News & Collaborations

What's Working: Finding tomorrow's workers in kindergarten?

Union Leader article by Michael Cousineau

MANCHESTER — It’s never too early.


This includes reaching out to kids in kindergarten through second grade to create the earliest of worker pipelines.


“That’s when they’re deciding what to be when they grow up,” said Barbara Hopkins, who’s working on one of several pilot projects that the Advanced Regenerative Manufacturing Institute/BioFabUSA is funding.

Hopkins, as part of the effort by the University of New Hampshire’s Joan and James Leitzel Center for Mathematics, Science, and Engineering Education, is producing “unit lessons” for teachers to use as soon as this fall to get kids interested in the life sciences and eventually pursuing a career.

The aim is to get kids from K-12 involved — and become a model for other states.

Read the full article


Provost Jones Announces Leitzel Center Interim Director

Julie Bryce, professor of geochemistry, has agreed to serve as interim director of the Joan and James Leitzel Center for Mathematics, Science and Engineering Education for the 2019-20 academic year. Julie brings a dedication to working with K-12 teachers, decades of experience mentoring earlier career scientists and leadership experience in numerous projects from the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Geological Survey and private foundations to direct scientific research projects, build capacity and engage with the K-12 community.
A member of the Earth sciences department for 16 years, she served as chair for two terms and was a member of the executive committee for the College of Engineering and Physical Sciences. This past year she served as a faculty fellow in the Office of the Senior Vice Provost for Engagement and Faculty Development, where she was co-chair of the university’s Research and Engagement Academy.
Professor Bryce will direct the center through its next year and foster its integration into its new home under the Office of Outreach and Engagement within the UNH Research Office; Leitzel Center Director Ruth Varner is taking a year of sabbatical leave (July 1, 2019 - June 30, 2020).

Please join me in congratulating Julie on her new role.


Wayne Jones
Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs


Cheryl Lavoie - Best Poster in STEM Education at the GRC, April 2019

Ruth Varner, Cheryl Lavoie, Chris Bauer
Ruth Varner, Cheryl Lavoie, and Chris Bauer

The Leitzel Center Award for Best Poster in STEM Education Research at the Graduate Research Conference (April, 2019) goes to Cheryl Lavoie, “Polar or non-polar: Student decision-making when offered sequential or simultaneous exemplars with and without electrostatic potential maps”. She is pictured with her faculty advisor, Chris Bauer, Professor, UNH Chemistry and Ruth Varner, Director of the Leitzel Center for Mathematics, Science and Engineering Education.



Dalton Marsh received the Leitzel Award for best oral presentation

Sheree Sharpe, Dalton Marsh, and Ruth Varner
Sheree Sharpe, Dalton Marsh, and Ruth Varner

Dalton Marsh received the Leitzel Award for best oral presentation in STEM Education Research at the Graduate Research Conference at the Whittemore Center in April, 2019.  The presentations in the Leitzel Award competition were all extremely relevant and very high quality in the area of K-12 STEM education. He is pictured with his faculty advisor, Sheree Sharpe, Assistant Professor, UNH Department of Mathematics and Statistics and Ruth Varner, Director of the Leitzel Center for Mathematics, Science and Engineering Education.




Hands-on learning for citizen scientists through Schoolyard SITES

Students in multiple Rochester schools have taken on the roles of citizen scientists, thanks to a partnership with the University of New Hampshire’s Cooperative Extension and the Leitzel Center.

Through its collaboration with UNH’s Schoolyard Science Investigations by Teachers, Extension Volunteers and Students (Schoolyard SITES), students at five schools are exploring a variety of scientific areas through hands on research and experimentation.

Schoolyard SITES is a UNH research study that investigates a new professional development model for elementary school teachers, while giving students opportunities to explore science on a deeper and more engaging level. With support from the UNH Cooperative Extension science volunteers, teachers develop science investigations that incorporate student learning goals and the Next Generation Science Standards.


Jovana Milosavljevic-Ardeljan earns Leitzel Center award for STEM Education and Outreach at the 2018 GRC!

Ruth Varner and Jovana Milosavljevic-Ardeljan
The Director of the Leitzel Center, Ruth Varner,
with Jovana Milosavljevic-Ardeljan

Jovana Milosavljevic-Ardeljan (PhD Student, Education) earned the Leitzel Center Award for STEM education at the 2018 Graduate Research Conference. The Leitzel Award recognizes Graduate Student accomplishment and impact in the area of STEM education and outreach. The title of her presentation was "Communication Across Disciplines: Effectively Articulating the Value of your Work".





Mary Sherman receives the Leitzel Center STEM Outreach and Education award for 2018

Mary Sherman, winner Leitzel Center award, URC-ISE 2018

Mary Sherman with her winning poster "Elementary School Students' Reaction to a
Food System-Based After-School Program".

Mary Sherman, UNH Sustainable Agriculture & Food Systems 2018 – Mary received the Leitzel Center STEM Outreach and Education poster presentation category at the Undergraduate Research Conference (URC), Interdisciplinary Science & Engineering Symposium (ISE) on April 18, 2018.



Rene Buell receives 2017 Leitzel Award for best Oral Presentation

Ruth Varner and Rene Buell
Ruth Varner, Director of the Leitzel Center and
Rene Buell, Chemistry Department, UNH

Rene Buell received the Leitzel Award for best oral presentation at the Graduate Research Conference at the Whittemore Center in April, 2017.  Her presentation was titled "Evidence of expertise reversal when reading to study general chemistry topics". The presentations in the Leitzel Award competition were all extremely relevant and very high quality in the area of K-12 STEM education.





