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Phase VI Education and Diversity Awards - 2012

Increasing Energy Education in Grades 5-12 for Rural Schools

Paul Adams, Anschutz Endowed Professor of Teacher Education, Fort Hays State University

Energy education is critical to the economic future of the United States. Knowledgeable teachers are essential to provide this education. While opportunities exist for teachers to become knowledgeable in this area, underrepresented groups such as those in geographically underserved locales have few opportunities to participate in professional development programs. The proposed project will address this lack by offering a professional development model that will improve STEM education by enhancing teachers’ knowledge of energy. This will be accomplished over a two-year period as the teachers participate in learning that blends virtual and face-to-face experiences. The effort will be evaluated to determine the effectiveness of the model in improving teachers’ content knowledge, teaching focus, and efficacy of the model for professional development in energy education. This information will be used to develop a future NSF grant. Ten rural teachers will be involved in the project over a two-year period.


Stephen Angel

Washburn University Community Science Symposium

Stephen Angel, Chair and Professor of Chemistry, Washburn University

Effective science and mathematics education is a community endeavor that requires collaboration between K-12 and higher education. This project will ensure that students in grades 6 -12 have the opportunity to engage in the exploration of the science of climate and energy as members of a scientific community. The project focus is to hold a climate – energy symposium. The symposium will be the culminating event that will show case the work of middle and high school students as well as providing an opportunity for the community to enhance their knowledge of current issues in energy science. The impact will be significant since the event will establish a culture of collaboration within the local education community. Additionally, the curriculum resources developed will have ongoing utility for teachers, students, and teacher educators.


C. Matt Seimears

Studying Aerosols to Understand (SAU): Ideal Solar Energy Cooking Times in the States of Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas

C. Matt Seimears, Associate Professor of Elementary Education, Early Childhood, and Special Education, Emporia State University

The intensity of sunlight at the top of the earth's atmosphere is constant. While the sunlight travels through the atmosphere, though, aerosols can dissipate the energy by scattering and absorbing the light. More aerosols in the atmosphere cause more scattering and less energy transmitted to the surface. Therefore, knowing the sunlight's energy at the top of the atmosphere, the thickness of the atmosphere, and the amount of sunlight transmitted to the earth's surface and hopefully will allow our study to determine the amount of scattering, and thus, the amount of aerosols recommended for an ideal cooking time using solar energy. Hands-on lesson planning and content integration of science and mathematics will be promoted through the establishment of a learning community of science majors at Emporia State University. Five sections (each year totaling 10 overall by year 2) of Science Methods at Emporia State University will participate in an EPSCoR funded field experience, planning/development “hands-on” research project in modeling and content integration of climate and energy. The experience will include thematic strands in modeling, data analysis, structures of Earth/Space Science, energy, solar, cooking, and the use of technology to design and develop clean cooking scenarios/simulations to study ideal times to harness solar energy to cook. Content integration is coupled to this through an emphasis on modeling. With guidance from faculty at Emporia State University; the students will use CALIPSO (GLOBE) curriculum (through the modeling of science standards), to plan; assess their own strategies, through a hands-experience. All student work samples and data will include four completed manuals such as: 1) Completed study field site (The site will be at three locations per year); 2) Designed and blueprinted solar cookers; 3) Goals and objectives for the purpose behind the project; 4) Video development procedures (The video library will be edited and sent to The University of Kansas for assessment examples in the field of Earth/Space Science and Climate/Energy simulation activities); and 5) Finalized results.


Elizabeth Yanik

ESU Summer Scholars Program

Elizabeth Yanik, Professor of Mathematics, Computer Science, and Economics, Emporia State University

The Emporia State Summer Scholar program is a three day summer program targeted toward Hispanic students who have just completed grades seven or eight. This program will extend the STEM outreach work already underway at ESU. The focus of this program will be mathematical modeling. Students will learn how to use functions on a graphing calculator to enter data, plot the data, and then determine a function (linear, quadratic, or exponential) which best fits the data. The students will then be asked to use these models to analyze various situations. Examples of such models could be the relationship between a rope’s length and the number of knots in it, predicting the settings of various variables to maximize the distance of a projectile launched from a trebuchet, and/or studying the effects of global climate change on Kansas agriculture. The students will be placed in teams of two to work on a modeling project. One example of such a project might be to select variables such as moisture level, temperature, and rainfalls and relate these to differences in crop yields. Each team will make a presentation of their modeling efforts and summarize their conclusions at the end of the program.
The objectives of the program as a whole are to:

    • To increase Hispanic youth’s interest in science and mathematics
    • To foster awareness of career opportunities in mathematics and science-related fields,
    • To provide Hispanic youth with an opportunity to meet and form personal contacts with professionals working in mathematics and science-related careers.

The educational message to these young students is the value of looking at situations with quantitative skills and to realize the value and limitations of mathematical modeling. They will be able to understand some of these major principles without understanding the fairly sophisticated mathematics required in regression studies because the calculator may be used to do much of the detail work involved in curve fitting.

The intent of this program is to engage and hopefully inspire Hispanic students in STEM activities. This population is dramatically underrepresented in STEM careers and yet is the fastest growing segment of America’s population. The program is small but if successful may serve as a model for others.


Education and Diversity Awards - 2012