Teaching Through Technologies

A group led by the Alaska Upward Bound program is using emerging technologies to get low-income and first-generation-to-college high school students interested in science.

The “Teaching through Technologies (T3) Alliance” uses instruction in three novel technologies - unmanned aerial systems (UAS), 3-D printers, and codeable digital devices - to attract Upward Bound students to science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields. Upward Bound is a nationwide program that uses after-school and summer instruction to encourage at-risk students to continue to higher education. T3 will ultimately institute curricula based on the three technologies at Upward Bound programs in at least 18 states and territories, engaging more than 360 students.

Funding for the 3-year program came from a $2.1 million NSF EPSCoR award. T3 builds on “The Modern Blanket Toss,” a successful Alaska Upward Bound program (also funded by NSF EPSCoR) that used UAS to build interest in STEM fields in rural Alaskan high schools. Instructors and students for the program are being recruited from at least 36 Upward Bound sites and given materials and online and in-person support to build a hands-on curriculum based on these three technologies. In addition to learning about the technologies, students receive instruction in STEM communication and leadership, and participate in community service projects using the technologies. The ultimate goal of the program is to develop a curriculum and support structure that can be widely adopted to increase students’ interest in STEM.

Partners in the alliance include the nationwide Council for Opportunity in Education, which assist with the T3 national conference, and Alaskan firms Educating4Leadership, which provides leadership and communication instruction, and Thrive Design Enterprises, which helps to create design challenges for students. Another partner is the UAF Vis Space, which will be used for leadership meetings. In addition to UAF, 10 universities in six states and one territory have signed on as “early adopters” of the program, meaning their associated Upward Bound programs entered the project in its first year and will be joined by more programs in years 2 and 3.

The project commenced on October 1, 2017 and will run through approximately September 30, 2020.