UNH gets grant to improve science education

kids participating in Bio Blitz in field 2017

UNH Cooperative Extension, in partnership with the Joan and James Leitzel Center and the UNH Education Department, has received a National Science Foundation Discovery Research PreK-12 (NSF DRK-12) grant to improve science education in New Hampshire’s schools by bringing together elementary school teachers and Cooperative Extension science volunteers for a community-based professional development partnership. The team is the first at UNH to receive a highly-competitive NSF DRK-12 grant.

Known as Schoolyard Science Investigations by Teachers, Extension Volunteers and Students (Schoolyard SITES), the project connects elementary school teachers with Extension science volunteers in a partnership that improves educators’ confidence, science content knowledge and instructional practice. Together with a UNH interdisciplinary team of experts, teachers and volunteers will learn how to design and implement locally-relevant, community-based citizen science projects with elementary school students.


UNH grant hopes to address lack of manufacturing workforce

Long-term, if this pilot program is a success, community colleges in New Hampshire become a source and direct pipeline for advanced manufacturing workers to businesses in New Hampshire.

The $300,000, two-year grant will fund a pilot project to address the workforce needs of the state’s advanced manufacturing sector in a collaborative effort among UNH, the state’s community colleges, the state, and advanced manufacturing partners.


UNH announces its Regional Partnership with Regional Partner logo

The University of New Hampshire is now a proud Regional Partner. We have been chosen to be the designated provider of Professional Learning Programs in the state of New Hampshire and will work to offer these programs for K-12 teachers around the state.

The STEM Teachers' Collaborative at UNH-Durham and the STEM Discovery Lab at UNH-Manchester have partnered with the CS4NH coalition, an advisory committee of the NH High Technology Council, and are committed to providing all New Hampshire students access to high quality K-12 Computer Science (CS) educational opportunities.

"We are thrilled to become a Regional Partner in collaboration with CS4NH so that all New Hampshire teachers will have access to high quality professional development in computer science.” said STEM Teachers’ Collaborative Director Laura Nickerson. “New Hampshire has nearly 1,200 computing jobs open, but only graduates  around 400 CS majors each year. We must prepare teachers so that students from diverse backgrounds have access to computer science early on in their academic careers, well before the collegiate level. This is a workforce development issue, as well as a diversity issue.”



Are you ready to integrate science practices into your teaching?

Book cover - DiveIN!

How can you create opportunities for student-directed investigations in your learning setting? Have you ever considered partnering with a scientist to add depth to your lessons?

These are some of the central questions of the new book "Dive In! Immersion in Science Practices for High School Students" by Karen J. Graham, Lara M. Gengarelly, Barbara A. Hopkins and Melissa A. Lombard.

“Dive In!” explains the important ways in which science instruction is evolving.



Ruth Varner Receives Faculty Excellence Award


When UNH partners with New Hampshire public schools, everyone wins



When UNH partners with New Hampshire public schools, everyone wins was recently published in the UNH Magazine, Spring '17 issue. This article highlights the numerous and varied collaborations between UNH and many public schools in our state. Of special note, the work our own Laura Nickerson, Director of the STEM Teacher's Collaborative, has done with the Rochester schools, along with how the Leitzel Center has enabled and contributed to the increased accessibility of STEM professional development for our teachers.


Campus Group Energizes STEM Educators

SELC members at Lightning Talks event
UNH SELC members

The STEM Education Learning Community (SELC) is the brainchild of Lara Gengarelly, Cooperative Extension associate professor of science literacy, and Ruth Varner, professor of earth sciences at UNH’s Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans, and Space, and director of the Leitzel Center for Mathematics, Science, and Engineering Education. The group, which includes 75 STEM stakeholders from the UNH community, meets regularly to share updates on their work and explore opportunities to combine efforts.  

On December 19, twenty-three members of the SELC met at UNH’s Memorial Union Building for a “Lightning Talk,” the second in a three-part series. Four educators— Jennifer Bourgeault, Shane Bradt, Sameer Honwad, and Laura Nickerson—gave five-minute presentations aimed at enhancing their colleagues’ understanding of their work in STEM education, sparking new ideas and promoting collaborations.


STEM Docent Program Gets Rolling

STEM Docent volunteer in classroom
UNH STEM docent engages with a student.

The STEM Docents program started in August in the Manchester area. Docents help provide hands-on STEM training for students. Megan Glenn, UNH Cooperative Extension’s STEM Docent program coordinator, works with the volunteers to translate their science, technology, engineering and mathematics backgrounds into learning opportunities for youth.


Computer Science for All: New initiative launched at UNH Manchester

Teacher at CS for All workshop
Teacher at CS for All workshop.

When today’s elementary school students become adults, they will live in a world run on computers. Computer science is one of the fastest growing job sectors in the country, but the number of students graduating with a computer science degree is far below what the job market today demands.

Better preparing students for careers in computing is a challenge that’s been identified here in New Hampshire, as well as across the country, and something the New Hampshire Department of Education, the UNH STEM Discovery Lab and the STEM Teachers' Collaborative at the UNH Leitzel Center are working to address with the launch of CS4NH. This new initiative is aimed at providing every student in the state a chance to learn about computer science in grades K-12 to prepare them for the emerging demands of the 21st century.



Aptitude for Discovery: Middle school girls create smartphone apps in Creative Computing Challenge

Middle school girls at CCC
Middle school girls at CCC

On a sunny summer morning at Kennett High School in North Conway, New Hampshire, 17 middle school girls click away at their computer keyboards. They’re participating in the the weeklong Creative Computing Challenge teacher training and summer camp program.

Claes Thelemarck, a youth and family field specialist with UNH Cooperative Extension, demonstrates the steps they must take to complete the apps they’ve designed on their tablets using MIT App Inventor, free software students can use to create their own applications for mobile devices.