The Smoky Mountains STEM Collaborative is a science education project serving students of Appalachian heritage; a cultural group composed of the descendants of Native Americans, 16th Century European and African settlers in the mountains of western North Carolina who today remain underrepresented in STEM disciplines as well as in college. Its continuing mission is to expand and engage this southern Appalachia region’s public schools, the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians tribal schools, community colleges and universities 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. We work with all ages and offer access to all areas of NASA science as we continue to serve as a quality model for STEM engagement in rural, isolated regions throughout the nation.
What does your team hope to achieve?
Having established the project within the region as a valued and reliable resource for NASA content, including resources and subject matter experts, we look to expand into new areas of the community, bringing the fruits of Science Activation 1.0 cross-collaborations into the region. Utilizing existing partnerships (such as the AREN Project, Arctic and Earth SIGNs, and GLOBE) and introducing new collaborations such as the SciAct TEM Ecosystems project, we will continue to bring the best available opportunities to our rural community, proving STEM activation is possible at all levels 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.