SF State, San Rafael City Schools share $1.5 million grant

San Francisco State University and San Rafael City Schools have been awarded a $1.5 million grant over the next three years to support professional development for science and math teachers in the SRCS District.

The iTEAMS (Integrated Technology Engineering And Math Science) grant from the California Department of Education will help teachers of grades 3-8 as they develop interdisciplinary math and science lessons that relate to real-world problems of engineering and technology. The lessons will be designed to match the skill sets recommended by the Common Core State Standards and the Next Generation Science Standards.

Photo of Assistant Professor of Mathematics Eric Hsu

Professor of Mathematics Eric Hsu. Photo by Diane Fenster SF State Science Graphics Center

The grant’s principal investigator is SF State Professor of Mathematics Eric Hsu, who directs the Center for Math and Science Education (CSME). He will lead an SF State team in developing and presenting the professional development for the teachers. Assistant Professor of Secondary Education Larry Horvath and Associate Professor of Elementary Education Stephanie Sisk-Hilton will also offer direct professional development, along with other members of CSME and faculty from the College of Science and Engineering, Romberg Tiburon Center and the Graduate College of Education.

Hsu joined with San Rafael City Schools on a previous California Math and Science Partnership grant from 2006-2008, and is finishing work on a similar six-year grant with the San Francisco Unified School District.

"It’s an exciting time for teaching because of the introduction of the new math and science standards," Hsu said. "I'm also looking forward to working with the partner school districts again, and I've worked with a number of the other STEM partners on previous projects so I know we're going to have a very good team working with very dedicated and talented teachers."

Under the new iTEAMS grant, teachers will meet for five days in the summer and three days throughout the year to receive 60 annual hours of intensive skill-building and coaching. Participants will also share their strategies and lessons through a website created as part of the program.

The professional development training is aimed at helping teachers build curriculum units that encourage cooperative learning and problem-solving skills. For instance, one such unit might look at the rebuilding of the Bay Bridge from the perspective of mathematical scaling and representation in mathematics, earthquake and seismic hazards and environmental impact on adjoining waterways. Students might finish up the unit with a competition to build a model bridge that would withstand earthquakes and traffic jams, for example.

The iTEAMS professional team includes the Exploratorium and a Regional Collaborative Partnership (RCP) that involves institutions and organizations with extensive knowledge of STEM and commitment to improving STEM educational opportunities: a partial list includes Autodesk, California Academy of Sciences, the Marin Community Foundation, San Rafael Rotary and the San Rafael Chamber of Commerce. The grant will also extend to schools in neighboring districts: Dixie Elementary, Ross Valley and the Marin County Office of Education.

-- University Communications