FREEDM, ASSIST, & NCCES Awarded SEED Grant for K-12 Outreach Program Development

The ASSIST Center, NSF ERC FREEDM Systems Center, and the NCCES have been awarded a $10,000 SEED grant. The grant, for “Engineering Guides of North Carolina”, was awarded to develop a statewide K-12 outreach program to deliver engineering content into the classroom.

Over the past few years, there has been a push to integrate engineering within the North Carolina K-12 public school curriculum. As educators are tasked with integrating engineering into an interdisciplinary curriculum, many do not have the knowledge, experience, or resources to meet the requirements and needs for both formal and non-formal settings such as home schools and NCCES 4-H groups. With the implementation of an adult, volunteer-based statewide outreach program dedicated to engineering concepts related to health, energy and environment, a greater need can be met through a wider area of dissemination of information.

The PI (Principal Investigator) for this project is Dr. Penny Jeffrey. Dr. Jeffrey is the Director of Education for the NSF ERC FREEDM Systems Center. Co-PI’s for this project are Dr. Gail Jones, Pre-college Director of Education for the NSF ERC ASSIST Center, and Amy Chilcote, Curriculum Lead for the 4-H Youth Development Family and Consumer Science Department.

Education in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) has had national importance for several years. And within the past few years, North Carolina (NC) has stressed integration of engineering within the K-12 STEM curriculum. This new emphasis has many middle and high school educators as well as information education groups such as home schools, civic clubs, and NCCES 4-H struggling with content knowledge and resources. North Carolina has a small number of K-12 programs focused on engineering that include Project Lead the Way (PLTW), Wake-NC State Early College High School, and various outreach efforts but many programs are limited to reaching specific NC counties.

An Outreach and Engagement Seed grant will help to develop a state-wide adult volunteer-based engineering outreach program called Engineering Guides of NC. This grant will provide support for program model development, forming partnerships between industry and university groups, and conceptualization for grant writing. The program will support NC K-12 educators in formal and non-formal settings by offering basic engineering hands-on activities targeting two national engineering grand challenges (health, energy and environment).