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Making STEM Education/Research Relevant - Experiences in a Minority Serving College in a Multi-Cultural City Dr. Leon P. Johnson Medgar Evers College, CUNY Engaging Multicultural Audiences in Planetary Science March 11, 2007 Lunar and Planetary Institute Houston, Texas.

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Making STEM Education/Research Relevant -Experiences in a Minority Serving College in a Multi-Cultural City Dr. Leon P. JohnsonMedgar Evers College, CUNYEngaging Multicultural Audiences in Planetary ScienceMarch 11, 2007Lunar and Planetary InstituteHouston, Texas

The city university of new york
The City University of New York

  • The nation's largest urban public university

    • 11 Senior Colleges

    • 6 Community Colleges

    • Honors College

    • Graduate School and University Center

    • CUNY Graduate School of Journalism

    • CUNY School of Law at Queens College

    • CUNY School of Professional Studies

    • Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education

  • 226,000 degree-credit students

  • 230,000 adult, continuing and professional education students

  • The city university of new york1
    The City University of New York

    • The undergraduate student body is diverse,

      • 30% African American

      • 28% White

      • 27% Hispanic

      • 16% Asian

      • < 1% Native-American (0.2%).

    • Percentages in STEM do not reflex those percentages

    • Graduate STEM is worse

    • They speak 131 native languages in addition to English

    • Represent 172 countries


    • 38% of first-time freshmen are born outside of the U.S. mainland

    • 68% attended New York City public high schools

    • 45% of CUNY undergraduates work more than 20 hours/ week

    • 62% attend school full-time

    • 61% of undergraduates are female

    • 25% quarter support children

    • 31% are 25 or older

    Traditional experience
    Traditional Experience

    • African Americans entering science in the 60’s and 70’s adapted to the “chalk and talk” pedagogy or didn’t survive

    • In 60’s academic support due to space race (NDA loans, scholarships)

    • No role models

    • A few caring faculty at undergraduate and graduate levels

    Where are we now
    Where are we now?

    • Low achievement due to inappropriate learning strategies – chalk and talk doesn’t work.

    • Curriculum does not match learning style.

    • Little recruitment beyond college fairs and high school visits.

    • Space Science interest? African Americans are vocation oriented.

    Educational needs of african americans and others
    Educational needs of African- Americans (and others)

    • Visual learning style, not auditory

    • Hands-on learning, active learning

    • Cooperative learning (group learning)

    • Peer support (study groups)

      - Support for each other

    • Role models (professionals)

      - Want to connect with African American

      scientists, engineers and mathematicians

      - African American faculty

    Motivating students for stem careers
    Motivating Students for STEM Careers

    • Integrate research and research related activities into curricula.

    • Studies indicate that students exposed to research in STEM areas tend to pursue careers and/or attend graduate studies in these areas.

    Undergraduate research experience
    Undergraduate Research Experience

    • Most do not include local


    • NASA scientist -

    faculty relationship

    - student preparation prior

    to internship

    - student continues research

    on home campus

    GSFC/CUNY Summer Internship Program

    Student presentation at AAS; attended TSU/JPL Program

    Heliophysics sun earth interaction
    Heliophysics/Sun-Earth Interaction

    • Queensborough Community College faculty/student research group

    • Solar Wind Proton Flux and its Effect on the Earth’s Magnetosphere and Ionosphere

    • Solar events and related fluctuations in the interplanetary magnetic field

    • Composition of the solar wind

    • Tracking of solar storms

    Planetary atmospheres
    Planetary Atmospheres

    • LaGuardia Community College,

      New York City College of Technology,

      NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies

    • Composition and distribution of aerosols in the atmospheres of Earth and Jupiter.

