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MindSET Frequently Asked Questions

Q What is the Tau Beta Pi National K-12 Math & Science Initiative?

The Tau Beta Pi National K-12 Mathematics & Science Initiative is known as MindSET. This program applies a flexible design concept, where individual Chapters will develop and implement projects based on a framework establsihed by Tau Beta Pi. The four Core Components of this framework are teacher development, parent development, student development, and metrics for continuous program assessment and evaluation. MindSET focuses on using kinesthetics to teach math and science in the K-12 classroom, coupled with relevant engineering laboratory activities designed to reinforce the concepts taught in the classroom. MindSET is data-driven, and premised on the observation that fully equipped teachers, and active and involved parents are critical to the success and progress of our K-12 students. Conversely, research shows that where parents are apathetic and uninvolved, much of the hard work designed to improve student education will be unproductive.

Q What is the objective of MindSET?

The objective of MindSET is to partner with local school districts, to create and establish math and science intervention programs. The MindSET programs will assist students in making the connection between math and the world around them and pursuing careers in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) disciplines. MindSET encourages the use of kinesthetic or hands-on delivery strategies in these activities. Such strategies have been shown to contribute to improved math and science performance of students in the K-12 system, particularly in assisting students to understand the connections between math, career opportunities, and their daily lives.

Q What are STEM disciplines?

STEM disciplines are those in the career fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

Q What are the Core Components of MindSET?

The four Core components of the MindSET program are:

  • Teacher development
  • Parent development
  • Student development
  • Assessment and Evaluation

Q What is “Teacher Development?” (Core Component #1)

MindSET teacher development focuses on the preparation and training of teachers in hands-on, minds-on teaching techniques. This involves the using manipulatives and other kinesthetic activities in classroom instruction. Tau Beta Pi has developed training modules that are available for delivery to teachers in your target schools. Tau Beta Pi provides certified K-12 math and science instructors to deliver training modules to your target schools.

Q What is “Parent Development?” (Core Component #2)

MindSET parent development is a series of parent-focused activities that seek to provide parents with the guidance and equipment needed to support their students in their math and science developmental activities. The parent-focused activities include a series of workshops and discussion sessions. The activities are designed to enable parents to navigate through bureaucratic policies and other roadblocks which may have discouraged their participation in the past. We encourage parents to establish crucial relationships with school system staff and administrators. In addition, parents are coached to provide their student the vital support students need when they are discouraged.

Q What is “Student Development?” (Core Component #3)

The MindSET program’s key goal is to assist students in achieving their potential through adequate preparation in math and science. Student development is achieved through teacher development, parent development, and engineering lab modules. Student development is a long-term component, which requires the tracking of student progress from elementary through middle and high schools. Successful development is measured, not only by the metrics used in assessment and evaluation, but also by the opportunities, and expanded career choices which become available to the student.

Q How do we accomplish “Assessment & Evaluation?” (Core Component #4)

Tau Beta Pi will continuously track student progress to determine whether or not your program is having the desired effect. If the students are not achieving the desired outcome, it may be necessary to improve or change the approach being used. Therefore, assessment and evaluation is critical to the success of the MindSET program. The program development plan includes standard metrics, however, chapters may add other metrics to provide additional performance data, and assist in determining program effectiveness.

The standard metrics we use for assessment in the middle and upper grades are:

  • Completion of Algebra 1 in 8th grade
  • Completion of Calculus in the 12th grade
  • Performance in Standardized State Tests

We collect benchmark data at the initiation of a program. We use past and present data to compare students’ progress and achievement level with 1) their school’s average achievement level, and 2) their achievement levels prior to attending the program. We obtain student information by having parents sign a consent form that allows the school district to release information. You can then find the information with the help of your county math director. It will be necessary to work very closely with the schools and school districts, and to track regularly-published state data for each school.

Q Which students are targeted by MindSET?

The primary goal of MindSET is to increase the number of prepared students. MindSET primarily targets those students who are offtrack for completing Algebra 1 in the 8th grade, and hence calculus in the 12th grade, or who lack the motivation or encouragement to excel in math and science. These include women, minorities, and other populations that are underrepresented in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) disciplines. Many students in these groups could potentially lead successful careers in STEM disciplines, but have not been adequately encouraged to develop an appreciation for, or interest in math and science. Without an encouraging and stimulating math and science environment, these students will be denied access to quite lucrative career fields. MindSET does not target those students who are already doing well in math and science, and can exercise the option of pursuing careers in STEM disciplines, but they are not excluded from the program.

