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Tennessee STEM Education Center

Newsletter & Stories

TSEC Newsletter

Quarterly publication that features TSEC happenings, events, community impact, research activity and more!

TSEC Media & Stories

‘Innovative’ students passionate about their STEM projects present at MTSU

[April 2024] The Middle Tennessee STEM Innovation Hub’s STEM Expo, hosted by the MTSU Tennessee STEM Education Center and held Wednesday, April 3, in the Student Union Ballroom. About 300 fifth- through 12th-grade students worked independently or in teams of up to five students to prepare and present at the STEM Expo. Continue to Story

MTSU-led $550K federal grant funds rural libraries’ virtual reality training to help patrons explore career possibilities

[March 2024] MURFREESBORO, Tenn. — Through a three-year, nearly $550,000 federal grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services and managed by Middle Tennessee State University, six rural Tennessee libraries will utilize virtual reality training to help their community residents explore employment opportunities. Continue to Story

Middle, high schoolers enjoy STEM-ulating time at Regional Science Olympiad at MTSU

[February 2024] By day’s end — from the super competitive events held in the morning and afternoon  to the always exciting awards ceremony — the recent  Regional Science Olympiad at Middle Tennessee State University sent nine teams to the upcoming State Science Olympiad.

Ravenwood (Brentwood, Tennessee), Father Ryan and Hume-Fogg Academic (Nashville) and Central Magnet (Murfreesboro) were the top four high school teams. Merrol Hyde (Hendersonville), Fred J. Page (Franklin), Central Magnet, Rossview (Clarksville) and Smyrna were the top five middle schools. Continue to Story

TSEC’s Drs. Kevin Ragland and Chaney Mosley partner with $901K-plus USDA/NIFA grant to reach next-gen agriculture leaders

[July 2023] This program, announced in June by the USDA, is funded by President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act, which aims to lower costs for American families, expand access to markets to producers from all backgrounds and communities, build a clean energy economy and strengthen American supply chains, the USDA release said. “MTSU’s contribution to this project can be characterized by a commitment to ensuring equitable opportunities for racially and ethnically diverse students,” said Chaney Mosley, MTSU School of Agriculture assistant professor and research grant project co-leader with Kevin RaglandContinue to Story

MTSU hosts impressive young researchers at annual STEM Expo

[April 2023] Elementary, middle school and high school students from Rutherford, Davidson and Sumner counties brought their research A games to the Middle Tennessee State University campus earlier this week.  Ingenious, industrious and impressive describes the projects and talents of the nearly 220 youth from 18 schools attending the annual Middle Tennessee STEM Innovation Hub Expo Wednesday, April 5, in the Student Union Ballroom. Continue to Story

TSEC’s Dr. Grant Gardner Selected for Esteemed Leadership Training Program

[August 2022] Dr. Grant Gardner (Associate Director TSEC, Associate Professor of Biology) was recently selected for the 2022-2023 cohort of the MTSU Leadership on Deck Institute. This is a year-long administrative leadership training program to assist a select cohort of 10 faculty in reflecting and cultivating leadership skills with the goal of being prepared to accept leadership positions at MTSU. The group meets once per month over the course of a year and engages in focused topical discussions, guest lectures, and other learning opportunities. The program culminates in the development of a leadership statement and a self-led leadership project.  

TSEC Continues Yearly Innovative Educator Workshops to Develop Middle TN STEM Educators 

[July 2022] TSIN and the Middle TN STEM Innovation Hub, hosted at TSEC, continued their long-standing collaboration to bring exciting professional development credit opportunities to educators all over the mid-state through the annual Innovative Educator Workshop series. The day-long workshops offer catered lunch, mileage reimbursement, and small stipends alongside the expert knowledge offered by local educators. These speakers, leaders in their fields, guide middle TN k-12 teachers through many different challenges they may face, from school STEM designations to implementing experiential learning.

Innovative Educator Workshop: Process Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning (POGIL): The Fundamentals

TSIN and the Middle TN STEM Innovation Hub kicked off the workshop series this summer on June 14th by hosting the first of three Innovative Educator Workshops at MTSU’s Science Building. The workshop featured Dr. Amy Phelps, a professor of chemistry at MTSU, who discussed the structure and implementation of the student-centered learning method, POGIL. Dr. Phelps sees POGIL as a means to help teachers formalize their efforts to engage students more fully in the learning process. In her workshop, participants engaged in POGIL-based learning, explored how POGIL activities are structured, discussed group formation, and wrestled with challenges of implementation related to bringing POGIL to a classroom.

Innovative Educator Workshop: Incorporating Biotechnology in the Classroom

On June 16th, 2022, the workshop, Incorporating Biotechnology in the Classroom was facilitated at Oakland High School by Melissa Bunch. Melissa Bunch has been an educator for 26 years and currently teaches Biotechnology at Oakland High School in Murfreesboro, TN. Teachers traveled from all over the mid-state to hear Mrs. Bunch share her expertise and to discover ways to introduce their classrooms to exciting biotechnologies. They discussed the incorporation of biotechnology into curriculum as well as how to start a biotechnology program at their school.

Innovative Educator Workshop: The Journey of STEM and STEAM Designation

As interest in STEM/STEAM designated schools rises, TSIN and the Middle TN STEM Innovation Hub recognize the need for guidance in undertaking this esteemed designation. The third Innovative Educator Workshop, The Journey of STEM and STEAM Designation, was held on June 23rd, 2022 to help address this need. Lea Bartch, Coordinator of Science and Social Studies for Murfreesboro City Schools, conducted the workshop at MTSU and discussed the process of STEM/STEAM designation, how to get started, and how to move forward from any step in the process. Mrs. Bartch, who has assisted TSIN with the designation process for three years, shared her insider expertise on the process and how participants could navigate common challenges.

STEAM-a-Palooza for STEAM Festival

[October 2021] TSEC participated in STEAM-a-Palooza as part of the 2021 STEAM Festival on October 23rd. At the TSEC booth, children of all ages got to participate in a fun activity that taught them the basics of engineering. Participants got the opportunity to build their own catapult in our “Catapult Engineering” activity. After building their catapult, they got to test their engineering skills by seeing how effective their build was by shooting a projectile for a prize. While doing so, they got to learn first-hand how their building choices used tension, torque, and gravity.

Inside an MTSU faculty research collaborative community

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TSEC Faculty Members join team, to partner with State Department of Education on $1M Tennessee pathways research grant

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Tennessee Board of Regents Awards Funding for Inclusive Pedagogy Project

[June 2020] Congratulations are in order to the TSEC Associate Directors Dr. Grant Gardner (Biology) and Dr. Sarah K. Bleiler-Baxter (Mathematical Sciences) who are PI’s on an award funded by the Tennessee Board of Regents. The project is entitled Inclusive Pedagogy among STEM Faculty: A Professional Development Program for Becoming Aware and Culturally Responsive and hasthree focal points. The project seeks to help STEM faculty become more aware of, and responsive to, the varied backgrounds, learning styles, and cultures of learners in MTSU’s STEM courses. Additionally, this project will serve to promote reflective practice among faculty with respect to inclusive pedagogy. Finally, this project is seeking to spark cultural change within the STEM departments with respect to a focus on inclusion. The project starts this Fall 2020 and will continue through next summer. For more information please contact Dr. Bleiler-Baxter ( or Dr. Gardner (

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Tennessee STEM Education Center
820 Fairview Avenue
Fairview Building, Suite 102
MTSU Box #82
Murfreesboro, TN 37132