This post is the first of several that will outline some new directions for AIMS. Here I would simply like to give you a bit history. Some of you will know that AIMS is an outgrowth of the Graduate Math/Science Program at Fresno Pacific University. The AIMS Education Foundation got its start as the result of a small NSF grant in the early 1980s. Arthur Wiebe and Larry Ecklund, who were faculty members of the School of Education at FPU, wrote submitted, and were awarded the grant.
The focus of the grant was to explore why teachers were not teaching math and science in a more hands-on, engaging way. What Wiebe and Ecklund discovered was that teachers were open and even anxious to teach in such a way, but they lacked the kinds of activities that could be used in the classroom to give students those experiences. Over the years of the grant, a group of at least 40 teachers wrote activities that were then combined into books, which became the first AIMS products.
Most of the writers of those early activities were at the same time taking graduate courses in math and science education at FPU. As word about the AIMS program and about the activities they were producing began to spread, mostly by word of mouth, teachers began asking where they could get the activities and then how they might get training in how to use them. As teachers began to use the activities, it was the student response to the activities that energized the teachers and kept them coming back for more. This was the beginning of what by the mid-1990s was essentially a movement. Typically during the mid-1990s as many as 13,000 teachers would enroll in summer, weeklong AIMS workshops.
Over the years and up to the present, AIMS has continued to produce activities and to provide staff development. As various sets of standards have come along, AIMS has responded by aligning individual activities to these standards. Over the past six or seven years, AIMS has developed grade level science modules for Texas, Georgia, and Florida that are 100% aligned to the science standards of those states. This past year we have also developed and put together bundles of math activities that align to both Common Core Math Content Standards and Common Core Standards for Mathematical Practice. These science modules and math bundles, along with a full line of AIMS books and a large collection of individual activities, are available from the AIMS online store at http://store.aimsedu.org/.
In a follow-up post, I want to begin to talk about some new directions for AIMS and some reasons for moving in those directions.