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May 2, 2013

NASA awards ULM grant for summer programs

NASA awarded ULM's College of Education and Human Development a $22,500 grant to fund academic outreach programs as part of NASA's Summer of Innovation.

These programs—which will benefit middle school students in northeast Louisiana—will provide science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) materials to populations traditionally underrepresented in those fields such as females, minorities, and low-income learners.

The College of Education and Human Development plans to stimulate middle-school student interest in STEM subjects by forming the ULM STEM Collaborative.

Over the course of the summer, the ULM STEM Collaborative will host professional development for 52 teachers and support educational programs for over 450 students in grades 4-9 who attend school-based summer programs in the area.

Dr. Ava Pugh, professor in curriculum, instruction, and leadership, and Dr. Lynn Clark, director of the ULM program Developing Rigorous Experiential Academic Models (DREAM), collaborated to secure the grant.

This program will have a broad-reaching impact in the community because of the partnerships that DREAM and Dr. Pugh have fostered with Monroe City Schools, Ouachita Parish, Union Parish, and the non-profit Broaden Horizons, a locally-funded program for high-needs youth in West Monroe.

Clark said, "This program is just one in a series of STEM-based initiatives that are hosted by the College of Education and Human Development DREAM office."

During the first week of June, Steve Culivan, Aerospace Education Specialist at NASA John C. Stennis Space Center, will lead the professional development for teachers from the four partner programs: 21st Century Learning Centers, Union Parish summer programs, Ouachita Parish School System Summer Enrichment Program, and Broaden Horizons.

These activities will include a one-day "Robotics Unplugged" event for instructors in May.

Pugh says this event will teach the use of "everyday materials to create everyday machines."

In August, ULM will also host a STEM Literacy Showcase where students and teachers can share their work completed through the summer.

"Parents and caregivers will also be invited to attend," said Pugh.

A significant stipulation of NASA'S SOI requires that these summer programs provide educational materials and information to populations traditionally underrepresented in STEM, such as females, minorities, and low-income learners.

The ULM STEM Collaborative will reach out to these students through already existing educational summer programs and with the help of Broaden Horizons.

Describing the College's initial interest in SOI, Pugh said, "During the Spring 2013 semester, the undergraduate elementary majors and local science teachers had the opportunity to experience NASA for a full day at ULM… From the enthusiasm of both parties involved, the grant became a 'must do' for the summer."

"This event will bring the community and ULM toward a common goal of better educating our local teachers and students," said Pugh.

"This workshop will allow ULM to demonstrate how the university is current with the latest methods, trends, and techniques."

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