Year in Review 2018-2019


In the news
Wendy Smith assists teachers at AIRNE
Stillshot of Primarily Math video

National Impact: People's Choice Award

We are thrilled to announce that Primarily Math has been named the People’s Choice Award Winner in the NSF We Are Mathematics Video Competition! Thank you to everyone who voted for our Primarily Math video; we couldn’t have won without you and your ongoing support of Nebraska teachers. This competition aims to showcase NSF-supported work in mathematics and statistics, including applied mathematics and mathematics education. Our video, which highlights Primarily Math teachers who are improving the way math is taught and learned in Nebraska schools, was chosen as the winner out of 16 semi-finalists. It is fitting that we won following Teacher Appreciation Week, and we hope that you were celebrated for your outstanding work. Certainly, the winning of the People’s Choice Award demonstrates that our community appreciates its teachers. Share our good news with your friends, family and students on Facebook and Twitter. You can follow us on Twitter @NebraskaMATH.

Watch the video

SEMINAL video still shot

National Impact: STEM for All Video Showcase

A video featuring the Nebraska-led SEMINAL project — a multi-year effort to promote and study active learning in calculus classrooms — has received special recognition from the National Science Foundation. The video was one of 21 named as a Facilitators’ Choice in the 2019 NSF STEM for All Video Showcase, held May 13-20. A panel of NSF facilitators from across the country evaluated 242 videos submitted to the showcase. The university’s Department of Mathematics and its Center for Science, Mathematics and Computer Education collaborated with several other U.S.-based institutions to develop the SEMINAL project, which was funded by the NSF in 2016.

Watch the video

Angela Pannier

National Impact: Presidential Early Career Awards

Nebraska researchers Angie Pannier (pictured) and Marilyne Stains have received Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers. The award is the highest honor presented by the United States government to scientists and engineers who are in the beginning stages of their research careers. It is reserved for individuals who show exceptional promise for leadership in science and technology fields. Pannier, a professor of biological systems engineering and a past Women in Science keynote speaker, was nominated for the award by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Stains, an associate professor of chemistry and faculty for the CSMCE, was nominated for the award by the National Science Foundation.

Dr. Christine Darden, NASA

Global Impact: Nebraska Conference for Undergraduate Women in Math

The 21st annual Nebraska Conference for Undergraduate Women in Mathematics was held Jan. 25-27, 2019, in Lincoln. We hosted 242 undergraduate participants from 119 institutions and 41 faculty members. Participants came from 39 states and the District of Columbia. Sixty students gave 48 talks, and 61 students presented 55 posters. Plenary speakers were Christine Darden (NASA Langley Research Center), Zhilan Feng (Purdue University) and Margaret Holen (Princeton University). Invited panelists were Maia Averett (Mills College), Carol Meyers (Lawrence Livermore National Lab), Candice Price (University of San Diego), Alicia Prieto-Langarica (Youngstown State University), Tina Sposato (Intel), Emily Witt (University of Kansas), and Krystle Hinds (National Security Agency). Dr. Darden gave a second talk for MLK Week. View the videos of the plenary talks.

Math 807T

Statewide Impact: Nebraska Math and Science Summer Institutes

In Summer 2019, 161 distinct Nebraska teachers in math and science education took a course through the Nebraska Math and Science Summer Institutes or other NebraskaMATH programs, along with 17 additional graduate students from across the country. Together they accounted for 294 registrations in 19 math, science and pedagogy classes. Our Math 805T course in July had three teachers from out of state attend in person, from New Jersey, Illinois and Wisconsin. It was a pleasure to welcome them to Nebraska, and to see that our courses are positively impacting not only Nebraska teachers, but also teachers outside our state. This summer, courses were held in Grand Island, Gretna, Kearney, La Vista, Lincoln and Omaha, as well as online.

