CADRE’s Discovery Research PreK-12 PI Meeting  

Steven McGee and Naomi Blaushild at CADRE
Steven McGee and Naomi Blaushild of The Learning Partnership at the CADRE 2023 PI Meeting in Arlington, VA.

From June 28-30, 2023, Steven McGee and Naomi Blaushild attended the National Science Foundation’s Discovery Research PreK-12 (NSF, DRK-12) bi-annual PI Meeting. The DRK-12 PI meeting is a great way for researchers to share their findings within a community of STEM education researchers and to create a sharing space for teachers, school administrators, and policy-makers to take part in addressing challenging issues together. During the PI meeting, Naomi Blaushild attended special sessions as part of the Community for Advancing Discovery Research in Education (CADRE) Fellows program. The CADRE Fellows program provides professional development to early-career STEM education researchers whose work centers on diversity, equity, inclusion, and social justice in STEM. Since January, the 15 Fellows have participated in webinars and writing groups and had opportunities to learn from current and former DRK-12 awardees.

Continue below to gain program insights from The LP attendees, Naomi Blaushild and Steven McGee.

The 2023 CADRE Fellows represent 15 differing academic and non-academic institutions.
Pictured top-left: Naomi Blaushild. Learn more about the Fellows here.

Naomi Blaushild – I attended the DRK12 PI meeting as a member of a DRK-12 project and a 2023 CADRE Fellow. Throughout the year, I attended interactive webinars about grant-writing, community building, and publishing, and I shared and received feedback on a grant proposal idea from a small group of fellows during monthly writing group meetings. Before the conference began, I had the opportunity to spend a day with the other 14 CADRE Fellows. We discussed our writing projects, networked with CADRE fellows from past years, and participated in a mock NSF panel review. Getting to know and learn from the other fellows has been an invaluable experience and I look forward to continued collaboration and friendship throughout our careers. 

Throughout the PI meeting, I attended several sessions related to equity, cultural responsiveness, and social justice in STEM education (Co-designing in Partnership as a Strategy for Supporting Justice in STEM EducationDefining DEIJ Within Contemporary DRK-12 Research and Praxis and Determining the Future of “Social Justice” Work, and Asset-based Approaches to Broadening Participation in STEM). In Co-designing in Partnership as a Strategy for Supporting Justice in STEM Education, facilitators Philip Bell, Bill Penuel, and Megan Bang shared a Research and Practice framework for building equitable research-practice partnerships that include strategies for establishing equity, engaging equitably, and encouraging equity. Seeing the wide range of equity-driven research in STEM education was very inspiring as I work on developing a DRK-12 grant to support professional development for middle school science teachers.

Steven McGee – I attended the meeting as the PI of our DRK12 project focused on supporting students using evidence-based modeling to develop scientific arguments about disturbance ecology. One of the highlights for me was the opening remarks by Jame Moore, the head the STEM EDU directorate at NSF. It was the first time in all my years attending DRK12 PI meetings (and its predecessor meetings) where the head of the directorate gave an inspirational speech imploring NSF awardees to transform education for the better. He shared a story of a rural school district in North Carolina that needed help in thinking about how to improve math performance. Dr. Moore felt that the DRK12 community should be able to provide answers to school districts like that. In response to that need, NSF is encouraging researchers to submit knowledge mobilization grants to synthesize what we know from the literature and bring that knowledge to practitioners.

That evening, I had dinner Namsoo Shin Hong and Peng He from Michigan State University. We were lamenting how research on learning progressions is stuck in journal articles and book chapters. We committed to put together a conference proposal for DRK12 that would bring together the leading researchers in learning progressions related to Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and mobilize that knowledge with partner school districts to create recommendations on course and topic sequencing that would be informed by the most current understanding of learning progressions.

Steven McGee and Namsoo Shin Hong at dinner.