Promoting STEM Education Program Overview

Promoting STEM Education

The program to promote Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education is an innovative proposal to produce competitive students in the STEM disciplines. The primary purpose of this project is to increase and broaden underrepresented minority participation in the nation’s STEM workforce through focused recruitment, retention and mentoring programs, and by successfully graduating students in STEM disciplines. Kentucky State University is the only historically black college or university (HBCU) in Kentucky and has significant potential for training minority students in STEM fields.

As indicated in various studies, the major reason for poor retention of minority students in STEM program are economic hardship, academic and administrative factors that lead students towards inadequate preparation for a college education and a low level of confidence in STEM disciplines. The transition from high schools and two year institutions to the university environment often poses a unique hurdle for minority students that can negatively impact their academic performance. Many low income students from urban and rural high schools are admitted and receive financial aid but then find it difficult to adjust to the college environment due to inadequate support, lack of mentorship and advising.

The comprehensive and direct achievement goals of the STEM education project after its successful implementation are:

  • 30% increase in minority students enrollment in STEM fields
  • 25% increase in the number of minority students graduating with a STEM degree
  • 20% reduction in attrition in the entry level course
  • 30% increase in minority students’ participation in project and inquiry based STEM research.

Recruitment and Advising

Student Recruitment and Advising is one of the core objectives of the STEM Education Program which has three specific activities.

  • Developing a Summer Apprenticeship Program (SAP) to prepare incoming freshmen students in mathematical and college survival skills. Sixty (15) junior and senior students per year will be selected from high schools that have a higher proportion of minority students and will be trained for four weeks on STEM academic and social skills. A diverse curriculum will be developed featuring:
    • STEM Fundamentals
    • Skills for STEM Success
    • Mathematics for STEM Students
  • Develop dual credit courses for high school juniors and seniors: Dual credit courses can motivate students interests in STEM programs. Such courses provide access to introductory/basic courses and obtain college courses completion credits. Examples of courses are Careers in STEM, Careers in Geo-Science, Introduction to weather and climate. These courses will be made interdisciplinary with innovative content and flexible learning modules.

Develop focused recruitment strategies: “Adopt a high school”: under this activity a. KSU recruitment committee will be established and the committee will develop a recruitment plan including periodic visits  to minority dominant high schools and colleges across the region, organize STEM program awareness activities at the high schools, and guest lecture in the selected high schools.

Curriculum Review and Development

Enhancing the curricula of the STEM program is intended to ensure that these programs meet the highest possible standards and address the diverse backgrounds and learning capabilities of minority students.

The activities identified to accomplish this objective are:

  1. Review current curricula and develop new multidisciplinary courses
  2. Integration of new innovative teaching/ learning modules into the curriculum

Activity 1:

The recently started Agriculture, Food Science and Environment program requires additional courses for enhancing its STEM elements. In addition, the division of Mathematics and Science, and Computer Science are developing new undergraduate programs, such as:

  • Computer Graphics
  • Multimedia Production Technology
  • Computer Electronics technology

These programs require strengthening or revising current courses. The proposed courses will be integrated with additional visual aids and innovative hands-on assignments with real time data to assist students with diverse learning capabilities. The curricula and learning outcomes will be carefully developed addressing the STEM career needs. The courses that will be developed in the Division of Agriculture and Natural resources include:

  • ENV 326 Introduction to Geospatial Science
  • AFE 489 Remote Sensing of Environment
  • AFE 465 Hydrology and Watershed Management

Courses that will be developed in the Division of Computer Science include:

  • COS 333 Introduction to Scientific Visualization
  • COS 107 Problem Solving, Logic and Design
  • COS 108 Principles of Computer Science
  • COS 407 Game design and Development
  • COS 499 Mobile game Development
  • COS 571 Software Assurance
  • COS 536 Software Engineering

Activity 2:

This will be accomplished using innovative teaching techniques based on:

  • student’s multiple learning preferences such as more group/class discussion activities and team projects
  • critical thinking activities
  • peer learning sessions
  • visualization techniques such as use of more graphics
  • online sources such as Khan Academy
  • use of interactive and real life situation examples and data will be utilized

Resources and Progress Report

Kentucky State University organized a three week long Summer Apprenticeship Program (SAP) from June 7 to 27, 2015 to introduce rising high school junior and senior students to Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields as well as agricultural, environmental and geo-spatial related disciplines. The program was designed to prepare them for college programs and careers in STEM fields through hands-on experiential learning, research and college preparatory projects.

