The Jess & Mildred Fisher College of Science & Mathematics


Towson University Center for STEM Excellence

Baltimore Excellence in STEM Teaching (BEST) Project

2013-2014 Best Teachers cohort  
The 2013-2014 BEST Project Teachers  
Thank you for your interest in Towson University’s Baltimore Excellence in STEM Teaching (BEST) Project. Funding for this program has expired, therefore we are not currently offering this professional development opportunity. We are seeking funding to support research experiences for teachers (RET) programs in the future. If you are interested in serving as a research mentor or are aware of funding sources that align with our program goals (see below), please contact the BEST Project Evaluator, Dr. Rommel Miranda (contact information below). Should funding for future PD opportunities become available, we will inform school system STEM supervisors and coordinators who will pass this information onto their STEM teachers.

BEST Project Program Summary: 2011 – 2014

BEST written on a globe  

Funded by two grants from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), Towson University’s Baltimore Excellence in STEM Teaching (BEST) Project aims to improve high school and middle school science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) instruction throughout the Baltimore metropolitan area. As part of Towson University’s Center for STEM Excellence, the BEST Project offers training and mentoring opportunities to in-service STEM teachers as well as educational outreach to their students.


Just as the best sports coaches were likely successful players, the BEST STEM teachers are those who “do.” Conducting STEM research gives teachers the experience, confidence and credibility to coach the next generation of scientists and engineers. To gain this authentic experience, each BEST teacher is partnered with a research scientist, mathematician or engineer at a local university, government institution or industry to conduct a 6-week summer research project. The BEST program continues the following school year as teachers develop and implement lessons that translate their summer research experiences into engaging, learner-centered activities for their students. Requiring students to act and think like real-world STEM researchers develops problem-solving as well as interpersonal skills preparing high school graduates that are ready for college and exposing them to potential careers in STEM.

The BEST Project is an extremely beneficial continuing education opportunity for STEM teachers as well as their students. Participants state that their summer research experience has positively impacted their work in the classroom and they enthusiastically recommend the BEST Project to other teachers. A 17-year veteran teacher professed, “I have gained so much during this 6 week internship. The biggest gain has been a renewed self-confidence [which] will show through in my classroom and with other faculty and the administration. I feel that my credentials as a scientist just got a boost. It's the BEST!” Another teacher expressed that the program allowed him “to view the classroom as a learning environment where mistakes are okay and we are to learn from them. Give up control and go with the flow. Students are curious and perform great work when given the opportunity.” Recognizing that one teacher has the power to influence thousands of students during his or her career, the broader impacts of participation in BEST are profound.

In addition to outstanding gains in middle and high school STEM teaching, BEST Project research mentors, their institutions, as well as the STEM education research community are positively impacted by the program. BEST summer projects contribute to the mentors’ research agenda, foster collaboration with K-12 schools, and positively influence college teaching through the sharing of best instructional practices. BEST Project empirical research findings have been presented at four prestigious international/national science education conferences and published in top-tier peer-reviewed professional journals, advancing knowledge about effective STEM teacher training. Additional program highlights are listed below.

  • Over 50 teachers representing nine Maryland public school systems have benefitted from the program.
  • Over 40 individuals representing 15 institutions in the greater Baltimore area have served as research mentors.
  • Several teachers have presented posters about their summer work and the impacts that BEST has had on their teaching at national professional conferences.
  • Several teachers are contributing authors on manuscripts published in peer-reviewed scientific journals or on manuscripts currently in review.
  • One teacher’s summer work contributed to a patent application.

Information about BEST Project Teacher-Interns and sponsoring research institutions and mentors can be found at

If you have questions about the BEST Project or our education research findings, please contact Rommel Miranda at rmiranda@towson.edu. If you are interested in other professional development and outreach activities provided by Towson University, please explore the links on the web page at

 

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