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NMSU outreach programs presented at Board of Regents meeting

Recent test results and other data proving the success of New Mexico State University math and science outreach programs was discussed during the March 9 Board of Regents meeting.



(Left) A participant in the Southern New Mexico Science, Engineering, Mathematics and Aerospace Academy (SNM SEMAA), administrated by New Mexico State University, uses a microscope to examine hair fibers during a forensic problem-solving activity. (Right) Elementary students participating in the Southern New Mexico Science, Engineering, Mathematics and Aerospace Academy, administrated by New Mexico State University, determine ways to filter water to make it clean enough to use for different purposes. (Courtesy photos)

Susan Brown, director of STEM Outreach for the Institute for Excellence in Math and Science Education, and Karin Wiburg, associate dean of research in the College of Education, gave a presentation providing an overview of the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs and their effects on students' futures.

"The regents need to know about the work the outreach programs are doing. The programs have had good results; students are learning and we need to continue to get STEM education going. NMSU is a land-grant institution with a strong commitment to the community; these outreach programs promote the mission of NMSU," Brown said.

Brown and Wiburg reported on Mathematically Connected Communities (MC2); Scientifically Connected Communities (SC2); the Gadsden Math Initiative; Scaling Up Mathematics Achievement (SUMA); the Southern New Mexico Science, Engineering, Mathematics and Aerospace Academy (SNM SEMAA); and the Southern New Mexico Academy for Young Scientists (SNM AYS).

The grants and the programs they support partner in working to increase math and science achievement and interest in careers in the STEM fields. This is accomplished by providing academic enrichment for students and professional development for teachers, and also by collaborating with the community's financial and intellectual resources to enhance participants' experiences.

The MC2 and SC2 grants support teachers by providing professional development, resources and a professional network. MC2 reaches across the state, while SC2 provides service to communities in southern New Mexico. The SUMA research grant, a partnership between NMSU and the Las Cruces Public School District, conducts research in Las Cruces Public Schools using focus groups, student assessments, observations and other means of data collection.

Part of MC2, the Gadsden Math Initiative is a five-year grant funded by the National Science Foundation to improve mathematics and learning in the Gadsden Independent School District in kindergarten through the eighth grade. Students in the GISD are scoring higher than the state average in mathematics.

SNM SEMAA is a collaboration between the NMSU Colleges of Education and Engineering, NASA, the Gadsden Independent School District, the Las Cruces Public Schools, several foundations and federal and state legislatures.
The program provides academic enrichment for students, including historically underrepresented youth, in the STEM fields and engages them in participatory activities such as hands-on learning, research, mentoring relationships, family festivals and visits to the Aerospace Education Laboratory on the NMSU campus.

"The program is making a difference in the lives of students, educators and families. Quantitative data shows that SEMAA students in the GISD and LCPS are scoring higher on the science portion of standardized tests. Students are becoming comfortable in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields," Brown said. "Also, their attitude toward math and science is more positive and they look forward to learning more."

The SNM AYS provides a variety of out-of-school STEM opportunities for about 400 LCPS students in the fifth through eighth grades and their parents. Students participate in 150 hours of science during the three-year program.