Mathematics, Science, and Technology in Elementary Schools

MSTe Project

MSTe Project

There is a temptation to immediately launch into a project without investigation, without developing a knowledge base that informs the brainstorming section. Try to avoid this practice. Once an idea is decided upon from several possibilities, the student decides what materials and tools will be needed as well as how the design will be tested. This section requires students to think about how things work and is an important element in the MST design process. When students redesign their devices, as most often occurs, they realize misconceptions they had, factors they may have overlooked. Important science understandings occur here.
MSTe is a Teacher Enhancement Project funded by the National Science Foundation (Grant #ESI-9618962).

Dr. David Burghardt,
Principal Investigator, Center for STEM Research
Phone: (516) 463-5550

Dr. Michael Hacker,
co-Principal Investigator, Center for STEM Research
Phone: (516) 214-0241

Lois Miceli ,
Administrative Assistant
Center for STEM Research
113 Hofstra University
Gallon Wing, Room 243
Hempstead, NY
11549 -1130
(516) 463-6482

Project Overview

MSTe Project Overview The MSTe Project: Integrating Mathematics, Science, and Technology in the Elementary Schools, is a five-year, $7.4 M. collaborative effort involving expert faculty from the State University of New York at Stony Brook, Hofstra University, and Brookhaven National Laboratory. Teachers and administrators from 34 school districts in New York State, the New York State Education Department, and Boards of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES) are participating in this Project to contribute to and advance the MST reform effort underway in our state.

The goal of this project is to develop models for the integration of mathematics, science, and technology into the elementary schools. To accomplish this goal, activities focused upon the integration of experiences in technology with contemporary approaches in mathematics and science. Participants utilized exemplary curriculum materials and activities in technology education to enrich the elementary school experiences in mathematics and science.

The project is organized to enhance teachers' pedagogical abilities; strengthen their content knowledge in mathematics, science, and technology; and provide leadership expertise among the 20 three-person teams, each representing one (in one case two) of the collaborating schools districts. Each team was comprised of a content specialist in mathematics, science, or technology and two experienced teachers, one from grades K-3 and the other from grades 4-6. These teams participated in two years of sustained enhancement activities at The University at Stony Brook, Hofstra University, and Brookhaven National Laboratory. The MSTe Project prepared teachers in the use of exemplary curriculum materials to provide instruction that highlights the rich relationship among the disciplines.

During the third and fourth years of the project, each of the 20 MSTe teams conducted regional summer enhancement workshops and academic year meetings for 30 elementary school teachers from their local geographic areas. An Implementation and Resource Guide was developed for use by leadership teams in their summer workshops for teachers in their local regions.

The MSTe Project devoted its fifth year to statewide leadership development effort, prepared teams of teachers and content specialists from across the State of New York to serve as leaders in subsequent teacher enhancement efforts.

MSTe at a Glance

At a Glance
MSTE Teachers


The mission of the MSTe Project is to provide expertise, inspiration, support and means to all elementary teachers in the participating schools so that they might better construct and sustain learner-centered environments where curriculum, instruction and assessment are guided by contemporary pedagogical practices and matched to MST learning standards.

The stated goals of the MSTe Project are:

  1. To equip a group of leadership teachers in three-person MSTe teams with enhanced pedagogical, content, and leadership skills in order that they might reflect upon and improve their own practice, conduct exemplary inservice programs for other teachers, and become regional MST leaders. This enhancement was accomplished through two, four-week summer workshops, peer coaching and ongoing meetings throughout the academic year.
  2. To provide 1,320 NYS elementary school teachers with the ability to use inquiry and design as mechanisms to connect MST in their classrooms; to enhance their MST skills; and to encourage them to engage in reflective practice, through two- week regional summer enhancement workshops and 30 hours of follow-up meetings and peer coaching during the school year.
  3. To develop a substantial and significant infrastructure of MST capability within the MSTe Project schools.
  4. To enhance the mathematical, scientific, and technological capabilities of elementary school students through instruction that interconnects MST.
  5. To support systemic change by enhancing the scale-up efforts of the NYSSI and NYCUSI and bring the lessons learned to MSTe Project participants.
  6. To develop an Implementation and Resource Guide as a planning and decision-making tool for MSTe teams.


During Years 1 and 2, Project activities largely focused on enhancement of 20 Leadership Teams. These teams participated in two years of sustained staff development activities at Hofstra and Stony Brook Universities and Brookhaven National Research Laboratory. Ongoing support to the teams was provided by Project PIs.

