Mi-STAR Earns State, National Status as a STEM Education Program

Teachers learn better ways to teach middle-school science.

Mi-STAR (Michigan Science Teaching and Assessment Reform project) has received state and national recognition as a strategic STEM education program that ensures a good return on investment.

The Michigan Department of Education and Change the Equation STEMworks have announced  that they have added Mi-STAR to the STEMworks national database.

Mi-STAR is a partnership of universities, school districts and professional societies—led by Michigan Technological University—that is working together to develop new curriculum, assessments and professional learning programs to support teachers who are implementing the new Michigan Science Standards. Mi-STAR’s work is made possible by a donation from the Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation.

STEMworks is an online tool that lists STEM programs that meet high standards of excellence, including success in capacity to meet critical need, sustainability, scalability, partnerships and rigorous evaluation. Programs must also offer challenging STEM content, incorporate hands-on practices, inspire interest in STEM and address the special needs of girls and students of color.

A Model for Science Education

“In just under three years, the Mi-STAR team created something entirely new,” said Jackie Huntoon, provost and vice president for academic affairs at Michigan Tech. “No one had done this work before—when the team started working there were no models to follow. The recognition the team has just received, as well as positive impact

Middle-school students learn science the Mi-STAR way.
Middle-school students learn science the Mi-STAR way.


Mi-STAR is having on students and teachers, is a reflection of the commitment and passion of the Mi-STAR team. This work as incredibly important—it has the potential to transform students’ lives. I feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to be affiliated with this effort.” 

Huntoon, a member of the Mi-STAR management team, was a founder of the STEM teaching project.

Being included in the STEMworks database can serve as a prequalification for future funding, Huntoon said.  In 2016, $1,000,000 was appropriated to fund grants recommended by the MiSTEM Advisory Council for highly rated STEM programs in Michigan, she explained. Mi-STAR could now potentially be eligible to receive some of these funds.

STEM Education Honor Roll

Because Mi-STAR has been designated as a “promising” program, Change the Equation will add it to the national STEMworks honor roll of effective STEM learning programs.  Change the Equation regularly promotes STEMworks programs to private foundations and state agencies who have funding for effective STEM initiatives.

“Promising” programs are typically those that are too new to have strong evaluation data but show the potential to become “accomplished,” the next level of recognition.

“We hope that this recognition will help attract the additional funding that will enable Mi-STAR to move to the next level and be recognized as an “accomplished” program that is ready to scale-up and serve STEM teachers and students nationwide.

Michigan Technological University is a public research university founded in 1885 in Houghton, Michigan, and is home to more than 7,000 students from 55 countries around the world. Consistently ranked among the best universities in the country for return on investment, Michigan’s flagship technological university offers more than 120 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science and technology, engineering, computing, forestry, business and economics, health professions, humanities, mathematics, social sciences, and the arts. The rural campus is situated just miles from Lake Superior in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, offering year-round opportunities for outdoor adventure.