As part of a national initiative to significantly boost the number of graduates in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields, Alabama A&M University coordinated a three-phase project designed to spur STEM interest among area middle school students.
According to Dr. Mohan Aggarwal, principal investigator (PI) for the NASA Science and Technology Institute (NSTI) at AAMU this summer, the effort sought to reach the students through a meaningful overall process that was student-centered, measurable, active, realistic and teacher-guided or, in an acronym, SMART.
The three key components of the NSTI/SMART program were coordinated by co-PI Vernessa Edwards, an AAMU physicist, professor and alumnus. Dr. Edwards managed the Summer Science Training Program (SSTP), the Summer Technology Institute for Teachers (STIT) and the Integrated Science Experiments (ISE).
SSTP specifically targeted its 16 middle school participants by launching math and science concepts as means of generating interest and excitement in STEM education. Through the STIT program, three middle school math and science teachers were immersed in an intense eight-day, 32-hour experience with postsecondary technology education. Finally, the ISE program allowed some access to the students of teachers who had previously participated in STIT.
Overall, says Edwards, the students were fed a comprehensive diet of hands-on math, science and nanotechnology in daily four-hour allotments. In addition to a pre-test and post-test to track individual progress, even parents were asked to assist students with the review of information.
For additional information about the NSTI-SMART program or similar programs for summer 2013, contact Dr. Vernessa Edwards at (256) 372-8107 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Jerome Saintjones