For more information: NMSSI

Astronomy Education Workshop

Statewide Impact: Astronomy Education Workshop

The 2018 Astronomy Education Workshop was held at UNL on Saturday, Oct. 6. The Center was thrilled to bring back this workshop after its hiatus since 2013 and to welcome back Dr. Kevin Lee from his post at the National Science Foundation. Dr. Laura Trouille, vice president of Citizen Science at Adler Planetarium, Northwestern University, and Dr. Greg Snow, professor of physics and astronomy at UNL, were the keynote speakers. Dr. Trouille also gave the public Ruckman Lecture, "Unlocking Data through Zooniverse," on campus Friday, Oct. 5. We were honored to have Dr. Snow as a keynote before his passing on May 7, 2019. Obituary

All Girls All Math Visits Duncan Aviation

National Impact: All Girls All Math

Since 1997, girls in grades 10-12 have been participating in the All Girls/All Math summer camp. This weeklong summer mathematics camp for high school girls provides a stimulating and supportive environment for girls to develop their mathematical ability and interest. We held a one-week camp from July 14-20 in 2019, with 30 total participants. Highlights of the camp are courses in coding, aerodynamics, knot theory, and tours of Duncan Aviation and the Devaney Center, where the 2015 and 2017 national championship Husker volleyball team plays.

Kent Steen, Guy Trainin, Wendy Smith; Leen-Kiat Soh and Gwen Nugent

Statewide Impact: Adapt, Implement and Research (AIR@NE)

Nebraska researcher Leen-Kiat Soh is using a four-year, $2 million grant from the National Science Foundation to lead an interdisciplinary team of Nebraska researchers in developing and deploying a program aimed at helping the state’s educators effectively teach the subject to a diverse group of K-8 students. Soh’s program focuses on the training and professional development of about 100 educators from diverse districts statewide, including majority-minority, rural and Native schools. These include the Omaha Public Schools, Omaha Nation Public Schools, Grand Island Public Schools and at least eight other rural districts. The teachers will take summer courses designed to bolster their fundamental computer science knowledge and familiarize them with a K-8 computer science curriculum launched in 2014 by the Lincoln Public Schools district. It’s resulted in 97 percent of LPS elementary students earning a proficient rating on each Computer Science Teachers Association standard, and 98 percent of LPS middle school students passing computer science courses. The research team includes LPS' Kent Steen and UNL's Gwen Nugent, Wendy Smith, and Guy Trainin.

Math Day puzzles

Statewide Impact: Math Day

The 29th Nebraska Math Day took place on Thursday, November 15, 2018, when we hosted 1,359 students. More than 100 Nebraska high schools bring students for a day of fast-paced mathematics. Math Day is designed for students in grades 9, 10, 11 and 12 and for exceptional students in lower grades. Math Day consists of one individual and two team mathematics competitions. All students participate in a multiple-choice, preliminary exam called PROBE I (Problems Requiring Original and Brilliant Effort). The top 40 students then move on to take the now famous essay exam called PROBE II. The PROBE top 10 Nebraska high school students (sum of PROBE I and II) are awarded a total of $34,000 in four-year scholarships to UNL.

For more information: Math Day

Teachers participate in a STEM education class at Henzlik

Statewide Impact: Project enhances Nebraska STEM access, understanding

Recent studies show that 85 percent of the U.S. population has access to 4G, or fourth-generation, broadband network technology - which also means that 15 percent of Americans do not. In Nebraska, the numbers are better. A recent report by Nebraska Broadband indicates broadband is available to 99.5 percent of the state’s residents. As technology evolves into fifth-generation and beyond, researchers at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln have launched a project to ensure the state’s resients not only have access to such technology, but are able to maximize it. Fourteen elementary teachers from 14 rural Nebraska high-needs schools — those where the percentage of students receiving free or reduced-price lunches met or exceeded the state’s average within the past three years — are participating in a five-year program focused on developing educational leadership in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, known as STEM. Funded by the National Science Foundation’s Robert Noyce Scholarship Program and housed at the Nebraska Center for Research on Children, Youth, Families and Schools, the NebraskaSTEM project for supporting elementary rural teacher leadership is designed to help Nebraska teachers facilitate high-quality STEM learning opportunities for K-6 students in rural Nebraska. For more information

