Reach for the Stars

Reach for the Stars: Computational Models for Teaching and Learning in Physics, Astronomy and Computer Science is a GK-12 program funded by the National Science Foundation, with support from CIERA and Northwestern University

This NSF program places STEM graduate student fellows in K-12 science classrooms for the academic year with the goal of enriching their education and strengthening their development as researchers by advancing their communication and teaching skills. The fellows work in partnership with a collaborating teacher to bring more inquiry-based teaching methods into the classroom and to further expose K-12 teachers and students to the research process. Through Reach for the Stars, GK-12 fellows will adapt concepts of computational thinking and actual computational modeling tools from their research work to classroom activities connected to the existing math and science curriculum.

Graduate fellows at Northwestern University from all STEM disciplines are encouraged to apply to this selective program, especially those underrepresented in the fields of Astronomy, Physics, and Computer Science. Each fellow will spend an average of 10 to 15 hours per week at the participating schools. Guided by the fellows, students will continue to improve their ability to draft questions and search for answers. They will be introduced to the use of online computational research tools while working on various projects. In addition to teaching, fellows will meet regularly with teachers to compare best practices and develop curricula that introduce students to the research process.

Teachers selected for the program come from schools in Evanston and Chicago, as well as other communities close to the Northwestern campus. They will benefit from the presence of a “resident scientist” in their classrooms, giving their students a face on practicing scientists and engineers. In addition, they will have the opportunity to design and implement a new program and engage with modern-day computational research tools. K-12 students will be benefit from hands-on experience with high-level computing facilities and tools made available to them through work appropriately connected to their grade curriculum and will appreciate evidence-based reasoning characteristic of STEM education and research.

About GK-12

Reach for the stars is funded through the GK-12 program of the NSF. The National Science Foundation Graduate STEM Fellows in K-12 Education Program (GK-12) supports fellowships and training for graduate students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Through interactions with teachers and students in K-12 schools, graduate fellows can improve communication and teaching skills while enriching STEM content and instruction for their K-12 partners.

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