Mission and Goals
The mission of the Institute for Strengthening Pathways and Research Knowledge in STEM (SPARK STEM Institute) is to engage science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) teachers and faculty, social science researchers, K-12 and Higher Education administrators, and the community to create and evaluate innovative research-based models for improving student academic and social experiences to attract, retain, and graduate more historically underrepresented and underserved populations in STEM disciplines locally, regionally, nationally, and internationally. Herein ‘historically underrepresented and underserved populations’ includes African Americans, Alaska Natives, Hispanics, Native Americans, Native Hawaiians, Native Pacific Islanders, persons with disabilities, persons from economically disadvantaged backgrounds, and women and girls.
- Establish a researcher-practitioner-community partnership to foster research-based technical assistance in historically underserved schools in the Greater Alabama Black Belt Region.
- Study the barriers and issues faced by historically underserved schools and develop sustainable solutions to prepare students for college and STEM workforce.
- Study the barriers and issues faced by historically underrepresented and underserved students and examine the feasibility of supplemental instruction and academic year programs, and tailor interventions to improve their college readiness, especially in English, mathematics, and science.
- Engage educators (teachers and professors) from STEM-related fields to improve student academic and social experiences to attract, retain, and graduate more historically underrepresented and underserved students in STEM disciplines across the PreK-20 pathway.
- Engage STEM faculty to create and evaluate innovative research-based models for improving academic performance and social integration of historically underrepresented and underserved populations in STEM disciplines.
- Serve as a hub for the incubation, development, and implementation of ideas for complex grant proposals and major STEM pathways and workforce development projects and initiatives and their institutionalization.
- Facilitate collaboration among schools, colleges, universities, governments, and industry to create a seamless STEM pathway to STEM workforce and research opportunities globally.
- Provide summer professional development opportunities for PreK-12 teachers of STEM-related fields and administrators for partner schools.
- Provide opportunities for STEM projects to demonstrate “broader impact” by providing connections to the broader community.
- Evaluate and disseminate SPARK STEM Institute interventions and their impact.