Engaging Students in STEM (Example Project)


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Engaging Students in STEM (Example Project)

  1. 1. Wading in the Research Stream: Science Beyond the Classroom
  2. 2. “I shall never be content until the beneficent influence of the University reaches every home in the state.” -Charles Van Hise, UW President, 1904 (The “Wisconsin Idea”)
  3. 3. Goals for Student Engagement• Engage students in the scientific process• Invest students in their community• Have students collect real, useful data• Develop a sense of curiosity about the natural world• Develop an understanding of the nature of science
  4. 4. Shift to Active Learning: How to achieve the goals• Goal 1: Engage students in the scientific process – Develop a realistic research problem – Pitch at appropriate level (freshmen) – Determine which student population should be involved – Engage appropriate faculty mentors
  5. 5. Shift to Active Learning: How to achieve the goals• Goal 2: Invest students in the community – Identify potential community partners – Allow the problem to drive the partnerships – Meet with partners (often!) prior to involving students – Agree upon common goals for project – Determine who is responsible for specific pieces of the project – Introduce students to partners at outset
  6. 6. Shift to Active Learning: How to achieve the goals• Goal 3: Have students collect useful data – Provide sufficient background information to guide inquiry – Decide whether student inquiry will be open- ended or guided by faculty mentors – Assess what resources are available – Decide on a realistic time frame – Develop techniques and teach skills – Be flexible and modify as needed
  7. 7. Shift to Active Learning: How to achieve the goals• Goal 4: Develop a sense of curiosity about the natural world – Share your own enthusiasm – Encourage students to ask questions and explore branching topics – Allow room for students to make and correct mistakes – Reinforce the idea that they are doing ―real science‖ – Encourage interactions among students, faculty mentors, and community members
  8. 8. Shift to Active Learning: How to achieve the goals• Goal 5: Develop understanding of the nature of science – Emphasize the idea that the answers are not known—they are generating NEW knowledge – Allow students to troubleshoot and brainstorm – Teach fundamentals of data analysis and interpretation – Provide forums for communication of results to appropriate audiences
  9. 9. UW-Manitowoc Biology Project: Southern Manitowoc County Creek Watersheds• Worked with two community partners to assess stream health in our region – Part of a larger creek restoration and assessment project undertaken by our partners• Two modes of student involvement – Independent research internship (Summers) – Research-based laboratory experience (integrated into Freshman Biology Courses)
  10. 10. Developing the Partnership: Students Community Research
  11. 11. Background on Centerville Project• Centerville Creek – site of mill pond dam • Dam removed in 1996—sediment remained, compromising creek health• Lakeshore Natural Resource Partnership – sought and received funding to restore creek • Needed scientific advising/assessment! • Approached UW-Manitowoc for help • Classes and interns involved in baseline data collection
  12. 12. Partnership - UW ManitowocTwo Years2010 and 2011Student interns• Baseline assessment• 5 points along Centerville Creek in 2010, 7 points in 2011• Weekly measurements of physical, chemical, biological characteristics – pH, temperature, flow, turbidity, conductivity, dissolved oxygen, ammonia, phosphorus – E. coliLab Courses• Macroinvertebrate surveys added• Repeated Measures on Centerville,Fischer, Point and this year on Pine
  13. 13. Centerville Creek, Summer 2010
  14. 14. Data Summary: Centerville Creek,Summer 2010 Water temperature (°C)* 21.2 pH 8.3 Turbidity (NTU)* 22.1 Stream flow (ft/sec)* 5.67 Conductivity (µS) 792 Dissolved oxygen (mg/L)* 8.43 Phosphate (mg/L)* 0.59 Ammonia nitrogen (mg/L)* 0.6 E. coli (MPN/100 ml)* 1016.1
  15. 15. Integration into Biology Labs; Fall2010 •Centerville, Point, Fischer Creeks •Students in BIO 108, BIO 109, ZOO 101 •Five lab sections-all freshman biology classes •5-6 lab groups per section •Approx. 120 students per fall semester
  16. 16. Integration into Biology Labs; Modifications for 2011•2010 – pilot year •One sampling trip per lab section •Stand-alone lab •Brief instructions for communication: letter to homeowners in area•2011 – further integration •Became central project of BIO 108 (non-majors Environmental Science course) •4 sampling trips •Presentations to community partners•2011 – increased structure of communicationcomponent •Expanded written guidelines provided •Increased quality of student output
  17. 17. Sampling points: Centerville,Fischer and Point Creeks
  18. 18. Sampling in Action!
