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The Quantitative Reasoning in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Project (QR STEM) will target the western region of Wyoming, including Park, Big Horn, Sheridan, Teton, Fremont, Hot Springs, Washakie, Lincoln, Sublette, Uinta, and Sweetwater counties. The partnership will include scientists and educators from the University of Wyoming and the western region community colleges of Central Wyoming College, Western Wyoming Community College, and Northwest College. Teton Science School in Jackson will serve as a partner as well, providing expertise in place-based and field-based science that generates quantitative reasoning tasks.
The Business Higher Education Forum (2005) reports that only 20% of 12th grade students in the U.S. reached or exceeded the Proficient level in mathematics or science on the National Assessment of Educational Progress. This terrible loss of human capital in the STEM disciplines is due to many factors, a key one identified by Steen (2001) is students' lack of quantitative reasoning across the sciences. The QR STEM project will partner with teachers in high needs districts to address this critical area. Mathematical deficiencies result in poor quantitative reasoning, which in turn impacts students' learning in the sciences. Mathematics is the language of science and many students do not speak it well. The result is attrition in the STEM disciplines, with students avoiding subjects like chemistry, physics, biology, earth science, and statistics. The curricular and assessment interventions for the project will address quantitative reasoning deficiencies that impact student success in science and mathematics. The key concepts in QR that will be addressed by the project are the ability to interpret graphs, interpret formulas, and interpret mathematical models of phenomena in science.