Real STEM was awarded to Dr. Robert Mayes, Director of the Institute for Interdisciplinary STEM Education at Georgia Southern University effective September 2012. Funded by the Georgia Governor’s Office of Student Achievement (GOSA), Real STEM is focused on increasing the STEM pipeline, developing STEM literate citizens, and developing 21st Century reasoning skills through providing students real world, authentic learning experiences. Place-Based Education, Problem-Based-Learning and Understanding-by-Design provide the educational framework for the student experiences.
A core component of the Real STEM work is developing partnerships between middle and high schools, research institutes, University faculty and area business/industry. Working together, students investigate problems guided by area experts. Students utilize multiple reasoning strategies (scientific experimental design, engineering design, quantitative reasoning, systems thinking, data analysis, and modeling) and approach the problems from an interdisciplinary STEM perspective.
Students from 12 schools in Southeast Georgia have experienced at least one scientific research module/unit. Burke County High School, Camden County High School and Statesboro High School are in the second year of implementing a Scientific Research III course. This course counts as a 4th science for graduation. The students have explored such water ways as the Snake River, the St. Mary’s River and beautiful Eagle Creek on the GS campus. Underwater submersibles have been launched at Jekyll Island and mouse trap cars have raced across gym floors!
Real STEM received a no cost extension to extend the work of the grant through June 2015. A Scaling grant has recently been awarded that will extend this work through December 2016. The Scale Up grant will focus on building a progression between a high school and its feeder middle school. The Scale Up will also expand the work to areas outside the Southeastern Coastal Plain.