Meet Robert M. Capraro: Robert M. Capraro is a professor of mathematics education in the Department of Teaching, Learning, and Culture. He is a Regent’s Fellow, co-director of the Aggie STEM Center and serves on the State Board of Education’s Expert Review Panel overseeing the K-12 mathematics curriculum redevelopment. Capraro’s is currently involved in research in 10 school districts with more than 40,000 students and 80 teachers. He has more than 100 publications and more than 4 million in research funding.
What does the Aggie STEM Center do?
The Aggie STEM Center is a partnership among Texas A&M University, the College of Education and Human Development and the Dwight Look College of Engineering. The center has expanded to reach numerous T-STEM academies and independent school districts across the state of Texas. The center sponsors numerous teacher professional development activities and develops educational innovations. The center supports, creates and provides research-based professional development and other services for high quality, secondary-level STEM teaching and learning. Our center focuses on Project-Based Learning (PBL).
What is STEM Project- Based Learning?
Project-based learning helps students apply what they learn to real-life experiences and provides an all-around enriching education. Project-based learning, is a dynamic approach to teaching in which students explore real-world problems and challenges, simultaneously developing cross-curriculum skills while working in small collaborative groups. Because project-based learning is filled with active and engaged learning, it inspires students to obtain a deeper knowledge of the subjects they’re studying. Research also indicates that students are more likely to retain the knowledge gained through this approach far more readily than through traditional textbook-centered learning. In addition, students develop confidence and self-direction as they move through both team-based and independent work.
Where people can go to find more information about the Aggie STEM Center?
Yes, our website contains lots of STEM teaching materials and information about all of our activities.
Tell us about your STEM Summer Camp.
The Aggie STEM Center is holding its third annual summer camp for middle and high school students June 10 through 22. The STEM Summer Camp will give students real world experiences in STEM education through inquiry learning, improve SAT scores and provide a world class university experience with Texas A&M professors in STEM fields. Students will attend non-credit STEM classes by Texas A&M professors, including robotics, rocketry, PSAT/SAT prep classes and a variety of social activities and local field trips. Students may choose from two different day camp options or the overnight option in the residence hall. Registration began on Thursday, April 5. For registration, contact Linda Stearns at (979) 862-4665. We also have additional information here.
How does the Aggie STEM Center’s work impact the state?
The Center has developed two STEM education courses for graduate students interested in fostering and nurturing STEM initiatives in schools, it developed the top two selling STEM PBL books, one designed as a manual for implementing STEM teaching and learning and the other a compilation of teacher best practices – written by and for teachers of the great state of Texas. The professors, Jim Morgan, civil engineer, and Mary Margaret Capraro travel extensively working with schools and teachers to implement STEM PBL in their classrooms and design model lessons to help teachers build skills and knowledge to maximize their students STEM achievement.
Is any of the work research based?
Yes! The professors have a number of articles published in peer-reviewed journals, the highest level of vetting in the academy. You can access information about the research here. In addition, we have several white papers about what we have learned from working in the field both from and with high school teachers and administrators and you can find these here.
If you had to pick from among all your work – which one stands out that you would want others to know about?
Urban schools are faced with many challenges, including but not limited to drug abuse, early parenthood, violence and abuse, gangs, and low socioeconomic status. These factors need not be limiters; in fact, contrary to many published reports – urban high school students faced with these challenges can and do overcome the negatives of growing up and living in urban centers. Our research in one urban district comprised of nearly 80 percent minority students and 95 percent free or reduced lunch show impressive gains in mathematics and science over a three-year period. This shows that dedicated teachers, sustained and meaningful professional development, and classroom observations can have profound effects on student achievement. The full work can be found here.