Q What grade levels are targeted by MindSET?

MindSET’s goal is to have the earliest exposure possible, starting in the elementary grades. Successful student progression in math and science, from the lowest to the highest grade levels, requires early intervention. Ultimately, it is best to have a program that can provide opportunities for students of all ages, but individual chapters may not have the resources to support a group that large. Therefore, Tau Beta Pi encourages chapters with limited resources to focus on grades 5 through 8. Students in this range have the ability to do quantitative math, but have flexible futures since they are still early in their academic careers. Tracking those students on to high school could be very productive. Alternatively, if a student is in 9th or 10th grade and still in pre-algebra, it will be difficult to assist that student to get caught-up, without some very intense interventions. The easiest age groups to recruit tend to be 3rd through 6th grades. The younger students present a unique challenge, since it can be very hard to show them basic engineering concepts that they can appreciate. However, these younger students are extremely inquisitive, and are ready to learn from activities which are a lot of fun. Many of these younger students are capable of gaining at least a cursory understanding of remarkably advanced concepts when given individual attention. Therefore, Tau Beta Pi encourages a high mentor-to-student ratio at lab sessions.

Q What incentives are there for Chapters to get involved with this Program?

The primary incentives are meaningful involvement in local communities, being a part of a national initiative, and contributing to a solution of a major national problem. Chapters may also gain recognition in their community and academic institution. Additionally, Tau Beta Pi will institute MindSET chapter awards and recognition programs.

Q How can I get our Chapter’s current K-12 project to qualify as a TBP K-12 MindSET program?

Investigate possibilities of incorporating the four Core Components. If your current project has these Core Components, then it qualifies as a Tau Beta Pi approved project, and should be registered accordingly. If it does not, then you should seek to incorporate these Core Components in order to have your project approved as a Tau Beta Pi project.

Q Are Chapters expected to find the funds to run a program?

The Executive Council (EC) has been pursuing funding for this program on an ongoing basis. These funds will be made available to chapters, especially in the form of startup funds, but chapters are encouraged to explore local funding possibilities.

Q What kind of assistance will a Chapter receive from the National Management Committee (NMC) to start up a program?

Once a Chapter indicates its readiness to start a program, the Executive Council (EC) will work through the National Management Committee (NMC) to provide startup resources, including program implementation guidelines and teacher training. Tau Beta Pi can also assist in defraying the cost of engineering lab modules. In addition, key personnel will be prepared to meet with you, and your target School District to discuss program objectives.

Q What is the management structure for the TBP K-12 MindSET Program?

The management structure comprises the TBP Executive Council (EC), National Management Committee (NMC), and four Regional Management Committees (RMC), each with responsibility for four Districts. For greater effectiveness, Tau Beta Pi also recommends establishing District Management Committees (DMC) within each region, and a Chapter Implementation Team (CIT) in each Chapter. The DMC and CIT will manage development and implementation activities at the local level.

Q What is the composition and role of the MindSET National Management Committee (NMC)?

The K-12 National Management Committee (NMC)

  • Comprises 9 members:
  • One member of the Executive Councel (EC)
    • 4 District Directors (DD) (4-year appointments, 2 rotating off every 2 years)
    • 4 Alumni Members (AM) (4-year appointments, 2 rotating off every 2 years)
  • Works with Regional Management Committees (RMCs), District Management Committees (DMCs) and Chapters in formulating and implementing projects
  • Reviews projects and make recommendations to Executive Council (EC)
  • Tracks progress and results of approved projects
  • Identifies and cultivates national program partners

Q What is the composition and role of the MindSET Regional Management Committee?

Nationwide there are 4 Regional Management Committees (RMC), each responsible for 4 Districts. Composition and role of the Regional Management Committee (RMC) are as follows:

  • Comprises 16 Members
    • 8 District Directors (DDs) (4-year appointments, 2 rotating off annually)
    • 8 Alumni Members (AMs) (4-year appointments, 2 rotating off annually)
  • Provides District Directors for Natioanl Management Committee (NMC) rotations
  • Formulates Regional Operating Plans
  • Assists in identification of local business partners
  • Supports Districts and Chapters in project implementation

Q What is the role of the MindSET District Management Committee (DMC)?

