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Summer plans at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s Center for Excellence in Education revolve around science, technology, engineering and math.

The research, scholarship and outreach conducted at the center advances teaching and learning at levels from kindergarten through graduate school. The CEE recently created an extension center focused on STEM disciplines. The new Region IV STEM Network Center fosters enrichment and community partnerships.

A “STEMulating Summer” initiative in June and July fits that bill perfectly, said UL Lafayette’s Dr. Peter Sheppard.

The College of Education professor directs both centers. Sheppard is coordinating the initiative, which began earlier this month. It features programs and activities “to engage K-12 students, middle school and high school teachers, and University students in STEM enrichment,” he explained.

“In a global, technology-driven economy, today’s workforce is required to process information, solve problems and lead in ways that increasingly require STEM knowledge and skills. Preparing students to one day be able to do those things should start early and involve a community-wide approach,” Sheppard said.

The Louisiana Board of Regents, National Science Foundation, and U.S. Department of Education’s GEAR UP program all agree. Funding from each is covering “STEMulating Summer” initiative program costs.

Programs include a free ACT prep session that UL Lafayette faculty members led earlier this month at an area high school. The center also helped to coordinate a free “CSI: Mystery Camp” that was held at another area school. Middle school students conducted mock crime investigations and learned about the science behind forensic techniques.

The Center for Excellence in Education has awarded or will award stipends to area teachers, incoming UL Lafayette freshmen, and University students majoring in education and STEM disciplines as part of the initiative.

Stipends will enable high school and middle school math and science teachers to attend professional development workshops on campus. Recent high school graduates will receive academic support from University professors in subjects such as college algebra and trigonometry. University students will mentor K-12 students “training” like astronauts at “NASA Astro Camps” at area schools.

UL Lafayette students selected for internships include education majors who will gain experience instructing young students. They also include STEM majors who “might discover that molding young minds is how they ultimately want to use the expertise they’re gaining at the University,” Sheppard explained.

The Center for Excellence in Education’s involvement in summer camps is important for another reason: they will collectively engage hundreds of students in STEM-related activities and learning, Sheppard said. “That’s significant, because many of those students will develop an interest in STEM subjects and end up pursuing STEM degrees and careers.”

Learn more about the Center for Excellence in Education’s "STEMulating Summer" initiative.

Photo caption: UL Lafayette’s Center for Excellence in Education has established an extension center for STEM enrichment – the Region IV STEM Network Center. The centers are coordinating an initiative to engage K-12, students, University students and area teachers in science, technology, engineering and math disciplines. (Photo credit: Doug Dugas / University of Louisiana at Lafayette)