CATALYST Research Projects

Student Cognition and Learning in K-12 STEM Instructional Contexts

Sensing Science through Modeling Matter (S2M2) is a $2.6 million National Science Foundation-funded research grant with an engagement component. Drs. Lynn Bryan and Ala Samarapungavan collaborated with Concord Consortium to develop and research inquiry-based, modeling-based curriculum to support early science kindergarten learning of concepts involving matter and its changes.

This $1.8 million NSF-funded project involves research, teaching, and engagement. The PULSE team is investigating middle school students’ learning of and interest in LifeSTEM as they engage in instruction that integrates science and engineering design. We are developing content-rich, engineering-design based curriculum units that focus on core life science and conducting a large-scale, longitudinal field study of how to support student learning and interest development among middle school students from underrepresented backgrounds. Purdue faculty and staff include Drs. Selcen Guzey (PI), Lynn Bryan (Co-PI), Muhsin Menekse (Co-PI), and Bill Walker.

Dr. Nathan Mentzer and a team that includes high school teachers in Indiana, the Purdue College of Engineering, and the Purdue Polytechnic Institute work on this project that is funded by the National Science Foundation in the amount of $746,412,  Teachers collaborate with the Purdue team to learn ways of increasing and enhancing robotics instruction in high school schools, with the goal of attracting and sustaining underrepresented students’ interest in STEM as well as developing awareness of STEM careers.

STEM Teacher Learning Across the Professional Continuum

This $5.1 million project, funded by the U.S. Department of Education, is a collaborative partnership between Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS) and Purdue University and is led by Drs. Lynn Bryan (PI) and Selcen Guzey (Co-PI). The overall vision of Indianapolis STEM Teacher Residency (ISTR) is to strengthen the educational outcomes of students in the largest urban school district in Indiana, IPS, by preparing culturally competent, highly qualified career STEM teachers who will elevate student achievement in middle and high school science (including computer science), technology, engineering, and mathematics.

This project is an NSF-funded collaborative research project with mathematics education faculty and graduate and undergraduate students at Duquesne University, Michigan State University, and the University of Arizona. The research team, led by PI, Dr. Jill Newton, seeks to understand how upper elementary teachers make decisions about their mathematics curriculum in the context of the limitless availability of online resources. In this study, the research team investigates how teachers use curriculum materials, think about curricular coherence, and how their decisions about curriculum lead to student learning.

Funded by the National Science Foundation ($325,009), this project will investigate teachers’ conceptions of integrated STEM teaching and learning and how their conceptions influence the design of classroom experiences that engage students in these learning environments. Dr. Asunda, PI will collaborate with five rural and diverse K-12 Indiana schools (16 teachers and 500+ students) designated as STEM teaching schools by the Indiana Department of Education.

Dr. Bill Walker (co-PI), Assistant Director of Programs and Partnerships at CATALYST, and Dr. David Feikes (PI), Professor at Purdue University Northwest, were awarded two grants from the Indiana Department of Education ($140,000, $173,000) for the Math Recovery Project. The Math Recovery Project provides one week of professional development for teachers with activities and materials that promote math recovery for high-needs students while addressing social and emotional learning and collaborative work.

Integrated STEM Education

In this $749,964 NSF funded grant, Dr. Hui Hui Wang (Co-PI), along with collaborators Cory Forbes (PI, University of Texas Arlington), Nicole Sintov (Co-PI, The Ohio State University), and Hannah Scherer (Co-PI, Virginia Tech), will cultivate a new, transdisciplinary community, the National Collaborative for Research on Food, Energy, and Water Education (NC-FEW). NC-FEW serves as a hub of innovation for education research on FEW-Nexus educational programs at many levels (K-12, postsecondary, adults) and settings (formal and informal).

Dr. Paul Asunda (Co-PI), in collaboration with a team of professors in Purdue’s School of Aviation and Transportation Technology and Embry Riddle Aeronautical University in Florida, is developing curriculum training materials based on findings from research focused on mitigating fatigue in professional flight students. The curriculum consists of three modules, (a) causes and symptoms of fatigue, (b) best practices for sleep and healthy lifestyle,  and  (c) decision-making related to what student pilots may face today and what they may face in the future workplace. This project is funded by a Purdue Polytechnic Institute Seed Grant ($12,000).

This project is a 3-year, $599,980 grant funded by the National Science Foundation. The goals of the project are to (1) develop, test, and use teaching practices and curricular innovations that will engage students and improve learning, persistence, and retention in STEM, and (2) colleges and universities to implement and sustain highly effective STEM teaching and learning. The project team, led by Dr. Nathan Mentzer, will examine active learning strategies in blended synchronous instructional environments to further define HyFlex as an educational model, optimize the approach, and study the efficacy of student learning and sense of community.

Dr. Hui Hui Wang (Co-PI) is a member of a Purdue University—Cornell University collaboration of scientists developing programs to improve food safety in Bangladesh, Kenya, Ethiopia, Senegal, and Cambodia. This project is funded by a $ 9,989,774 grant from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to establish what is said to be the first-ever Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Food Safety.

This project is a U.S. Department of Agriculture/National Institute of Food and Agriculture grant (2020-2024) in which Purdue scientists from the College of Agriculture co-develop agriculture and iSTEM educational materials that are solidly grounded in agro-ecosystem thinking. This project aims to increase rural high school teachers’ agriculture and STEM literacy teaching capacity and equip high school students’ system thinking and data-based decision-making skills by solving industry-based, real-world agricultural design challenges from pre-harvest to post-harvest themes. Dr. Hui Hui Wang is the PI and Drs. Neil Knobloch, Roger Tormoehlen, Betty Feng, and Peter Langenhoven are Co-PIs for this $300,000 grant project.

Led by Dr. Nathan Mentzer (PI), this project combines design education researchers from Purdue, Brigham Young, the University of Georgia, the International Technology and Engineering Education Association’s STEM Center, and the Career Technical and Agricultural Education Instructional Coordinator for the DeKalb County School District. This project is a 3-year, $1.26 million grant funded by the National Science Foundation. The goals of the project are to develop, refine, and test an educational innovation in which 9th-grade students evaluate sample work as a starting point in engineering design cycles.

In partnership with Purdue Polytechnic High School, Dr. Hui Hui Wang (PI) and co-PIs Neil Knobloch, Roger Tormoehlen, Betty Feng, Petrus Langenhoven are leading this project (2019-2022, $20,000) that combines developing problem-solving skills and entrepreneurial thinking through Incubation Design Challenges (IDCs) in high school classrooms.

WHIN with Local STEM is a $ 65,649 project (2019-2022) led by Dr. Hui Hui Wang, with co-PIs Drs. Neil Knobloch, Roger Tormoehlen, Betty Feng, and Petrus Langenhoven developed a data-based integrated STEM learning experience with high school teachers/students. WHIN with Local STEM partnering schools include Benton Central High School, Frontier High School, and Tri-County High School.