Our Mission

The Gordon A. Cain Center for STEM Literacy supports high-quality STEM education and college readiness initiatives through programs and services that build capacity for successful teaching and student learning. We conduct research to improve teaching and learning in the STEM disciplines and provide information and insight to education policy makers.

Our History

The Gordon A. Cain Center for STEM Literacy has its origins in 1993 with the establishment of the Center for Science and Math Literacy (CSML) within the LSU College of Education. In the following seven years, a group of LSU faculty members, known as the Cain Center, secured funding to conduct research, develop educational curricula, and pioneer innovative teaching methods for science and mathematics.

Melinda Oliver directed CSML from 1996 to 1999, overseeing training and professional development opportunities for science teachers. These initiatives were funded through grants, including substantial support from the Louisiana Collaborative for Excellence in the Preparation of Teachers (LaCEPT). LaCEPT received significant funding from a major NSF-CETP grant awarded to the Louisiana Board of Regents.

Nell McAnelly served as the co-director to the Gordon A. Cain Center for STEM Literacy for 14 years. She assisted in directing a myriad of prominent projects that required expertise in the design and implementation of standard-based professional development and curriculum instruction for K-12 teachers. With over 30 years of teaching experience in mathematics curriculum, McAnelly has provided leadership to more than 25 state-wide and district initiatives, helping pilot new STEM literacy practices. Most notably, she served as Great Mind’s Project Director for the New York State Mathematics Curriculum Development Project (EngageNY) now known as Eureka Math®.

In 2000, the deans of the College of Education, College of Basic Sciences, College of Arts and Sciences, and College of Agriculture collaborated on a plan to expand the mission of the Cain Center. This plan aimed to establish it as an inter-collegiate unit operating within the LSU Office of Academic Affairs. The transformation was made possible through a generous $2.5 million endowment from LSU alumnus Gordon A. Cain.

Over the next 15 years, the Cain Center secured an additional $35 million in grants from federal agencies, state entities, and foundations. These funds supported various initiatives dedicated to recruiting, training, and supporting teachers, with the ultimate goal of preparing students for post-secondary education. Dr. James Madden, a Distinguished Professor of Mathematics, played a crucial role in securing further grants to develop innovative initiatives and programs within the Cain Center.

Since 2003, the Cain Center has collaborated with Louisiana school districts to secure multiple three-year Math Science Partnership (MSP) grants totaling $9.2 million. These grants, funded by the Louisiana Department of Education and awarded through a competitive process, had a significant impact, annually reaching approximately 35–40 elementary or secondary teachers.

The Math Science Partnership (MSP) programs employed research-based workshops to provide teachers with comprehensive science and math content knowledge and essential tools for enhancing student learning. These initiatives also promoted the integration of real-world STEM applications into classroom lessons. The collaboration extended across 16 districts, encompassing public, private, parochial, and charter schools in the parishes of Ascension, Avoyelles, Baker, Central, East Baton Rouge, East Feliciana, Iberville, Jefferson, Livingston, Pointe Coupee, Rapides, St. Helena, Washington, West Baton Rouge, West Feliciana, and Zachary.

LSU’s Geaux Teach program, modeled after the UTeach program at the University of Texas at Austin, prepares secondary education students pursuing degrees in math, science, or humanities. In 2007, Geaux Teach secured a $1.2 million grant from the National Math and Science Initiative sponsored by ExxonMobil. For more than two decades, Geaux Teach graduates have earned undergraduate degrees in humanities (such as English, French, history, or Spanish) or math and science (including biology, chemistry, mathematics, or physics) while concurrently obtaining a secondary teaching certificate.

Upon completing the four-year program, Geaux Teach graduates emerge as highly qualified and certified teachers for secondary courses in their respective content areas. Geaux Teach Math and Science are formally affiliated with the LSU College of Science and receive support from the Cain Center.

Geaux Teach Website

In the early 2000s, Dual Enrollment participation in Louisiana was confined to fewer than 3,000 academically advanced students in local programs. However, substantial growth occurred in 2005 with the establishment of the TOPS Tech Early Start Scholarship. The LSU Dual Enrollment program started with three high schools and two math courses. Now, it has grown to offer 35 courses in 12 subjects across 81 high schools, with record enrollments.