During Year 3, the MSTe Leadership Teams implemented twenty workshops for second-wave teachers. The predominant model involved planning for 30 teachers from each of the participating districts to attend 15 hours of Spring 2000 workshops, two summer weeks (35 hours/week), and 15 hours of Fall 2000 workshops. Thirteen districts utilized this pattern. Some districts (the larger ones) preferred to recruit 60 teachers, conduct a 50-hour workshop during Year 3, and invite the same teachers back for an additional 50 hours the following year.

During Year 4, the MSTe Leadership Teams again implemented local workshops for second-wave teachers. During this period, eighteen district-based workshops were conducted by the Project Leadership Teams and 462 teachers were served. A design and technology study program at the University of Greenwich, in England, was again sponsored by the Project and paid for entirely by participants.

During Year 5, the Project Management Team developed an RFP and invited proposals from MSTe Leadership Teams to conduct additional 100-hour teacher enhancement workshops for teachers during the period from January 2001 to August 2002. The MSTe Project Co-PIs worked with each of the districts and BOCES to develop these programs in response to a set of workshop guidelines (contained in the RFP) that were developed and revised over an eight-month period. Each participating district had submitted a work plan to the Project office. The plans built on the Project philosophy of design-based integrated learning, and "MSTing" instructional materials. Proposals were received from 10 school districts and BOCES to provide 100-hour workshops for over 200 new teachers. Local school Superintendents signed off on the proposal submitted by their district.

The Summer 2001, statewide workshop served an additional 63 teacher-leaders in 16 new school districts across New York State; A team from the Center Line (Michigan) District joined as well.

The Project has exceeded its total in-service targets. The proposed number of teachers was 1320. In years one and two, 60 leadership team teachers; Years three and four, 1200 second-wave teachers; and in years five, 60 statewide leaders. The actual number of teachers served by the Project was 1418 teachers. During years one and two, it served 63 leadership team teachers; Years three and four, 1044 second-wave teachers; and in year five, 238 second-wave teachers, 59 New York statewide lead teachers and 4 Michigan lead teachers.


MSTe Project Management Personnel, Co-P.I.s Jacqueline Grennon Brooks, David Burghardt, Michael Hacker, Janice Koch, Thomas T. Liao, and Sharon Whitton have together and separately planned, organized, and conducted staff development workshops for thousands of teachers in New York State, nationally and internationally. As colleagues, they have collaborated on numerous major projects during the last decade, including large-scale NSF projects, international NATO symposia (1989, 1992, 1993), New York State syllabus development (1984-91), and the development of the New York State Learning Standards for Mathematics, Science, and Technology (1992?1996). The Co-P.I.s are a diverse team with collective expertise in mathematics, science, technology, elementary education, and MST integration. They have met frequently during the Project's period and played active roles as expert faculty during the summer workshops. Each has provided ongoing support to several MSTE teams.

Dr. Jacqueline Grennon Brooks is a science educator at the Center for Science, Mathematics, and Technology Education at SUNY Stony Brook. She is Director of the campus school for elementary school students that is the MSTE clinical practice lab site. Dr. Brooks has served primarily as the Project's pedagogical and elementary education specialist. She has provided a research perspective and emphasized the literature on constructivism and educational/organizational change. Her book In Search of Understanding: The Case for Constructivist Classrooms has achieved national acclaim. Dr. Brooks has conducted the administrators meetings and played a leadership role in the two-day reflection meetings. She has provided ongoing support to teams affiliated with Stony Brook.

Dr. David Burghardt is the Chair of the Computer Science Department, Professor of Engineering, and Director of the Center for Technological Literacy at Hofstra University. A nationally known engineering educator and author, Dr. Burghardt has been a key contributor to the New York State MST Learning Standards. He served as a faculty member and led the design components of the workshops. Dr. Burghardt administered the subcontract to Hofstra University, worked with the Project Evaluator in the design of the MSTe Project evaluation, and coordinated the use of Hofstra facilities. He provided ongoing support to teams affiliated with Hofstra.

Dr. Michael Hacker, co-PI, a technology educator with 20 years of classroom experience, has served as the State Supervisor for Technology Education at the New York State Education Department since 1984. Mr. Hacker took a leave to serve as full-time Project Executive Director and was responsible for its daily operation. He recruited MSTe team members, arranged workshop times and places, and developed workshop and meeting schedules. He managed the coordination and networking with P.I.s and the MSTe partners and has taken an active role in teaching during the summer workshops. Also he supported the Orange/Ulster BOCES teams.

