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Marian College Named Regional Lead Institution For The I-STEM Initiative - 10/22/2007

Marian College has been named a regional lead institution in central Indiana for the I-STEM (Indiana - Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) Resource Network. The I-STEM Resource Network (http://www.istemnetwork.org/), coordinated at Purdue University, is a partnership among Indiana’s public and private higher education institutions, K-12 schools, business, and government. I-STEM is instrumental in helping K-12 teachers and education affiliates implement high academic standards. In addition, the program provides Indiana educators with new knowledge and teaching approaches they can take to their classrooms.

Dr. William Walker, the executive director for the I-STEM network, will work hand-in-hand with Dr. Loren Bertocci, Marian College’s new dean of the School of Mathematics and Sciences, to facilitate the programming efforts for this program initiative.

Anonymous donor creates endowed dean position

Dr. Loren Bertocci is one answer to the challenge of how best to educate students in science. Marian College recently received an anonymous gift for $2 million to endow the dean’s position in its School of Mathematics and Sciences. Bertocci is reconfiguring Marian College’s science curriculum so that graduates are better prepared to participate in the region’s life sciences economy, either as K-12 science teachers or as science graduates who go on for advanced degrees in the sciences.

The way most of us learned science through textbooks, slide shows, movies, lots and lots of memorization, and the occasional microscope or dissection was fine for then, but not for today. Today’s science degrees and science careers require months in labs, doing hands-on research. Marian College gives students, even freshmen, hours of time in the laboratory and in field research, working directly with professors and research experts. Studies have shown this is the only way to ensure graduates can continue to participate in a science- and technology-driven economy. Integrating the I-STEM Resource Network with Marian College’s mathematics and science curriculum will give Marian College students even more hands-on opportunities.

The college’s EcoLab, an outdoor environmental science laboratory, has been an important resource for independent and group research projects for nearly seven years. Through the I-STEM network, research opportunities in the EcoLab will be available to budding scientists at the K-12 level; they will be able to collect and analyze real environmental data and relate them to larger scientific theories.

Another reality of today’s science is that it is multi-disciplinary, as never before in history. Liberal arts institutions like Marian College are, by definition, organized to provide science majors with a broad range of related subjects. This approach strengthens their reasoning skills and gives them a competitive edge when they graduate.

For more information about the I-STEM Resource Network, contact Dr. Loren Bertocci at 317.955.6345 or lbertocci@marian.edu.