29 students from 25 high schools participated in the program. Selection criteria were established based on GPA, recommendation letters, short targeted essays, and expressed student interests in STEM fields and in Kentucky State University.

2015 Summer Apprenticeship Program Students, Counselors and Faculty2015 Summer Apprenticeship Program Students,
Counselors and Faculty

Click on this link to download the proceedings from the 2015 Summer Apprenticeship Program

Curriculum Review and Development: Development of a diverse curriculum schedule incorporated aspects of college preparation readiness, exposure to STEM career opportunities and guided experience in STEM, agriculture, environment, and geospatial hands-on research.  While much of the content was developed and delivered by the KSU faculty and staff, the SAP curriculum was further enhanced with expert guest lectures from government and business sectors and site visits to STEM workplace locations and environmental education facilities.

On integration of new innovative teaching/ learning modules into the curriculum:-  The first week of the 2015 SAP program was dedicated to giving an overview of STEM programming offered at KSU and to educating the students on many important college survival skills.  The KSU ACE staff produced a series of lectures and activities that served to educate the participants on issues, such as, securing scholarships to pay tuition, developing positive study habits, intellectual property, use of information technology, setting realistic academic goals, and active time management.  The apprentices also were given opportunities to explore the KSU campus facilities and to participate in team building exercises designed to build cohesion and trust among the group members in the early stages of the SAP.  The week culminated with an all-day hands-on introduction to geospatial technology and possible career paths in this general field, delivered by local and regional community partners involved with the industry.

Participants attended seminars and workshops developed and hosted by the KSU Thorobred Learning Center designed to give students needed communication skills and to reinforce the importance of essential college survival skills. The following workshops were incorporated into the SAP curriculum:

Student engaged in a multitude of activities

Student engaged in a multitude of activities

  • Surviving College: Transitioning to the Next Level
  • Listening Skills, Note taking, and memory Workshop
  • Intellectual Property and Research Ethics
  • Study Skills and SQ3R
  • Goal Setting and Time Management Workshop
  • Essay Building, Research Writing, Grammar Helps Workshop
  • Microsoft Office Applications
  • Learning Styles Workshop
  • Critical Thinking Seminar
  • Scientific Report Writing and Presentation Workshop

As part of the experience, students undertook intensive research lasting two weeks that culminated with oral presentations, research mentors, student families, and KSU leadership in attendance.

The apprentices were assigned to specific KSU faculty research projects.  Apprentice project assignments were based primarily on pre-existing interests of STEM topic areas as reported during SAP pre-registration.  Every attempt was made to place the student with the project most closely aligned with pre-reported interests, however, accommodations were made to allow students to be reassigned to other projects as needed.  During this time, the apprentices spent as much as seven (7) hours per day with the research mentor and actively participated in the research by operating lab equipment, performing scientific analysis of data, and acclimating to the demands of full time scientific inquiry at the university level.  This time was also augmented with additional site visits to STEM workplaces and educational facilities where the apprentices were exposed to professional scientific research settings to reinforce the importance of research to the economy at large and to society in general.

Oral presentations were delivered during the closing ceremony of the SAP in front of all students and parents, KSU leadership, research mentors, and participating community partners.  Final paper submissions are being compiled into a proceedings document and will be made available on the SAP website in order to showcase the achievements of our graduating apprentices.

Graduating apprentices and their mentorsResearch mentor groups covered a diverse set of STEM topic areas, including computer science (top left), programmatic problem solving (top right), geographic information sciences (bottom left), and computer graphic visualization (bottom right).

Participants received hands-on introductions to use of various types of scientific investigative equipment, including handheld global positioning systems (GPS), web-based cartography and mapping software, environmental monitoring network stations, water and air quality instrumentation, and various other computer-driven mobile applications.

On providing experiential research opportunities:

At the heart of encouraging more active participation in STEM topic areas by all students is giving them an opportunity to engage in demanding high level research which positively reinforces the idea that they are capable of doing so. Twenty-nine (29) SAP participants enrolled in the program, recruited primarily from rural and underserved communities with higher proportions of minority students.  Twenty-six (26) participants graduated from the program by completing the required course work and submitting the required oral research presentation and research paper.