Dual Enrollment Website

In 2009, the MNS (Master of Natural Sciences) program debuted, presenting STEM teachers with an attractive option to advance professionally and elevate the quality of secondary STEM education. The MNS degree, jointly administered by the Graduate School and the College of Science, offered a comprehensive study of the sciences, benefiting both science professionals and school teachers. The program allowed flexibility by incorporating coursework from related fields.

Certified teachers pursuing the MNS degree could tailor their course of study, including additional subject areas for add-on certifications. Additionally, individuals aspiring to STEM careers in medical technology, pre-med, forensics, environmental sciences, and scientific computation could choose from a diverse range of courses to enhance their job prospects and capabilities.

To support the MNS program, over 35 LSU faculty members developed 25 graduate-level courses specifically tailored for this program. Many MNS graduates significantly contributed to the Cain Center by assuming roles as Master Teachers and Project Leaders.

MSN Website

From 2009 to 2015, Louisiana Math and Science Teacher Institute (LaMSTI) operated as a professional master’s degree program, aiming to enhance the knowledge and teaching skills of secondary math and science teachers. The program aimed to create a robust and interconnected professional community bridging the gap between the university and K–12 education.

Throughout the project, various college readiness services were offered to school districts. These services revolved around increasing opportunities for Dual Enrollment, which provided students courses specifically designed to prepare them for DE and implemented targeted teacher training programs to equip educators with the necessary skills for both DE and the LaMSTI initiative. By providing these services, LaMSTI helped districts meet state and federal benchmarks while offering appealing opportunities for both teachers and students.

Dr. Scott Baldridge, the Associate Director of the Cain Center and a distinguished professor of mathematics at LSU, serves as the lead author and mathematician for Eureka Math/Engage NY. Eureka Math is currently the most widely used mathematics curriculum in the United States, aligning with the common core state standards for Pre-Kindergarten through grade 12. Launched in 2013, the curriculum aims to engage students and cultivate their enthusiasm for mathematics.

Remarkably, Eureka Math was the first comprehensive curriculum to fully meet all common core state standards for every grade level. Developed between 2012 and 2014, multiple pilot modules underwent testing during the 2012–2013 academic year, with full implementation occurring in the 2013–2014 school year. Louisiana was among the earliest adopters of Eureka Math, and by 2017, it had become the most widely utilized math curriculum nationwide.

Louisiana’s implementation of Eureka Math, beginning with the adoption of the EngageNY version in 2013–2014, consistently showed improvements in student performance, evidenced by continuous gains in standardized testing scores. This success has been validated by the RAND Corporation, which identified Eureka Math, including its original version known as EngageNY Math, as the most commonly used elementary school math curriculum in the country.

The College Readiness Program offered high-quality learning opportunities in secondary schools statewide, aiming to train and certify teachers for more ambitious learning goals, provide course options for enhanced dual enrollment and advanced placement, and ensure adequate student preparation for college courses. This instruction is conveniently located in high schools, facilitating smaller class sizes.

The program offered three options:

Dual Enrollment: Students take actual LSU courses in classrooms, paying reduced tuition while earning college and high school credits. Teachers are trained and certified to facilitate, with an LSU faculty member as the instructor of record.

Pre-college: Participating teachers use LSU-developed curricula to prepare students for college-level coursework.

ACT Prep: Schools offer specific ACT preparation courses for math and all four ACT exam content areas.

In 2015, the Cain Center partnered with Liberty Magnet High School, initiating a model to expand LSU’s “Early Learning Academy” to other high schools.

Established in 1992 by the Louisiana Legislature, the QSM Grant continued to provide annual grants for math and science teachers’ instructional materials and equipment, administered by the Cain Center under the council’s direction.

In addition to these programs, the Cain Center also offered enrichment programs including:

  • STEM Family Night
  • Science Fair Judging
  • You Be the Chemist Challenge
  • STEMup Baton Rouge
  • Math Circle
  • ALEKS Math Preparatory Summer Camps
  • Math Circle Competition Team (MCCT)—2015 was a great year for the team; they placed 5th out of 135 teams in the Team Test at the Harvard-MIT Math Tournament in Boston, MA.

Cain Center faculty and graduate students played a crucial role in developing LSU STEM Pathways, collaborating with the East Baton Rouge Parish School System and Liberty Magnet High School. The statewide implementation of LSU STEM Certification Pathways involves a collaboration with the Louisiana Department of Education, Liberty Magnet High School, and Cain Center faculty and graduate student affiliates from various LSU schools and departments.