Dr. Janice Koch, an elementary science education specialist, is Professor of Science Education at Hofstra University. Her research explores broadening the participation of women and minority men in science. She is the author of Science Stories: A Science Methods Book for Elementary School Teachers. She is the 1995 recipient of Hofstra's Distinguished Teacher of the Year Award. Dr. Koch has led the science components of the workshops and provided ongoing support to teams affiliated with Hofstra.

Dr. Thomas T. Liao, a physics and engineering educator, Chair of the Department of Technology and Society at SUNY Stony Brook since 1987. Dr. Liao served as the Co-chair of the committee which developed the New York State MST Standards. For over 30 years, he has led curriculum development and teacher enhancement projects focused on science and technology literacy. During the last several years he has worked in NYSSI schools with elementary school teachers. He has administered the Project to meet goals and timelines, arranged for the use of workshop sites at Stony Brook, monitored the Project budget, and assumed day-to-day Project operation when the Project Executive Director was absent. Dr. Liao has served as a faculty member during the workshops, and as an expert consultant in connecting MST. He has provided ongoing support to teams affiliated with Stony Brook.

Dr. Sharon Whitton is an elementary mathematics educator and Associate Professor of Mathematics Education at Hofstra University. She brought over two decades of university and public school teaching experience to the Project. At Hofstra, she is responsible for instruction in mathematics content and methods, and for educational computing courses in the School of Education. She and Dr. Janice Koch coordinated the construction of an M.A. in Elementary Education with an MST specialization. Dr. Whitton has led the mathematics components of the workshops and provided ongoing support to teams affiliated with Hofstra University.

Dr. Penelope Haile is the Senior Project Evaluator. Dr. Haile is Associate Dean, School of Education and Allied Human Services, and Adjunct Professor at Hofstra University. She served as the Project Evaluator of the $1.6 M - N.S.F. funded NYSTEN Project, has been a program evaluator for numerous teacher education programs, and served as the Project Director of a $600,000 Title III grant to revise the undergraduate core curriculum of the NY Institute of Technology. She has designed the formative and summative evaluation plans, developed all feedback instruments and protocols, directed the collection of project monitoring and evaluation data, conducted on-site observations of workshops, and composed interim and final evaluation reports.

Dr. Karl Swyler, (Deceased) Former Director of the Science Education Center at Brookhaven National Laboratory, joined the P.I.s as a member of the Project Management. Dr. Swyler was the P.I. of the NSF-funded National Teacher Enhancement Project for elementary school teachers (NTEP). He convened two major conferences for MST teachers and teacher educators at BNL during the 1995-96 school year. He coordinated the linkages between Project participants and BNL scientists and arranged for the use of BNL facilities. Dr. Swyler provided ongoing support to the NYC teams.

Upon Dr. Swyler's death, Dr. Brian Murfin, Assumed Brookhaven's National Laboratory MSTe Project Leadership.


The MSTe Project has established a multicultural Project Policy Board to serve in an advisory capacity to Project staff and provide continuing conceptual direction. The Policy Board, comprised of elementary school, math, science, and technology teachers who are leaders in their professional associations; individuals representing the USI and SSI; superintendents and principals; S/CDN representatives; and NYSED personnel, met twice yearly during each Project year to assist with participant selection, review progress, plan for dissemination and evaluation, workshop content and timetables, and the IRG framework. Members include:

Dr. Jacqueline Ancess (Chair), Senior Research Associate, NCREST, Teacher's College, Columbia University.

Ann Caren, elementary teacher, Mathematics Presidential Award winner, Ithaca CSD.

Dr. Joan Daly-Lewis, S/CDN Representative, Suffolk County BOCES.

Dr. David Ferguson, Professor, Department of Applied Mathematics, SUNY at Stony Brook.

Kathleen Gilmore, S/CDN Representative, Nassau County BOCES.

Alan Horowitz, Technology Teacher and President, New York State Technology Education Association.

Dr. Mildred Jones, Project Director, New York City Urban Systemic Initiative.

Dr. Richard Jones, Project Director New York Statewide Systemic Initiative.

Rose Moskowitz, Director of Curriculum and Staff Development, Orange-Ulster BOCES.

Fred Oberst, President, Science Teachers Association of New York State.

Dr. William Peruzzi, Project Coordinator, New York Statewide Systemic Initiative.

Dr. Carolyn Richbart, President, Association of Mathematics Teachers of New York State.

Rebecca Skinner, NYSED Regional Field Team Leader for NYC.

Susan Updike, Early Childhood Elementary School Specialist, NYSED.

