Bluegrass Community and Technical College became involved in an innovative outreach program called STEM-BASED (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math - Bluegrass Academy Supporting Educational Development) which focuses on providing science outreach activities to underrepresented middle school children. Faculty and staff from BCTC, as well as undergraduate student mentors, are teaching students about the fundamentals of science in ways that might not normally be taught in their day-to-day classes.
BCTC was awarded funds to offer this outreach program from KY NSF EPScoR - Education, Outreach and Communication (EOC) Award. The award was initially granted for the 2014-2015 academic year and has been extended to through 2018. In summary, the project has two objectives:
Objective #1: To provide an opportunity for underrepresented middle school students to further explore areas of science, technology, engineering and math through hands on learning.
Objective #2: To provide an opportunity for BCTC college students to serve as student mentors by helping to develop, organize and lead a variety of science outreach activities.
BCTC hopes that by paving the way in EOC activities at BCTC other KCTCS schools will soon follow suit. During the 2014-2015 academic year, the program was offered to Leestown Middle School, exclusively. During summer 2016, we plan to host two separate robotics camps, reaching out to other underrepresented middle school students in the Bluegrass. Science is a subject being left behind by math and reading, due to standardized testing. We hope to close that gap with extracurricular scientific activities , says student mentor Candice Farnham. This project greatly benefits the student mentors in that they are gaining critical communication skills by working with the general public and the young scientific minds of tomorrow.