Research and Outreach
Abstract for a Research Grant
Project Summary – OUR RESEARCH PROJECT – Strategies Project
Project Summary: This project is designed to provide innovative STEM educational opportunities that focus on the engagement of students through the use of technology exploring STEM topics. This collaborative effort among many partners will provide a wealth of resources and expertise that will impact over 250 5th grade through 10th grade students; provide professional development for 75 science/math teachers; and provide opportunities for the families of the OUR RESEARCH PROJECT students. The students are predominantly Hispanic, and at least 35% are second language learners. Students and teachers will attend technology workshops after school, on weekends, and during the summer at locations where they will learn on state-of-the-art industry standard equipment from staff and faculty of Desert State University and Our Local Community College. Teachers will be able to increase their skill levels using technology available at the school districts and then integrate this into their science/math curriculum. As increasing scientific/mathematical literacy is a goal, students and teachers will use technology to pursue scientific inquiries, collaborate on projects, and present their findings. Because of the importance of family involvement, the families of OUR RESEARCH PROJECT student participants will attend Family STEM Festivals to be engaged in STEM/ research experiences.
The overarching theme of OUR RESEARCH PROJECT is studying the development of technology that will enhance student understanding of how technology has impacted STEM fields and workplace opportunities. Students have a natural and high interest in technology; therefore using technology will be the motivation to engage them in all of the STEM fields. The combined emphasis on technology and STEM fields will allow us to utilize the resources of several program partners that includes Desert State University (several colleges), Our Local Community College, two school districts, and several informal science and math programs. Together, a powerful collaborative partnership will be formed that results in a dynamic program that will impact the lives of the students and their families, as well as the community.
Acquiring innovative information technology knowledge and awareness in a digitally-mediated, digitally divided 21st century presents a significant societal challenge to students, parents, communities, and educators in underserved populations, due to lack of resources and technological knowledge of educators. Not meeting this challenge will limit workplace opportunities because basic technology skills are now a necessity for future employment. Another challenge, one identified within both mainstream and underserved populations, is the lack of minority students in STEM related fields. Therefore, the reality of leaving behind a significant portion of potential contributors is considerable. Desert State does not have the technologically literate workforce necessary to promote economic growth and this program is designed to change that situation. Research questions will guide the development, implementation, and evaluation of the program.
Intellectual Merit: While focused on offering STEM Innovative Technology experiences as well as collaboration with the participants’ families and professional development for the educators, the proposed research questions and design will provide evidence-based knowledge to determine if this program stimulates an sustained interest in the STEM fields due to the integration of innovative technology that translates into a more technologically literate workforce.
Broader Impacts: There is a national need supported by the No Child Left Behind legislation to address the achievement gap in the STEM fields that exists between white students and students from culturally and linguistically diverse groups. Since future classrooms will be filled with minority students, it is imperative that we develop tested and successful programs to help all students succeed in the STEM subjects for the future workforce of our nation.