STEM Education

Fresno State Faculty Members Share Profound Wisdom and Diverse Educational Techniques with Schools in Egypt.

How cross-cultural similarities can bridge the gap between nations and foster a shared educational experience.

Situated beside the dusty, languorous banks of the Nile River is the genteel neighborhood of Maadi, a small province in Cairo, Egypt, known for its forested streets and exotic dining scene. It provides a diverse, global experience, offering a variety of blended cultures and universal dishes to appease its visitors. After visiting Egypt a multitude of times between 2019-2020, Dr. Emily Walter and Dr. Frederick Peinado Nelson have begun partnering with five universities in Egypt, along with several local academic institutions, to implement two post-baccalaureate certificates, one in STEM teaching and one in STEM leadership, and are currently supporting the development of courses for a 4-year undergraduate STEM teaching diploma.

STEM education reform efforts typically focus on high school age children. Dr. Walter and Dr. Nelson’s primary focus has been centered on utilizing innovative education techniques, relevant to both future and current teachers. Their goal is to illustrate how STEM learning can be an interactive and enjoyable experience through more hands-on methods as opposed to the traditional lecture style of teaching with students of all ages. Five universities are the primary recipients of these project-based lesson plans which target many of Egypt’s grand challenges. 

The lessons they are administering are trans-disciplinary and connect to many of the regional and social challenges of Egypt. Their ecological and cultural struggles are similar to our own here in the Central Valley, many of which include severe pollution, poor air quality, a struggle to obtain clean drinking water, a lack of affordable housing, congested traffic, and a strive to create a safe environment for nature to prosper. Realizing this distinct bridge between worlds will allow future students in the program to connect with peers across the globe and will help broaden their world view. These challenges offer realistic situations and data for STEM learning, as well as providing a global perspective in the minds of the students as they realize the vastness of the human experience. 

This blossoming education program owes its thanks to the multi-institutional STEM Teacher Education and School Strengthening Activity (STESSA) project, funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development, which took root in April of 2018, with the generous contributions of five prolific universities, including Cal Poly, Fresno State and the 21st Century Partnership for STEM Education, a nonprofit educational foundation in Philadelphia. The lead institutional partners supporting this endeavor are Fresno State’s own College of Science and Mathematics, the Kremen School of Education and Human Development and the Lyles College of Engineering. They are currently being funded by a $24.2 million grant presented by the STESSA project. 

It has been a tumultuous, three-year process of networking with other educators in Egypt to make this program possible. Dr. Frederick Peinado Nelson and Dr. Emily Walter have both worked extremely hard helping design teacher education programs in Egypt and providing attentive educational support to help educators from abroad refine their teaching systems. Their goal is to network with other educators whose backgrounds are strikingly different from their own and cross-compare techniques that can help benefit their students.

“Emily and I have been working with the faculty in Egypt for some time now and have formed some amazing relationships with folks who also treasure science and education. We cannot wait to see our work pay off once they employ it in their curriculums.”

Dr. Frederick Peinado Nelson, in an interview with Fresno State’s Kremen Communications Department. 

If it wasn’t for Dr. Emily Walter and Dr. Frederick Peinado Nelson’s strive toward success and the continued support from educators in Egypt, this upcoming educational collaboration would never have been established. We can now witness their work coming full circle. 

(Written by Audra Burwell, a Creative Writing student employed by the Kremen School of Education and Human Development .)

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