TERC & Virtual High School Partner to Advance STEM Education

Partnership Results in Online Earth Science Course for High School Students Worldwide That Aligns with Next Generation Science Standards

May 8, 2014


Ken Mayer

Cambridge, MA — TERC, a non-profit leader in the research and development of STEM curricula (www.terc.edu), and The Virtual High School (www.thevirtualhighschool.org), a non-profit empowering schools with the industry’s best online learning programs, today announced a partnership to create a cutting-edge Earth and space science course for high school students.  

Earth and space science is a crucial field of study and a core domain for K-12 science education. It integrates physical and life sciences and supports investigations with scientific data and tools. High school curricula must take full advantage of the topic to help students develop the real-world, problem-solving skills they need for a successful future. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, several Earth and space science occupations are expected to see double digit growth in the next decade; among them hydrologists and atmospheric scientists (10%), environmental scientists (15%), and geologists (16%). To help prepare and inspire students to pursue these opportunities, TERC and The Virtual High School (VHS) are on a mission to provide the highest quality Earth science education.

The two organizations have co-developed a new online Earth Science course for high school students worldwide. The partnership combines VHS’ long-standing commitment to industry-leading online education with TERC’s extensive experience researching and developing Earth and space science curriculum and professional development. The entry-level, year-long class consists of 10, 3-week modules that focus on Earth systems, the universe, solar system, severe storms, oceans, earthquakes and volcanoes, rocks, biodiversity, energy, natural resources, and climate change. Included in the course are a wide range of interactive projects, case studies, readings, visuals, online discussions and group projects built on Web 2.0 technologies to capture student’s attention.

“TERC has been a constant champion of Earth and space science education, always taking advantage of new opportunities to advance the field. We were one of the first organizations to integrate Geographic Information Systems into science education and we view the expansion of virtual learning as another great opportunity to provide more students with access to a quality Earth science education,” said Frank Davis, TERC president.

The VHS mission is to provide students with access to high quality online and blended learning experiences, while supporting educators with the professional development and services they need to provide an effective 21st century education for every student. VHS partner schools have access to a wide range of core, elective, and AP® courses that inspire, ignite and deepen learning as well as enable students to develop independent learning skills, explore college majors and careers, earn credits and participate in global classrooms. Courses are taught by highly qualified teachers who are specially trained in online teaching best practices, and are certified in their subject areas.

“We are working with TERC on a number of initiatives that we think will truly transform STEM education and are excited to see them unfold over the coming year,” said Jeffrey A. Elliott, President  & CEO of VHS.

 Earth Science will start during VHS’ Fall, 2014 semester and is available to students at all VHS member schools as well as for individual enrollment.