MO-STEP combines the academic strengths of the Department of Biology, the International Center for Tropical Ecology and the pedagogical background of the Science Education Program at UM-St. Louis in a tightly-coupled collaboration with urban high schools located near the University. The intellectual merit of MO-STEP lies in provision of current information and practical, cutting-edge applications that link ecology, conservation biology and molecular genetics to GK-12 graduate fellows, high school students and faculty. Through close ties with the Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis Zoo, Forest Park Forever and the St. Louis Aquacenter, MO-STEP will facilitate opportunities for field trips and summer internships that provide hands-on experience in systematics, ecology and biodiversity conservation. MO-STEP will be underpinned by two concepts:

  1. good teaching requires a sound discipline knowledge base; and
  2. good teaching strategies are critical to teaching and learning.

Participants will use inquiry, problem-based approaches in the laboratory or field to investigate local, national and international issues that surround human interactions with the environment.

Five, under-resourced urban high schools have joined MO-STEP. MO-STEP will nurture collaboration between high school faculty, graduate fellows and university faculty, bridging the divide between school classroom and university campus. Team-building will be facilitated through pre-school year workshops, regular meetings, wet site and collaborative development of teaching materials. Professional development for high school faculty will be provided through educational opportunities including participation in research through an internship program. MO-STEP will seek to enhance student preparation for college access and success in the timely completion of college programs. The broader implications of MO-STEP include the professional development of a collaborative team of university faculty and high school faculty working to improve science education at grades 9 through 16.

Three major barriers to school-university partnerships are:

  1. unwillingness of high school faculty to seek help from university faculty;
  2. university faculty's lack of understanding of the needs of high school science teachers; and
  3. low prestige of science education as career choice in science graduate programs.

We aim to change this culture through close professional associations that will encourage long-term partnerships. MO-STEP will integrate K-12 science education with higher education by developing seamless career options within one multifaceted graduate program. Strong support of high school science instruction will encourage high school faculty to continue the collaborative relationship while expanding graduate career opportunities. Attractive graduate fellowship support, opportunities for interaction with enthusiastic high school faculty and students, and increased performance of in-coming undergraduate students will spark the interest and long-term commitment of university faculty.

For more information contact:

Dr. Charles R. Granger
University of Missouri-St. Louis
R239 Research Complex
One University Boulevard
St. Louis, MO 63121-4400
Telephone: (314) 516-6226
Fax: (314) 516-6233
E-mail: grangerch@umsl.edu