Black Hills State University and Sanford Underground Research Facility Selected to Receive a SD EPSCoR Education/Workforce Development Grant

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Black Hills State University and Sanford Underground Research Facility have been selected to receive a SD EPSCoR Education/Workforce Development Grant to create, improve and innovate classroom programs that will provide students with hands-on opportunities to explore science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines.(submitted photo)

February 13, 2017

Black Hills State University and Sanford Underground Research Facility have been selected to receive a SD EPSCoR Education/Workforce Development Grant to create, improve and innovate classroom programs that will provide students with hands-on opportunities to explore science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines.

The South Dakota Department of Education (SDDOE) Career & Technical Education Division and SD EPSCoR are pleased to announce that BHSU, as the lead institution, has been awarded a $10,000 SD EPSCoR Education/Workforce Development Grant to connect middle and high school classrooms with the science of Sanford Lab.  Funds will be used to assemble instructional materials for newly developed curriculum modules for teachers to use in their classrooms across the state. Opportunities also exist for teacher professional development related to the curriculum modules.

The curriculum modules were designed by the Education and Outreach team at Sanford Lab to stimulate interest in science, promote scientific literacy, and encourage careers in science. Units for middle and high school students include learning how rock movement is monitored at Sanford Lab to demonstrate seismic science and gathering information about the microenvironments at Sanford Lab to learn about what life might be like in extreme environments.

Dr. June Apaza, Director of Education and Outreach for Sanford Underground Research Facility, Director for the Center of Advancement of Mathematics and Science Education (CAMSE) at BHSU, and lead contact for the award, says, “We’re delighted to be able to expand opportunities for South Dakota students to connect with the captivating science of Sanford Lab.”

Proposals for SD EPSCoR funds through SDDOE seek to increase the number of STEM graduates skilled in computer science, computational thinking, and biosciences at all levels by partnering industry with secondary education and research activities to meet the growing workforce needs of South Dakota.

Grant awards were determined based on the alignment of the following categories:

1.       Student participation: Demonstrates a capacity for a large number of students in grades 7-12 to participate in the project.

2.       STEM awareness: Increases student awareness, knowledge and skills in the full range of STEM careers available in South Dakota.

3.       Partnership with business and industry: Provides networking opportunities for teachers and students, collaboration on work-based learning experiences, guidance related to student organization activities or other efforts.

4.       Cooperation with postsecondary education: (technical institutes or public universities): Provides support for the grant project through activities such as dual credit opportunities, guest speakers, training for teachers or program alignment.

5.      Diversity: Strengthens STEM education for diverse audiences, improving instruction for underrepresented groups of students and those located in rural areas of the state. 

The South Dakota Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (SD EPSCoR) is focused on building the human infrastructure that is necessary to drive South Dakota’s STEM-based economic development. This starts by enhancing K-12 STEM education in the classroom. The U.S. Department of Education’s recently released STEM 2026 Vision report reinforces the SD EPSCoR vision to foster growth in science and technology, and drive innovation by making investments in research-based, hands-on STEM experiences in K-12 classrooms.

SD EPSCoR promotes and supports educators, research faculty and programs in STEM with a mission to increase South Dakota’s science and technology research capacity, provide educational opportunities for all students and promote science-based economic development for South Dakota. SD EPSCoR is supported by the National Science Foundation/EPSCoR Award IIA-1355423 and by the State of South Dakota.

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