GK-12 Learning Partnerships
Colorado School of Mines
A major outcome of the GK12 Learning Partnership has been the redefinition of the scholarly activities that are accepted and rewarded within three participating departments--Mathematical and Computer Sciences (MCS), Engineering (Eng.), and Geophysics. Traditionally, the university has focused on applied science and engineering and has had limited prior participation in K-12 outreach. As a direct result of this grant, the culture is changing. In the 10 years prior to the GK12 grant, only one Master’s thesis in MCS focused on educational activities, and that was higher education. During the first two years of our grant, two graduate students have completed and one has begun a Master thesis addressing K-12 educational research. For the first time in the history of the university, a graduate student from Eng. and one from Geophysics have both declared Ph.D. theses that focus on engineering in the middle-school classroom. Several graduate students, representing all of the participating departments, have also published scholarly articles about K-12 outreach. These accomplishments suggest movement toward the creation of a generation of “outreach scientists.” In 1996, Conway coined the term “outreach mathematician” to describe mathematicians who are both active and knowledgeable in the field and contribute to the advancement of K-12 education. We extend this term here to include all fields of science.