Seimears' mini and summer camps’overarching goal was to initiate an AVID/ACI systemic reform involving Emporia State University, USD 259 Wichita, Kansas and USD 490 EL Dorado, Kansas; and Butler Community College (BCC) and to train each participant from USD 259 Wichita, Kansas; USD 490 EL Dorado, Kansas; and Butler Community College (BCC) to the use of the newly developed ACI curriculum. USD 259 is an urban district, USD 490 is a rural school district both with underrepresented populations of minority and first generation education students. Specifically, the camps were designed to analyze the impact of Aerosols in relationship to the atmosphere as well as create climate experiences and experiments that could easily be replicated district wide. In addition, the program exposed both students and teachers to the possibilities of STEM Climate careers. Two ESU faculty, one BCC science faculty member and eleven rural students, eight teachers and twelve pre-service teacher candidates from five high school AVID programs within USD 259 and USD 490 participated.
The highlights of the program were: 1.) determining Wichita might have too much brake dust in the air above the city, and 2.) discovering the existence of burning pasture Aerosols in air around rural parts of Kansas. Participants commented, “This was very exciting, we had no idea that even sea spray can be an Aerosol in the air. We always thought it was only hair spray or paint cans.” Students built a solar dehydrator as a final project.
If future funding becomes available, Seimears plans to invite urban students and teachers from the Kansas City area to participate next year. He wants to continue to encourage students, especially those from lower economic and underrepresented communities, to pursue STEM climate careers .
AVID, which stands for Advancement Via Individual Determination, is a global nonprofit program whose mission is to close the achievement gap by preparing all students for college or other post secondary opportunities.
The 2015 Kansas NSF EPSCoR Education and Diversity Grants were designed to enhance STEM education in Kansas by supporting activities that will lead to an expanded STEM workforce and prepare a new generation for STEM careers in the areas of climate or energy research or atomic/molecular/optical science.