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ORAU History - 2012

Tennessee educators participate in the inaugural Tennessee STEM Leadership Academy

Educators from 53 school districts across the state of Tennessee spent three days at ORAU immersed in the art of teaching science, technology, engineering and math, also known as STEM, during the inaugural Tennessee STEM Leadership Academy.

Provided through $1.4M in Tennessee Race to the Top funds, the inaugural Tennessee STEM Leadership Academy was developed in 2012 by ORAU in partnership with the Tennessee Department of Education. The Tennessee STEM Leadership Academy is a three-year professional development program that was created to develop a cadre of current K-12 STEM teachers and administrators to serve as liaisons in the Tennessee STEM Innovation Network. Selected by their districts’ superintendents and administrators, the attendees are expected to share the innovative STEM standards and best practices gathered at the academy with others in their school district.

In the wake of the Japan earthquake and tsunami disaster that affected the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, ORAU developed Exercise Builder Nuclear, the first Web-based application designed to help nuclear power producers conduct more comprehensive emergency preparedness drills and exercises. Exercise Builder Nuclear provides powerful drill and exercise management tools and the convenience of an online application that can store all current and historical exercise and drill data in one location.

In conjunction with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, ORAU launched an online platform of health communication tools called HealthCommWorks. Developed for the CDC’s Division of Cancer Prevention and Control, HealthCommWorks assists health communication professionals develop and disseminate effective messages. The MessageWorks tool helps users craft new messages, assess existing messages and match messages to the most appropriate audience segments. In addition to MessageWorks, the SocialWorks tool assists communicators with integrating social media strategies into their planning. A third tool—known as ProofWorks—is scheduled for release in 2013 and will provide guidance in establishing short- and long-term evaluation plans.

ORAU’s peer review programs partnered with the Republic of Kazakhstan—a country that is bordered by Russia, China and the Caspian Sea—to help the nation achieve its mission to modernize higher education and equip the country’s students to compete globally as world-class researchers. ORAU is assisting Nazarbayev University in the review of more than 100 faculty research proposals for scientific and technical merit, as well as advising the university on the development of its own internationally accepted peer review process. Proposals that ORAU recommends for funding will receive support from the Nazarbayev University Endowment Fund and the Kazakhstani government.

In its fourth year, the $30,000 ORAU Extreme Classroom Makeover was awarded to Mrs. Heather Burkhart, a fifth-grade math and science teacher at Pigeon Forge (Tenn.) Middle School. Burkhart’s winning video highlighted her students imagining a classroom full of new and exciting technology.