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Symbi Receives 2011 Outstanding Project Website Award

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At the 2011 GK-12 Annual Conference, Symbi was recognized by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the GK-12 Program with the Outstanding Project Website Award, presented by Tim Spuck, Albert Einstein Fellow, on March 11, 2011 in Washington, D.C. The award was based on the following criteria: visual appeal; organization of material on the website; content is current and not out dated; fellow bios are present, clear, and interesting; school partners and teachers are identified; user friendly; science activities and presentations are available; news events for the project are available.

The goal was to create a user-friendly website that can address all stakeholders including graduate students, teachers, middle school students, and their parents. “I am so proud that Symbi’s efforts and vision to produce a simple, clear, and easy to navigate site have been recognized” said Adah Leshem-Ackerman, Symbi program director.

The NSF Graduate STEM Fellows in K-12 Education (GK-12) Program supports fellowships and training for graduate students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Through interactions with teachers and students in K-12 schools, graduate fellows can improve communication and teaching skills while enriching STEM content and instruction for their K-12 Partners. Symbi supports Iowa State University graduate students (Fellows) conducting interdisciplinary research in areas associated with biorenewables. Each Fellow works collaboratively with a selected 7th or 8th grade middle school science teacher in the Des Moines Public School District to leverage the Fellow's research experiences as they develop innovative and engaging science activities for middle school students. The Fellows spend one full day every week throughout the public school year in a Des Moines middle school science classroom performing the duties of a ‘resident scientist’ as they interact with their partner teacher and students. "When a child walks into a classroom, it should be a place of high expectations and high performance... the biggest impact on a child’s success comes from the man or woman at the front of the classroom"-- BARACK OBAMA, January 26, 2011, State of the Union Address.

The vision of this engagement is two-fold: to provide graduate students with the skill sets and communication proficiency to explain their science and illustrate core STEM principles to a young and receptive audience; and to provide middle school students exposure to inquiry-based learning experiences and authentic demonstrations of mastery of core concepts. Accomplishing this integrated vision will provide both groups of students with the ability to be highly competitive in the 21st century global economy. This is a need that is recognized throughout society, as is illustrated by comments made by President Obama's address to the National Academy of Science: "I want to persuade you to spend time in the classroom, talking and showing young people what it is that your work can mean and what it means to you…I want us all to think about new and creative ways to engage young people in science and engineering." (Obama, 2009)

Name development, logo, and website was designed and developed in partnership between Bluespace Creative and the Symbi Leadership Team. “We worked very close with Bluespace in the development and layout of all components, to ensure the website would be maintainable and a valuable resource for the different audiences. We appreciate the expertise and creativity they brought to the project” said Lindsey Long, project coordinator.

Symbi is a sponsored project under the NSF Engineering Research Center for Biorenewable Chemicals (CBiRC) based at Iowa State University.



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