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Scientific Call for Faculty Involvement

Dow Corning Foundation/SVSU STEM Community Partnership

 

Background


The Dow Corning Foundation/SVSU STEM Community Partnership targets attitudes about STEM in the local community. The project involves about 20 local middle and high school teachers per year from the surrounding community. One of the objectives of the project is to create a network of teachers, SVSU University Faculty and Dow Corning Professionals to leverage our combined knowledge about STEM to correct perceptions that can be inaccurate or damaging. Since teachers shape so many of the perceptions of the community about STEM, the project's goal is to help the teachers represent their discipline accurately and effectively to their students.

After selection, the teachers (Dow Corning Foundation Fellows) are brought on campus for a two week STEM experience with SVSU Faculty and staff. The scheduled weeks for summer of 2015 are June 22-26th and July 27th-31st. During the first week, we explore research regarding attitudes of STEM (like "science is hard and boring" or "school science isn't relevant to real life"), careers that are available in STEM and the pathway to get there and the process of science. The teachers are also asked to begin to develop a year long project to conduct with their students. They are asked to develop a project that uses cutting edge science and innovative goals to demonstrate principles about STEM and the scientific process. As a part of this, the teachers tour science that is being conducted at SVSU as possible project inspiration. However, the projects are distinct from faculty research and the teacher is the PI for the project. Many teachers develop projects that have little to no relation to faculty projects. SVSU Faculty help design the projects and provide ideas and suggestions to the teachers based on their interests. During the second week (at the end of July) the teachers write a full scientific proposal, including a budget for a project of 2000 dollars.

 

Your Help Is Needed


You can help us meet this objective.  There are three roles for faculty involvement in the project.  You can be involved in one or as many as all aspects depending on your interests and alignment with the teachers' projects.
 
 

Role 1: Attitude or Workshop Presenter

Faculty present research about attitudes on science and school science based on literature sources.  It has generally been found that students have positive views of science in society but poor views of school science.  Some topics that have been addressed include: Science is hard, Science is not relevant to real life, I need to be naturally talented to be a scientist, Pseudoscience is not science, and correcting perceptions about how the scientific process proceeds.  This would also include faculty who would like to highlighted during the tours.  Faculty are encouraged to submit ideas of their own.  If you would like to present on a topic and be involved in this role, please submit an essay not longer than one page about the attitude of interest and your preliminary findings regarding the research into the attitude and/or plan of presentation to address the topic of interest to dowcorningfellows@svsu.edu by April 17, 2015.  Small stipends are granted to presenters in most cases (excluding the tours).
 

Role 2: Faculty Mentor

Teachers will develop a project to conduct with their students during the school year 2015/2016. The project may be based upon research at SVSU, however the teacher is the PI of the project and will need to align the project with school curriculum and be able to conduct it independently after involvement with the program using materials provided by the grant. In addition, teachers make the final selection about who their faculty mentor will be.  It is COMMON that faculty with Role 1 (presenter) are selected for this role.  If you would like to be a mentor you are highly encouraged to present at the workshop during week one (typically teachers will make their preliminary selection at the end of week one, though the selection is not finalized until week two).  Please indicate your interest to serve as a possible faculty mentor to dowcorningfellows@svsu.edu by April 17, 2015.   Please provide a CV and statement of interest (1 page max) that addresses STEM expertise, background in middle or secondary education activities (no experience is required, but it may be relevant to selection) and project ideas that could be conducted at the middle or secondary level (6th grade+).  Interests may include reaching lower income students or supporting certain school locations (in other words do not have to align with a certain project type or research area).  Faculty mentors are granted a $1000.00 stipend for each project upon which they serve as a mentor (max two projects). 
 
Examples of projects from 2014/2015 include: aquaponics and pollution models, hydroponics, vermiculture, nanotechnology in biological sciences, foundry science in the classroom, renewable energy and math, reaching female physics students with project based learning, using robotic arms in technology, chemistry and chemical engineering using robotics, and the physics of building an outdoor learning lab. 
 
Teachers are highly encouraged to develop projects that result in the acquisition of materials that are non-consumable and be conducted in years following involvement with the project.  The teachers are granted $2000.00 for project materials.  Faculty mentors are peer reviewers for the teacher's grant.  During the year, faculty mentors act as grant managers during the year, offering project support, facilitate networking connections and making sure that the teachers stay on track with their timelines with regular checkins.  Also, the faculty mentor will help with poster preparation at the end of the school year (June 2016), help with data presentation and be present with the teacher for support during their presentation at the symposium.
 
 

Role 3: Research Opportunities on attitudes shifts, implementation of project or proposed research.

Many research opportunities are present within this project.  An approved IRB at SVSU exists for certain research activities. These could involve studying attitude shifts for teachers or students in the project.  Successful projects should be written up for the relevant educational publications.  Faculty should inquire into opportunities or requests for more information regarding research opportunities at any time.  It should be noted, there are no funds from the project to support research.  However, this could be an excellent honors thesis project. Please write to dowcorningfellows@svsu.edu if you are interested in discussing research opportunities.
 
Roles for presenters and mentors are limited, so the final determination will be made based on project alignments, interests and enthusiasm for the projects among other background information. 
 
At the end of the year, the projects will be presented by the teachers at a scientific symposium held at SVSU.  SVSU Faculty, Dow Corning Foundation and Dow Corning professionals, teachers and their students will be invited to a poster session during the last week of May/first week of June as the final component to participation the project.  The faculty mentor will be listed as an author on the poster.