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 Home Enhancing Inquiry-Based Science and Math in Appalachian Middle Schools 
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What is ISMAM?

ISMAM is a collaborative venture between Eastern Kentucky University and six middle schools in Appalachian Kentucky namely, Clark Moores, Estill County, Foley, Jackson County, Madison, Rockcastle County middle schools. It is funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF).

The goal of the ISMAM project is to improve the teaching of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) in Appalachian middle schools, with emphasis on inquiry-based instruction. The particular disciplines involved are Biological Sciences, Chemistry, Computer Science, Earth Sciences, Physics and Astronomy, and Mathematics and Statistics.

The program provides fellowships for eight graduate and four undergraduate students per year to work with twelve science and mathematics middle school teachers from six different middle schools.


The project is being implemented by twelve STEM teams. Each team, composed of a Fellow (a graduate student enrolled in a STEM program or an advanced undergraduate STEM major who has demonstrated a strong proficiency in science or mathematics), a science or math middle school teacher and an Eastern Kentucky University faculty mentor, develops and implements inquiry-based activities for middle school students. The teams also promote the use of technology in the middle school curriculum. Project activities are designed to meet Kentucky and national education standards based on existing mathematics and science curricula in the participating schools. The Fellows assist the teachers in conducting these activities in local middle school classrooms. Appropriate training is provided to all participants.

  • Jan-June 2003: Recruitment of Fellows. Development of project website. Middle school teachers and EKU faculty meet to assess specific school needs and plan for the summer workshop.
  • May-Aug. 2003: Faculty and teachers develop training materials for summer workshop. Fellows become involved in July.
  • Aug. 2003: One-week summer training workshop for all participants.
  • Aug. 2003-May 2005: Two full academic years of middle school project activities.
  • June 2005-Dec. 2005: Final Project Evaluation. Planning for post-grant activities.

Expected Outcomes

Overall, the project is expected to lead to:

  • Enriched learning by middle school students
  • Expanded professional development opportunities for middle school teachers
  • Improved communication and teaching skills for the Fellows
  • Strengthened partnerships between Eastern Kentucky University and regional middle schools


The project is supported by the National Science Foundation under the Graduate Teaching Fellows in K-12 Education (GK-12) Program (Award Number DGE 0231738) and Eastern Kentucky University.

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This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 0231738. Any opinions, findings and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation (NSF).