Dr. Michael Walsh, Superintendent of Schools, Smithtown CSD.

Dr. Renee Young, Principal, Community School 21, District 16, Brooklyn.

Scott McMullen, K-12 Science Coordinator, Mineola Central School District.

Barry Borakove, Technology Teacher and President-elect, New York State Technology Education Association.

Participating Schools

New York City
Community School District 6 - Manhattan
Community School District 10 - The Bronx
Community School District 16 - Brooklyn
Community School District 30 - Queens

Nassau County
Long Beach
Oyster Bay
Plainview-Old Bethpage

Suffolk County
South Huntington
Northport-East Northport
Westhampton Beach/Mount Sinai

Orange/Ulster Counties
Pine Bush Central School District

Upstate Districts
Broadalbin Perth Public Schools
Buffalo Public Schools
Chenango Valley Central Schools
Croton Harmon Union Free School District
Groton Central School District
Hannibal Central School District
Jordan-Elbridge Central School District
Kingston City School District
Middletown City School District
Niagara Falls City School District
Saugerties Central School District
Skaneateles School District
Watertown City School District
Yonkers Public Schools


Conclusions that have emerged as result of the five years MSTe activity:

  • The knowledge base of the teacher is critical - and access to resources is needed to research their questions. The strong support of all stakeholders, especially the principal and superintendent is critical (give permission to take risks in teaching and assessment; provide resources-especially released time.)
  • Mentoring other teachers is important for the cascading of change.
  • Prioritizing and coordinating reform efforts are important for school-wide results. There is just so much "reform" that a school can handle at one time. This project is successful because it coordinates with the NYS Standards and the new state assessments.
  • Teachers are quite receptive to integrating design and technology into classroom activities in mathematics and science, but MST integration is occurring in subjects beyond mathematics, science, and technology.
  • To change instructional practices, there is a need for: access to staff developers during the school day within the classroom; a shift toward academic year study groups and peer collaboration; close administrative ties.
  • Curriculum driven by standardized tests constrains the implementation of learner-center, project-based programs such as MSTe.
  • Team-led staff development requires explicit attention to the dynamic that exists among team members.

We have found that it is important to design staff development programs that are appropriate for teachers not only in their role as classroom practitioners, but also in their role as adult learners and change agents. We have found that participants initially relied on the example lessons that were used during the Project workshops (e.g., bubbleology, electricity) but have been able to go beyond them over time. Learner driven, inquiry- and design-based activities are well suited to deepening conceptual understandings that go beyond the specific demands of elementary school curriculum. Structuring group reflection time, framing team planning opportunities, and promoting conversations about content and pedagogy have contributed to teachers' growth.

We have learned from Project school administrators that they perceive the following challenges to MSTe implementation: providing for long term continuation of the Project; the new State assessments; lack of time in the school day for project-based learning; overcoming resistance to change; using MSTe to enhance learning in math, science, technology, language arts, and social studies; administrative support; finding and supporting risk takers; staff training; time for sharing and planning; sustaining support for inquiry-based learning; recruitment of teachers who are willing to commit the necessary time.

What interests the administrators includes: how MSTe brings about change in instructional strategies and attitudes; real learning which incorporates all disciplines; the power of discovery; how MSTe brings a new perspective to the classroom; the cohesive and authentic approach to learning; the dynamic MSTe learning process; the wonder of learning and the incredible questions which arise when curiosity is encouraged; the excitement for learning displayed by children; children's questioning, problem solving and staying on task; inquiry-based problem solving; children taking control of their own learning; connections of topics in the curriculum; meets the needs of future assessments; and the emphasis on instruction for thinking.

Although teachers find great value in project-based experiences, many have expressed concerns that NYS assessment-driven instruction will not allow ample time for the open-ended, inquiry-driven experiences MSTe promotes. State tests constrain the implementation of MST programs. MST will be politically successful to the extent that it supports district scores on statewide assessments.

Since educational reform (e.g., MSTe implementation) has a political dimension, it relies in part on the proactive advocacy of teachers and administrators at the grassroots level. The adult learning component of staff development should also contribute to teachers abilities to articulate the value and mission of an integrated MSTe instructional approach.

Contributions within the discipline

The major goal of the MSTe project is to develop models for the integration of mathematics, science, and technology into the elementary schools. To accomplish this goal, activities focus upon the integration of experiences in technology with contemporary approaches in mathematics and science. MSTe provided opportunities for participating teachers to integrate math, science and technology in learner-centered classrooms through enhancing their own understandings of MST content and processes, and through utilization and adaptation of exemplary instructional materials. Problems real to students are at the core of MSTe activities.

