The John C. Dunham STEM Partnership School on the Aurora University campus serves students in third through eighth grades from the East Aurora, Indian Prairie, Batavia, and West Aurora school districts, as well as AU undergraduate and graduate students. It is staffed through a unique professional development strategy that engages teachers from the partner districts as faculty while they complete AU graduate coursework and become leaders in mathematics and science education.
The development of the multi-generational STEM Partnership School can be traced to the 2009 foundation of the Mathematics and Science Education Center of Aurora University, through an award from the Dunham Fund. Working with the community, the center created bachelor's and master's degree programs in mathematics and science education, hosted workshops and institutes for teachers, and engaged students in after-school and summer programs. Under the leadership of the Institute for Collaboration of Aurora University, the center then turned its focus to the creation of an innovative model for mathematics and science education in a diverse urban community, which can be replicated across the country.
Through a collaboration among the university, school districts and corporate and non-profit partners, the John C. Dunham STEM Partnership School came to fruition in August 2014. Today, the school serves 150 students from the East Aurora, Indian Prairie and West Aurora school districts and trains teachers who return to their home school districts to share their knowledge.
The John C. Dunham STEM Partnership School is a living laboratory, equipped with the latest technology and build with hands-on education at the heart of its design. The school includes:
- Cabot Microelectronics Chemistry Laboratory
The laboratory provides innovative approaches to the study of materials at micro and macro scale. Students apply their knowledge of chemistry, physics and biology to solve real-world problems.
- City of Aurora Biology/ Field Studies Laboratory
This laboratory supports research studies related to outdoor real-world observations of organisms and environment. Students also learn about organisms in the lab via specimens, microscopes and aquariums. Data collections systems and field equipment are used to collect and analyze information.
- Exelon Energy Laboratory
Major areas of learning include renewable energy, alternative energy, energy efficiency and conservation of energy. Elements of the building design such as a wind turbine and solar panels support energy education.
- Kolschowsky Biomedical Life Sciences Laboratory
Learning in this laboratory focuses on the study of the structure, properties, reactions and preparation of organic materials that impact our everyday lives. Students apply knowledge to chemistry, biotechnology and biomechanics.
- Manufacturing Laboratory
This space provides students with the opportunity to engage in activities related to design, production, logistics, instrumental analysis and quality control testing. Students apply knowledge in sciences, mathematics and computer science.
- Nicor GEARS (Geology, Energy and Resources Sustainability) Laboratory
This laboratory provides students with the opportunity to explore how resources can be used and managed in a sustainable manner with minimal environmental impact. Topics include novel green technologies for efficient energy extraction, plant biotechnology and agriculture.
- Tellabs Global Technology Center
The Global Technology Center is not a room but is an infrastructure for the entire school that supports a pervasive multi-generational wireless learning environment with links through the Internet for all technology stored in or brought into the school environment for learning. The center connects students with scientists, engineers, mathematicians and other students.
- Voris Greenhouse
The Voris Greenhouse provides learning opportunities related to nature, study of plant structure and growth, as well as environmental studies. Students apply knowledge to conservation, nutrition and energy resources.