Dallas Free Press Reports on the Progress of the Newly Opened West Dallas STEM School

Teachers staffing the new West Dallas STEM School, attend training with the SMU Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development faculty.

The new PreK-8 West Dallas STEM School opened in August admitting its first group of students,  seventh-and eighth-graders. They are at L.G. Pinkston High School, which will be remodeled to accommodate STEM studies and activities next fall.

The Dallas Free Press reports on how the Dallas ISD school is gaining momentum from its principal, teachers, and the partnership with the community, Toyota USA, and SMU Simmons School of Education and Human Development. Read more.

Baker Receives Excellence in Public Policy Higher Education Award from ASHE

The Association for the Study of Higher Education (ASHE) has honored Simmons Assistant Professor Dominique J. Baker with the Excellence in Public Policy Higher Education Award. The award is given by its Council on Public Policy in Higher Education.

The citation reads “In her already substantial body of published work, Dr. Dominique J. Baker has consistently focused on how higher education policies affect minoritized student populations. Dr. Baker has regularly shared her research and expertise with the wider policy community via numerous op-eds and policy briefs. As evidence of the high esteem in which her work is held, Dr. Baker was recently asked to give testimony before the U.S. Senate.”

Baker also was recognized by the Association for Education Finance and Policy (AEFP) with its Early Career Award, which she received at the association’s annual conference in March.

Her research focuses on the way that education policy affects and shapes the access and success of underrepresented students in higher education. She primarily investigates student financial aid, affirmative action, and policies that influence the ability to create an inclusive and equitable campus climate. She is a faculty member in the Department of Education Policy and Leadership.

SMU Simmons Joins Forces With Children’s Health To Harness The Power of Sports To Improve Kids’ Well-Being

DALLAS (SMU) – SMU and Children’s Health through its Children’s Health Andrews Institute for Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine are launching a collaboration dedicated to leveraging the transformational power of sports to improve the health, activity levels and well-being of kids. The Youth Sports Impact Partnership, a unique university-hospital relationship, will use an evidence-based approach to improve access to youth sports, prevent injury and share age-appropriate training and development practices.

“The Children’s Health Andrews Institute understands the importance of sports and play as key parts of a healthy childhood,” says Chad Gilliland, senior director of Surgical Programs at Children’s Health Andrews Institute. “With our focus on keeping youth athletes on the field, we will take a proactive approach to making participation in youth sports healthy and accessible to all North Texas children.”

Despite broad participation and interest, unaddressed issues limit the positive impact of youth sports in America:

  • Access to organized youth sports is limited by family income. According to the 2020 Census, only 23.4 percent of children aged 6 to 11 living below the poverty line participate in sports.
  • The CDC reports that fewer than 24 percent of children are physically active every day, leading to serious health problems like childhood obesity.
  • Volunteer coaches are the backbone of organized youth sports, but only 10 percent receive any kind of relevant training, leading to youth injury and burnout, according to the National Alliance for Youth Sports.

In response, this collaboration will generate research in sports medicine and athletic development, which will be the basis of leadership training for coaches and continuing education for parents. Long-range plans for this collaboration include the creation of an index to measure access to play in North Texas communities, development of a training and injury-prevention program for school and volunteer coaches, and performance research on elite athletes to study best practices in training and coaching.

Researchers also plan to create social impact programming designed to break down the barriers to sports and active play often more prevalent in underserved communities.

The partnership will feature the expertise of Dr. James Andrews, founder and director of the Andrews Institute for Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine, and SMU biomechanist Peter Weyand, who directs the Locomotor Performance Lab in SMU’s Simmons School of Education and Human Development – both internationally renowned for their work with athletes across a spectrum of ages and abilities.

Dr. Andrews is one of the founding members of Andrews Sports Medicine and Orthopaedic Center in Birmingham, Alabama, and Andrews Institute in Gulf Breeze, Florida. He also is cofounder of the American Sports Medicine Institute, a non-profit institute dedicated to injury prevention, education and research in orthopaedic and sports medicine.

Through sports medicine fellowships, he has mentored more than 350 orthopaedic and sports medicine fellows and more than 84 primary care sports medicine fellows. Andrews also serves as a team physician or consultant to Auburn University and University of Alabama athletic programs along with the NFL’s Washington football team and the New Orleans Saints.

“This partnership will benefit the field of sports medicine and the entire youth sports sector by focusing on injury prevention and performance through a collaborative effort for sports medicine professionals and coaches across the industry,” Andrews says.

Peter Weyand’s research on the scientific basis of human performance has appeared in top-tier scientific journals and continues to influence contemporary performance training practices.

“As a researcher, I have had the opportunity to observe the scientific benefits of exercise and activity,” Weyand says. “I look forward to the opportunity to use science to inspire kids to be active, have fun and learn all at the same time.”

