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Science & Math Education Center

SMEC Mission and History

Our Mission & Goals

Our History



Our Mission and Goals

The mission of the Science and Mathematics Education Center is to the improve pre-service and in-service preparation of teachers in the sciences and mathematics. Our mission and goals include:

  1. To maintain a comprehensive repository of up-to-date K-12 science and mathematics curriculum materials including activity resource books, children’s literature, videos, computer software, textbooks, lab books, journals, manipulative kits, vendor catalogs, and other science and mathematics teacher materials.
  1. To assist in the coordination of programs and courses leading to teacher licensure in biological, physical, and mathematical sciences, and teacher education, including elementary, middle school, and secondary levels of science and mathematics teaching.
  2. To sponsor and direct staff development projects, workshops, and special courses in science and mathematics education for K-12 teachers from area school districts.
  3. To coordinate the efforts of ESU professors in the Departments of Biological Sciences; Physical Sciences; and Mathematics, Computer Science, and Economics; and the Teachers College who regularly serve as consultants and resource persons to the classroom teachers and administrators of state, regional and national educational organizations.
  4. To coordinate proposals (and their writing) submitted by the University to outside agencies for funding of special projects for enrichment of K-12 science and mathematics teaching.
  5. To maintain an ongoing research program in science and mathematics education with the primary purpose of gathering data concerning the needs and direction of pre-college science and mathematics education programs in Kansas.
  6. To serve as a regular meeting place for the advisory committee, department faculty meetings, committee meetings, and executive committee meetings of statewide mathematics and science teacher organizations. 

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    Our History

Emporia State University has a tradition that is deeply rooted in teacher education and the sciences. Founded as Kansas State Normal School (KSN) in 1863 and by 1889, KSN was the largest institute of higher education in Kansas and largest Normal School in the U.S.  (Hanschu, 2013).  Lyman C. Wooster was a naturalist and science educator, who served as superintendent of Eureka Public Schools in Greenwood County, Kansas in the 1880s; he represented Kansas Education with an exhibit at the 1893 World's Fair at Chicago and joined the KSN faculty in 1897, continuing to teach and research at Emporia for the next forty years (Aber, 2013). The teacher education tradition endured from 1923 to 1974 as Kansas State Teachers College. During KSTC time, Science Hall was built and the Planetarium and Schmidt Natural History Museum opened for science educational outreach to complement K-12 programming (Backhus, 2013). The Johnston Geology Museum was founded at Emporia State University, and the teacher preparation mission and emphasis on science remains strong today. 

The Science and Mathematics Education Center was formally established in the mid-1970s, out of this long-standing tradition of excellence in science outreach and the preparation of teachers of science and mathematics at Emporia State University. A committee with representation from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the Teachers College was responsible for the inception.  

A physical presence happened during the 1976-77 academic year when the Department of Biological Sciences converted laboratory space to a classroom and resource space in  Science Hall, room 177. The collection was started with K-12 science and mathematics curriculum materials. All current materials are available for use by university students and faculty as well as teachers from area school districts.

Gradual expansion of the Center's mission led to the establishment of a half-time director's position in 1981. During the 1990-1 academic year, name became the Science and Mathematics Education Center to better reflect the mission and goals. The Director of the Center is assisted by an advisory committee consisting of representatives of the Departments of Biological Sciences, Mathematics, Computer Science, and Economics, Physical Sciences, and the Teachers College. In 2005-6, the director’s position became full-time.

Our publication, The Kansas Science Teacher, was started in 1984. It was an annual publication serving and accepting contributions from science and mathematics teachers.   It transitioned into an online journal in the 2007 Fall semester and earlier issues are scanned in the online archive. Articles address the goals of improving science and mathematics teaching K-12 and bringing hands-on experiences to existing science and mathematics curricula. See

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Aber, J.S. (2013). Lyman Child Wooster: Career and geological contributions. Emporia State Research Studies, 49(1), p. 1-5. Retrieved from

Backhus, D. (2013). Peterson Planetarium: Six decades of informal science education delivery and outreach at Emporia State University. Emporia State Research Studies, 49(1), p. 7-14. Retrieved from

Hanschu, S. Aber, J.S. (2013). The Kansas State Normal years: 1863-1923. Emporia State Research Studies, 49(1), p. 19-28. Retrieved from

Latest update: 08/27/2013. Return to SMEC homepage.