Advancing K20 STEM education by transforming the way we teach, discover, and share knowledge

The mission of the Center for STEM Learning (CSL) is to improve science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education at the University of Colorado Boulder, and to serve as a state, national, and international resource for such efforts.


Our vision for achieving this mission is:

  • To maintain an infrastructure of institutional support in order to transform STEM education, support education research within and across STEM fields and departments, and promote K20 faculty recruitment, preparation, and professional development.
  • To facilitate change in STEM education by integrating an interdisciplinary community of scholars, promoting, sustaining, and evaluating existing reform efforts, sponsoring new programs, advocating for diversity and access, influencing relevant policy, fundraising, and communicating with the public.


The CSL was officially formed on December 20, 2012, is housed in the Graduate School, integrates more than 75 programs and projects in STEM education, and represents tens of millions of dollars in grants at CU-Boulder; many CSL programs are nationally recognized and replicated.

CSL is an outcome of the NSF Grant "I3: Towards a Center for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) Education." In 2008, Chancellor DiStefano was awarded this NSF grant, which was proposed in response to the National Academies' Rising Above the Gathering Storm report, which calls for four avenues of action to support U.S. science, technology, engineering and mathematics competitiveness for the coming century; these are, in priority order, to: "focus on actions in K-12 education (10,000 Teachers, 10 Million Minds), research (Sowing the Seeds), higher education (Best and Brightest), and economic policy (Incentives for Innovation)." The principal investigators of this grant felt that CU-Boulder was particularly well poised to take direct and immediate action on these issues through developing and integrating three currently existing lines of NSF funded work: (1) undergraduate and graduate course transformation, (2) undergraduate and graduate teacher preparation, and (3) discipline-based education research among faculty, students, and post-doctoral scholars. The purpose of the NSF grant was to create a STEM education center that will: (a) integrate the three lines of inquiry and development described above, (b) retain the status and rigor offered through science and engineering department identity, (c) expand the reach of the thriving STEM education community to include more departments and participants, and (d) establish CU-Boulder as a national hub of STEM education. Until CSL was launched, this initiative was known as Integrating STEM Education (iSTEM).