Our research aims to bring culturally relevant, integrated (humanities and engineering) project-based learning (PBL) to middle and high schools. This summer’s work may focus on climate change, though other topics such as water insecurity and environmental issues are of interest. Existing curricular materials regarding these topics lack the context-rich, societal focus critical to integrative and deep learning. Research shows that STEM activities involving real communities have a powerful influence on recruiting and retaining under-represented groups in STEM, particularly during the middle school years, while also enhancing learning outcomes for all students. Climate change issues provide an opportunity to explore new multidisciplinary topics including what happens to threatened communities suffering in specific ways the global effects of climate change.
Teacher Component: Teachers will be co-investigators with Profs. DiBiasio (ChE) and Boudreau (HUA), student researchers, and WPI’s STEM Education professionals, to design, build, and pilot-test new modules (or refine current ones) that include hands-on experiences and appropriate curricula. Collaboration with teachers is particularly important for effective integration of state curriculum frameworks and standards. To date our PBL modules and hands-on units include fog water harvesting in Morocco, Superfund soil contamination remediation, COVID transmission, and the Boston molasses disaster. Some have been successfully beta-tested in local and regional middle schools. Teachers will also propose and develop new modules with local and regional community relevance specific to their disciplinary expertise.