FSU Students Inspiring Interest in STEM Education through NASA Funded Internship

FSU Students Inspiring Interest in STEM Education through NASA Funded Internship

Jul 18, 2016

A group of Framingham State student interns are helping inspire a future generation of scientists through a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) Education Program on campus.

Five FSU students were chosen to take part in the paid internship, which is funded by NASA and includes running a two-week STEM Summer Program in partnership with Framingham Public Schools. The summer program is funded through a 21st Century Community Learning Centers grant.

“During the early part of summer, we developed the curriculum for the students,” says Brandi Ramos, who is in FSU’s Post-Baccalaureate Teacher Licensure Program. “We’re doing a lot of hands on STEM activities.”

Because the positions are new to FSU, the interns have been given the flexibility to take ownership of the program and help lay the groundwork for future interns. FSU has received nearly $170,000 through a multi-year grant from “NASA’s Universe of Learning,” which will keep the internship positions in place for at least five years  

“The students have really embraced this opportunity and are doing a great job running the program,” says Dr. Irene Porro, Director of the McAuliffe Center. “After the Summer Program ends the interns will continue to work with the McAuliffe Center staff to research NASA science, engineering and educational resources to be integrated in the current programming of the Center. These interns are the first cohort of a growing number of FSU students, from all majors, who are realizing that the McAuliffe Center can provide them with a great opportunity to develop both academic and professional skills.”

Intern Danielle Duffett says the group has been working on helping the kids, who are primarily middle school students, to develop teamwork and communication skills.

“We will go over concepts with them and then dive right into an activity to solidify what they were just learning,” says Duffett. “The idea is to get the kids interested in the STEM fields.”

The interns have directed the students through a modified version of the McAuliffe Center’s Earth Odyssey Mission in the Challenger Learning Center, led discussions on STEM related videos shown in the Planetarium and helped them create Rube Goldberg Machine projects. They also facilitated their work with MicroObservatory, a network of robotic telescopes created by science educators at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, that the children operate on their own to take astronomical images, just like professional astronomers do.

“There’s a strong emphasis on fostering critical thinking skills,” says Ramos. 

The other FSU interns include Elena De Marco Castro, an international student From Spain; Devon Klos, a student in the pre-engineering program; and Jarid Brogan, who is studying computer science.

“It’s been a great experience,” says Duffett. “I love the work environment. Everyone is very warm and welcoming.”

About Framingham State University

Framingham State University was founded in 1839 as the nation’s first public university for the education of teachers. Since that time, it has evolved into a vibrant, comprehensive liberal arts institution offering small, personalized classes on a beautiful New England campus. Today, the University enrolls more than 6,000 students with 58 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in the arts, humanities, sciences, social sciences and professional fields. As a State College and University (SCU), Framingham State prides itself on quality academic programs, affordability, and commitment to access for all qualified students.