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Yvonne Ng to lead National Center for STEM Elementary Education

Yvonne Ng (far left) and Lori Maxfield (third from left) evaluate Richfield teachers' final STEM projects.
Yvonne Ng (far left) and Lori Maxfield (third from left) evaluate Richfield teachers' final STEM projects.
Photo by Rebecca Zenefski '10.

Tony Murphy, founder and executive director of the National Center for STEM Elementary Education (NCSEE) at St. Catherine University, has been selected as the new director of the GLOBE Program at the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR). He will lead the program at its headquarters in Boulder, Colo. He will remain an advisor to the National Center for STEM Elementary Education (NCSEE)—a GLOBE partner—and NCSEE will continue to collaborate with GLOBE on a variety of initiatives. 

Yvonne Ng, a mechanical and aerospace engineer and a NCSEE adjunct professor, will serve as interim executive director while St. Catherine conducts a national search for the Center’s Executive Director.

 Launched in 2010, the National Center for STEM Elementary Education was established to improve elementary teacher effectiveness, advance student performance and strengthen society’s literacy in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). The Center brings together the University’s initiatives in STEM for teachers, school districts and undergraduate students. The St. Kate’s model of team-teaching—uniting faculty from both education and STEM disciplines—has been recognized for its innovation. The center is also a partner in the national STEM education network, 100Kin10.

The Center offers graduate certificate programs for both traditional and Montessori elementary teachers as well as consulting services and custom STEM training programs. Clients include the Anoka-Hennepin, Richfield, Osseo and Stillwater School Districts in Minnesota.

Murphy and STEM

Born in Killarney town, County Kerry, Ireland, Murphy earned bachelor's (with honors) and master's degrees in science education from the University of Limerick. He earned his doctorate in education studies and science education with a focus on environmental education from Ohio State University, Columbus.  Following a NASA fellowship in the GLOBE program, Murphy continued as education and training coordinator and was subsequently promoted to deputy assistant director. He also directed the Hamline University Center for Global Environmental Education before joining St. Kate’s.

Murphy joined the St. Catherine University’s faculty in 2001, was tenured in 2006 and served as Associate Dean of Education 2008-2010. His 2004 proposal for an interdisciplinary STEM curriculum brought together faculty from six departments and two schools to develop a multifaceted academic initiative that includes a STEM minor and certificate for undergraduate students in addition to graduate certificates in STEM for in-service teachers.

Affirming that elementary teachers must be confident, competent and comfortable STEM educators, St. Kate’s now requires elementary education majors to complete the STEM certificate for initial licensure.

Ng to serve as interim executive director

Yvonne Ng, who’s been recognized nationally for her work, holds a mechanical and aerospace engineering degree from Princeton University and a master's in mechanical engineering from the University of Minnesota. Her experience includes internships at NASA and Honeywell as well as prestigious scholarly awards.

She joined the University in 2000 and has taught computer science and mathematics. She served as a co-principal investigator and undergraduate student mentor for the University’s National Science Foundation (NSF) Scholars Program and a member of the STEM Education Team.

She has created the engineering curriculum and team-taught with NCSEE Adjunct Professor Lori Maxfield both at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Her research collaboration, “Robot Building at St. Kate’s: Transforming Computer and Engineering Education for Women and Girls” grew into a partnership with the Girl Scouts of the Minnesota and Wisconsin River Valleys that created “ME Robots,” a curriculum package now offered through the National Center for STEM Elementary Education.

In addition, Ng is the author of Engineering for the Uninitiated, a guide to help parents and teachers understand engineering.  She will appear on an upcoming episode of “SciGirls,” the Twin Cities Public Television STEM outreach program.

More about STEM at St. Kate's

"Teachers master STEM education" (video)

"3M affirms support for GLOBE and STEM education at annual partner meeting luncheon"

"Osseo teachers become STEM-certified educators"

Sep. 21, 2012 by Julie Michener

See also: Education, STEM