During their Teacher Link Fellows training, scientist volunteers begin the soils science kit by probing their subject matter: dirt.
The hands of Amy Sims, Ph.D., one of TLP's scientist volunteers, get down and dirty with the material from the soils science kit.
Background: The impetus for founding the SMT Center came in 1995 when the Public School Forum of North Carolina surveyed the status of science and mathematics education in the state and found that despite a wealth of resources, education in mathematics and the sciences had failed to live up to its potential. Six years later, it was clear that some things had changed since the Forum's report, but more was needed.
After two years of preliminary research and with the aid of a group of policy and education experts from across the country, the Burroughs Wellcome Fund launched the SMT Center in 2002. A 22-member board of directors comprising N.C. leaders in education, business, and government oversees the Center.
Mission: To systematically improve performance in science, mathematics, and technology preK-12 education as a means of providing all children in North Carolina with the necessary knowledge and skills in science, mathematics, and technology to have successful careers, be good citizens, and advance the economy of the state.
Goals: The SMT Education Center's overarching goal is to help North Carolina achieve its vision of having the best public schools in the nation by 2010. To do that, the Center will focus on the following goals:
To articulate a vision for science, mathematics, and technology education in North Carolina, to broaden awareness of the need for a scientifically literate workforce, and to solicit support for high quality programs of instruction;
To work with government, industry, the education community and parents to promote continuously improving levels of performance in science, mathematics, and technology by all children in pre K-12; and to advocate for equitable and adequate resources for all pre K-12 children;
To mobilize expertise and leverage resources to reach all pre K-12 children in each of North Carolina's 117 school systems, to foster comprehensive and challenging programs of instruction in science, mathematics, and technology instruction by distributing tools and learning methods and providing technical assistance to educational leaders (including principals and teachers);
To work with existing organizations, such as the N.C. Institute for Education Policymakers, to research, develop, and disseminate information on the state of science, mathematics, and technology pre K-12 education to policymakers and the media in order to improve decision-making and to identify gaps that need to be addressed.
Role of the SMT Education Center: The SMT Education Center will accomplish its mission and goals by serving as:
an Advocate for research-based and comprehensive programs of instruction; for state and national policies that support improved teaching and learning in science, mathematics, and technology education;
a Broker of educational initiatives and resources ensuring that academic success is systemic, continuous, and sustainable;
a Catalyst for innovation and change through:
Identifying best practices nationally and internationally,
Conducting policy forums and professional leadership seminars,
Underwriting commissioned research and development projects and distributing results through a variety of print and non-print media,
Providing tools and technical assistance to help educators achieve academic excellence for all students, and
Using existing networks of science, mathematics, and technology advocates and retired North Carolina citizens committed to education.
Provider of strategic technical assistance programs that do not duplicate existing programs, but add value to on-going programs; work collaboratively with other existing groups to advance science, mathematics, and technology education;
a Facilitator of existing networks and groups on an ongoing basis;
a Communicator of the status of science, mathematics, and technology education to legislators, the media, and the community at large.
Role of the Burroughs Wellcome Fund: BWF plays a "convener" role and should be considered the neutral impetus behind North Carolina's effort to establish an SMT Education Center. BWF will work collaboratively with other existing groups to augment on-going programs and advance science, mathematics, and technology education across the state.
The Burroughs Wellcome Fund is an independent private foundation dedicated to advancing the medical sciences by supporting research and other scientific and educational activities. BWF is governed by a Board of Directors composed of distinguished scientists and business leaders and is not affiliated with any corporation.