In addition to the experiential research, the students in many hands-on activities designed to introduce the user to the operation of scientific research instruments, including hand held GPS units, specialized laboratory equipment, and many computer-driven technologies and web-based applications.  Students were also educated on how and where to obtain many of these resources for little or no cost for use in continued scientific inquiry. These training sessions were augmented with seminars meant to instruct the students on how to properly document and report findings generated using this equipment.  The skills developed during these activities were instrumental in helping the students complete the required research submissions.

Hands-on use of GPS in geo-spatial studyHands-on use of GPS in geospatial study Hands-on laboratory experienceHands-on laboratory experience


Summer Apprenticeship Program

STEM Student Scholars

One of the objectives of the STEM education program is to promote experiential learning, especially among a small group of “student scholars.” These students identified during their freshman year as highly qualified – will be asked to serve as role model scholars for peer-mentorship, and they will have multiple opportunities to participate in research.

When they will have successfully transitioned into their majors, they will be in a unique position to provide guidance for incoming students. They will help manage academic schedules, share study strategies, promote a team-building spirit for collective learning, and assist new students with navigating campus culture and life. This focused one-on-one mentoring and counseling will help recognize early academic difficulties and help students devise a plan of action for success.

The student scholars, receive stipends to help with room, board and meals, also will engage in experiential research with faculty during their sophomore, junior and senior years. These student scholars will mentor incoming students as environmental “ambassadors” and, during their junior and senior years, as recruiters. They will occasionally travel to high schools with the project team to support recruitment efforts and to talk with high school students about their experiences at KSU, as well as to share how and why they chose careers in environmental science.

These upper-class students who have successfully transitioned into their major will provide guidance for incoming students.

Following are the some of the student scholars and their research areas:

KhadjiaKhadjia I am a first semester senior and a pre-professional biology major studying to be a veterinarian.  I joined the meat goat animal science research program to get experience working with farm animals. I am 21 years old and hail from Detroit. I am very happy to be doing my research under Dr. Ken Andries.
I am working in conjunction with the College of Agriculture to create a device that allows beekeepers to be able to measure the amount of honey that bees are putting in their honeycombs. I design and prototype the devices on 3D software and a M2 Makergear 3D printer.

Benjamin Turner

Benjamin Turner

Picture of Charlie NelsonI am a senior at Kentucky State University, majoring in Computer Science. My current research project, “Utilizing Machine Learning to Predict Mine Progression throughout Kentucky”, employs Landsat imagery and Google Earth Engine for geographical visualization of the annual progression of several mines throughout Kentucky. My previous research includes the following: “Improving Heat Shields for Atmospheric Entry: Numerical and Experimental Investigations for
Modeling Ablative Thermal Protection System Surface Degradation Effects on Near?Wall Flow” and “Validation of the Antarctic Snow Accumulation and Ice Discharge
Basal Stress Boundary in the Southeastern Region of the Ross Ice Shelf, Antarctica”. I have also interned at the Kentucky Housing Corporation as a System Administrator where my duties included database overhaul and management of the Kentucky Homeless Management Information System (HMIS).

After graduating from KSU in May 2016, I plan to pursue post-baccalaureate opportunities in preparation for a Doctorate Degree in Translational Research. Following completion of my studies, I first aspire to become a medical scientist. My desire is to assist patients of various cultural and medical backgrounds in living a life free of debilitating anatomical abnormality and life threatening illness; whether it is due to cancer, trauma, congenital birth defect and everything in between. I want my work to offer assistance to patients such as veterans, elderly, and children to expand life expectancy and outlook; providing the best life afforded to them, no matter their previous prognosis. Second, l aspire to create a bio-medical start-up allowing me the opportunity to competitively service federal government and private medical sectors.

I am a Graduate Research Assistant (Advisor: Asst. Prof. Buddhi Gyawali, Ph.D.) and MS (Environment Studies) candidate in KentuckyPicture of Bijesh Mishra State University, KY, USA. I am a B. Sc. (Agriculture) scholar from Tribhuvan University, Nepal and joined Kentucky State University in spring, 2015. My interest lies in Environment and Agriculture Science policy planning along with climate change, food security issues. I am also interested in working on policy planning and economic aspects of agriculture and environment issues, natural resource management with the major focus in small scale farmers. I am conducting my researches on small farm diversification and sustainable issues in Kentucky. My interest is to work to improve income and livelihood of small scale farmers in my country after graduation.

Skills and Specialization: Computer Skills, Agriculture, Social Media, Blogging and Microblogging, GIS and Remote Sensing (Learning Phase), Report Writing, Proposal Writing.