Enhancing STEM Education

   Adam James Gatehouse, Georgios Karapanagos, Matthew Shaun Portugal, Rachel Marie Connolly

Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation runs Science Bootcamps to motivate secondary students to pursue studies in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, a need critical to many industrialized nations. We completely developed two activities that will be offered in 2016 Bootcamps: constructing a phone speaker and using magnets to clean oil spills. We based these activities and a guide for future development upon interviews with experts, focus groups with educators, and surveys of participants in previous Bootcamps.

Promoting Science Education in Thailand with Small-scale Chemistry Experiments

Advisors: Brigitte Servatius, Esther F. Boucher

   Allison Silvia, Andrea Shawna Fialli, Rosemarie Donna Awada

In this project, we investigated how small-scale chemistry experiments increased student interest in science. DOW teachers received training and kits for their classroom that include small-scale laboratory materials. Students and teachers in various schools were surveyed and interviewed. We found that small-scale experiments were cheaper, easier to implement, and piqued student interest in science. However, less experienced teachers from under-funded schools struggled to implement the experiments. We recommend resources such as handbooks, training, and a network to support these teachers.

Laboratory Activities for Secondary Science Education in Rural Thailand

Advisors: Robertson B. Thomas, Brigitte Servatius

   Todd E. Alexander, David van Dam Saxner, Sarah E Lax, Hannah Israel

Thailand’s National Education Act of 1999 set out many reforms, some specifically aimed at promoting active teaching methods. However, in many rural areas these reforms have not yet been adopted. The Office of Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn’s Projects aims to spread active teaching methods to schools throughout rural Thailand. Through partnership with the teachers of the Baan Na Yao School we tailored, implemented, and evaluated science laboratory activities. Implementation of these activities increased student interest in science and encouraged teachers to embrace active teaching methods. The developed laboratory manuals can be used throughout Thailand to promote active teaching methods.

Assessing STEM Education in Namibia: focusing on the primary level

Advisors: Nicholas E. Williams, Seeta Sistla, Creighton R. Peet

   Carla Inacio Duarte, Christopher Michael Tillotson, Matthew Robert Jankowski, Emily Anne Wilson

The Namibia University of Science and Technology has low rates of enrollment in STEM majors. This project sought to identify factors inhibiting Namibian students’ pursuit of STEM higher education through surveying university students, observing primary STEM classrooms, and interviewing primary-level educators. Our findings suggest that while STEM exposure at the primary level is important, low resource availability restricts STEM primary education in Namibia. Therefore, we developed basic STEM lessons for primary classrooms that use readily available resources.

Elementary School STEM Education

Advisors: Geoffrey Pfeifer

   Graysen DeLuca, Rosie McCarthy, Constantine Galanis, Andrew Ellis, Benjamin Alvrado Seitz

Educating young students in the engineering field helps to increase their ability to analyze problems and develop critical skills early in life. The goal of this project is to utilize Tufts University’s Novel Engineering Program in the first grade classrooms at John F. Kennedy Elementary School in Jamaica Plain in order to engage students in STEM programs at an early age. We will aim to break down barriers within the classroom and have useful tools that the teachers can use in the future for the students.

   Shannon Leigh Hynes, Brent Tyler Whitlock, Matthew David Bressette

We worked with Massachusetts Audubon Wachusett Meadow wildlife sanctuary and Clinton elementary school to advance engineering skills in current Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) curricula. In order to improve engineering in Clinton’s STEM curriculum we created design challenges to implement into their current material. We tested our design challenges out on Clinton’s 3rd grade class and at a program at Mass. Audubon. In order for proper application we created a teacher’s editions of each challenge so educators would feel more comfortable and increase their exposure to engineering materials. With this more advanced engineering curriculum the students will develop skills that will set them up for a brighter future.