The Smoky Mountains STEM Collaborative is a science education project that will serve students who are predominantly native Appalachians, a cultural group comprised of the descendants of Native American, 16th Century European and African settlers of the rugged mountains of western North Carolina who today remain underrepresented in STEM disciplines as well as in college. This project will effectively and efficiently engage this southern Appalachia region’s public schools and the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians tribal schools, a community college and university in a cohesive partnership that will leverage Subject Matter Experts (SME’s) and science centers to achieve its goals as well as NASA Science Education Objectives thus becoming a model for rural, isolated regions throughout the nation.
What does your team hope to achieve?
By building bridges within the stakeholders of our community we hope to increase collaboration between what is often seen as the “ivory towers of science” and the people who we need in order to make a difference in the future. By bringing opportunities to a rural area with a large under-represented population we hope to show that STEM activation can occur at all levels and in any area.
Project Web Site
A major part of improving scientific literacy and activating a learner’s interest in STEM is to make it accessible to them. This is true for all ages and so in every program or event we are a part of; I strive to deliver a message that science is not done by faceless drones in white coats and goggles in some distant clean room. I remind them we are all scientists and can engage in science in ways that are meaningful to our community and country whether at work, at school, or at home.