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Washington State University
CAS Connect March 2016

‘STEM Flicks’ aim to inspire young minds

Undergraduates in the Digital Technology and Culture program at WSU Tri-Cities are teaming up with students in other disciplines, high school students, and world-renowned scientists to make a set of videos designed to improve education in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics and to enhance workforce preparation.

WSU Tri-Cities is partnering with the Pasco (Wash.) School District and the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory  (LIGO) on the “STEM Flicks” project, a Battelle grant-supported initiative to help educate and inspire students about careers in STEM fields. The videos will be used in classroom instruction at Pasco middle and high schools and beyond.

Doug Gast
Doug Gast

Doug Gast, program director for digital technology, is working with the DTC students to write the video scripts and coordinate production on location at LIGO Hanford, where scientists recently made global news for the first-ever detection of gravitational waves.

Students from nearby Chiawana High School will star in the videos and work with the LIGO scientists to develop content.

Told through the perspective of students, the videos will be “for students, by students,” Gast said.

WSU Tri-Cities science and engineering students will review the scripts to ensure the information is explained appropriately for middle and high school students, and master in teaching students will provide guidance for how the videos could be implemented into classrooms.

“What’s great about this project is that it brings together students, faculty, and professionals with expertise in so many different fields to create a product that will benefit students across the state for years to come,” said Kate McAteer, WSU Tri-Cities assistant vice chancellor for academic affairs and clinical assistant professor of biology. Creating the videos also provides students in various fields with unique opportunities to learn about scientific processes, she said.

Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory

Battelle awarded WSU Tri-Cities $6,240 to produce two five- to seven-minute videos as part of a Mid-Columbia STEM Education Collaboratory  initiative. The collaboratory is a group of local, like-minded organizations seeking to improve STEM education and workforce preparation through active engagement with Washington’s Mid-Columbia community.

The “Flicks” highlight diverse teams of local STEM experts who are intrigued by tough scientific challenges and work as a team with others in STEM fields to find creative solutions to those challenges. The videos will be added to online resources offered by the collaboratory.

“We want to communicate some of the science of LIGO in the video, but that’s not the main point,” said Dale Ingram, education and outreach coordinator at LIGO. “The main intent is that the video becomes a tool that teachers can use in their classrooms to give students insight into how the processes of science work.”

Judy Morrison, WSU Tri-Cities academic director of the College of Education, said the partnership will help expand education students’ understanding about science curriculum and practice tying standards to classroom practices.