, using BrickLab in her classroom.
“This professional development model is proving to be highly successful and we are continuing to expand and use it both domestically and internationally,” said Jim Schmidt, Ed.D.,PCS’ Director of Professional Development.
The model emphasizes continuous feedback and reinforcement of concepts, beginning with an intensive physical workshop and then reinforced by online learning modules, site-based mentors, and regional master mentors.The multiple levels of reinforcement combine the best aspects of e-learning, peer support, and mentoring to create a highly successful, blended learning approach.
This model works extremely well because educators are continually supported and encouraged to use the materials in the classroom, rather than just experiencing a workshop and returning to “business as usual” in the classroom. Teachers are busy and this approach was designed to fit into their typical school day — not making it more difficult, rather, making it more engaging. In addition, our customers overseas find this model very useful because student-centered learning approaches such as those used in our lab programs are quite new to them. Continual, consistent support is very helpful, and the multiple approaches to this reinforcement help overcome many of the challenges created by language and cultural differences.
The final piece of the model is establishing high standards of completion for educators and rewarding them with continuing education credits from an accredited University. For example, the SySTEMic project in Southwestern Idaho awards credits from Boise State University, and we have also developed relationships with other universities where necessary. Our training program in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, last year for example, involved training teachers from 50 schools. Teachers who successfully completed the training receive continuing education credits from Idaho State University.
BSU’s Nadelson is studying the program’s effectiveness along with Boise State’s SySTEMic Solution’s research team including principal investigator Janet Callahan, associate dean of engineering; Pat Pyke, director of engineering education research; and Anne Hay, SySTEMic Solution project coordinator. At the close of the first year, this project has assembled considerable quantities of data that are being closely analyzed. The team presented its first set of data, on the summer institute, at the 2009 annual conference of the American Society for Engineering Education. To summarize, pre-and post-institute measures analyses revealed statistically significant teacher increase in confidence to teach STEM curriculum, positive increase in engineering attitudes, and increase in STEM teaching efficacy over the course of the three-day workshop. The team attributes these changes to the content and context of the summer institute, and is currently analyzing the data on school-year implementation.
The success of the Idaho SySTEMic Solution has also drawn support from the Idaho National Laboratory (INL), which funded 20 classrooms for a similar project in schools in rural Idaho. PCS held a BrickLab workshop for these teachers in October.
“I was so impressed by the Brick-Lab workshop,” said Anne Seifert, STEM Coordinator for Education Programs, Idaho National Laboratory. “On behalf of the INL Education programs, we want to commend you for efforts in supporting STEM education here in Idaho. Congratulations on your great work in supporting teachers as they prepare and educate students for the future. Please accept our best wishes and we look forward to your continued partnership!”
Notes: The Idaho SySTEMic Solution projects were funded in fiscal year 2008 and fiscal year 2009 by awards from the U.S. Department of Education fund for the Improvement of Education. Boise State University was awarded $191,593 in fiscal year 2008, which represents 100% of the SySTEMic project’s total costs, and $190,000 in fiscal year 2009, which represents 98% of the SySTEMic project’s total costs. The BrickLab workshop sponsored by Idaho National Laboratory is a separate program and not part of the U.S. Department of Education award.
About Boise State University
Boise State is an emerging metropolitan research university of distinction and the largest university in Idaho with nearly 19,000 students. The campus is home to 11 Idaho Professors of the Year since 1990. The colleges of Arts and Sciences, Business and Economics, Education, Engineering, Health Sciences, and Social Sciences and Public Affairs offer more than 200 academic programs.
About the Idaho National Engineering Laboratory
Idaho National Laboratory is the U.S. Department of Energy’s leading center of nuclear energy research and development where more than 4,000 researchers and support staff work with national and international governments, universities and industry partners to deliver energy and national security solutions and expand the frontiers of science and technology.
About PCS Edventures!
PCS Edventures! is the recognized leader in the design, development and delivery of educational learning labs bundled with related technologies and programs to the K-12 market worldwide. The PCS suite of products ranges from hands-on learning labs in technology-rich topics in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) to services rich in imagination, innovation, and creativity. PCS programs operate in over 6,000 sites in all 50 United States as well as in 17 countries Internationally. Additional information is at http://www.edventures.com
_ _ _
Financial Contact: Janelle Conaway 1.800.429.3110 X 101, firstname.lastname@example.org
Investor Contact: Anthony A. Maher 1.800.429.3110 X 102, email@example.com
Web Site: www.edventures.com