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Scientific Call for Faculty Involvement: Dow Corning Foundation/SVSU STEM Community Partnership


The Dow Corning Foundation/SVSU STEM Community Partnership targets attitudes about STEM in the local community. The project involves approximately 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 Faculty and STEM 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 2021 are June 24, 25, June 28-30 and July 22, 23, and July 26-28. 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"), STEM career pathways 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, the teachers write a full scientific proposal, including a budget for a project of up to $2000. 

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. 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.

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 topiocs 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 be 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 by May 10, 2021. Small stipends are granted to presenters in most cases (excluding the tours). 

Teachers will develop a project to conduct with their students during the school year 2021/2022. 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 the 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 the 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 selection is not finalized until week two). 

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 in the K-12 setting. 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 up to $1,000.00 stipend for each project upon which they serve as a mentor (max two projects). 

Examples of projects may 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 $2,000.00 for project materials. Faculty mentors are peer reviewers for the teacher's grant. During the year, faculty mentors act as grant managers, offering project support, facilitating network connections and making sure that the teachers stay on track in their timelines with regular check-ins. Also, the faculty mentor will help with poster preparation at the end of the school year, help with data presentation and be present with the teacher for support during their presentation at the symposium. 

Many research opportunities are present within this project. An approved IRB at SVSU exists for certain research activities. These could involved 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 the research. However, this could be an excellent honors thesis project. Please write to if you are interested in discussing research opportunities. 

Contact Us

Dr. Stephanie Brouet

Dow Corning Foundation Fellows Coordinator

(989) 964-4292

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