Prior to joining SMU in 2008, Weyand directed research at Harvard University’s Concord Field Station and the Rice University Locomotion Laboratory. His research subjects have included athletes of all ages and abilities, including some of the swiftest runners on the planet, from Michael Johnson to Usain Bolt, and numerous Paralympic champions. His work has been featured in BBC, NPR, the New York Times, ESPN and Sports Illustrated.

Weyand holds the Glenn Simmons Endowed Professorship of Applied Physiology and Biomechanics in the Department of Applied Physiology and Wellness at SMU’s Simmons School of Education and Human Development.

“SMU’s Simmons School is dedicated to developing and understanding evidence-based best practices for childhood and human development,” said Simmons School Dean Stephanie Knight. “Our faculty members are internationally known for their strengths in the science of human performance, coaching and leadership, and STEM education. This partnership offers a new way for Simmons to impact the lives of children in a positive way.”

For more information, please visit Youth Sports Impact Partnership or contact Greg Weatherford II, SMU Simmons School’s director of community engagement and special projects, at 214-768-1779 or gweatherford@smu.edu.

 

NSF Awards Candace Walkington and Dallas STEM Walk Partner $2.5 M to Take Math to the Streets with Gamified App

Koshi Dhingra, founder and CEO of talkSTEM, and Candace Walkington, associate professor, SMU’s Simmons School of Education and Human Development

DALLAS (SMU) – To SMU math curriculum researcher Candace Walkington, the best way for students to understand math is to make it part of their lives. She’ll use her recent $2.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation to help students see that math is in the angle of a giraffe’s neck at the Dallas Zoo and in the flutter of the leaves of the cottonwood trees at Twelve Hills Nature Center in Oak Cliff.

These are just two of the stops on Dallas STEM walks, guided walks that illustrate how mathematical principles can be found in one’s surroundings. During the five-year grant, Walkington will partner with Dallas STEM walk nonprofit, talkSTEM, to better understand how educators can support math education outside of school and the role out-of-school experiences like these play in enhancing math education. First up: developing an app that turns a cell phone into an interpretive math tool.

“In this research, rather than having kids see math as symbols that exist on a worksheet or on a computer screen, we want them to see it as something that exists in the world all around them – the trees, the buildings, the artwork and the things they use every day,” says Walkington, associate professor of teaching and learning at SMU’s Simmons School of Education and Human Development. “We want to help them to look at the world through the lens of math.”

Researchers will spend the first year of this grant developing a gamified app called Mathfinder, which is targeted to students in grades four through eight. The app will use augmented reality (AR) to create overlays enabling learners to hold up the camera of their cell phones to see mathematical expressions layered over the real-world objects in their camera feeds, such as the angles and shapes within the architecture of a building. It also will include short videos and directions for STEM walks, Walkington says.

Students also will be able to use Mathfinder to create and share STEM walks in their own neighborhoods, says Elizabeth Stringer, director of academics for SMU’s Guildhall video game design program and a co-investigator on the grant.

“Mathfinder will give feedback to students on the walks they create and provide data to community partners on how much time students spend at each stop,” she says.

STEM walks at nine Dallas learning sites will be featured in the app, including the Dallas Arboretum, Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas Zoo, Frontiers of Flight Museum, the GEMS Camp, the Girl Scouts STEM Center of Excellence, St. Phillips School and Community Center, Twelve Hills Nature Center and Voice of Hope Ministries.

At the Dallas Arboretum, Dustin Miller, director of experience and innovation, says the four-stop Arboretum STEM walk is already popular with visitors.

“At the Arboretum’s Children’s Adventure Garden, the educational intent is very straightforward,” he says. “The main garden’s STEM walk, however, gives people a way to engage with the garden in a way they don’t expect.”

Participating in the research will give the Arboretum an opportunity to collect quantitative data on site, he says. “This research will help us create ways for visitors to experience the gardens in a new and different way.”

For Koshi Dhingra, founder and CEO of talkSTEM, a nonprofit dedicated to the development of future STEM leaders, participating in the research will help her nonprofit understand best practices for creating STEM walks and correcting roadblocks to learning. The creation of the Mathfinder app promises to make STEM walks more engaging and convenient, she says.

Dhingra earned her doctorate in science education and has dedicated her career to STEM education, but has new appreciation for the importance of understanding mathematical concepts as a building block for all sciences.

“When students begin to see that math is all around them, not just in an algebra or calculus textbook, they begin to see themselves as math people,” she says. “They need this competency and confidence to open doors to other STEM fields.”

