Discipline: Science and Mathematics Education
Gina Montes-Albino - University of Puerto Rico Mayaguez Campus
Co-Author(s): Oscar M. Suárez, Oscar J. Perales, and Agnes M. Padovani, University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez
In many underserved communities, public schools lack sufficient activities that encourage the involvement of their constituents into science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. As a consequence, young underrepresented minority groups are unaware of how STEM disciplines can impact their daily lives through technological innovations. In this context, public universities play a critical role in providing educational activities to promote STEM education. The University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez (UPRM) hosts an NSF-funded Nanotechnology Center (one of the Centers of Research Excellence in Science and Technology, CREST). The main educational objective of this CREST has been to promote STEM education in middle and secondary schools through instructional modules and hands-on activities that emphasize fundamental Materials Science and Engineering (MSE) concepts. To accomplish this goal, MSE clubs were created to increase awareness and interest in the areas of materials science, nanotechnology, and engineering amongst students in public schools in Western Puerto Rico. Every year, from sixteen (16) to eighteen (18) clubs are supported by the project. Once a year, the Center brings together all clubs to partake in an educational and entertaining activity: the Annual Meeting of the MSE Clubs. Each annual gathering is dedicated to a different nanotechnology concept selected by the Center’s researchers. The number of participants, close to 600 in 2015, has consistently increased throughout the years as more clubs have formed in additional schools affiliated to the Center. Our analysis shows an increased interest in careers in STEM as a consequence of these high impact activities. This work will particularly highlight the innovative and creative aspects involved in the development of one of such activities, where photonic concepts were used for biomedical and environmental applications.
Funder Acknowledgement(s): This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation through grant No.1345156 (CREST program).
Faculty Advisor: Agnes Padovani, email@example.com
Role: The part of the research I participated was translating photonic concepts used for environmental application, to large scale scientific model for middle and high school student. The model was done for the student could assemble this large structure by their own.