For Immediate Release: July 26, 2014
From: International Association for STEM Leaders
International Association for STEM Leaders awards Marymount University and Professor Usha Rajdev with the International Higher Education K-12 STEM Partnership Award. A video documentary with Dr. Rajdev is now available.
On April 24 and 25, Millwood Virginia-based, International Association for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Leaders successfully launched its inaugural leadership event at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C. Nearly 100 STEM leaders from around the world joined IASL leadership. This invitation-only annual STEM Leadership Summit recognized several attendees for their leadership in STEM education through a formal awards ceremony. The awards were presented to programs, schools, school districts and individuals who exemplify STEM Excellence as defined by criteria developed by IASL.
The Higher Education K-12 STEM Partnership Award was presented to Dr. Usha Rajdev, professor of Education at Marymount University. Through her work with undergraduate and graduate students, Rajdev has facilitated opportunities for her students to partner with Fort Belvoir Elementary School in Fairfax, Virginia. She and Dr. Eric Bubar, Marymount assistant professor of physics, also enabled elementary children to talk via amateur radio with an astronaut on the International Space Station. In addition, Rajdev’s undergraduate and graduate students create integrated STEM lesson plans and implement them, alongside seasoned teachers in area schools. During the IASL event, Rajdev’s students took part in defining the attributes of quality STEM programs, leading to the development of an international certification.
The International Association for STEM Leaders is globally recognized for creating a "golden standard" for STEM excellence in traditional and non-traditional educational settings for all pre-kindergarten through adult students. In collaboration with global STEM leaders, the IASL will provide guidance for implementing excellent STEM programming and develop a STEM framework that is industry-based and globally recognized. In the coming months, IASL will host regional events to continue its recognition of exceptional leadership through awards and to focus its outreach activities around regional education and economic development issues.
The STEM Leadership Summit was held in conjunction with the world’s largest STEM event, hosted by the USA Science and Engineering Festival. STEMconnector, the leading one-stop shop for STEM information participated as an initial sponsor and Edie Fraser, the founder, spoke to the IASL leaders and recognized them for their important work of impacting the lives of students every day through STEM leadership and education. Other partners include Diversified Education Systems (DES), a leader in “turn-key” laboratories including: casework, equipment, curriculum, training and support. DES is also a collaborator with Root Cause and Pitsco Education, two additional partners of IASL. On the online side of STEM, Learning Blade and Career ATG offer career and STEM awareness, exposure and training to students. Finally, Concept Schools, a charter school management company, and Vista Teach, an early elementary robotics and engineering education company, took part in the event as sponsors.
Dr. Usha Rajdev brings expertise in teaching math and science methodology with an emphasis on identifying errors and misconceptions in mathematics. She was selected by NASA to send an experiment, on the germination process, on the space shuttle Atlantis in 1999. She turned her classroom into a space shuttle and launched her students into orbit through simulating mission control and a space shuttle by using cardboards covered with dials and maps, white scrubs as spacesuits, and white football helmets. Dr. Rajdev enhances her students learning through hands-on teaching using Science Technology Engineering and Math. NASA's Aerospace Educational Specialists from the Goddard Space Center conducts professional development training with her pre-service teachers. In 2014, her students and Fort Belvoir Elementary School children communicated with astronaut in space. This event was coordinated through Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS), a cooperative venture of NASA, the American Radio Relay League, the Radio Amateur Satellite Corporation, and other international space agencies that schedule radio contacts between astronauts and schools. She also started the first after school K-3, “Sprouting STEMs” at a local Catholic School.
She is a recipient of the Faculty of the Year 2012 Service Award, the 2012 Virginia Project Learning Tree Outstanding Educator Award, and the 2012 National Project Learning Tree Outstanding Educator Award. Dr. Rajdev and Fort Belvoir Elementary School earned the Association of Teacher Educators in Virginia 2014 School/University Partnership Award. She was recently recognized and awarded 2014 STEM Leadership Award by the International Association of STEM Leaders, for her STEM program and activities conducted at local area schools and the involvement of Marymount students. She was selected on a Fulbright Specialist Project in India to conduct professional development workshops with faculty and undergraduates in Education. In 2013 Dr. Rajdev also presented a paper titled “A Hunger for Learning in Porbandar, Gujarat, India (Gandhi’s Birthplace): Fulbright Specialist Program” at the Mediterranean Conference for Academic Disciplines, the International Journal of Arts & Sciences’ annual refereed conference, in Valletta, Malta.