MATE ROV Competitions: Providing Pathways to the Ocean STEM Workforce
This project will use the Marine Advanced Technology Education (MATE) Center's highly successful remotely operated vehicle (ROV) competition network to reach, engage, and support the participation of middle schools. They represent a critical point in the educational pathway where students, particularly from underrepresented groups, are most likely to lose interest in math and science. It will provide career information and guidance tools that enable students to make the transition from middle school through high school to college and into the workplace. It will underscore the importance of parental involvement in students' education by proactively reaching out to, communicating with, and engaging parents in project activities. It will also expand the MATE Center's cyberinfrastructure to create a learning community that promotes access to resources and encourages communication and collaboration across all grade levels. The project will also evaluate the impact of these activities and contribute those findings to the knowledge base about STEM education, particularly as it applies to traditionally underrepresented groups. The overarching project goal is to use the MATE ROV competition as an engaging platform to prepare middle and high school students for careers in the ocean STEM workforce. Specifically, the project goals are to 1) increase middle and high school students' interest in STEM and STEM careers; 2) provide teachers with resources that support the delivery of STEM career information and learning experiences; and 3) increase access to industry mentors and STEM instructional resources. This access will allow students and educators at all levels to build upon and advance their STEM knowledge and skills using ROVs as the vehicle, both figuratively and literally. Over the course of 3 years, the project will provide 240 middle school teachers who serve underrepresented groups with 28 hours of professional development, to include one 'take-home' ROV per teacher; provide 60 of those teachers with an additional 56 hours, for a total of 84 hours; provide 10 of those teachers with an additional 56 hours, for a total of 140 hours; provide 2,400 middle school students with a minimum of 20 hours of instruction and hands-on STEM learning experiences. In addition, the project will produce 4 middle school curriculum modules; implement a beginner level ('SCOUT') competition class at all 12 of MATE's existing regional contests within the U.S.; modify and improve MATE's existing career tools to produce an online careers course and complementary website for middle and high school audiences; disseminate the career information and guidance tools to the target middle school audience as well as to the other middle schools and high schools that participate in the competition. The project will also develop a cyberlearning center that uses web technologies and social media tools to engage and increase the number of users accessing and sharing information, resources, and ideas.