While the Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) focuses on STEM Pathways for students in grades 9–12, LSU recognizes the importance of establishing a foundation for success from elementary to middle school years. LSU Pathways for elementary school introduces students to introductory STEM courses, fostering excitement and interest in these subjects. To support this initiative, the LSU Pathways team provides training to elementary school teachers selected by their respective districts.

The LSU STEM Pathways program offers a range of project-based STEM courses for middle and high school students, along with STEM modules designed for middle and elementary school grades. LSU Pathways for high school presents a comprehensive curriculum, allowing students to explore one of four engaging STEM pathways: biomedical sciences, computing, digital design and emergent media, and pre-engineering. Currently available in over one-third of Louisiana's 64 parishes, LSU Pathways enables students in those areas to access high-quality STEM education.

Our faculty provides comprehensive teacher training programs to ensure effective implementation, and the accompanying teaching materials align with state standards and are freely accessible to educators.

The Louisiana Legislature allocated $1 million to support STEM initiatives statewide. The Louisiana Regional STEM Network (LaSTEM), created by the Board of Regents, includes diverse STEM leadership entities strategically positioned throughout the state, mirroring the structure of the Regional Labor Market Areas (RLMAs) designated by the Louisiana Workforce Commission. LaSTEM aims to enhance access to STEM education, promote participation, and facilitate progression from Pre-K to Grey (spanning all ages). Within this network, the Cain Center was selected as a partner and designated host for the Region 2 STEM Network Center.

In 2022, the Cain Center and LaSTEM Region 2 Capital Area STEM joined forces to become Louisiana’s regional partner for Code.org, a leading provider of K–12 computer science curriculum in major school districts across the United States. This collaboration is dedicated to increasing awareness and expanding the reach of computer science education throughout the state. LSU will play a crucial role in spearheading this initiative, aiming to offer teachers professional development and support, ensuring widespread access to computer science opportunities for students from Pre-Kindergarten to grade 12. This endeavor is crucial to address the current and future needs of Louisiana’s computing workforce.

In 2023, The Cain Center introduced the Choice Credit for College Learning Program that offers all high-school learners affordable access to college-level courses in an entirely no-risk environment. This opportunity fosters academic self-confidence while providing an introductory exposure to the high demands and challenges of undergraduate curriculum.  These classes are embedded within their normal high school classes at the same pace and rigor as those offered at LSU. Students may opt to receive LSU credit if satisfied with their final grade.

This program also equips high school teachers, called coaches, training where they receive strong support – resources, training, and guidance – to create engaging learning experiences and effectively guide students. teachers with training to guide students throughout this college-level course experience.

Executive Director & Chair

Dr. Frank Neubrander

Demarcus D. Smith Alumni

Professor of Mathematics

209 Prescott Hall


+1 225-772-7252 (cell)

Personal Home Page



What we do

Since 2000, the Gordon A. Cain Center for STEM Literacy has fostered STEM literacy in Louisiana PK–12 schools. The Cain Center offers diverse programs and services to support STEM learning, empower teachers, and educate the public. Through collaborations and innovative initiatives, we shape K-grey STEM education policy and implement effective practices. We develop cutting-edge curricula while upholding high quality standards, benefiting all 64 parishes with exceptional STEM education opportunities.

Building Statewide Partnerships

The Cain Center collaborates with school administrators and educators to achieve the following objectives:

  • Enhance student interest and proficiency in STEM fields by providing increased access to STEM courses and experiences, such as dual enrollment and college and career pathway programs.
  • Support educators in strengthening their expertise in STEM disciplines through training and professional development opportunities, promoting effective teaching practices and deepening subject matter knowledge.
  • Expand students’ exposure to essential materials and equipment that facilitate inquiry-based teaching methods and active learning, encouraging exploration, questioning, predictions, and investigations for an engaging learning process.

Implementing Best Practices

The Cain Center actively promotes effective teaching methods and evaluates student progress through the following approaches:

  • We conduct research programs to identify evidence-based teaching practices that improve student learning outcomes.
  • Our college and career readiness programs empower students for success in higher education and future careers.
  • We offer comprehensive professional development and support programs for teachers, providing tools and resources for effective instruction and student engagement.