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Innovation Research Park

Projects & Initiatives


Professional Development for Teachers

Science Teachers: One of our projects for the professional development of science teachers is the LENS project. LENS (Learning Enhanced through the Nature of Science) is an inter-disciplinary professional development program designed to develop science content knowledge, pedagogical skills, assessment literacy, and peer coaching capacity among Virginia Beach City Public Schools (VBCPS) high school teachers of Earth Science, Biology, Chemistry and Physics. The project is a partnership between Old Dominion University (ODU), Tidewater Community College (TCC), the College of William and Mary (W&M), and VBCPS.

Research Experiences for Teachers (RET): This project is a collaboration with faculty from the Batten College of Engineering & Technology at ODU to train STEM teachers in alternative energy research through hands-on laboratory and computational experiences, using the argument-driven inquiry (ADI) approach. TCEP serves in both curriculum development and evaluation roles on this project.

Investing in Innovation (I3): The project focuses on providing students in high-need middle schools with increased access to rigorous and engaging coursework in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). The project also focuses on teachers by incorporating an innovative, high-quality, multi-tiered approach to professional development that employs school-based math coaching, an online platform to promote a sense of community, and teacher-made videos of their own practices.

Male teacher


College and Career Readiness

TCEP faculty seek to promote positive academic, social, and personal outcomes of all students through various projects focusing on college and career readiness, high school dropout prevention and recovery, career and technical education, and social-emotional wellbeing. Collaborations with faculty from the Darden College of Education & Professional Studies at Old Dominion as well as external contributors from the National Dropout Prevention Center, the Successful Practices Network, Clemson University, and the University of Memphis focus on equitable access to quality education through the shared goal of ensuring that all students graduate on time with the skills and dispositions necessary to successfully enter the workforce or pursue higher education.

Support for Military Connected Schools

Teaching, Evaluation and Advocacy for Military-connected Students (TEAMS) is an interdisciplinary initiative to ensure that practicing educators and those new to the profession have the awareness, knowledge, and evidence-based competencies needed to maximize learning for students of military families. By augmenting and facilitating the missions of other agencies and programs, we ensure every military child is educated in military conscious schools by individuals who are well prepared to effectively respond to the unique learning and social-emotional needs of military-connected children. The TEAMS initiative provides in-service education and support for Teachers, Administrators, School counselors and Support personnel as well as evaluation for programs and services currently in use.

Contact us about Military Connected Schools

Happy reunion of soldier with family outdoors



Learning and Identity Development in Community and Museum Settings

Researcher-Practitioner Partnership with the Barry Art Museum: (Past) Ahead of its opening in 2018, The Center for Educational Partnerships worked closely with the Barry Art Museum to design an interactive space in its Education Gallery called the Visitor Reflection Studio. The space, which offered visitors of all ages the opportunity to draw or write a response to the museum's collection, included custom made abstract art pieces and an adjacent wall on which responses could be displayed. When this exhibit was replaced by a lifetime retrospective show by the New York based abstract artist Joan Thorne in early 2020, TCEP faculty participated in the creation of media products that provided the community with insights into the artist's life and work.

Game Changers: (Current) Game Changers involves the development of a museum exhibition that uses sports and invention to leverage visitors' inventive identities. The project, which is directed by the Lemelson Center at the National Museum of American History in Washington DC, is supported by the National Science Foundation Advancing Informal STEM Learning (AISL). TCEP Executive Director Dr. Joanna Garner is a member of the project team and the exhibition's advisory board. Her research, in collaboration with Dr. Avi Kaplan of Temple University, is focusing on strategies for encouraging diverse visitors to explore invention and innovation in their own lives.

Invention Education: (Current) Invention education bridges the gap between STEM education and entrepreneurship. It teaches students specific skills such as problem finding, ideation, testing, prototyping, and pitching a product. TCEP Executive Director Dr. Joanna Garner and Education Specialist Melissa Kuhn are working on several invention education research projects. In partnership with Camp InventionĀ® they are investigating ways that invention education settings can support children's STEM identity development and increase participation by historically underrepresented groups of students. This work has been funded by the National Inventors' Hall of Fame, the Lemelson Foundation, the Burton D. Morgan Foundation, and the Overdeck Family Foundation.

One Community, One Challenge: (Current) This project involves the creation of STEAM (science, technology, arts, engineering, and mathematics) challenges that are delivered in the community in the form of "pop up" facilitated events. One Community, One Challenge was inspired by way that community book challenges bring people together, and the rise in interest in making and tinkering that supports people's creativity and ingenuity. TCEP Executive Director Dr. Joanna Garner is a member of the leadership team for the project, which is funded by the National Science Foundation Advancing Informal STEM Learning (AISL) and co-directed by Dr. Sheri Vasinda, Dr. Stephanie Hathcock, and Dr. Rebecca Brienen at Oklahoma State University.

Educational Program Evaluation

TCEP faculty have substantial experience conducting program evaluations for educational initiatives in PK12 and higher education. Evaluation activities include both formative and summative program assessment and review, with projects funded by such agencies as the National Science Foundation, the Office of Naval Research, the U.S. Department of Education, the Virginia Department of Education, and the Department of Defense Education Activity, among others. Project partners include numerous local and regional school divisions and institutions of higher education such as Penn State University, Clemson University, Western Washington University, and Johns Hopkins University. Program evaluations have focused on STEM education initiatives, dropout recovery and prevention, middle and high-school mathematics programs, social-emotional wellbeing projects, and elementary literacy development.

Cheerful businesswoman giving presentation to group

Young students campus helps friend catching up and learning.

Support for Trauma Impacted Students

In 2019, the National Dropout Prevention Center launched the Trauma Skilled Schools Model, to help prepare educators minimize the effects of stress and trauma on learning, social development, and behavior by adjusting climate, culture, and practice across all areas of school. TCEP faculty member Dr. Shanan Chappell Moots is a Certified Trauma Skilled Schools Specialist and works with the NDPC and schools across the nation counteract the impact of traumatic experiences and conditions in children by shifting knowledge and awareness of and sensitivity to trauma and its impacts into actionable steps to support coping and resilience.

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