Virtual Education: Dallas-based National Math and Science Initiative Launches Free STEM Video Lessons

The math, science, and English lessons come from teachers nationwide who all have a successful record of preparing students for college. That includes John Urschel, a former lineman for the Baltimore Ravens who is currently a doctoral candidate at the Massachusetts Institute for Technology.

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced schools worldwide to close their doors with more than 70 percent of the world’s student population being affected as of May 11, 2020. To combat this, organizations across DFW have been coming up with ways to help students learn during this time through virtual educational programs. 

Big Thought and Dallas City of Learning launched an online learning hub with hundreds of free programs from major local companies and organizations including Boeing, the Perot Museum of Nature and Science, and the State Fair of Texas. National companies such as Amazon, National Geographic, the National Children’s Museum, and the World Wildlife Fund have also created educational resources of their own.

Teaching in a pandemic

The Dallas-based and Dallas-founded National Math and Science Initiative (NMSI) has joined in the effort by offering free educational video lessons through YouTube. The lessons can help students with math, science, and English, while also providing them with work that students can do to apply what they learn.

“NMSI’s mission is to increase access and achievement in rigorous STEM education for all students. While teachers and students continue to adjust to online learning, we knew we could help by providing high-quality, ready-to-use lessons,” NMSI CEO Bernard Harris, who is also a medical doctor and was the first African-American to complete a space walk, said in a statement. 

Virtual instructor John Urschel is a fifth-year PhD student at MIT and a former NFL offensive lineman.

One of the teachers for NMSI’s free video lesson set is John Urschel, a former lineman for the Baltimore Ravens who is currently a doctoral candidate at the Massachusetts Institute for Technology. Along with Urschel, NMSI says its video lessons come from teachers nationwide who all have a successful record of preparing students for college.

NMSI has roots all the way back to the superconducting super collider in north central Texas in the ’90s. That project brought scientists and engineers from around the world to the region and although the super collider project was canceled, an idea was hatched to raise the caliber of schools in the area.

That idea is core to NMSI’s effort to develop the next generation of STEM teachers and challenge students. In the early days, ExxonMobil invested $125 million to help create a nonprofit to improve education outcomes. With additional funding support from the O’Donnell Foundation, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation, the National Math and Science Initiative was founded in 2007. Its model is rooted in state and local partnerships.

Image from an NMSI Lessons video on physics. [Image: Courtesy NMSI]

“Thousands of teachers and students are receiving NMSI’s online training and coaching this spring and in the summer,” Harris said. “Equally as important, we plan additional support for the fall as the new school year begins. With years of experience in online education, NMSI is well-positioned to deliver effective resources.”

Find the lessons online here.

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