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Researchers Build Community Collaborations with $1 Million NSF Grant

By: Brady W Moore   Published 7:22 am / September 21, 2016

The National Science Foundation has chosen Boise State University, in collaboration with the Boise Parks and Recreation Department and the Boise School District, to receive a more than $1 million grant to support a STEM + Computing Partnership project.

The STEM+C project will integrate computation and science and will offer hands-on activities to fourth, fifth and sixth graders at six community after-school program sites around Boise.

Photo of COED grant recipients

From left to right: Bhaskar Chittoori, Department of Civil Engineering; Sasha Wang, Department of Mathematics; Steve Swanson, Distinguished Educator in Residence; Dazhi Yang, Yu-hui Ching and Youngkyun Baek, Department of Educational Technology.

The three-year project will allow Boise State STEM faculty from the College of Education, College of Arts and Sciences, College of Engineering and the university’s Division of Research to build and pilot a Community Center Afterschool Program (CCAP) model. The model will integrate computing education across K-12 STEM disciplines at three community centers and their three affiliated Kid City Programs serving high-need, Title I schools in Boise.

“Boise State is excited about this opportunity to encourage kids to understand and feel comfortable with STEM concepts, particularly in the high-impact area of computer science,” said Mark Rudin, vice president for research and economic development at Boise State. “This grant is just the latest example of the tremendous support we continue to receive from the National Science Foundation in helping prepare kids for a successful college experience and, after graduation, a rewarding career.”

The CCAP model focuses on student learning and teacher professional development for both pre-service teachers (students pursuing a teaching degree) and in-service teachers from the Boise School District. This project will have broad impact on K-12 STEM and computing education for high-needs students and provide them with an opportunity to learn STEM +C content in informal and formal settings.

Dazhi Yang, associate professor in the Department of Educational Technology, is the principal investigator for the STEM+C project.

“This project is very special because it not only addresses the knowledge gap but also the local community’s needs. I’m extremely excited to work with a group of wonderful colleagues on this project,” said Yang.

The interdisciplinary team also includes co-PIs: Sasha Wang, Department of Mathematics; Steve Swanson, Distinguished Educator in Residence; Youngkyun Baek and Yu-Hui Ching, Department of Educational Technology; and senior personnel Bhaskar Chittoori, Department of Civil Engineering.