September 5, 2018

Saint Joseph’s College lands $180K grant to spur interest in STEM fields

About National Science Foundation

The National Science Foundation supports research, innovation, and discovery in order to provide a foundation for economic growth in America. Founded in 1950 by an act of Congress, the NSF is an independent federal agency that works to advance the frontiers of science and engineering so that our nation can develop the knowledge and cutting-edge technologies needed to address current and future challenges.

Saint Joseph's College will receive a $182,845 grant from the National Science Foundation for the college's "Chemistry for the Community" initiative.

Through the initiative, Saint Joseph's College will create a service-learning chemistry curriculum that will partner Saint Joseph's students with high school students in the Windham/Raymond school district. The partnership is expected to enhance the college's chemistry curriculum and simultaneously provide benefits to local students interested in STEM-based fields.

"STEM education is an important part of ensuring that our students are prepared to enter the 21st century workforce," Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Angus King, I-Maine, said in a news release. "This initiative will help Saint Joseph's students deepen their understanding of their chemistry coursework, while also providing encouragement and support to Maine high school students — a win on all fronts that will help Maine students succeed."

Emily Lesher, assistant professor of chemistry at Saint Joseph's, said service learning is a key element of the college's science curriculum.

"Our hypothesis is that service learning provides an authentic context to motivate chemistry learning and helps develop students' identities as scientists, which has been shown to improve student learning, retention and success," she said. "There is a big difference between reading about a subject and being responsible for constructing an idea and engaging with the community as an expert on the idea."

Specifically, the college's Chemistry for the Community initiative will:

  • Develop and implement a service-learning-oriented chemistry curriculum at Saint Joseph's College.
  • Evaluate the specific benefits of this curriculum as students build on their roles as community-engaged scientists.
  • Create and share a new service-learning-oriented chemistry instructional model called "Chemistry for the Community" for other institutions that wish to follow the same path.


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