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EcoSTARS Partnership honored by Prior Lake-Savage Area Schools

Left to right, Sue Ann Gruver, Ph.D., Lori Maxfield, Ph.D., Linda Distad, Ph.D., and Cara Rieckenberg.
Left to right, Sue Ann Gruver, Ph.D., Lori Maxfield, Ph.D., Linda Distad, Ph.D., and Cara Rieckenberg.
Photo by Julie Michener.

St. Catherine University’s unique STEM teacher program EcoSTARS was honored in April during the Annual Partnership Recognition and Celebration program of the Prior Lake-Savage Area School District.

EcoSTARS is a partnership of integrated environmental science learning between elementary and middle schools and St. Catherine University, established to increase student learning and enthusiasm for STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects. 

Curriculum Specialist Cara Rieckenberg and Superintendent Sue Ann Gruver, Ph.D., made the award presentation to Associate Dean for Education Lori Maxfield, Ph.D., and Professor Linda Distad, Ph.D.

More about EcoSTARS

St. Catherine University began the first EcoSTARS partnership in fall 2006 with the Prior Lake-Savage Area School District with support from the Jeffers Foundation.

St. Catherine University education faculty train elementary education majors and classroom teachers to conduct STEM investigations, create fieldwork experiences for elementary students and provide mentoring during lessons at partner schools.

Curriculum is drawn from GLOBE (Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment), Project Learning Tree (PLT) and Project WET (Water Education for Teachers).

This successful partnership created the momentum to expand the EcoSTARS model in fall 2008 into Northrop Urban Environmental School in Minneapolis and Crossroads Elementary in St. Paul.

The EcoSTARS program coordinates with the National Center for STEM Elementary Education to improve elementary teacher effectiveness, advance student performance and strengthen society’s literacy in STEM.

The program is a key component of the University's elementary education major. St. Kate's elementary education majors are now required to complete a STEM certificate— three of five courses in the University’s unique STEM minor— for initial licensure.

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April 13, 2012 by Julie Michener

See also: Education, Faculty, STEM