Discipline: Social, Behavioral & Economic Sciences
Subcategory: STEM Science and Mathematics Education
Agnes Padovani - University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez
Co-Author(s): Jaquelina E. Alvarez, Cristina Pomales, O. Marcelo Suárez, Myriam D. Padilla, and Adelaida Rivera University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez
Established in 2008 at the University of Puerto Rico – Mayagüez (UPRM), the Nanotechnology Center Phase I focused on in-depth training of students from public schools and undergraduate and graduate students (UGS). Originally engaging two high schools, after 10 years, the Center’s Phase II Interdisciplinary Education Group (IEG) maintains 15 Materials Science and Engineering (MSE) Clubs in middle and high schools in Western Puerto Rico. This strategy is at the core of the Center’s social impact, as many of their 500 student members represent economically-disadvantaged households. Mentored by a teacher, affiliated to and trained by the Center, each MSE Club provides an enriching venue through planned hands-on interventions by the IEG and carried out by the Center’s UGS. The MSE Clubs’ Annual Meeting, held at UPRM’s Coliseum, serves as an entertaining activity, where the participants learn by building large-scale scientific models using air balloons to demonstrate complex functionalities of nanostructured materials studied in the Center’s three research groups. Meanwhile, these groups have been solidly productive and trained more than a hundred UGS, including former MSE Club members, who nowadays pertain to the STEM and Nanotechnology workforce. In the last 3 years these efforts have helped established three engineering doctoral programs, and a master’s one in Materials Science and Engineering at the host institution.
Funder Acknowledgement(s): This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grants HRD 0833112 & 1345156 (CREST program).
Faculty Advisor: None Listed,