An education research program that investigates digital innovation and future-ready STEM teaching at Sul Ross State University has been officially named.
The La Frontera STEM Research Institute (LFRI) will have offices on all four SRSU campuses in Alpine, Del Rio, Eagle Pass and Uvalde.
STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and math, which compose core curriculum for students in Texas public schools.
Funding from the NSF Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program provides institutions of higher education with scholarships, stipends, and programmatic support to recruit and prepare STEM majors and professionals to become K-12 teachers.
LFRI has received support from the Science Mill Museum, located in Johnson City. They are collaborating to offer a mobile makerspace program. The institute is seeking additional research funds to explore bridging the digital literacy gap in isolated areas along the Texas-Mexico border.
According to Dr. Jennifer Miller-Ray, the LFRI team is partnering with stakeholders like schools, libraries and municipalities to develop programming and to learn how the institute can interact with communities to improve STEM learning experiences for rural communities and to increase the number of highly qualified STEM majors attending Sul Ross State University.
“We’re very interested in adult learning and how to connect the digital divide that was exposed in the pandemic,” said Dr. Miller-Ray. “There’s a lack of resources but there’s also a learning barrier. We want to explore ways to improve the digital literacy of the general public.”
One way to connect will be through the use of the “mobile STEM lab” with delivery expected around the first of November.
A van outfitted with hands-on learning products, purchased through grant funding and the Science Mill partnership, will be used to teach adults and children about things like renewable energy, technology in agriculture and climate change with robotics, drones and 3D printing.
Two graduate research assistant positions have also been funded – one for the Alpine campus and one for the Rio Grande College campuses.
To apply or for more information about scheduling the mobile lab, email email@example.com.
Photo: Rendering of the mobile STEM lab, which will feature hands-on learning products for children and adults.