DALLAS–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Recognizing that teachers play a crucial role in inspiring young people to take upper-level science classes and pursue science careers, the Perot Museum today unveiled a new program targeted at classroom educators called the Kosmos Energy STEM Teacher Institute. The innovative program sponsored by Dallas-based Kosmos Energy is designed to measurably improve the quality of formal science instruction for participating K-12th grade teachers and increase interest and engagement among their students in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).
“Based upon teachers’ innate love of teaching and their passion for inspiring students, we wanted to give them an opportunity to do that with respect to science and math. The Kosmos Energy STEM Teacher Institute is going to provide teachers with access to wonderful instruction, year-round mentoring and resources that will boost their skills and help them change students’ perceptions of STEM subjects,” said Colleen Walker, Eugene McDermott chief executive officer of the Perot Museum of Nature and Science. “This extraordinary gift from Kosmos Energy will have long-lasting effects that will change the lives – and future careers – of both teachers and young people.”
“We are pleased to support the Perot Museum’s efforts to raise the quality of STEM education in our home community, as well as inspire students to pursue careers in these fields. Our success in finding and developing oil and gas over the last decade has been built on our expertise in the STEM disciplines, and we know how important these subjects are to both our industry and the nation,” said Andrew G. Inglis, Kosmos Energy’s chairman and chief executive officer. “This program aims to provide teachers with the professional development and resources needed to give all of our children the best education possible.”
The goal of the joint program is to equip teachers – from pre-service to advanced – with the knowledge, tools, creativity and enthusiasm to increase interest and engagement among their students in STEM subjects. The program was revealed today at The Hockaday School in the Lyda Hill STEM Institute wing, where approximately 130 teachers are undergoing intense training at four weeklong sessions that began July 6. Around 160 teachers are expected to eventually participate in the program this inaugural year.
“A combined lack of student engagement in STEM subjects and a shortage of qualified STEM teachers have contributed to a STEM crisis in our country,” added Walker. “As a result, U.S. students are falling dangerously behind in STEM subjects, creating serious concerns for workforce development in companies and industries where the U.S. was once a leader.”
Science education has suffered for a number of reasons. Many U.S. students choose to opt out of science classes in high school and college. Additionally, almost all elementary school teachers and nearly one-third of middle and high school science teachers are teaching “out of field” and/or are uncertified in math and science instruction.
In Texas, elementary educators are not required to be certified in math and science to teach these subjects. Also, K-5 teachers in Texas historically have not placed huge emphasis on science because state testing for science doesn’t start until 5th grade and many teachers are intimidated by the subject. However, the Kosmos Energy STEM Teacher Institute aims to create a network of teachers – up to grade 12 – that will provide a chain of support and help “generalist” teachers feel more comfortable and confident in teaching science.
Walker notes that issues of student engagement and teacher preparedness are intimately related, and the STEM crisis can only be resolved through a comprehensive approach which ensures both students and teachers are prepared for success. Studies show that if engaged at an early age in school, students are more likely to pursue science in high school and college, potentially leading to careers in STEM fields.
The program, which got underway this spring, involved a formal application process for teachers to ensure they are invested and committed. Chosen teachers from across the Dallas/Fort Worth area attend a weeklong Summer Academy at The Hockaday School, where they’re grouped according to their level of comfort and expertise in science – Pre-Service Teachers, Novice Teachers, Advanced Teachers and Mentor Teachers – rather than by grade level.
Instruction continues through the academic year with five professional development sessions held weekends twice a month, for which they’ll receive continuing education credits required for teachers by the Texas Education Agency. The teachers also will be mentored throughout the academic year.
The program is expected to indirectly affect over 4,800 students during the 2015-2016 school year. Expected outcomes include significantly increasing teachers’ science content knowledge, competence, confidence, creativity and consistency in science instruction.
The Kosmos Energy STEM Teacher Institute builds upon the existing Leaders In Science (LIS) professional training program that Perot Museum staffers have operated the past four years within Dallas ISD. The LIS program will end June 2016 and roll into this program.
“Leaders in Science is a tremendous program that delivered strong results and taught us a great deal, but the Kosmos Energy STEM Teacher Institute takes that concept to a much higher and broader level,” said Walker.
The Kosmos Energy STEM Teacher Institute is a product of the Perot Museum and made possible in part by Kosmos Energy, the Institute of Museum and Library Services grant number MA-10-14-0265-14, the Community Impact Fund of The Dallas Foundation, Alliance Data and ExxonMobil. Find more information about the Kosmos Energy STEM Teacher Institute at perotmuseum.org/STEMTeacherInstitute.
About the Perot Museum of Nature and Science. A top destination for North Texans and tourists alike, the Perot Museum of Nature and Science is a nonprofit educational organization located in the heart of Dallas, Texas, with campuses in Victory Park and Fair Park. With a mission to inspire minds through nature and science, the Perot Museum delivers exciting, engaging and innovative visitor and outreach experiences through its education, exhibition, and research and collections programming for children, students, teachers, families and life-long learners. The 180,000-square-foot facility in Victory Park opened in December 2012 and is now recognized as the symbolic gateway to the Dallas Arts District. The Museum features 11 permanent exhibit halls on five floors of public space; a children’s museum; a state-of-the art traveling exhibition hall; and The Hoglund Foundation Theater, a National Geographic Experience. Future scientists, mathematicians and engineers will find inspiration and enlightenment through breathtaking collections, interactive exhibits, multimedia presentations and vivid contextual displays that expose visitors to a hands-on world of ideas and concepts. Designed by 2005 Pritzker Architecture Prize Laureate Thom Mayne and his firm Morphosis Architects, the Victory Park Museum has been lauded for its artistry and sustainability. To learn more, please visit perotmuseum.org.
About Kosmos Energy. Kosmos Energy is a leading independent oil and gas exploration and production company focused on frontier and emerging areas along the Atlantic Margin. Our assets include existing production and other major development projects offshore Ghana, as well as exploration licenses with significant hydrocarbon potential offshore Ireland, Mauritania, Morocco, Portugal, Senegal, Suriname, and Western Sahara. As an ethical and transparent company, Kosmos is committed to doing things the right way. The company’s Business Principles articulate our commitment to transparency, ethics, human rights, safety and the environment. Read more about this commitment in the Kosmos 2014 Corporate Responsibility Report. Kosmos is listed on the New York Stock Exchange and is traded under the ticker symbol KOS. For additional information, visit www.kosmosenergy.com.
About the Institute of Museum and Library Services. The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 123,000 libraries and 35,000 museums. Our mission is to inspire libraries and museums to advance innovation, lifelong learning, and cultural and civic engagement. Our grant making, policy development, and research help libraries and museums deliver valuable services that make it possible for communities and individuals to thrive. To learn more, visit www.imls.gov and follow IMLS on Facebook and Twitter.