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TN-SCORE Students Helping Teach Teachers


UTK Students Helping Teach Teachers

Tennessee Solar Conversion and Storage Using Outreach, Research, and Education (TN-SCORE) played a major role in the Tennessee STEM Leadership Academy (TSLA).  University of Tennessee, Knoxville TN-SCORE-funded Bredesen Center for Interdisciplinary Research (CIRE) graduate students Stephen Wood, Jason Clement, and Ryan Ginder as well as UTK REU student Evan Ornouski and post-doc Doug Aaron led over 70 middle school science teachers from 53 school districts in three separate energy engineering challenges over the three day event at Oak Ridge Associated University.  The students helped develop educational hands-on modules that taught the teachers about microbial fuel cells, wind energy, and solar energy.

Statewide Professional Development & Science Education

The Tennessee STEM Leadership Academy, funded through Race to The Top funds, is a professional development program that will create a cadre of current K-12 STEM teachers and administrators to serve as lead liaisons to the Tennessee STEM Innovation Network (TSIN). The TSIN is a joint project administered by the state of Tennessee and Battelle to establish six STEM platform schools and innovation hubs that bring secondary, postsecondary, and industry together to provide a more interactive, inquiry-based learning experience for students.

 The TSIN innovation hubs and platform schools are:

  • Nashville-Middle Tennessee Regional STEM Innovation Hob, Stratford Academy
  • Knoxville-Knoxville Area Regional STEM Network, L & N STEM Academy
  • Kingsport/Johnson City-Northeast TN STEM Innovation Hub, Innovation Academy
  • Cookeville-Upper Cumberland Rural STEM Initiative, Prescott South Middle & Elementary
  • Chattanooga-Southeast TN STEM Initiative, School to be named by students this fall
  • Memphis-Coming online next fall


TSIN has contracted with Oak Ridge Associated Universities (ORAU) to organize and manage the TSLA program for three years. The inaugural meeting was held June 25-28 in Oak Ridge. The meeting featured programs focused on innovative practices, communication technologies and pedagogical approaches to expand active STEM learning environments across Tennessee. TN-SCORE provided the bridge to the State’s science and technology plan by focusing strategically on the renewable energy research which themed the workshop. To underscore the relevancy, TN-SCORE graduate students and staff led energy engineering challenges each day the allowed the teachers a hands-on project based experience. TN-SCORE created curriculum-focused modules that taught the fundamentals of wind, solar, and microbial energy. The energy engineering challenges were extremely well-received. The post-academy evaluation survey of the teachers had a 100% return rate with the TN-SCORE activities scoring a 4.59 on a scale of one to five.

The role of the Tennessee STEM Leadership Academy (TLSA) will facilitate the dissemination of best practices from STEM platform schools, Tennessee STEM Innovation Hubs and the Tennessee STEM Innovation Network (TSIN). As liaisons, Academy Fellows will disseminate information to teachers and administrators in their districts. Moving forward, TN-SCORE will work with ORAU to assist in the next workshops as well as taking the program “on the road” to broaden participation throughout the state. 

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