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U of M Awarded NSF Grant for the Memphis Virtual STEM Academy

The University of Memphis, in collaboration with the Shelby County Schools district, received a grant award from the National Science Foundation (NSF) in the amount of $1,342,970 to support the Memphis Virtual STEM Academy at East High School. Two University of Memphis faculty, Dr. Alfred Hall, Assistant Professor in the department of Instruction Curriculum Leadership, and Dr. Stephanie Ivey, Associate Professor in the department of Civil Engineering, are serving as the PI and Co-PI of the project.

Dr. Alfred Hall Dr. Stephanie Ivey
Dr. Alfred Hall Dr. Stephanie Ivey

The grant award is part of NSF’s Innovative Technology Experiences for Students and Teachers (ITEST) program and recognizes the Virtual STEM Academy as an innovative, pre-engineering Strategies project for high school students (grades 9 – 12).

The Virtual STEM Academy investigates the implementation of an online STEM curriculum that provides students with self-paced modules, as well as face-to-face STEM laboratory projects and field experiences designed to help students understand pre-engineering concepts and principles and develop an interest in and motivation to pursue STEM careers. This strategy provides high quality STEM educational opportunities to diverse populations of students attending high schools that are unable to offer an equivalent program of study due to inadequate laboratory facilities and/or the absence of highly effective STEM teachers. This strategy is also unique from the standpoint that it draws from the experiences of a team of engineers-turned-educators and provides them with innovative opportunities to collectively implement a virtual STEM curriculum and design/implement STEM laboratory and field experiences for high school students.

The goal of the Memphis Virtual STEM Academy drives the project to design, implement, and evaluate an intervention that supports student engagement in authentic, relevant experiences that reflect the skills, knowledge, and practices represented in the STEM and Information and Computer Technology (ICT) workforce and motivates students to pursue STEM and ICT career trajectories.

This project is designed to create broader impacts locally, regionally, and nationally in K-12 and higher education environments by addressing some of the challenges faced by large, urban school districts in their efforts to offer STEM programs of study with limited resources (human and fiscal) and/or student interest at one particular school. The model developed by the Memphis Virtual STEM Academy will demonstrate how an innovative approach that leverages existing resources can be used to create a unique learning opportunity for students without having them transfer to a magnet school. The findings from this project will not only support the efforts of large, urban districts but may also be relevant to small, rural school districts that face similar challenges.

For more information contact Stephanie Ivey <ssaylers@memphis.edu>.



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Carl Williams

Mr. Carl Williams Associate Professor of Engineering Technology, is the recipient of the Society of Manufacturing Engineers 2010 Joseph A. Siegel Service Award for his significant and unique contributions to the Society. Read more ...

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Last Updated: 10/21/13