Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) will launch a summer program in 2022 that will improve high school science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education in high need Worcester-area schools by immersing teachers—those already working in schools and those preparing to become teachers—in research at WPI laboratories that are using engineering to solve global problems.
A $599,980 grant from the National Science Foundation will fund the three-year project, which will begin recruiting both “pre-service” and “in-service” teachers in early 2022 from schools in Worcester and Leominster, Mass. Established teachers will be paired with WPI students who are preparing to become teachers, and together they will work with WPI faculty members to research solutions to sustainable development goals identified by the United Nations.
Erin Solovey, an assistant professor in the Department of Computer Science who is affiliated with the Learning Sciences and Technologies program, is principal investigator (PI) on the project; co-PI is Katherine Chen, executive director of WPI’s STEM Education Center.
“It’s difficult for teachers to obtain the authentic STEM research experiences that can be integrated with curriculum in classrooms,” said Solovey, whose research focuses on human-computer interaction. “This program will provide those experiences, which will enable current and future teachers to better prepare diverse students for further education and careers in STEM, while also demonstrating to students how engineering can solve global challenges.”
Five teachers and five WPI Teacher Prep students per year will participate in the six-week sessions, for a total of 15 teachers and 15 students over three years.