NSF grants $1.1M to IUPUI for nanotech camp for high school students, teachers

  • Feb. 17, 2016

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

INDIANAPOLIS -- The National Science Foundation has awarded a three-year grant of $1.1 million to Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis to provide nanotechnology experiences for high school students and teachers in the Indianapolis metropolitan area.

The Nanotechnology Experiences for Students and Teachers program, aimed to provide STEM education for underrepresented minorities, will introduce area high school students and high school teachers to the field of nanotechnology via concentrated two-week summer programs coupled with academic-year mentoring, support and research opportunities.

The program is the joint work of the Integrated Nanosystems Development Institute and the STEM Education Research Institute, both located on the IUPUI campus.

"IUPUI's urban location and local workforce demands create an ideal platform to impact surrounding high-need schools and boost STEM interest within underrepresented groups," said Simon Rhodes, dean of the School of Science. "The multidisciplinary nature of nanotechnology will allow the program to inspire students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics."

The collaborative environment offered through INDI is well-suited to introduce secondary students and teachers to nanotechnology. It is staffed with faculty from the School of Science, School of Engineering and Technology, IU School of Medicine, and IU School of Dentistry at IUPUI.

The first two-week NEST camp will take place this summer.

During the three-year grant program, IUPUI will host a total of 60 high school students and 45 high school teachers. Approximately 3,000 additional students will participate in the program using teacher-developed classroom modules.

The first week of each summer camp will introduce students and teachers to nanotechnology concepts, applications and career options. Teachers will also learn instructional practice strategies through hands-on learning activities.

During the second week of camp, students and teachers will tackle academic research, and teachers will develop classroom modules by working with faculty researchers in laboratory-based experiences and participating in workshops and oral presentations.

In the school year following the camp sessions, both students and teachers will be linked to support networks composed of their peers, faculty mentors, graduate assistants and local industry to facilitate the production of independent student research projects and the design and implementation of nanotechnology modules for teachers to use in their classrooms.

"Upon completion, participants will be connected to INDI faculty mentors who will support the completion of follow-up activities, including independent research projects by students and the development and implementation of integrated STEM modules by teachers," said David Russomanno, dean of the School of Engineering and Technology. "Working with the external reviewer, the SERI research team will produce publishable social scientific research; ensure program efficacy; and identify methods to improve STEM learning, retention and opportunities for traditionally underserved students."

Administrative support for NEST is provided through the IUPUI Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research. The program helps to advance the research and creative activity mission of the research office and the IUPUI campus and has the potential to positively impact the surrounding metro area by exposing students and teachers to the possibility of a STEM future.

Program leadership includes Mangilal Agarwal, director of INDI and associate director for research development in the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research; Hazim El-Mounayri, associate professor of mechanical engineering; Charles Feldhaus, co-director of SERI and associate professor of organizational leadership and supervision; Yogesh Joglekar, associate professor of physics; Jomo Mutegi, co-director of SERI and associate professor of science education; and Brandon Sorge, assistant professor of organizational leadership and supervision.

In addition to impacting camp participants, the NEST program will address the need for STEM education and teacher development across the nation.

Curriculum materials developed for the program will be widely available to all educators through the NEST website, the TeachEngineering digital library website, the I-STEM network, and the Hoosier Association of Science Teachers, Inc.

Creating cost-effective modules, along with no-cost virtual reality modules, will overcome socioeconomic implementation barriers; enable widespread use of the catalogue; and expand NEST's effectiveness, reach and influence through the publication of social science critiques of its intervention, program leaders said.

High school students working with Mangilal Agarwal, IUPUI associate director of research development, in INDI lab to learn the fabrication of nanosensors.

High school students working with Mangilal Agarwal, IUPUI associate director of research development, in INDI lab to learn the fabrication of nanosensors.

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Diane Brown