Colorado State University focuses on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) areas at Pueblo Central High School Oct. 24

Creating a highly diverse and educated workforce in science and engineering is one of the most significant challenges to the advancement of the competitiveness of the U.S. economy. On Monday, Oct. 24 Colorado State University graduate research fellows will be working in Pueblo Central classrooms side-by-side with young high school scientists in the areas of biology, chemistry and physics.

The five-year Graduate K-12 award from the National Science Foundation to an interdisciplinary team of CSU researchers, led by Professors Tom Chen, Michael A. de Miranda and Stuart Tobet, bring together engineers, chemists, mathematicians, biomedical and computer scientists to detect molecule movement in biological space through the design of nano scale silicon bio sensors. Understanding how molecules move is essential for understanding the functions of multi-cellular tissues and organ systems in response to external chemical and physical stimuli as well as for intercellular communication. This means in the future, being able to better understand diseases like Alzheimer’s, depression and cancer at the early cellular level by detecting how cells behave.

The project strategically immerses the graduate fellows and their advisors with K-12 teachers. The project has partnered with a CSU Alliance School at Pueblo Central High School. The mission of the CSU Alliance Partnership is to work with students, schools and families to envision education beyond high; thus having more students enter college. The research content fellows bring to the classroom forms the basis for deeper understanding of cell biology using engineering approaches accessible to students in K-12 STEM classes.

Teachers from Pueblo Central High School are working with the graduate fellows and their advisors at CSU during each academic year to collaborate on updating curricular material for K-12 schools, designing new content modules and participating in summer research activities in CSU research labs for professional development and content knowledge capacity building for teachers.

What makes this interdisciplinary team so unique is the combined research and educational model being used to advance this science while at the same time providing the scientific and engineering advanced educational training to a team of graduate student research fellows. The six to eight research fellows participating in this project also participate in a program designed to teach transferable skills like teamwork, communication, research ethics, leadership and global responsibility. These essential skills combined with their scientific, engineering and mathematical education is designed to train a new generation of research scientists who can work effectively in interdisciplinary teams but also communicate their work to the general public and contribute to the education of K-12 students and teachers.

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