iBIO Institute EDUCATE Center’s TalentSparks program provides intensive one- to multi-day teacher professional development workshops designed to assist teachers in aligning curricula and implementing Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) through real-world, problem-centered, hands-on learning and connections to experts in STEM fields. In TalentSparks workshops, teachers “understand by doing” the standards—by experiencing these new standards in action and reflecting on how such learning experiences deepen learners’ content knowledge and develop their 21st century skills. TalentSparks workshops are organized around life sciences sectors that feed, fuel, heal and save the world.
Since 2007, with financial support from Abbott, Astellas, Baxter, Takeda, DuPont-Pioneer, ADM and a grant from the Illinois State Board of Education, TalentSparks programming has reached over 700 teachers and through them over 60,000 students. Independent external evaluation shows that teachers and students significantly improve their knowledge of STEM concepts and careers. Teachers participating in TalentSparks programs show average gains of approximately 9 percentage points on both science and mathematics content assessments, and comparable gains have been achieved by students of TalentSparks teachers. TalentSparks workshops develop teachers’ best practices and students’ 21st century skills by focusing on the investigation of real-world problems of global concern.
Topics addressed in 2014 and future TalentSparks workshops are listed below.
Fueling the World
• Wind power
• Biofuel power
• Battery power
• Solar power Feeding the World
• H2O Conservation and Hydrogels
• Plant Pollination Saving the World
• Petroleum Replacement Products: Plastics vs. Bioplastics
Healing the World
• Emerging Epidemics
• Nature!Nurture: Epigenetics
• Your Brain!Your Body: Feedback Systems
• Diabetes and Dialysis
Feeding the World
• Plant Propagation: Germination and Tissue Culture
• Field-to-Fork Food Safety
Saving the World
• Energy Audits and Conservation
• Invasive Species and
To view itineraries of previous TalentSparks!, select a year below.
Math Science Partnership Grant Project: TS3
TalentSparks3! incorporates 1) hands-on biotechnology experiments, 2) in-depth professional development in STEM education and problem-based learning (PBL) and 3) facilitated career exploration for middle school and high school teachers. The workshop is co-facilitated by iBIO Institute EDUCATE Center staff, Monroe Randolph Regional Office of Education, industry partners and Illinois State University faculty.
TalentSparks3! models and assesses how hands-on, high-tech skills development in biotechnology, as experienced through authentic problem-based learning projects, facilitates students’ understanding, achievement and exploration of STEM concepts and careers.