In addition to overseeing all Lab research and activities, Professor Fontecchio helped to found and serves as the current director of Drexel University’s Center for the Advancement of STEM Teaching and Learning Excellence (CASTLE) in 2014.
CASTLE is currently home to fourteen funded initiatives centered on translational pedagogies and houses many education initiatives formerly housed at the NanoPhotonics+ Lab.
CASTLE is housed in the 3401 Market St building in the heart of the University City Innovation Neighborhood. The center is rooted in Drexel’s long history of experiential learning and innovation in STEM education, embodied by both the Co-Op program and the E4 program, an NSF-funded, inquiry-based curriculum pioneered by the College of Engineering in the 1980s.
Since its founding, CASTLE has not only been successful in securing new funding for STEM education initiatives, but also in becoming part of large, national programs focused on improving STEM education, including the UTeach and CIRTL (Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching and Learning) National networks which combined encompass 71 of the Nation’s top universities. These network partnerships are positioning CASTLE and Drexel to lead a national STEM transformation. There is a demonstrated need for improving STEM education nationally, to: generate a larger and more diverse STEM workforce, engender a better educated public, address achievement gaps among different racial and ethnic groups, improve performance of U.S. students on STEM related exams compared with their international peers, and enhance the quality of STEM educators. Despite significant national dialogue and funding for STEM education, sustained improvements in these areas have not yet been achieved.
STEM Learning Modules
The innovative program, GK-12 at Drexel University, partnered teams of Drexel engineering graduate students (GK-12 Fellows) and teachers from the School District of Philadelphia (GK-12 Teachers) to collaborate in identifying and designing engineering/technology based supportive curriculum materials. Learn more about the materials here that serve as contextual vehicles through which the presentation of fundamental scientific and mathematical concepts to middle school students are enhanced.