Mi-STAR is motivated by a vision for the future of STEM education in which science is taught and learned as an integrated body of knowledge that can be applied to address relevant real-world problems. Mi-STAR was developed to meet the needs of teachers, schools, and districts who are committed to improving students’ learning outcomes in science and engineering. Through its partnerships and collaborations, Mi-STAR offers a three-year long integrated science curriculum for grades 6-8 designed in full alignment with all of the Next Generation (and Michigan) Science Standards. All units in the curriculum are pilot-tested prior to release and are continually refined based on feedback received from implementing teachers. Mi-STAR teachers are supported by an ongoing professional learning program that includes web-based learning modules, a community helpdesk, and a community forum. A train-the-trainer delivery model for the professional learning program promotes implementation fidelity and development of local professional learning communities. The Mi-STAR community includes scientists, engineers, curriculum developers, education researchers, assessment experts, middle-school teachers, school administrators, and others. Mi-STAR’s materials and programs support three-dimensional learning as envisioned by the National Academies’ Framework for K-12 Science Education.
- Need Accomplished
- Evaluation Accomplished
- Sustainability Accomplished
- Replication & Scalability Accomplished
- Partnerships Accomplished
- Capacity Accomplished
- Challenging & Relevant Content Accomplished
- STEM Practices Accomplished
- Inspiration Accomplished
- Under-Represented Groups Developing
I have always hoped to be an engaging, hands-on, inquiry-based, best-practice science teacher, and I thought I was. But after piloting this unit, I’m really thinking differently about my teaching. The combination of a unit-challenge, three dimensional scientific instruction, truly inquiry lessons in a real-world problem-solving approach to learning has created learning in my students that I have never seen before in all my years of teaching.
The programs in this database clear a high bar. STEMworks reviewed each program against the Design Principles for Effective STEM Philanthropy. Programs must be Accomplished () across all Design Principles, or be Developing () in a maximum of three areas.
Identify and target a compelling and well-defined need.
Use rigorous evaluation to continuously measure and inform progress towards the compelling need identified.
Ensure work is sustainable.
Replication & Scalability Accomplished
Demonstrate replicability and scalability.
Create high impact partnerships.
Ensure organizational capacity to achieve goals.
Challenging & Relevant Content Accomplished
Offer challenging and relevant STEM content for the target audience.
STEM Practices Accomplished
Incorporate and encourage STEM practices.
Inspire interest and engagement in STEM.
Under-Represented Groups Developing
Identify and address the needs of under-represented groups.
Mi-STAR is motivated by a vision for the future of STEM education in which science is taught and learned as an integrated body of knowledge that can be applied to address relevant real-world problems.
Mi-STAR Curriculum: Mi-STAR’s curriculum is designed to empower teachers to provide high quality STEM experiences to students. Each unit in the curriculum is built around a problem-based “unit challenge.” Every unit challenge is related to one or more of the 21st-century grand challenges identified by the National Academy of Engineering and other professional science/engineering societies (e.g., energy, water, sustainability, health). Each unit challenge is also designed to focus on a question that is relevant to young people and their families. Each unit in the Mi-STAR middle school curriculum addresses multiple Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) performance expectations (PEs). The lessons within each unit and the units that comprise the curriculum scaffold students’ mastery of all three dimensions of the PEs (that is, the science and engineering practices, disciplinary core ideas, and crosscutting concepts). Every unit in the curriculum includes multiple opportunities for multi-dimensional classroom-based assessment that gauge students’ mastery of each of the three dimensions of the PEs. Multi-dimensional items are also included in pre- and post-assessments for each unit. The items on the pre/post assessments are designed to measure student growth and to provide students with opportunities to practice responding to questions that are similar in content and format to what they will encounter on high-stakes tests.
Mi-STAR Professional Learning: Mi-STAR’s professional learning program is uniquely suited to empowering STEM teachers because it provides scalable opportunities for intensive in-depth learning that is augmented by long-term sustained interaction with Mi-STAR staff, experienced professional learning facilitators, and other teachers who are using Mi-STAR. It emphasizes strategies designed to help teachers implement Mi-STAR’s curriculum in an effective, student-centered way. Mi-STAR’s scalable train-the-trainer model for professional learning also provides a framework for teachers to grow as leaders. The professional learning program begins with an online training that introduces the basics of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), including the nature of the performance expectations and their component science and engineering practices, disciplinary core ideas, and crosscutting concepts. The concepts of credible evidence of mastery and multidimensional assessment are also addressed. Further, the online program introduces teachers to best-practice pedagogy that supports student-centered, teacher-facilitated learning. Following the online introduction to NGSS-aligned teaching and learning, teachers engage in face-to-face experiential sessions that give them the opportunity to interact with trained facilitators (the Mi-STAR Professional Learning Facilitators) and their teacher-colleagues as they work through issues related to classroom-based implementation of the curriculum and associated pedagogy. Assessment of student learning is also addressed using samples of Mi-STAR embedded assessments and associated scoring rubrics.
Funders and Partners
Major support for Mi-STAR comes from the Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation, National Science Foundation, MiSTEM Advisory Council Grants through the Michigan Department of Education, and Michigan Technological University.
Non-profit organizations including the Michigan Science Teachers Association, Michigan Earth Science Teachers Association, and MiSTEM Network provide guidance and assistance to Mi-STAR.
Individuals from the numerous organizations have been particularly important in developing Mi-STAR. These organizations include Michigan Technological University, Central Michigan University, Eastern Michigan University, Grand Valley State University, Saginaw Valley State University, Western Michigan University, Adams Township Schools, Bangor Township Schools, Bay City Public Schools, Grosse Pointe Public Schools, Kalamazoo Public Schools, Kent Intermediate School District, Macomb Intermediate School District, Midland Public Schools, Oakland Schools, Rochester Community Schools, Saginaw Intermediate School District, and the American Geosciences Institute (AGI).