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Dr. Rebecca Brienen, Dr. Sheri Vasinda and Dr. Stephanie Hathcock

OSU faculty serve community through national STEM grant

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Faculty members in the OSU College of Education, Health and Aviation and College of Arts and Sciences have been awarded an Advancing Informal STEM Learning (AISL) grant by the National Science Foundation (NSF). Dr. Sheri Vasinda, associate professor of literacy education; Dr. Stephanie Hathcock, assistant professor of science education; and Dr. Rebecca Brienen, professor of art history, will receive $264,107 for their project, “One Community, Once Challenge: Pop-Up STEAM Studios.” 

The project focuses on the design, development and evaluation of art-inclusive, pop-up makerspaces in unexpected locations throughout Payne County and the surrounding area. Inspired by temporary museum exhibits, this series of science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics (STEAM) studios includes pop-up workshops that encourage community members to work together to solve a community-designed challenge. The first round of pop-ups will occur in Fall 2020 and will continue through Summer 2021.

“This grant is an opportunity to tap into the knowledge, interests, resources and voices within our community,” Hathcock said. “We’re interested in promoting community members as community problem-solvers."

An advisory board of citizen-stakeholders representing diverse perspectives will identify the specific community challenge to be addressed. The pop-up workshops will be designed by a team of scientists, artists and educators and will use mini-challenges to spark ideas and approaches to solving the central community challenge. Teams will document challenge progress through digital storytelling via social media. Additional project collaborators include the Prairie Arts Center and the Stillwater Public Library

“Our goal is to make the processes of science, art and problem-solving visible and transparent through digital stories and community displays,” Vasinda said.  

The AISL is a NSF program that seeks to advance new approaches to and evidence-based understanding of the design and development of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) learning opportunities for the public in informal environments; provide multiple pathways for broadening access to and engagement in STEM learning experiences; advance innovative research on and assessment of STEM learning in informal environments; and engage the public of all ages in learning STEM in informal environments.

MEDIA CONTACT: Rachel Eng |405-744-8320 |

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