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Alaska Upward Bound receives $2.1 million award


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A group led by the University of Alaska Fairbanks Upward Bound program has been awarded a $2.1 million National Science Foundation grant to use emerging technologies as a way to increase the interest of high school low-income and first-generation-to-college students in science fields. The effort will include Upward Bound programs in 18 states and territories.

The Teaching through Technologies (T3) Alliance will use instruction in three novel technologies — unmanned aerial systems, 3-D printers and codeable mini-computers — to attract Upward Bound students to science, technology, engineering and math fields.

Upward Bound is a nationwide program that uses after-school and summer instruction to encourage students to pursue higher education. The T3 Alliance will institute curricula based on the three technologies at Upward Bound programs, engaging more than 360 students.

“Upward Bound targets low-income students, as well as students who aspire to be the first member of their family to attend college,” said principal investigator John Monahan, who serves as UAF's Upward Bound director. “It’s a real challenge to convince first-gen students they have what it takes to succeed in STEM fields. This sort of program can go a long way to getting them excited about STEM and giving them the confidence to pursue it.”

Funding for the three-year program came from the NSF Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research. EPSCoR provides research and science-education support to states and territories that receive a disproportionately small amount of NSF funds.

Instructors and students for the program will be recruited from Upward Bound sites. They'll receive materials and online and in-person support to use a hands-on curriculum based on these three technologies. In addition to learning about the technologies, students will receive instruction in STEM communication and leadership. They will participate in community service projects using the technologies. The ultimate goal of the program is to develop a curriculum and support structure that can be widely adopted to increase students’ interest in STEM.

The award period begins Oct. 1.

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