This award establishes a science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education and research center at the federally owned site in Arecibo, Puerto Rico and location of the Arecibo Observatory. Arecibo Center for Culturally Relevant and Inclusive Science Education, Computational Skills, and Community Engagement (Arecibo C3) will integrate science (ciencia), computation (computación), and community (comunidad)?geographical, disciplinary, and cultural?with the overall goal of promoting culturally-relevant and inclusive teaching with science education research, outreach, and workforce development. Arecibo C3 is a collaboration of: Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, University of Puerto Rico at Río Piedras, University of Maryland Baltimore County, and Universidad del Sagrado Corazón. Arecibo C3 (a.k.a. "the Center") is purpose-built to advance STEM-equity and promote full participation in the benefits of STEM. The scholarly community of STEM education researchers will benefit from the outputs of the Center?s education research programs. STEM students, professional educators, and the public will benefit from the Center?s skill building and workforce development activities.
Arecibo C3 will serve as a collaborative hub for STEM discovery and exploration by building upon existing programs and opportunities established at the Arecibo site by previous NSF programs, while also creating new STEM education, research, and outreach programs and initiatives. The goals for the Center are to (1) promote STEM education, learning, and teaching; (2) support fundamental and applied STEM and STEM education research; (3) broaden participation in STEM; and (4) build and strengthen collaborations and partnerships. The proposed suite of experiences and research will be innovative and diverse. Research on STEM education and learning will examine the impact of multisensory teaching strategies in secondary and post-secondary education, as well as approaches for adult learning in informal contexts, ultimately contributing to increasing participation of all people ?with and without disabilities? in STEM. A complementary priority will be investigating how culturally sustaining pedagogy supports student STEM identity development. Introductory research experiences for all will be offered through DNA Barcode Puerto Rico, an experience using DNA to study the biodiversity of the island. Modeled on Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory DNA Learning Center barcoding programs, collaborations with high schools and science centers across Puerto Rico will be served by new Arecibo C3 molecular and computer laboratory spaces and equipment loans. Visitor groups will also access DNA Learning Center field trips and summer courses. Visitors will also experience a multisensory course and exhibition featuring sensory experiences of data, such as the merging of black holes or behavior of bioluminescent organisms. Teachers and faculty working with experts in scientific and education research will be mentored to create, implement, and assess curricula of course-based convergent research experiences for high school and undergraduates. Arecibo C3 will create workforce development opportunities focusing on data science, computation, and biotechnology. Computational training will also reach into communities empowering women and girls in public housing with data science skills and career opportunities. Biotechnology training and credentials will tie to local industries and jobs. Arecibo C3 will feature a meetings program that convenes researchers, educators, policy makers, industry partners, and other stakeholders for think tank style conferences on pressing STEM topics. Additionally, the Center will pilot a fellowship program in which participants are trained and certified in scientific community management. Arecibo C3 Fellows will then serve as ambassadors using recently acquired collaborative strategies to involve, organize, train, support their peers in community science experiences, and build communities of practice. Ultimately, Arecibo C3 will foster equity-enabling STEM research and education, enrich Puerto Rico?s vibrant STEM communities, and serve as a catalyst for inclusive STEM education globally.
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