The National Center for Urban Education (NCUE) at Illinois State University (ISU) is excited to be a partner in a new STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) program created for Chicago high school students.
SUPERCHARGE (STEM-based University Pathway Encouraging Relationships with Chicago High schools in Automation, Robotics and Green Energy), funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), is designed to engage students interested in these fields and help them visualize themselves in STEM-based careers. This interdisciplinary project includes faculty from the School of Teaching and Learning and Department of Technology at ISU. For many years, NCUE has been collaborating with Chicago Public Schools (CPS) and Community-Based-Organizations (CBOs) in Chicago neighborhoods on teacher preparation programs. This four-year grant project will provide new opportunities to strengthen the partnerships with four organizations we have been working with for years. Breakthrough Urban Ministries, Greater Auburn Gresham Development Corporation, Latinos Progresando, and North River Commission will partner with ISU faculty and staff to recruit students, coordinate efforts with partner schools, design programming, and provide information about local resources relevant to the project.
The main motivation of the program is to increase the number of students from underrepresented and underserved populations who choose to pursue STEM fields at the college level. The SUPERCHARGE project will serve as a bridge between high school after school programs and academic experiences, STEM-related higher education programs, and STEM-related career pathways.
Each year, the project will create a cohort of approximately 20 students at each of four partner high schools. The cohorts, known as SUPERCHARGE Scholars, will meet after school once a week to engage in informal and engaging educational activities centered on topics related to robotics, automation, and renewable energy. Each year as part of their culminating projects, students will design and build a smart weather station, a solar tracking device, and an all-terrain electric scooter. These complex activities and instruction will be delivered in captivating and innovative ways using ideas that build and supplement the current STEM curriculum at schools. After a year of planning and designing curriculum, with CPS teachers’ input and training, the program will be launched in Farragut, Roosevelt, Simeon, and Westinghouse high schools in the fall of 2023.
Work on the grant will also provide insights for undergraduate students in Illinois State’s Department of Technology.
“Students will help develop the modules and provide feedback for the projects,” said Dr. Allison Antink Meyer, associate professor of teaching and learning. “Before our ISU students enter the workforce, they will have a chance to understand some of the inequities inherent in STEM education, access, and professions. They can carry that awareness with them.”