In developing the STEM.LD project, the Foundation’s staff was influenced by the concept of Learning Design (the “LD” in “STEM.LD”), defined as “the creative and deliberate act of devising new practices, plans of activity, resources and tools aimed at achieving particular educational results in a given context.”  The Niswonger Foundation believes that designing student-centered learning ecosystems and pathways can lead to positive outcomes, from K-12 student achievement to meaningful employment in the Workforce post-high school.  STEM.LD is a program that targets grades 6-12 in rural Northeast Tennessee.  The project designs in-person and virtual STEM-rich learning environments for students to accelerate learning and exposure to STEM subjects while exploring their interests in these fields.

The Objective of STEM.LD

As a federal Education and Innovation Research (EIR) grant, STEM.LD evaluates several aspects of learning design. 1) Strengthen teaching and learning in the classrooms by offering professional development and supplementing STEM curriculum with additional materials for students. 2) Offer out of school opportunities for students to explore STEM content, and 3) Expand the range of course offerings including dual enrollment, dual credit, and AP courses for high school and middle school students.

Who is Served

The overall project serves 60 schools and 15 counties.  The school systems include: Cocke County, Unicoi County, Hawkins County, Jefferson County, Sullivan County, Bristol City, Greeneville City, Greene County, Hancock County, Carter County, Washington County, Johnson County, Anderson County, Claiborne County, Union County and Oneida City.

STEM.LD Partners

Our partners include: If I Had a Hammer; University of Alabama in Huntsville; Purdue; ETSU; Streamworks; BioBuilder; TNTP; Walters State Community College; and Northeast State Community College.

    The Niswonger Foundation was established in 2001 to make a positive and sustainable difference in education in Northeast Tennessee. This dream was envisioned by Scott M. Niswonger, who founded Landair Transport, Inc. and Forward Air Corporation. These companies were the first two Greeneville-based companies to be taken public in the history of Greene County, Tennessee. Jointly, the companies have combined annual revenue of over one-billion-dollars and employ more than 5000 people.


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