The Smoky Mountains STEM Collaborative
Bridging the Gaps in the K-12 to Post-Secondary Education Pathway
STEM is an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, which are powerful tools in our society and our economy, and which impact our life daily.
Southwestern Community College has been awarded a grant from NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) to enrich STEM education in our schools and communities, in partnership with Appalachian State University. As part of the Smoky Mountain STEM Collaborative, SCC and ASU will be working with local partners to expand opportunities for STEM education in western North Carolina: the Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, Cherokee Central Schools, Jackson County Public Schools, Macon County Public Schools, and Swain County Public Schools.
For undergraduates the grant will provide opportunities:
- To participate in faculty-led research with established scientists from Appalachian State University and Southwestern Community College.
- To work with experts on research at the Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute during a two-day stay.
For younger students additional projects will be funded through this grant to increase student engagement and success in STEM, and increase the number of local students who decide to pursue these excellent and fulfilling careers. These include:
- Working with local math and science teachers in middle and high schools to incorporate some of the science NASA has been researching since 1958 to strengthen and enrich those classes,
- Professional development workshops will be held for middle school and high school teachers in science and mathematics, highlighting many NASA educational resources. Workshops will be arranged to maximize teacher attendance.
- GLOBE (Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment) training will be offered for one teacher in each area (Jackson, Macon, and Swain counties, and Cherokee Central Schools). This training helps teachers incorporate inquiry into science classes by having students collect real data to be shared online.
- Orientation sessions describing NASA and related STEM educational opportunities and career choices will be held for middle and high school guidance counselors.
- STEM camp one week each summer for rising fifth through tenth graders. STEM camp will include a one day visit to Appalachian State University to introduce students to scientists engaged in research, and a one day program at Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute.
For the public the Smoky Mountain STEM Collaborative will provide local opportunities to increase understanding of scientific principles through events like Starry Nights, where telescopes will be set up and available for the public to see the night sky and hear experts discuss what they see.
STEM technological and instructional resources will be gathered in a physical and virtual collection to be shared with educators in the region.
Job opportunities in STEM fields are expected to continue to grow in the coming years. The local, state and federal workers involved in STEM jobs range from park ranger and teacher to surgeon and astronaut. Many take care of our most basic needs, like our daily need for clean water and electricity.
Solar Eclipse August 2017
A Solar Eclipse Celebration will be held on August 21, 2017, at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, where the public will be able to view the eclipse and consult with local astronomers.
We are uniquely positioned for unparalleled views of the total solar eclipse visible in Southwestern North Carolina. The dark skies of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park will provide wonderful viewing opportunities.
Scientists from NASA and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park will be available to narrate the eclipse and provide insight into the astronomical events impacting our physical environment.
STEM Summer Day Camps
- A one-week, no-cost summer STEM academy for rising sixth through eighth graders in the summer of 2017 and successive summers, with day trips to Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute and Appalachian State University to learn from experts in the fields of physics and astronomy.
Camp runs from 9 am - 4 pm, except on Thursday, June 15th when we will return later (6:00 pm) form Appalachian State University.
This year's theme is Solar System Exploration with a special focus on the 2017 solar eclipse and exploring the asteroid belt.
2017 Registration is now open!
Click here for Application Form*
Appalachian State University - Student Summer Research Experience
- A month-long (June 5th - June 30th) research experience for community college students (ages 18 or older) on the campus of Appalachian State University.
- Student Researchers will spend four weeks housed in a dorm on App State's campus as they work with App State faculty doing research in either mathematics, physics, or astronomy.
- Room and board are covered so the experience is at no cost to students!
- Students will stay in private bedrooms at the luxurious Appalachian Heights well within walking distance to campus and beautiful downtown Boone!
- In addition to conducting their own research and learning about the research of other faculty; students will have downtime to explore campus and the greater Boone area with opportunities to enjoy hiking or paddling down a river!
- Students will have the opportunity to share the results of their research with fellow participants at the end of June and with a wider audience at a regional meeting in the fall!
- Students will receive a stipend of $250.00 and funds are available to assist in travel to and from Boone.
Applications are now being accepted until April 14th.
For more information regarding the Summer Research Experience;
please contact Matt Cass (mcass[at]southwesterncc[dot]edu) or
Rene Salinas (salinasra[at]appstate[dot]edu).