You are here

News Releases - Tuesday, December 11, 2018

PITTSBURGH, December 11, 2018 – ASSET STEM Education (ASSET), a national provider of professional development and hands-on materials in STEM, announced it will kick off an innovative training program to equip teachers with skills and tools to create a student-focused culture for learning. The Project-Based Learning Institute will be offered to educators at no-cost, thanks to grant funding from The Heinz Endowments.


The purpose of the program is to explore project-based learning (PBL) and strategies to use PBL to transform teaching practice, create equitable learning opportunity classrooms, and prepare students for workforce challenges. During the program, participants will complete four days of in-person professional development training, connect with an industry mentor for a half-day externship at a STEM-related business, and participate in a Professional Learning Community to support fellow educators.

“Educators across all disciplines and grade levels are focusing more on using PBL to engage students and help them develop 21st century skills,” said program lead, Deborah Spencer, Senior Professional Development Specialist at ASSET. “This program will empower teachers to connect classroom learning with real-world issues and build relationships between education and industry. We are excited to collaborate with forward-thinking districts and educators to inspire future leaders in our community.”


PBL is an instructional best practice designed to help students build collaborative problem-solving skills by focusing on real-world issues that appeal to them. Studies show that PBL can be more effective than traditional instruction and can result in improved learning and increased student engagement. Additionally, integrating PBL with teacher externships gives educators a context for bringing real-world problem solving into the classroom.


For the past two years, ASSET has hosted a PBL Externships program with local educators to explore concepts, design a classroom experience and shadow a STEM professional. Based on success from these sessions, ASSET expanded the program length and elements to impact even more educators and students through the Project-Based Learning Institute.


“We are truly grateful that The Heinz Endowments has awarded us this generous grant and has given us this opportunity to impact education in our community and the future of the STEM workforce,” said Cynthia Pulkowski, Executive Director at ASSET. “Many schools and teachers we work with are unable to access proper training and materials to prepare students for a future in STEM, and this grant allows us to provide these resources to under-served districts at no cost to them.”


The PBL Institute is open to K-12 educators from schools and educational organizations in Southwestern Pennsylvania. The in-person sessions will take place on January 14-15, March 28 and May 22, 2019 at the Bayer Professional Development Academy – ASSET STEM Education Southside Office.


Visit to learn more and sign up.


About ASSET STEM Education

Founded in 1994 by the Bayer Corporation and a coalition of community partners, ASSET STEM Education has grown from a local education improvement nonprofit to a national leader in science, technology, engineering and math education. The organization provides more than 100 different professional development courses to more than 2,600 educators annually. ASSET also equips classrooms and educational programs with hands-on, minds-on STEM materials. Each year, these activities improved quality of STEM education for more than 69,000 learners. ASSET’s holistic approach to STEM education fosters youth interest, engagement and achievement in other subjects as well, including reading. For more information, visit


About The Heinz Endowments

The Heinz Endowments is devoted to the mission of helping southwestern Pennsylvania prosper as a vibrant center of creativity, learning, and social, economic and environmental sustainability.  Core to our work is the vision of a just community where all are included and where everyone who calls our region home has a real and meaningful opportunity to thrive.