Participants in this Project have gained a deeper understanding of instructional approaches, such as inquiry and design, cooperative learning, student-directed investigations, and constructivism. They have built a repertoire of standards-driven learning activities; they have MSTe'd existing curriculum materials by making them more open-ended, integrative, and by adding inquiry and design components.

Many of the teachers regularly use design portfolios and include design as an instructional strategy. Design is seen by teachers as a tool for independent and group-based problem solving for their students. In mathematics, students are being asked to explain their thinking and write about their thought processes.

Contributions to other disciplines

The Project has contributed to the preservice education of elementary teachers at Hofstra University. The MST model has been integrated into the preservice science methods course and continues to promote constructivist practice. The design- and inquiry-based constructivist approach to teaching and learning is transferable to subjects outside the MST cluster.

Contributions to human resources development

A significant component of the professional development experience provided by this Project to participating teachers is their work alongside research scientists at the Brookhaven National Research Laboratory. Teachers have engaged in scientific research under the tutelage of expert scientists and are modeling inquiry-based science in their own classrooms.

Contributions to resources for research and education

The project has created an MST laboratory designed to support the preparation of future MST teachers and update skills of current teachers. The MST laboratory shares its space with environmental science which is very compatible with the life science and earth science portions of the elementary school curriculum. The goals of the laboratory are to:

  1. Develop an understanding of design and problem solving through the use of a variety of tools and equipment.
  2. Develop a greater understanding of the environment. Equipment has been purchased to support students' (teachers') study of plants, pollution, water cycle and life cycle.
  3. Develop an understanding of computer technology through the use of software such as Hyperstudio, creation of CD-ROM's and the use of digital photography.
  4. Expand the understanding of biotechnology and electricity with sample experiments and activities.

These goals are being realized with equipment that is reasonably portable, thus allowing the laboratory equipment to be used in other locales as needed.

Materials Developed

I.R.G. (Implementation and Resource Guide)


Publications and Products


Burghardt, David. Authentic Assessment of Design. The Technology Teacher (electronic version). International Technology Education Association. Reston, Virginia. September 1999.

Chapman, Kathryn and Migdol, Donna. Mathematics, Science and Technology: Learning Built from the Inside Out. Connect Magazine. Volume 12, Issue 5. Synergy Learning International, Inc. Brattleboro VT. May/June 1999.

Hacker, Michael. Technology Education: The True Test of Interdisciplinary Learning. Middle Ground, The Magazine of Middle Level Education. Volume 2, Number 4. National Middle School Association. Westerville, Ohio. April 1999.

Koch, Janice. Science Is Not about 'Knowing' but Trying to Find Out. Science and Children Magazine. NSTA. Arlington, VA. February, 1999

Moore, Virginia. Robotics: Design Through Geometry. The Technology Teacher. ITEA, Reston VA. November, 1999.

Whitton, Sharon. Three Dimensional Math Constructions: Hands-On. Connect Magazine. Volume 12, Issue 5. Synergy Learning International, Inc. Brattleboro VT. May/June 1999.


Koch, Janice. Science Stories: Teachers and Children as Science Learners. Houghton Mifflin, 1999.

Whitton, Sharon. Dynamic Software for Discovering Mathematical Relationships. Proceedings of the SITE99 Society for Information Technology in Education Conference. March 1999.

Whitton, Sharon. Leadership in Integrating Mathematics, Science and Technology in the Elementary School. Proceedings of the National Educational Computing Conference. Atlantic City, NJ. July 1999.

Whitton, Sharon. Integrating Mathematics, Science, and Technology in the Elementary Schools. Proceedings of the IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference. November 1999.

Whitton, Sharon. Curriculum Standards. In Grinstein, L. and Lipsey, S., Editors. Encyclopedia of Mathematics Education. Encyclopedia of Mathematics Education.. New York: Routledge Falmer (an imprint of the Taylor & Francis Group). 2001

Whitton, Sharon. Middle School Mathematics. In Grinstein, L. and Lipsey, S., Editors. Encyclopedia of Mathematics Education. Encyclopedia of Mathematics Education.. New York: Routledge Falmer (an imprint of the Taylor & Francis Group). 2001

Brooks, J.G. and Koch, J. Conceptual Conflict: The Path to Improved Learning. The Kappan. In Press.

Koch, Janice. Science Stories: An Elementary Methods Book for Teachers. Second Edition. Houghton Mifflin. In Press.


Listed are useful MST websites including sites used in the "Implementation and Resource Guide".