Graduate Research and Education in Advanced Transportation Technology (GREATT)
Pennsylvania State University
Transportation technology is used as a unifying theme to introduce STEM concepts into K-12 classrooms. One goal of the project is to change the culture of graduate education by “broadening the horizons” of our graduate fellows through participation in K-12 outreach. Towards that end, we have actively sought to diversify the classroom experiences available to them. In additional to traditional public schools, we have established relationships with a Catholic school, two charter schools, a home-schooling association, and a maximum-security facility for incarcerated juvenile offenders. Although some fellows expressed concern initially about going into this facility, all who did found it to be an eye-opening and rewarding experience. Most graduate students (and the population in general) have never been exposed to this kind of environment, and have negative preconceptions. Quantitative outcomes are particularly difficult to measure in this case, as privacy and legal issues restrict our ability to gather data. However, the enthusiasm of the principal, teachers, students, and graduate fellows has been clear. The fellows have commented on how normal the students are, and have expressed admiration for the principal and teachers who remain committed and enthusiastic in an environment where it would be easy to become resigned and cynical.