Collaborative Research: NSF INCLUDES - Changing the Face of STEM in the U.S. Virgin Islands through Targeted Interventions to Expand Opportunities and Broaden Participation
A non-technical description of the project test explains its significance and importance.
The goal of this project is to help students easily identify themselves as science or engineering professionals and increase the proportion of the local population, dominantly minorities, who pursue science and technology careers. Experience has demonstrated that students are most engaged in technical fields when they can participate in active, hands-on learning around problems with application to their local community. The focus of the effort is in marine science, which has local relevance to both the environment and the economy of the U.S. Virgin Islands. The project will use interventions at three crucial stages: middle school, high-school-college transition, and master-PhD transition, to engage students with specific active-learning and research-oriented programs. Community partners comprise a wide-ranging local organization that leverages the resources of other successful collaborations.
A technical description of the project
This project will create a transferable model that uses innovative partnerships among universities, governmental and non-governmental organizations, a professional society, and businesses, to create a local backbone organization with a shared vision for change and common success metrics broaden participation in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). This project addresses the critical challenge of building scientific identity to increase interest and engagement of underrepresented minorities in STEM fields in the U.S. Virgin Islands. The plan includes targeted interventions at three significant times in the student career pathway (middle/high school, early college, and graduate school) that comprise: (1) field experiences in the marine sciences for middle/high school students, (2) early field research experiences for college freshmen and sophomore students, (3) bridge programming to a Ph.D. partnership with Pennsylvania State University, and (4) an intensive mentoring program. The model is grounded in social innovation theory through a framework that meets the five conditions for collective impact: common agenda, shared measurement of data and results, mutually reinforcing activities, continuous communication, and backbone support.
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