iBears NSF-funded STEM

Tracy SulakDr. Tracey Sulak, clinical associate professor in the Department of Educational Psychology, received a highly competitive grant award from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for $99,999 to work with fourth - eighth graders in a STEM mentoring program.

For several years, Sulak has been working with Dr. Marty Harvill, senior lecturer in Baylor’s Biology Department, and with Baylor undergraduates in biology who mentor middle-grades students via teleconferencing as the students develop an original science project.

The project, dubbed "iBears" (Inclusive Biology Exploring Active Research) trains the college students to mentor middle schoolers to design, execute and present a course-based science project. The projects benefit middle-school students by infusing skills such as digital literacy, problem solving, decision making, personal responsibility, oral communication, written communication, technology literacy, and collaboration. The college mentors, through their training, learn and strengthen transferrable skills for employment in the 21st century.

iBears logo"STEM education opens doors for people," Sulak said. "My goal is to open as many doors as possible for our students. We should never allow access to experiences to serve as a limiting factor in anyone's choice of study or occupation. Everyone should have access to high-quality STEM programming."

The grant is part of NSF’s INCLUDES program (Inclusion Across the Nation of Communities of Learners of Underrepresented Discoverers in Engineering and Science) and will allow Baylor, in collaboration with researchers at other universities, to expand its mentoring model to other parts of the nation. Sulak said the project aims to increase access to high-quality STEM learning tailored to meet the needs of diverse learners in public schools and increase the collaboration, communication, and problem-solving skills for the college mentors.

Click to visit: iBears website