C2PRISM - Computation and Communication: Promoting Research Integration in Science and Mathematics

Program Overview

Computation and Communication: Promoting Research Integration in Science and Mathematics (C2PRISM) is one of New Jersey's most recently funded NSF Graduate Teaching Fellows in K-12 Education (GK-12) projects. The program supports fellowships and training for doctoral students in science, computing, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) to interact with teachers and students in four Newark high schools, bringing their doctoral research into the classroom while improving their communication and teaching skills and enriching STEM content and instruction for their high school partners.

Graduate students in mathematics and science must master various skills other than the important, domain-related ones acquired while earning their degrees, as they will be expected to communicate scientific concepts to experts and non-experts alike in the context of their future careers.  At the same time, there is great value in bringing stimulating research experiences to pre-college populations within their educational milieu.  For high school students, learning about math and science through inquiry-based scientific activities while interacting with young scientists can be an exciting motivator for pursuing academic careers in STEM fields at the college level, and eventually at the post-graduate level.  Just as important, it is also timely to introduce high school students to key area of computation and information technologies, thus preparing them for math and science study beyond high school and eventually for careers in high-tech fields.  Having doctoral students introduce their research to high school students through computational science content in their classrooms benefits students and their teachers as they both strengthen their understanding of the topics as well as their interest in the disciplines.

This initiative combines PhD-level research and high school teaching at a fundamental level.  Computation is infused in math and science curricula of Newark high schools through twice weekly participation in the classroom by third- and fourth-year New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) students (Fellows) working toward doctoral degrees in computational areas of Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics, Physics, Computer Science and Computer Engineering.  We use the term computational science to mean the use of computers to gain understanding of scientific principals and solve scientific problems by augmenting traditional experimental investigation and theoretical inquiry through the use of numerical techniques, mathematical models, and computer simulations.

During the summer before Fellows enter the classroom, they partake in a month-long program consisting of orientation and curriculum planning.  The orientation addresses communication skills, classroom management, pedagogical and leadership skills, and other competencies related to teaching.  Curriculum planning involves working with their paired teachers to coordinate how the Fellows’ research and the subject of computation will be brought into the class during the school year.  Over the course of the project, 24 Fellows and teachers and 3000 Newark high school students will benefit from participation in the program.