About the GK12 Triple Helix Program at RPI

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In RPI’s Community Situated Research project, graduate fellows will examine the potential relations between their STEM research, and the social issues facing local low-income and minority communities (health, environment, poverty, crime, information access, etc.). These same local communities will also be the location for the fellows middle school collaborative teaching program. Thus graduate fellows will gain a greater awareness of the connections between their research disciplines and pressing social issues, as well as the training that enables them to communicate these connections to the public. On the GK-12 side, studies show that many minority students are disinterested in STEM academics because they do not see its relevance to their particular lives. By working with graduate fellows trained as ‘civic scientists’, (along with content from our international program) GK-12 teachers will gain new opportunities to engage those disenfranchised students. It is critical that graduate teaching fellows and their faculty mentors are empowered to select projects situated at the frontiers of STEM research, and not merely applications of established knowledge. Science and Technology Studies graduate students and community mentors will be researching the social and environmental issues in these communities to help find the intersections with STEM research. A studio class will create new educational technologies that translate the grad fellows’ STEM research into learning labs for the middle school students. Rather than a one-way trickle-down of knowledge, we will explore the possibilities for a ‘triple helix’ collaboration between university, GK-12, and community knowledge production.

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