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SOE Featured Project & New Projects

The Virginia Initiative for Science Teaching and Achievement (VISTA), led by John Wells


2013 VISTA Project 2013 VISTA Project

July 30, 2013 – Spring 2013 Virginia Tech became the 4th Implementation Site for the Virginia Initiative for Science Teaching and Achievement (VISTA) project, joining George Mason University, William and Mary University and Virginia Commonwealth University. George Mason University, the lead institution, coordinates the five-year $34 million DOE/I3 statewide VISTA grant aimed at helping shift K-12 science instruction away from a teacher-centered, worksheet-driven approach toward one focused on hands-on science, student-centered inquiry, the nature of science, and problem-based learning (PBL). VISTA provides science professional development (PD) programs for Virginia’s elementary, middle, and high school teachers, science coordinators, and science education faculty. The educational goal of the PD is to translate research-based best teacher practices into improved science teaching and student learning.


Dr. John Wells Dr. John Wells

VT/VISTA is a three-year $3.3 million subcontract awarded to Dr. John Wells (PI). The goal for this implementation site is to address the PD needs of elementary, middle, and high school science teachers throughout the rural counties in SW Virginia. The VISTA elementary level program targets teams of 4th-6th grade science teachers for PD during an initial summer institute, with follow up sessions throughout the fall. This summer VT/VISTA implemented its first four-week Elementary Science Institute (ESI) for teachers from multiple counties across SW Virginia. As an embedded element of ESI, the teachers practiced new techniques with a group of 21 elementary students from Montgomery county schools during a two-week science camp. The summer institute took place in the School of Education’s newly renovated STEM Education Collaboratory, which provided the ideal space and equipment to conduct integrative STEM education professional development. Throughout the summer institute and science camp both teachers and students alike had opportunities to work with practicing VT scientists, visit research facilities on the VT campus, and really experience the Hokie spirit first hand with a visit from the Virginia Tech HokieBird! With the successful completion of ESI, VT/VISTA is now preparing to deliver the Secondary Teacher Program (STP) fall semester 2013. The STP targets middle and high school science teachers entering their first or second year of teaching who receive in-service PD through participation in a three-credit graduate course designed specifically for early-career science teachers.

Other new projects by SOE faculty that were recently funded include:

David Alexander (PI) & Bev Crouse obtained $100,979 from the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Development Services for the "Early Intervention (Part C) Technical Assistance Project," to be conducted from July 1, 2013 to June 30, 2014.

Elizabeth Creamer received approval for an International Travel Supplemental Grant (ITSG) award.