Role of K-12 District Management Committees (DMC) is to:

  • Provide support at the local level for Chapters within the District
  • Assist Chapters in making contact with agencies, school districts, corporations, university administrators and faculty, and other potential partners.

Q What is the role of the Chapter Implementation Team?

Role of K-12 Chapter Implementation Teams

  • Provide leadership for the development and implementation of the Chapter program
  • Explore opportunities for collaborating with other groups Individual Chapters, or Teams drawn from a number of Chapters and other student organizations
  • Work with Engineering Schools and School Districts
  • Define Chapter project for implementation
  • Challenge and involve Chapter members to become involved in project design
  • Actively monitor student and school progress with respect to the metrics being used
  • Seek financial sponsorship for local program
  • Pursue partnerships with industry, seeking to utilize industry personnel

Q How can the Chapter Advisers assist Chapters with initiating and running a program?

Chapter advisers, faculty, and staff in your College of Engineering are critically important in getting programs moving in a school district. Due to position or personal knowledge, they are usually best qualified to establish informal and formal contact with administrators, faculty, and staff in the K-12 system. Such contact is critical to the successful launching, and sustainability of your program.

Q How do Chapters approach schools (School Districts) about starting a TBP MindSET program in my area?

To initiate a project in a school system you should first check with the engineering administrators and staff in the student services area to determine if there are any projects currently underway, in which your Chapter could provide leadership. Next, meet with the school district administrators (leadership provided by Advisers, engineering faculty and staff); discuss the proposed project and your Chapter’s interest in working with students in the school system, particularly in the areas of math, science and engineering preparation. Once the school district administrators are onboard, they will assist you in arranging meetings with the school(s) of interest to you. It is important that you do background research on student performance in the school district and target schools, by reviewing the annual reports which are published online. You must work side- by-side with the school district, complementing their work through your efforts. Any other approach will court disaster. You should advocate a win-win situation for all concerned.

Q What does a typical Engineering Lab session look like?

Engineering lab sessions complement the classroom instruction being done by the teacher on a regular basis. Each lab session should be long enough to complete a meaningful module, which is typically three hours. Modules begin by teaching students a mathematical concept or set of concepts. This should be followed up with a kinesthetic activity that excites the students and directly applies the concept(s) they just learned. Alternatively, the students may be presented with a kinesthetic activity that teaches them the concepts continuously throughout the session, rather than them learning it in a lecture format at the beginning. Both methods are acceptable. Students learn from each other, and should be given every opportunity to do so in these sessions. In the lab sessions students must be encouraged to work in teams of 4 or 5; larger teams should be avoided. Students should be separated into groups based on age or ability. Each group should be given a lecture and an activity that caters to their ability level. The kinesthetic activity should be presented with a large number of volunteers acting as mentors. Ideally, you want to have one mentor per student, although that is not usually attainable. However, a large number of mentors allows each student to receive individual attention, and students of all ages learn astonishingly fast when given that kind of support. Parents sometimes like to sit in and watch. This is perfectly okay, and should not make you nervous. In fact, many parents find that they learn as much as their kids do at any given session.

Q What should be the duration of a lab session?

We have found three hours is an effective session length. Often, the best time to do a session is on a Saturday from 9:00am – 12:00pm. Saturday sessions ensure the lab does not interfere with any after-school activities. The time may seem a little early, but keeping the students there until after noon may make it necessary to provide snacks or lunch, which is outside the budget of most programs. End your sessions by providing opportunities for participants to give feedback on the day’s activity, which will assist you in module design. Four to six sessions a semester is a good long-term goal for your program. Start very slowly and build up.

Q What is an engineering module and how do I create one?

A module is a completely self-contained MindSET activity that is designed to illustrate application of math and science concepts in engineering product development. The module should be appropriate for the grade levels being taught. A module should include a detailed materials list, some kind of theoretical component, and instructions for a kinesthetic component. If there are worksheets for the students to complete, the worksheets and an answer key should be included. A digital version of the module should be stored as one single document or ZIP file that includes everything but the actual physical materials, which a chapter should be able to find easily after referring to the detailed materails list. A module should illustrate concepts at the different grade levels, and should clearly indicate its target age group. A simple way to create a module is to start with an important mathematical concept or set of concepts. From there, create a kinesthetic activity that quantitatively applies those concepts to problems related to engineering. Lectures or worksheets may be devised as necessary to assist in communicating the core concepts of the module. A good approach is to partner with math and science teachers in your target schools in the development of your modules. Essentially, your modules should incorporate the teaching and learning objectives of the curriculum.

