Grand Valley engages the community in STEM


Grand Valley State University has found another way to invest in the community.

The university recently launched a free virtual learning series called Grand Morsels. The series is hosted by Regional Center for Mathematics and Science (RMS) at GVSU.

Kris Pasha. Courtesy of Grand Valley State University

Kris Pachla, Director of RMS, said the center’s vision is to inspire and engage everyone in sscience, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), and the virtual series is community outreach.

“It’s in line with our vision to really engage community members and look at how we might elevate those ties between GVSU’s science faculty and the community,” he said.

Pachla said the premise behind Grand Morsels provides opportunities to take big science concepts and break them down into bite-size pieces.

“We have worked with our Liberal Arts and Sciences faculty to identify topics of interest and areas of expertise that they can work on (and give) on a 30-minute presentation in the virtual space with a session of 15 minute questions and answers. at the end of the community,” he said. “We invite the community. We invite K-12 teachers. We invite K-12 students to join the conversation and learn about something that ties into the idea that STEM and science are everywhere. »

GVSU students can also participate in the series by listening and asking questions. Since the series began in January, there have been two conferences. Two others are staying for the spring semester.

GVSU professors covered various scientific topics during their presentations. February’s program was “Human Impacts on the Environment – The Perspective of Archeology and the Past,” by Elizabeth Arnold, Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology at GVSU.

The conference presentation in January was “Speaking in the Air: The Science of Wireless Communication,” by Associate Professor Len O’Kelly of GVSU’s School of Communications.

“Dr. Len O’Kelly was our first Grand Morsel presenter,” said Pasha. “He presented the history of radio and the history of AM versus FM and how radio has evolved over time. It was a really interesting presentation. Our second presentation was Dr. Elizabeth Arnold. She presented from an anthropological point of view how anthropology sees the world around us differently from other social and hard sciences.

In addition to keeping the community informed, Richard Besel, professor and director of GVSU’s School of Communications, said it helps K-12 teachers keep up to date with the latest science information and, by therefore, to make pedagogical adjustments in their classrooms. with the new information.

“How they integrate information is up to them, but the idea is to keep teachers up to date with what’s going on with experts in certain areas,” he said. “Last time, for example, someone from the anthropology department, an environmental archaeologist, talked about some of the things she did at the dig sites. There was a lot of really interesting information there. She was talking about how things in her field have changed. This is something that K-12 teachers might not understand all the time and so they can introduce these concepts into their classroom. This gives them another opportunity to find additional resources.

Teachers can also receive 0.75 State Continuing Education Clock Hours after completing the lecture series in April. SCECH allows educators to maintain their teaching certificates.

Lectures are recorded and are available on the GVSU Regional Center for Mathematics and Science website.

“I hope audience members will eventually learn new concepts through these presentations,” bessel said. “You have these experts in their fields, and this is an opportunity for them to reach new audiences so that members of the public will hopefully learn new things about science and how it works. Experts now have the “opportunity to speak to a new audience that they wouldn’t otherwise connect with. Professors are in class talking to their students on campus, but this gives them the opportunity, those same professors, to reach out and give back to the community.


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