STEM Partnerships for Authentic Resources in K-12

K20 SPARK is a service offered by K20 Authentic Learning and Teaching (K20alt) to support STEM Partners in sharing research experiences with K-12 educators through authentic lessons. K20alt focuses on providing teachers with examples of authentic teaching coupled with professional development. Authentic learning for students is active and uses inquiry and other techniques that explicitly help students make sense of content at hand.

K20 SPARK STEM Partners will work with K20alt Content Specialists to create authentic teaching and learning experiences directly related to the scientists’ research. K20alt also has the unique opportunity to support educational outreach for researchers by connecting them to an online community of nearly 2,000 teachers across Oklahoma, 49 states, and 80 countries. Once authentic lessons are developed through the collaborative efforts of K20 SPARK Partners and K20alt Content Specialists, the K20alt community will utilize the lessons in their own classrooms, provide feedback, and assist in enhancing the lesson. Refined lessons may be submitted for review for possible publication on The K20 Journal of Authentic Learning and Teaching. Teachers around the globe can then download published lessons.

The research conducted by STEM Partners will provide focus for Virtual Communities of Practice who have the opportunity to develop extension lessons and resources for other teachers within the K20alt Community. So, not only will there be a lesson developed for teachers, but there will also be a multitude of extension lessons developed by teachers around the scientists’ experiences. These experiences will also serve to increase content knowledge for science teachers in the community as they are exposed to the scientists’ research and results. Teachers will gain both content and pedagogy relevant to the scientists’ research that will ultimately impact student learning.

If you are interested in how K20 SPARK can help with your educational outreach, please contact Dr. Jean Cate at jcate@ou.edu.


Meet Current K20 SPARK Partners

Dr. Boris Wawrik
Assistant Professor at the University of Oklahoma
Download Dr. Wawrik’s CV

1995-1998 B.S. (Magna Cum Laude), Biology at the University of South Florida, Tampa, FL
1998-2003 Ph.D., Marine Science at the University of South Florida, St. Petersburg, FL

Dr. Wawrik is working with K20 SPARK to develop an educational outreach program related to his current research in Nitrogen Uptake of Phytoplankton. His research team is in the midst of exciting explorations in the Chesapeake Bay. The first lesson is now available and provides excellent videos of Dr. Wawrik explaining portions of the Nitrogen Cycle, his research, and his background all while on his research vessel in the Chesapeake Bay.



Dr. Mark Nanny
Professor at the University of Oklahoma
Download Dr. Nanny’s CV

1986 B.S., Chemistry, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI, 1986
M.S., Chemistry, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1989
Ph.D., Environmental Chemistry, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1994

Dr. Nanny’s educational research interests include:

1) Authentic teaching of K-12 science and math
2) Incorporating scientific research activities into K-12 science education and teacher preparation
3) Improving K-12 science and mathematics education in rural schools.

Dr. Nanny has worked with K20alt Content Specialists to develop several lessons related to the scientific research he is conducting in the field of Environmental Engineering. His research has focused on characterizing the complex environmental processes related to the biodegradation, by microbes, of natural organic matter in solid wastes and wastewater.



Oklahoma Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (OK EPSCoR)

EPSCoR provides support for key research areas at Oklahoma’s public universities, while also establishing partnerships with higher education, government and industry to effect lasting progress in the state’s research infrastructure, research and development capacity, and R&D competitiveness. The goal is to stimulate lasting research infrastructure improvements in Oklahoma.

For more information about EPSCoR programs, contact Gina Miller, outreach coordinator, at gmiller@okepscor.org or call 405.744.9964.