USM launches virtual teaching lessons

The University of Southern Mississippi (USM) has launched an innovative program to support teachers across the state with virtual lessons in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) for kindergarten through 8th grade classrooms in Mississippi.

The STEM on Demand program, administered through USM’s Center for Science and Mathematics Education (CSME), is being funded by a $397,789 grant from the U.S. Department of Education. In addition to the virtual synchronous lessons, accompanying materials/supply kits will be made available to participating teachers and their students free of charge.

The one-year program was developed in response to the academic stresses created by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Lessons are taught by USM professors and scientists on Zoom, with times and lengths adjusted to meet teachers’ K-8 classroom schedules.

“Public school teachers have just come through one of the most challenging years in history,” said Dr. Julie Cwikla, Interim CSME Director. “The University of Southern Mississippi is here to provide open access to University scientists, standards-based lessons, Q&As with scientists, and rich, hands-on STEM learning opportunities for the children of Mississippi.”

Cwikla noted that the Office of Gov. Tate Reeves was also instrumental in helping to secure the grant.

Cwikla, a professor of mathematics education, is leading STEM on Demand, along with her CSME colleagues, Dr. Rachel Gisewhite, marine science education; Dr. Kendrick Buford, biology education; and Dr. Allison Downing, science education.

“I am excited to be able to assist Mississippi teachers in any way we can by bringing classroom resources directly to them and their students during this challenging time,” said Dr. Downing.

Teachers can reach out to CSME to help them with STEM content and standards they find more challenging or for an area in which they want something new and interesting for their students. STEM on Demand will provide young children in Mississippi with access to University professors, providing interactive hands-on learning experiences and equally important Mississippi role models and scientists in STEM.

“I am so proud of the outreach and service coming out of the Center for Science and Mathematics Education. Leading the state in STEM education is part of the fabric and history of our institution,” said Dr. Chris Winstead, Dean of USM’s College of Arts and Science.

CSME is currently booking STEM lessons with topics ranging from DNA to astronomy to marine science

“The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way teachers and students interact and created a space for new and innovative ways to connect and learn,” said Dr. Gisewhite. “I am so excited for this opportunity to bring fun, engaging, and impactful STEM lessons directly to K-8 classrooms.”

For more information and to book STEM lessons for classrooms, contact [email protected].


Written by University of Southern Mississippi

The University of Southern Mississippi (USM) is a comprehensive public research institution delivering transformative programs on campuses in Hattiesburg and Long Beach, at teaching and research sites in central and southern Mississippi, as well as online. Founded in 1910, USM is one of only 130 universities in the nation to earn the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education’s "R1: Doctoral Universities – Very high research activity” designation, and its robust research enterprise includes experts in ocean science and engineering, polymer science and engineering, and sport venue safety and security, among others. USM is also one of only 40 institutions in the nation accredited in theatre, art and design, dance and music. As an economic driver, USM generates an annual economic impact of more than $600 million across the state. USM welcomes a diverse student body of approximately 15,000, representing 71 countries, all 50 states, and every county in Mississippi. USM students have collected four Truman Scholarships and 36 National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships, while also leading Mississippi with 24 Goldwater Scholarships, an honor that recognizes the next generation of great research scientists. Home to the Golden Eagles, USM competes in 17 Division I sports sponsored by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). For more information, visit

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