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KSU Partners with Fayette Co. Schools for STEM Learning
Kentucky Ag Connection - 06/24/2022

The Kentucky State University Center for Research on the Eradication of Education Disparities (C.R.E.E.D.), in partnership with Fayette County Public Schools (FCPS), held a closing ceremony for its Summer STEM Enrichment Program at Brenda Cowan Elementary School in Lexington.

Funded by the William R. Kenan Jr. Charitable Trust, the STEM Enrichment Program aims to support the collaborative efforts of Kentucky State University (KSU) and community organizations to positively impact the learning successes of students of color, with emphasis on African American males in grades K-5, and position students as leaders in STEM+ and in life.

Thirty-eight elementary school students attended the summer program from June 17-23, at Brenda Cowan Elementary School. The program stems from a memorandum of understanding signed by KSU and FCPS earlier this month and culminated with a white coat ceremony in which participating students received, among other things, a white lab coat. Modeled after the rite of passage for medical school students, the ceremony built a sense of belonging to the STEM community and promoted STEM Identity, Literacy, and Education.

"The STEM award ceremony serves as a celebration mechanism to reward students for their commitment to STEM excellence and learning successes," said Dr. Scott Wicker, associate professor of chemistry at Kentucky State.

Students participated in active STEM and literacy learning activities aligned with NASA's Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment (GLOBE) Program. The GLOBE storybook, All About Earth, Our World on Stage, formed the foundation for the activities which included maintaining a scientific journal with content readings and graphic organizers, exploring soil composition and temperature, and building a terrarium.

"I think STEM helped me learn more about Earth's systems, because of all the activities and projects that helped us understand what is in each system," said a third-grade student.

"Our kids enjoyed learning from the STEM enrichment activities, and Kentucky State did an awesome job providing us with resources to deploy learning activities," said Isaac Dove, a STEM teacher at Brenda Cowan Elementary School.

Dr. Berkley N. King Jr., vice provost for Academic Affairs at Kentucky State and principal investigator for the STEM Enrichment Program, stated, "Kentucky State has the institutional capacity to lead the K through 12 sectors across the Commonwealth of Kentucky with enriched STEM education experiences. Our goal is to strengthen our partnership with Fayette County Public Schools and provide low-income, underserved, minority students with enriched STEM-based learning experiences coupled with effective science teaching practices that will ultimately impact student academic success and career interests in STEM fields," King shared. "Utilizing STEM Vision 2026 as our framework, we intend to partner with other school districts across the Commonwealth."

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