STEM Ed Centers: A National Conversation > Center Profiles > Center for Integrating Research and Learning, National High Magnetic Field Laboratory

Center for Integrating Research and Learning

To expand scientific literacy and to encourage interest in and the pursuit of scientific studies among educators and students of all ages through connections between the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory and the National Science Foundation, the community of Tallahassee, the State of Florida and the nation.

National High Magnetic Field Laboratory
Established: 1999

http://www.magnet.fsu.edu/education/

Profile submitted by Roxanne Hughes

Vision and Goals

To expand scientific literacy and to encourage interest in and the pursuit of scientific studies among educators and students of all ages through connections between the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory and the National Science Foundation, the community of Tallahassee, the State of Florida and the nation.

Center/Program Structure

The Center for Integrating Research and Learning is housed within the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory. We are in charge of educational outreach for the main MagLab site in Tallahassee as well as outreach that occurs at our other two locations: Los Alamos National Laboratory and University of Florida. We work closely with faculty and educators at Florida State University as well because of the MagLab's affiliation with FSU. Because of these partnerships and locations, we are in a unique position to affect positive change in informal STEM education both locally and nationally.

CIRL is led by a Director who oversees all programs and maintains a research agenda. This position is a non-tenured faculty position within FSU. Then there is the Assistant Director who oversees the Research Experience for Undergraduate program, the Research Experience for Teachers program, and our internship program. This is also a non-tenured faculty position. We then have an Outreach Coordinator (this is a position paid for by the NSF core grant) who develops and oversees all K-12 outreach as well as our summer camps. We have one administrative assistant position and two full time graduate students as well. The graduate students help with our evaluation of all of our programs and add to our research agenda.

Description of Programming

CIRL reaches over 10,000 K-12 students every year (half of whom attend Title I schools). We have a number of in-depth programs for middle, high school, and college students as well as programs for teachers.

The middle and high school programs include: semester long internship programs where students are partnered with a scientist at the lab to work on a research project; summer camps for middle school students that expose them to hands-on STEM activities and role models in STEM. The programs for undergraduates include: internships each semester and the Research Experience for Undergraduate program. These programs are evaluated each year with pre/post surveys as well as interviews with participants. (This has resulted in 20 research presentations at national conferences as well as 8 publications in refereed journals). These programs are also successful at reaching a diverse group of students. The summer camps and internships have reached over 500 students since 2003: 75% have been female, 24% have been African American, 6% have been Hispanic, and .5% have been Native American. Our REU program has been in existence since 1999 and has reached over 300 students: 44% have been female, 10% have come from Minority Serving Institutions, 16% have been African American, 16% have been Hispanic, and 2% have been Native American.

Successes and Impacts

We have a graduate student dedicated to evaluating our REU program. His work has allowed us to track our participants' (1999-present) educational and career trajectories. As of June 2012 we have the following data on 249 of our 274 REUs: 69 currently working in STEM fields (47.9%); 50 currently working on doctoral degrees (34.7%);
19 currently working on master's degrees (13.2%); 6 currently working in non-STEM fields (4.2%). Although we cannot credit the REU program specifically to this strong persistence rate in STEM, we can demonstrate the success of undergraduates over time (with one piece of this trajectory being the REU).

Elements Contributing to Success

CIRL utilizes partnerships and is encouraged by the MagLab administration to apply for outside funding. We are supported financially by the National Science Foundation as well as the state of Florida. We have other funding for programs through our partnerships with our local public television station (SciGirls summer camp) and the NSF supported Engineering Research Center – Future Renewable Electric Energy Delivery and Management (FREEDM) systems.
The MagLab has a public affairs office that helps CIRL with its website and allows us to gain national attention. We also work closely with various departments on campus to improve recruitment of undergraduate and graduate students for the lab. CIRL has a strong history of collaboration locally and nationally.

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