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Stephen P. Robinson Collaboration Grant Report: Canterbury School

Wednesday, March 22, 2017  
Posted by: Christina Mimms
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By Nicole Schutt, Curriculum and Assessment Coordinator, Canterbury School, Greensboro, NC

According to Georgetown University's Center for Workforce and Education, Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) careers are expected to be the fastest growing employment sectors; yet, the U.S. education system is not producing enough STEM capable students to keep up with the growth. In addition, women and minorities are highly underrepresented in STEM education and careers. Not only is STEM education a national priority but North Carolina has developed a statewide STEM Education Strategic Plan. An integral part of this plan is connecting potential STEM students with institutions of higher learning, groundbreaking research, and STEM industries early to promote interest in STEM education and careers.  

In 2014, Canterbury School partnered with Dr. Daniel Herr at NCA&T/UNCG’s Joint School of Nanoscience and Nanoengineering (JSNN) to create the Canterbury Summer Science Academy (CSSA). In July 2015, we implemented our first week of CSSA for rising 9th grade students focused on hydroponics and Dr. Daniel Herr’s nanoscience research at the JSNN. Students utilized the Scientific Method to study the effect of nutrient composition in water on the growth of basil plants being sustained hydroponically. In July 2016 this program was offered to a new cohort of rising 9th grade students as well as adding a different experience for the previous year’s cohort. Rising 10th graders utilized the Engineering Design Process to create 3D printed parts of a drone.  Students used 123D Design (Autodesk) to create web-based models and then printed them on the JSNN’s 3D printers. This experience was enhanced with a trip to The Forge, Greensboro’s Makerspace.

This summer, rising 11th graders will have an opportunity to work in the labs at the JSNN. After a day of safety training and orientation, students will rotate through three to four different analytical labs viewing and comparing items under various microscopes and preparing their own slides. At the end of the week, the cohort will present an iMovie of their experience to the younger cohorts and parents. By the summer of 2018 we will offer a weeklong science academy comprised of four different programs for rising 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th grade Guilford County students.  

We began the program with the goal of 14 students per cohort but started with just 12 that first year. The following year, two rising 10th graders were added and a rising 9th grade cohort of 14 was formed. As schools become aware of the program and word spreads among students, we see an opportunity to grow the program down the road. More importantly, though, we have a 100% return rate with each cohort returning for the next year’s experience. Each year's cohort keeps in touch and interacts with the lead teacher and grad students throughout the year (mentor luncheons, competitions, lectures at the JSNN, etc.). Our hope is to nurture their love of science throughout their high school years and produce a group of scientific-minded citizens who continue in a STEM post-secondary education and ultimately pursue a STEM career.  

Though an anonymous one-time donation to Canterbury School was used to start the collaborative project, additional funding is needed to continue this program. The generous Stephen P. Robinson Collaboration Grant will help sustain our program and allow us to offer this unique opportunity free of charge to underrepresented students in the community who may not be able to take advantage of similar programs offered due to the cost involved.


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