Urban Community Project to Stimulate Interests in STEM Careers
The goal of the Urban Community Project to Stimulate Interests in STEM Careers (U-CPS), an ITEST Strategy Project, is to expand an urban community initiative for exposing, encouraging, and preparing underrepresented students to consider STEM/ICT occupations. Through a structured professional development program for middle/high school teachers that includes the development and deployment of innovative teaching strategies, Fisk hopes to spark the active engagement of teachers, students, parents, and community centers. U-CPS is a partnership teaming Fisk University and Tennessee State University, with middle and high schools and community organizations in Nashville. The National Academy of Engineering has published several reports that advocate the need to expand the active engagement of underrepresented groups in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) in K12 activities; to prepare and create a larger workforce pool for America’s global competitiveness. In order to accomplish this, innovative approaches and collaborative urban strategies must be deployed to promote STEM and ICT careers and occupations and encourage more minority and female students to pursue degrees in these fields through higher education. This project seeks to address the challenge of providing stimulating learning experiences to students by providing high quality professional development experiences for middle and high school teachers through the development of learning modules that integrate robotics, rocketry, and ICT programming skills in urban classrooms in Metro Nashville Public School System. As a recipient of a major federal grant (Race to the Top), the state of Tennessee is committed to providing better teacher training and promoting more high quality initiatives to support low performing schools in metropolitan Nashville. Therefore, this project hopes to impact the academic performance of underrepresented students within an urban community setting by enhancing the professional development of middle and high school science teachers.