The Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Education Institute (STEM Education Institute) at the University of Massachusetts Amherst is funded by the Provost and the Deans of Education and of Natural Science and Mathematics. Its Director is Morton M. Sternheim, Professor of Physics. STEM is designed to enhance the University's teaching, research, and academic outreach missions in its fields of interest. Its clientele includes K12 students, students in introductory college level courses, and school and college faculty working with these students. Activities include coordination, encouragement and support of research, curriculum development, dissemination, and program implementation.
The Institute is an outgrowth of a Science After School Task Force established in March, 1992 to consider how to make it possible for Western Massachusetts teachers to take science, technology, engineering, and mathematics courses at the University. The task force included faculty and staff from the University and from area schools. It soon discovered that there were related issues waiting to be addressed, including preservice teacher education. It also learned that there are many members of the University and Five College community working in the area of K14 science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education. They are based in various departments and in many cases are not aware of other local programs related to their own interests.
The Institute brings these people together, facilitating joint efforts and avoiding unnecessary duplication. It brings coherence to programs that are presently totally disjointed. Above all, it play a major role in meeting the University's goals in academic outreach, teaching and learning, research, diversity, and multiculturalism. The synergistic effects of coordinating these efforts helps the University to play a leadership role in the national and state efforts to reform and improve science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education.