  19. 19. Example Data: Physical and Chemical Characteristics Centerville CreekCharacteristic Sample Value Normal Range Compromised? (place an X if out of range)Temperature ( C) 14.5 10-19 C (Summer)pH 8.8 5.8-8.5 XHardness (mg/L) 490 N/AFlow rate (m/s) 0.2414 N/ADissolved Oxygen(mg/L) 10.1 >5.0 ppm Fischer CreekTotal Ammonia- 0.8 X <0.5 mg/lnitrogen (mg/L)Un-ionized 0.15 X <0.1 mg/lammonia (mg/L)Total phosphate 0.32 0.01-0.03 (normal) X(ppm) <0.1 (maximum acceptable)
  20. 20. Example Data: Biotic Index Sampling•Quality of environment• 3 habitats •Excellent 3.6+ •Good 2.6-3.5 •Fair 2.1-2.5 •Poor 1.0-2.0•Average for Centerville Creek: 2.34•Average for Fischer Creek: 2.46
  21. 21. Example Data: Biotic Index and E.coli Results E.coli Parameters: 0-234.99 Open/safe for general use 235-999.99 Advisory/use caution 1000+ Closed/unsafe for public use Centerville Creek: Group # Biotic Index Rating (see E. coli level E.coli reporting form) (MPN/100 advisory ml) status* Hydrozoans 2.0 Poor 86.7 open Lab. Rats 2.4 Fair 275.5 advisory Manty 2.3 Fair 344.1 advisory NEKS 2.0 Poor 727.0 advisory Team Tetris 2.56 Fair 135.4 open Zoo York 2.75 Good 218.7 open Average E. coli level: 297.9 Group # Biotic Index Rating (see E. coli level E.coli reporting form) (MPN/100 advisory ml) status* Biolumenescent 2.68 Good 53.0 open Mushrooms Dill 2.25 Fair 43.5 open Pickles 2.0 Poor 42.0 open Team Carol Team Hippos 2.89 Good Not read Not read Average E. coli level: 46.17
  22. 22. Putting it all together—synthesis and communication• Goals: – Students synthesize and interpret a large data set – Students communicate ideas with appropriate audience• Approach: – ―Write a letter to homeowners living along the creek explaining what you did, what you found, and the significance‖
  23. 23. Example Communication of Results
  24. 24. Outcomes and Lessons Learned:•Community based internship •Summer 2010: One student •Real-world experience •Student learning beyond classroom •Community interactions •Moving Forward •Improved structure necessary for student success
  25. 25. Outcomes and Lessons Learned:•Integration into Classrooms •Transferrable skills gained: •Real-world experience •Data collection/analysis •Self-direction •Working on private/public land •Engagement in community •What’s unique? •Entry point into independent research programs which provide further opportunities to develop advanced skills
  26. 26. Outcomes and Lessons Learned:•Creating a Scientific Community on Campus •Excitement about scientific research persists •Doubling of applications for independent research project assistantships •Entry point to further skills development •Three 2010 students became involved in independent research in 2011 •Students pass down skills and attitudes •Two student participants currently serving as peer mentors for freshman STEM students
  27. 27. Reactions: “I feel like we’re being more productive” -- Miriah Pautz, current research mentor
  28. 28. Student involvement: A rewarding marriage ofeducation and “real science”