Math 802T with Kristie Pfabe

Regional Impact: ITEAM and Primarily Math at ESU 3

Districts in Educational Service Unit 3 supported teachers to participate in Primarily Math and ITEAM. Seventeen Primarily Math teachers in Cohort 3 completed the program in August 2019. Ten ITEAM teachers completed the program's six courses, while six other ITEAM teachers took a range of three to five courses that met their teaching needs. New cohorts of Primarily Math and ITEAM are planned to start in the summer of 2020.

For more information: Primarily Math

Wendy Smith wins Don Miller Award
Wendy Smith (center) is the 2018 recipient of the Don Miller Award, presented to her by NATM board members Alicia Davis and Brent Larson.

More Impacts

  • Dr. Wendy Smith, associate director of the Center for Science, Mathematics and Computer Education, was awarded the Don Miller Distinguished Service Award at the Nebraska Association of Teachers of Mathematics Conference on Sept. 21, 2018, in Kearney. "Dr. Wendy Smith is a champion for all mathematics educators in the State of Nebraska. She is one of the most dynamic, yet also one of the most humble, leaders I have ever met. She inspires educators to continually grow in their practice by modeling for us the very teaching practices and processes that we thrive to implement with our students. She works tirelessly to understand the varied needs of educators across the state and then, instead of merely providing resources to improve instruction, she comes alongside educators to build their capacity to become reflective practitioners and to develop into leaders themselves. While she is not one for recognition and accolades, Wendy I want to thank you for your influence - I am just one of many educators who are so very grateful for you," said Alicia Davis, an NATM board member and an eighth-grade mathematics teacher at Scott Middle School in Lincoln. The NATM board established the Don Miller Distinguished Service Award in 1989. Its purpose is to honor mathematics educators for their contribution to the improvement of mathematics education in the state of Nebraska.
  • Dr. Jim Lewis, Aaron Douglas Professor of mathematics, became the university’s first director of science, technology, engineering and mathematics education research initiatives on Jan. 1, 2019. An award-winning educator with deep experience leading teaching and learning initiatives, Lewis’ role bolsters support for Nebraska faculty engaged in STEM research, education and outreach. The position is under the Office of Research and Economic Development’s purview. He will work closely with faculty and center directors to increase extramural funding from the National Science Foundation and other federal agencies; increase the number of faculty pursuing NSF-sponsored research and support their success; boost efforts to recognize top faculty through national honors and awards; build large-scale research projects and resources for STEM education and its broader impacts; and serve on ORED’s senior leadership team. Lewis took a leave of absence from 2015-18 to serve as deputy assistant director – and then acting assistant director – of NSF’s Directorate for Education and Human Resources.
  • Omaha Public Schools teachers and Math in the Middle graduates Maggie Douglas and Jessica Korth and Primarily Math participant Michelle Meyer are three of the 15 Alice Buffett Outstanding Teacher Award winners for 2019. Maggie Douglas, of OPS TLA Math in the Middle, is a fifth grade teacher at Wilson Focus School. Besides earning her Master of Arts for Teachers degree from UNL, Maggie has a master's from UNO and two bachelor's degrees from Creighton. She has worked for six years with OPS. Jessica Korth, of the National Science Foundation-funded Math in the Middle grant, is a math teacher at Bryan Middle School. She earned her bachelor's from Wayne State and master's from UNL. She has 20 years with OPS. Michelle Meyer, of the NSF-funded Primarily Math Cohort 4 Omaha, is an ESL teacher at Belle Ryan Elementary. She has 17 years with OPS. The teachers received $10,000 each, $1,000 in McDonald’s gift cards and an Alice Buffett Outstanding Teacher Award medallion.