Project Spotlight: The Urban Community Project to Stimulate Interests in STEM Careers (U-CPS)

Project Spotlight: The Urban Community Project to Stimulate Interests in STEM Careers (U-CPS)

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

STELAR recently caught up with Dr. S. Ray Bullock, Research Professor of Physics and Director of Outreach Programs at Fisk University. Dr. Bullock is the Prinicpal Investigator for The Urban Community Project to Stimulate Interests in STEM Careers (U-CPS) project, which provides professional development to middle and high school teachers through the development of learning modules utilizing robotics, rocketry, computers and ICT programming skills in urban classrooms in the Metropolitan Nashville Public School System.

* What excites you about the work that you do every day? 

I enjoy that teachers are excited about bringing science into the lives of students, engaging in learning and transferring this knowledge across content areas. They have developed 25 teaching modules using Tennessee science standards and English language arts. These modules are developed during the academic year, implemented for the first time during the summer science camps, and revised as needed. 

Students are more engaged when they are given the right information, resources, and provided the right opportunity. Additionally, the students are very excited when allowed to work with hands-on activities. 

* What resources have been most valuable in your work? 

Our teachers have reported that having access to rocketry and robotics kits, White Box Learning, and other resources are valuable. The availability of these materials makes the implementation and transfer of learning easier for students. Our teachers are able to quickly implement concepts learned in the professional development sessions into the classroom. 

* Can you share how your ITEST project impacts youth? 

Our project provides students with the ability to learn science and engineering concepts by providing hands on activities and resources during the science clubs and summer science camps. The project allows students who would not have opportunities to interact with rockets/robots an outlet to experience success and build confidence in science through our bi-monthly science clubs and summer science camps.

* What are effective and productive ways to ensure broadening participation by engaging diverse and underrepresented populations in STEM programs and careers? 

•  Consistency in implementation of STEM based programs from start to finish
•  Continuing to introduce the project to principals and community leaders
•  Hosting science challenges 
•  Preparing and educating teachers to facilitate hands-on STEM instruction
•  Providing underrepresented populations with real world examples of minority professionals in STEM careers

We have partnerships with many of the underrepresented middle and high schools in our area, and, by reaching out to other underrepresented school districts, we can broaden participation in our program.