COLUMBUS, OHIO (October 12, 2017): The Army Educational Outreach Program, in collaboration with Battelle, has awarded grants to five organizations and technical associations to expand student participation in enriching science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) exploration and learning, particularly for underserved students. AEOP offers students, from elementary school through undergraduate education, and educators collaborative, high-quality, Army-sponsored programs that engage, inspire and attract the next generation of STEM talent.
Through AEOP’s suite of programs, students representing all proficiency levels and ethnic, economic and academic backgrounds participate in real-world experiences involving STEM disciplines. Army civilian scientists and engineers serve as mentors and guides, bringing young people directly into Army laboratories and introducing them to the various opportunities in STEM fields through hands-on experiences.
AEOP engages a network of partners through Strategic Outreach Initiative grants to expand student participation in enriching STEM exploration and learning, particularly for underserved students. AEOP’s latest cohort of partners—three new and two renewed, following an existing partnership—were selected specifically for their leadership in STEM learning and outreach to African-American, Hispanic, female, low-income and military-connected students. Bringing together the strongest thought and strategic partners also allows the Army’s programs to better reflect the best of this diverse nation.
“The Army is committed to contributing to a technically skilled and capable workforce. Working with like-minded partners and networks, we have the potential to do this more effectively, leverage one another’s strengths and reach a far broader and more diverse audience,” Dr. Matt Willis, Director of Laboratory Management, Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Research & Technology, said.
The U.S.’s STEM capabilities are critical to the nation’s innovation, economic competitiveness and national security. Though the U.S. continues to make strides in STEM, research shows a clear and alarming erosion in the nation’s STEM capabilities, evident in both the skills gap plaguing major industries and students’ lagging achievement in mathematics and science compared to peers around the world. By leveraging the Army’s strengths, and leaning on the strengths of partners, the Army has addressed this STEM crisis on multiple fronts, with promising results.
“Through hands-on learning, students see how they can excel in STEM careers,” said Dr. Aimee Kennedy, Senior Vice President for Education, STEM Learning and Philanthropy at Battelle. “Whether in teams of peers or guided by a mentor, this kind of learning will help inspire the next generation of innovators.”
Strategic Outreach Initiative grantees will each receive awards ranging from $49,000 to $200,000 to facilitate meaningful collaboration that will ultimately integrate with or enhance the suite of opportunities already offered by AEOP. Grants will be awarded on a rolling basis. Recipients include:
Montana Tech (Butte, Mont.): Montana Tech will implement a Fellowships in Research program that will serve 250 low-income, first-generation or Native American high school students. Montana Tech will also promote AEOP programs and materials to its robust network of underserved students; create an after-school STEM camp for Native American high school students at the North American Indian Alliance, where undergraduate and graduate students serve as role models, increasing students’ academic achievements and encouraging their independent research efforts; host a weekend Research Academy for select local students; and conduct a Summer Research Academy for 24 additional fellows.
North Carolina Science, Mathematics and Technology Education Center (Research Triangle Park, N.C.): Project partners will establish a North Carolina STEM Research Academy high school to increase the pipeline of diverse students engaged in STEM research in rural school districts, where access to quality student research, mentors and materials are often a challenge. Master educators will lead teacher academies focused on student research best practices for educators at North Carolina early colleges, which are small public high schools where students simultaneously work toward a high school diploma and college credit. Students—with a priority given to those from underrepresented or minority groups, who receive free or reduced meals, who are first generation college students and/or military-connected students—will compete in AEOP competitions, including eCYBERMISSION, and will participate in Saturday Academies and digital meetings with an emphasis on mentorship, engineering design, analysis and related topics.
Northwest Ohio Center for Excellence in STEM Education at Bowling Green State University (Bowling Green, Ohio): NWO at BGSU will build upon a previously funded AEOP strategic outreach project to increase the number of underrepresented students participating in JSHS in March 2018, and beyond. NWO will recruit and train approximately 200 students from underserved populations and their teachers from Toledo Public and Springfield Local school districts to engage students in original scientific research and STEM studies. Under this model, the cadre of teachers from the previous year’s grant project will serve as mentors to newly recruited teachers. In addition, all participating teachers will be certified in Global Learning Observations to Benefit the Environment, an international science education program that promotes worldwide participation in data collection, data sharing and the scientific process.
Society of Women Engineers (Chicago, Ill.): In its second year as a partner, SWE will continue to increase the number of underrepresented students participating in eCYBERMISSION, UNITE and GEMS programs. To accomplish this, SWE will engage its national network of 400 professional and collegiate sections and over 50 K-12 clubs to leverage recruitment for these targeted programs at annual and local conferences. SWE has worked with each organization to define a specific strategy that leverages SWE’s resources, network and brand recognition. SWE will also increase participation by working with local, established groups of SWE leaders and SWENext clubs around the country. SWE anticipates more than 10,000 students will learn about and benefit from these programs.
The University of Central Florida Board of Trustees (Orlando, Fla.): The Florida Solar Energy Center, a research institute of the University of Central Florida, will embark on a collaborative pilot project to increase participation in Junior Solar Sprint and raise awareness about other AEOP programs among underserved, underrepresented and military-connected students. Partners also include Connecting Communities with Opportunities for Success and the Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory. The pilot will include a media and communications plan; professional development for educators of the target populations; JSS kits, materials, tools and equipment for construction of JSS projects; a local community-based, student-driven JSS outreach event in both Colorado and Florida; targeted assistance for teams to participate in larger more established, JSS competitions; and the financial support for a team from each pilot location to attend the National JSS event coordinated by the Technology Student Association.
About AEOP: The Army Educational Outreach Program continues the Army’s 50-year legacy of supporting a wide range of educational opportunities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. AEOP provides students, from elementary school through undergraduate education, and educators—particularly from underserved communities—access to collaborative, high-quality STEM programs that engage, inspire and attract the next generation of STEM talent. In collaboration with strategic partners, AEOP strives to build a diverse, STEM-literate workforce and prepare all students to thrive. Learn more at www.usaeop.com.