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Project Team

SPARK STEM: Optimizing STEM Learning through Mathematical and Scientific Modeling through Project-based Learning

The project goals for SPARK STEM is to deliver an integrated STEM PBL Professional development for 80 upper elementary/middle grades teachers and coaches from Title One and high-need schools that focuses on equitable teaching practices. School teams from our partner districts, Fairfax and Loudoun, will design and implement problem-based modules called SPARK STEM that promote cross-curricular connections integrating Mathematical Modeling and Scientific Reasoning. More specifically, SPARK STEM will focus on the following five goals to develop teacher knowledge and impact students by sparking a sense of wonder through:

·         Scientific and mathematical modeling

·         Problem-based Learning

·         Access to Equitable Teaching Practices

·         Rigorous Content Knowledge

·         Knowledge and Confidence as STEM leaders/learners

From College of Education and Human Development

 Dr. Jennifer Suh jsuh4

Dr. Jennifer Suh is an Associate Professor in the Graduate School of Education, College of Education and Human Development, George Mason University. Dr. Suh teaches mathematics methods courses in the Elementary Education Program and mathematics leadership courses for the Mathematics Specialist Masters and PH.D Programs.

She directs the Center for Outreach in Mathematics Professional Learning and Educational Technology, COMPLETE, a joint center between the College of Education and the College of Science.

Her research focuses on mathematics teacher development while using Lesson Study to develop mathematics content knowledge and high leverage instructional practices; children’s development of mathematical meaning and models by building representational fluency and strategic competence; and Problem-based Learning Environments to promote equitable access to 21st century skills for diverse student populations in STEM disciplines.

GMU site:

Dr. Andrew Gilbert

Andrew Gilbert, Associate Professor, CEHD. Photo by Creative Services/George Mason University

Andrew Gilbert, Associate Professor,

Dr. Andrew Gilbert is an associate professor in theElementary Education program. He received a PhD in science education from New Mexico State University, a master’s in science education from East Carolina University, and a bachelor’s in geology from Virginia Tech. He worked as a science teacher in the Washington DC area before moving into teacher education.

Gilbert’s research involves studying innovative approaches to pedagogy as well as utilizing critical science frameworks to inform equitable classroom practice.

Dr. Gilbert was a program director of elementary education at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology in Australia. Previously, he was a member of the faculty at Evergreen State College and an associate professor at Kent State University.Gilbert is the author of the 2013 book Courageous Pedagogy: Enacting Critical Science Education, and has published several journal articles and book chapters across a range of outlets.


Dr. Padhu Seshaiyer

From College of Science

Dr. Padmanabhan Seshaiyer is a tenured Professor of Mathematical Sciences at George Mason University and serves as the Director of the STEM Accelerator Program in the College of Science as well as the Director of COMPLETE (Center for Outreach in Mathematics Professional Learning and Educational Technology) at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia.

His research interests are in the broad areas of computational mathematics, scientific computing, computational biomechanics and STEM education. During the last decade, Dr. Seshaiyer initiated and directed a variety of educational programs including graduate and undergraduate research, K-12 outreach, teacher professional development, and enrichment programs to foster the interest of students and teachers in STEM at all levels.

He is also actively involved in multiple global STEM collaborative projects and training programs that engage students and faculty from various countries including Tanzania, Suriname, Philippines, Myanmar, Tunisia, Panama, El Salvador, Colombia, India and South Korea.


Graduate Students

Sara Birkhead

Jay Bradley

Liz Taylor