Q Does my chapter have to create all of its own modules?

No. First, there will be modules available for download on the national website. Second, since a large amount of work can go into developing any single module, it is often effective to recruit other organizations to design modules for you. When doing this, it is important to offer them as many incentives as possible. For example:

  • Provide them with advice and guidance as needed
  • Reimburse them for their expenses
  • Allow them to have their name written on the actual module so that their group is given credit for developing it
  • Allow a group to lead the Saturday session where their module is presented
  • For this scenario, you would agree to make sure the students will be there at a given date and time, and to make sure you provide extra volunteers to assist them.
  • Feature the group on your website as a Contributing Student Group

Q Should Chapters charge for attendance to their sessions?

Absolutely not. Many low-performing students are those whose families are facing financial hardship, or whose parents are not enthusiastic enough about math and science to pay for their children to attend an extracurricular activity. Also, the cooperation of school districts is vital for your survival and your success. Districts are much more willing to believe that your main interest is benefiting the students if you are free of charge. Many schools will also ask if you charge for your sessions before they will agree to hand out fliers.

Q In general, what steps are involved in building a successful MindSET program?

Start by having a good understanding of the mission, objectives and goals, as well as the rationale for the establishment of this initiative. Meet with the Outreach and recruitment staff and administrators in your college and discuss the MindSET Program. Have discussions with your chapter advisers, and seek their assistance with the program. Research your target school district and the schools, to determine baseline information, and then meet with school district officials and staff. The following steps are intended to be a long-term framework and should by no means be expected to be totally accomplished within a semester or a year.

  1. Designate a dedicated individual or (preferably) team of members to spearhead the effort.
  2. Investigate what already exists in your area.
  3. If your chapter already has a program, build on it until it meets MindSET standards.
  4. If another county-run program already exists, offer your chapter’s leadership in helping them to maximize their potential and become a MindSET-approved program. Do NOT try to compete with established programs in the district, as anything less than total cooperation can often be disastrous.
  5. If no program exists, start one.
  6. Establish a plan to incorporate the 4 Core Components in your program.
  7. Your District Director, the Regional and National Management Committees will be happy to assist with this.
  8. Your plan should also include the basic format of your events, such as Saturday sessions or sessions on weekday afternoons.
  9. Sample modules for these sessions are available on the national website. Until you have had time to create your own modules, these will provide you with a great start.
  10. Obtain funding to run your program.
  11. Some funding will likely be available from the Executive Council.
  12. Many local businesses love the opportunity to work with a program that has a tangible local impact. To assist the MindSET program to be as effective as possible, it is important to investigate all possible sources of funding for your chapter.
  13. Market the program to parents and teachers in your area.
  14. Every school has an open house at least at the beginning of each fall semester. Most are more than happy to distribute fliers for you.
  15. Word-of-mouth is often the best. Many parents are members or even directors of various listservs that can reach thousands of teachers and parents free of charge.
  16. School districts designate math and science directors at the district level. Schools also usually have a Vice Principal of Curriculum. These people make great contacts as they can often reach many other teachers and parents.
  17. Asking students to take fliers home to their parents is often ineffective—the fliers usually end up lost in the bottoms of their backpacks. Instead, it is important to reach teachers and parents directly while offering a program this is appealing to students.
  18. Begin offering sessions.
  19. Sessions should feature a large volunteer-to-student ratio, as students learn dramatically faster when they have an individual mentor.
  20. Recruit volunteers from all campus engineering societies to come to your events.
  21. During your first session of the semester, it is often helpful to have the students learning in one room while offering an information session for parents in another.
  22. Develop your own modules.
  23. Each module should center around teaching a particular mathematical concept or set of concepts.
  24. From this foundation, a hands-on engineering activity should be developed.
  25. It is often very effective to recruit other organizations to develop modules as a semester service project. Ideally, you would get an organization to agree to do the work of developing a module and even to lead the particular session where their module will be presented. You would offer them guidance and reimbursement for expenses, as well as credit for their hard work (e.g. keep their name on the module they develop or list them as a contributing organization on your Initiative’s website).
  26. Help other chapters and the National Program.
  27. As you develop new modules, submit them to the NMC so that they may be shared with other chapters via the national website.
  28. Get in touch with nearby chapters to offer them personalized encouragement and guidance as they seek to develop their own programs.