BOONE, N.C. — Dr. Lakshmi S. Iyer, along with Drs. Heidi Carlone and Sara Heredia, has received $98,696 in funding from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro to implement their project titled “BRIDGES (BRoadening Identities for Diverse Groups Engaging with STEM).”
Iyer is a professor in Appalachian State University’s Department of Information Systems and Supply Chain Management, which is housed in the Walker College of Business. She is the director of Appalachian’s applied data analytics graduate program.
Carlone is the Hooks Distinguished Professor of STEM Education in UNC Greensboro’s School of Education, and Heredia is assistant professor in the Department of Teacher Education and Higher Education at UNC Greensboro.
“The goal of the BRIDGES project is to engage diverse middle school youths and teachers in out-of-school learning that integrates science, engineering and computing to address environmental problems,” Iyer said.
“Leveraging youths’ enthusiasm to ‘make a difference,’ the hypothesis is that this integrated approach will strengthen youths’ STEM-linked identities, broaden their STEM academic and career pathways, provide a model for meaningful STEM integration and nurture teachers’ learning.”
The project targets youths during early adolescence, which, according to Iyer, is a key time when these students develop interests and identities toward academic learning that enable or prevent access to STEM academic and career opportunities.
She outlined three objectives of the project:
- Create, enact and refine a pedagogical model that engages middle school youths with environmental problems using science, engineering and computing.
- Study the effectiveness of the BRIDGES model in triggering and sustaining youths’ STEM-linked identities and pathways, and test an updated model of disciplinary identity.
- Study the effectiveness of the BRIDGES program for teachers’ STEM professional learning.
Iyer said BRIDGES will include three primary intervention strategies. A two-week residential Summer Institute (SI) will be offered in which participants examine — through science, engineering and computing — the environmental issue of polluted water and how to solve it. Near-peer mentors, STEM professionals, Appalachian undergraduates and graduates in STEM fields, and a STEM career counselor will also contribute to the SI.
Saturday Academies (SAs) will also be offered, she said. The SAs will integrate engineering design and computing to address environmental problems. After-school STEM clubs will be co-planned with teachers who teach in the SAs and SIs. Teachers will guide the design of clubs, drawing on BRIDGES’ program features.
Rachel Drye, a senior computer information systems major from Monroe, will assist Iyer with the project.
About the Department of Computer Information Systems and Supply Chain Management
The Department of Computer Information Systems and Supply Chain Management’s curricula promotes solid business acumen and technical fundamentals, arming students with a unique blend of knowledge and enabling them to serve as the vital bridge between professionals in functional business areas and information technology (IT). Learn more at https://cis.appstate.edu.
About Appalachian State University
Appalachian State University, in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains, prepares students to lead purposeful lives as global citizens who understand and engage their responsibilities in creating a sustainable future for all. The transformational Appalachian experience promotes a spirit of inclusion that brings people together in inspiring ways to acquire and create knowledge, to grow holistically, to act with passion and determination, and embrace diversity and difference. As one of 17 campuses in the University of North Carolina system, Appalachian enrolls about 19,000 students, has a low student-to-faculty ratio and offers more than 150 undergraduate and graduate majors.