The NSF grant builds on Walkington’s previous research on math education. An associate professor of teaching and learning at SMU’s Simmons School of Education and Human Development, Walkington has earned more than $11 million in math education research grants, and in 2019 received the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers from the U.S. Department of Education. Co-principal investigators for the grant include Dhingra; Anthony Petrosino, Simmons associate dean for research and outreach; Cathy Ringstaff, senior research associate, WestEd; and Elizabeth Stringer, director of academics, Guildhall.

 

About SMU

SMU (Southern Methodist University) is the nationally ranked global research university in the dynamic city of Dallas. SMU’s alumni, faculty and over 12,000 students in eight degree-granting schools demonstrate an entrepreneurial spirit as they lead change in their professions, communities and the world.

About Simmons School of Education & Human Development

The Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development at SMU (Southern Methodist University) reflects the University’s vision of serving the most important educational needs of our city, region and nation, graduating students for successful careers in a variety of fields and providing educational opportunities beyond traditional degree programs. Recognized as a unique and transformative leader in education research, practice and policy, the School is committed to rigorous, research-driven programs that promote evidence-based, effective practices in education and human development. 

Associated Press Includes SMU Simmons in List of Teacher Prep Programs Managing Changes Due to COVID-19

In a survey of teacher preparation programs around the country, the Associated Press asked how COVID-19 is impacting the way new teachers are being trained. SMU Simmons responded by saying professors are training students to use Google Classroom and also to evaluate education technology. Read the article here.

 

KRLD Radio Interviews Les Black on Impact of COVID in Holding Back Students

On KRLD Radio, Clinical Professor Les Black, Department of Education Policy and Leadership, talked about COVID’s impact on parents and taking steps to hold children back. Professor Black’s specialty is education policy and law.

He said holding back students would not be advisable, but ultimately it would be up to the parents. In most cases, parents and school administrators work together to determine what would be best for the student. The new Texas law, HB4545, which allows for accelerated instruction, would be important to consider. To hear his interview, click here.

How To Replace College Admissions Tests? WSJ Looks at Baker’s Research on Admissions Lotteries

Dominique Baker, Ph.D., assistant professor, Department of Education Policy and Leadership, SMU Simmons School of Education and Human Development

Assistant Professor Dominique Baker, Dept. of Education Policy and Leadership, provided her expertise on admissions lotteries for a Wall Street Journal story on ways to replace admissions tests for colleges and universities.

Baker, who has run lottery simulations with Michael Bastedo at the University of Michigan, says lotteries don’t necessarily create more diverse classes. Read the article here.

 

 

An Olympian Moment: NYT Features Locomotor Performance Lab and Weyand’s Work to Show Differences in Running Fast and Running Far

Three elite runners came to SMU’s Locomotor Performance Lab to show what differentiates running fast and running far for the New York Times. Dr. Peter Weyand, who directs the lab and research, informs what actually happens with the athletes as they hit the ground. The visually compelling piece can be seen here. 

The information enhances knowledge about how races –Olympian or otherwise–unfold.

 

The American Society of Biomechanics Honors Peter Weyand with Hay Award

Simmons Professor Peter Weyand will receive the Jim Hay Memorial Award for Research in Sports and Exercise from the American Society of Biomechanics during its annual conference in August. The award recognizes “originality, quality, and depth of biomechanics research that addresses fundamental research questions relevant to extraordinary demands imposed in sport and exercise.”

His scholarly work focuses on mechanics, metabolism, and performance at the whole-body level. His work is well-known to academics and professionals in various fields. Because of his expertise,  he has served as a lead investigator in several high-profile projects. These include “Michael Johnson, Wired Athlete,” “Physics of Basketball Flopping,” and the Olympic eligibility cases of amputee sprinters Oscar Pistorius and Blake Leeper considered by the International Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland.

Weyand holds the Glenn Simmons Endowed Professorship of Applied Physiology and Biomechanics in the Department of Applied Physiology and Wellness.

To see the Hay Award symposium, watch the YouTube video below.

Big Drop in Math Scores Lead Walkington and Wilhelm to Call for New Ways of Teaching Math

Associate Professor Candace Walkington, Simmons School

Mathematics education professors Candace Walkington and Annie Wilhelm weigh in on the substantial drop in math STAAR scores during the pandemic. Both point out that the loss of math knowledge creates an opportunity to teach mathematics in new ways –and it has to be a systemic change.

Wilhelm tells The Dallas Morning News that prioritizing what students learn is key, explaining that educators should focus on the lessons that students must understand to be successful in their next grade level and future careers so they can “dig deep” rather than cover everything superficially.”

Walkington says that having students in virtual instruction makes it harder for teachers to engage with them.“That really points to a problem with mathematics instruction itself and the way we’re teaching it, not with the kids and not with the teachers.” Read more.

 

For a CBS11 broadcast story with Associate Professor Annie Wilhelm, click here.

Associate Professor Annie Wilhelm, Simmons School