Two HBCUs Partner With Michigan State to Improve High School Science Education in the South

Michigan State University has partnered with two historically Black institutions, Alabama A&M University and Winston-Salem State University in North Carolina, to introduce their newly created Crafting Engaging Science Environments curriculum for high school chemistry and physics programs in the rural south. To fund the collaborative project, the United States Department of Education awarded $7.7 million to Michigan State University and an additional $200,000 to Alabama A&M University. The initiative will be conducted over the next few years, concluding in December 2028.

Researchers at Michigan State University developed the curriculum to get students interested in STEM careers through implementing aspects of the students’ lives and cultural resources into their education. The program will provide students with hands-on learning experiences with a goal of improving students’ performance in science classrooms. Alabama A&M University and Winston-Salem State University will oversee the implementation of the new program at high schools they recruit across the states of Alabama and North Carolina. The historically Black universities will provide learning opportunities for local high school teachers and work with the participating schools to cater the science curriculum to their individual needs.

“This partnership represents a step forward for science education research at Alabama A&M University and a step forward for the children of Alabama, particularly those who reside in rural areas,” says Dr. Samantha Strachan, principal investigator for the project at Alabama A&M University. “Our university will be centrally involved in employing an innovative approach that can potentially transform how teachers teach science and how students learn science.”

Dr. Strachan is an associate professor and program coordinator of secondary education at Alabama A&M University. She holds a bachelor’s degree in biology from Mount Allison University in New Brunswick, Canada, a master’s degree in secondary education with a specialization in biology from Alabama A&M University, and a doctoral degree in science education from Morgan State University in Baltimore.

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