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Buffalo State Experts: Zawicki Promotes Collaborative K-12 STEM Education

Buffalo State Experts: Zawicki Promotes Collaborative K-12 STEM Education

Posted: April 20, 2015

Getting your arms around STEM education is tough because the acronym refers to such a broad range of subjects: the physical sciences, technology, engineering, and math. But perhaps the toughest aspect of all is that many students have lost interest in studying those topics by the time they get to high school.

"Revitalizing Western New York’s economy depends on STEM-driven industries," said Joseph Zawicki, associate professor of earth sciences and science education, "and we don’t have enough people going into science and the related disciplines." Zawicki, is an expert in science education in grades K through 12. He taught seventh- and eighth-grade science as well as high school physics, chemistry, and biology before earning his Ph.D. in science education. He helped to write the high school physics curriculum that is currently in place, and has written questions for the Regents physics exam.

He is also active behind the scenes in promoting student interest in studying science. He has been a working member of the New York State STEM Education Collaborative Board since the organization was formed in 2009.

Recently, he served as liaison between Buffalo State and the Western New York Science Congress held on the Buffalo State campus last month. The event attracted about 80 students from grades 5 through 12 this year. "It helps students understand science better and meet others who share their interest," he said. "We’re looking forward to our 75th anniversary in 2017."

Zawicki is also a member of the core team that’s part of the board of directors for the WNY STEM Hub. The organization, part of the Empire State STEM Learning Network, fosters collaboration among entities including businesses, educational institutions, community organizations, and government agencies. The goal is to promote the teaching and learning of STEM disciplines "in support of sustained economic and intellectual vitality in our five-county region." 

"We will be holding the New York State STEM Education Collaborative Institute at Alfred State in July," said Zawicki. "Science educators and industry leaders will be presenting." The theme of the conference is "Building futures from Pre-K to careers." Participants will look at ways to introduce science to kindergarten students, bring more women and minorities into the STEM disciplines, and promote successful science education practices.

"We can’t bring about a renaissance in upstate New York unless we have workers who have the skills necessary to succeed in the STEM fields," said Zawicki. "And developing those skills begins in the primary grades."


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