Hofstra’s Center for STEM Research, founded and co-directed by Dr. David Burghardt, professor of engineering at Hofstra, has received a $2.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation, one of the premier funding organizations in the US. Dr. Burghardt will spearhead a five-year project, which will introduce thousands of middle school-age children to STEM-based learning opportunities through 25 Boys & Girls Clubs on Long Island and in the metropolitan New York area. The US Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory will collaborate on the project.
Dr. Burghardt said, “I am very excited that we can work the Boys & Girls Clubs in providing rich, engineering design-based STEM activities to children. This initiative builds on two years of working with the Glen Cove Boys & Girls Club.”
The 6,600 children in the program will take part in articulated hands-on and on-line engineering design activities utilizing animations, simulations, videos and multi-media links. Presented in an informal learning environment, “Wise Guys & Gals – Boys & Girls as WISEngineering STEM Learners” will provide innovative and engaging academic challenges created to promote an interest in the fields of engineering and design, as well as provide an understanding of how science, technology, engineering and math skills can translate into careers. The project will take place in after-school programs at the Boys & Girls Clubs and will involve hundreds of learning facilitators specifically trained for this purpose.
“On behalf of the children served by Clubs, we are grateful to Hofstra University and the National Science Foundation for partnering with us to bring STEM learning into our programs,” said Melissa A. Rhodes, executive director,Glen Cove Boys & Girls Club.This experience will allow our members to obtain the skills, knowledge, and cognitive behavior needed to be globally competitive in the 21st century, and also fulfills our priority to provide strong, evidence-based programs that focus on academic success.”
The WISEngineering environment, created at Hofstra’s Center for STEM Research, is an innovative, open source, online learning forum that connects and blends the strengths of virtual design and physical modeling while also facilitating collaboration and community connections.
This multi-year, multi-million-dollar award is the 13th STEM-based grant won by Dr. Burghardt and his team for Hofstra’s Center for STEM Research in the past 20 years. Altogether the Center, frequently in collaboration with Brookhaven Lab, has been awarded approximately $35 million for K-12 STEM-outreach programs and research.
In addition to Melissa Rhodes and the Glen Cove Boys & Girls Club, Dr. Burghardt is supported in this latest project by co-Principal Investigators Dr. Xiang Fu, associate professor of computer science at Hofstra; Mr. Ken White, manager of the Office of Educational Programs at Brookhaven Lab; and Dr. Margaret Hunter, associate professor of engineering at Hofstra.
The research team will study how a blended-learning environment using carefully coordinated hands-on and on-line activities can support informal STEM learning, employ specifically designed tests to analyze why specific activities are successful, and develop guidelines for the use of materials developed through the program.
The children will begin their design activities by completing virtual mini-challenges that support the learning needed to complete the hands-on design challenges. The hands-on building and testing that will follow will be seamlessly connected with the computer-based work. The children will be encouraged to virtually record and reflect upon their physical design work, and will be able to upload pictures or drawings of their designs. Collaboration among the children will be facilitated through the Design Wall, a social-media sharing site that will enable them to share their design solutions with each other.
Visit www.hofstra.edu/CSR for more information on the Center for STEM Research.