Aurora Fossil Museum
AWARD YEAR: 2019
AURORA FOSSIL MUSEUM FOUNDATION
DIRECTOR: CYNTHIA CRANE
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, AURORA FOSSIL MUSEUM
PROJECT TITLE: IMAGINE-NC
Developing excellence and stimulating student interest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM)is essential in today’s complex, technological world. Research indicates that rich and engaging out-of-school STEM activities can improve students’ in-school performance in mathematics and science (Bell, P. & Beven, B., 2015). However, opportunities for out-of-school, science-enrichment activities are often limited, particularly in rural communities of low-socioeconomic status like many counties in Eastern North Carolina. The dearth of STEM opportunities is reflected in low achievement in mathematics and science in these geographical areas.
Over the past three years, IMAGINE-NC has provided out-of-school programs to Beaufort County residents and increased interest in STEM careers through a collaboration between the Aurora Fossil Museum, geosciences and education faculty from East Carolina University (ECU), and Nutrien-Aurora. In particular, the camp has seen improvements by students in science and mathematics knowledge, as well as improved attitudes about STEM as a field and careers within STEM. This grant proposes to build on the momentum and success of the original IMAGINE-NC project and will continue the same structural features: (a) two, week-long, non-residential, summer STEM camps that will serve approximately 60 4th-8thgraders each year; (b) three activities during the school year for students involving hands-on activities and presentations by local STEM professionals; and (c) several visits by the museum executive director and ECU faculty during the school year to participating schools and teachers to support their efforts to integrate and extend earth-science concepts into science and mathematics classes (e.g., Earth Day, Parent STEM night). In the summer camps, we will continue to target varied groups of students each year, however, some high performing and engaged middle-grades students will be invited back in subsequent years as peer mentors (Science Coaches).
As in the original project, IMAGINE-NC will continue to focus on Earth Science/ Mathematics curriculum for grades 4 –8. These topics include the study of fossils, weather, landforms, properties of materials, the history of life, the study of maps, structure of the Earth, hydrologic cycle, and geologic time. Using these topics as a context, mathematics activities will be used to support learning of Earth science along with important mathematics concepts taught in grades 4–8 (e.g., number, graphing, data analysis, and measurement). All activities created for IMAGINE-NC have been and will be developed collaboratively with the Aurora Fossil Museum Executive Director, ECU faculty, and teacher leaders who participate in the summer camps. Activities will be aligned with the North Carolina Essential Standards for Science and the North Carolina Standard Course of Study for K –8 Mathematics. Many of the activities developed for the original IMAGINE-NC grant will be extended, for example, collecting and analyzing water samples on the Pamlico River, exploring new landforms using the augmented reality sandbox and collecting and analyzing data from the new weather station. However, new activities will be developed that incorporate 3D printing, Geographic Information