      • Handheld polarimeter for aerosol validation

      • HST observations of the Great Dark Spot on Jupiter

    “A handheld polarimeter for aerosol remote sensing”, Proceedingsof SPIE Volume #5888, Remote and In Situ Sensing, Polarization Science and Remote Sensing II, J. W. Frost, F. Nasraddine,J. Rodriguez,I. Andino, and B. Cairns, August 2005

    “Hubble Space Telescope Observations in 1997 of a Dark, Oval, Vortex Spot in Jupiter’s Stratosphere”, James Frost, Juan Rodriquez and Fouad Nasraddine; 35th Annual Meeting of the Division for Planetary Sciences of the American Astronomical Society, Sept, 2003.

    Geo astrobiology

    • The City College of New York faculty and students research groups -

    • Bacteria-Spore-Aerosol Interactions in Astrobiology

    • Planetary Aerosols

    • First Planetology course in CUNY

    Padillla, Diomaris, and Steiner,Jeffrey. C. “Satellite Characterization of Biomass Burning: Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR) and Scanning Electron Microscope Study of Combustion Experiments.”Eos Trans. AGU, Fall Meet. (2005).

    Near earth objects photometry and astrometry
    Near Earth Objects –Photometry and Astrometry

    • Faculty and student research team at the College of Staten Island

    • Find and track asteroids and occasionally comets - astrometry and photometry

    • The identification of targets, known and unknown, is done by a process known

      as “blinking”.

    • This is an excellent topic to introduce students to the scientific process

    Cosmos evolution survey
    COSMOS Evolution Survey

    • York College, Borough of Manhattan Community College and Hayden Planetarium of the AMNH team (faculty and students)

      - the starburst galaxies in z-COSMOS

      - rich community of astronomers and resources

      - provides invaluable exposure to a young scientist

    • Radio Astronomy at York College - Radio telescope saw first light Summer, 2005

      - students set up instrument

    Environmental science
    Environmental Science

    Medgar Evers College team

    Analysis of:

    • Particulate matter and VOCs in ambient and indoor air

    • Faucet tap water

    • Ozone measurements in the community

    • Soil in playgrounds

    • Handheld sunphotometers (particular matter - optical depth measurements)

    "Urban Air: Real Samples for Undergraduate Analytical Chemistry" Hope, W. W. and Johnson, L. P.;; Anal Chem. 2000, Volume 72, Number 13, pages 460A-467A.


    • Medgar Evers College satellite science and technology program

    • Provide a small-scale

      vehicle for atmospheric and environmental investigations

    • Space mission analysis and design

    • AURA satellite ozone instruments - ground truth

    • Partnerships with University of Rhode Island, University of Vermont and GSFC

    • Upcoming collaborations with GISS, The City College of New York and LaGuardia Community College



    New York & Vermont Space Grant Consortiums


    MECSAT students, faculty and partners featured in a New York Times Podcast

    Location: Itunes:NewYorkTimes:science:mappingozone

    The fabrication and erection of the radio jove antenna

    The Fabrication and Erection of the Radio JOVE Antenna Times Podcast

    A correlation between height and received data

    { j Times [email protected]}

    Jordan Sandrini-CookeMedgar Evers College Department of Physical, Environmental and Computer Sciences NASA New York City Research Initiative _ NYCRI

    Aeronautics, Earth and Space Science Academy - AESSA    [Radio JOVE Instructor] Kevin Brathwaite

    [NYCRI Project Director] Leon P. Johnson, Ph.D. [Administration] Fulvia Jordan    [College of Staten Island Observatory] Irving Robbins, Ph.D.

    [NASA GISS Education Programs Specialist] Frank Scalzo, Ph.D.


    Results Times Podcast

    Throughout the many times we’ve done the Radio JOVE experiment, our results have varied because of certain inevitable interference. Everywhere we went it was nearly impossible to escape from overhead planes. Below is a graph of the data we got on our last and most efficient day in the field.

    This graph shows a radio burst occurring without a concrete definition as to why. This eliminates the possibility that this burst is from a man made electrical source (i.e. a plane or cargo truck).

    Conclusions Times Podcast

    • Formal Education

      • Hands-on inquiry-based curriculum integrating range of learning styles

      • Transformation of traditional classroom environments

      • Role models

    • Informal Education

      • Provide research opportunities engaging students in investigations/scientific inquiry

      • Relationship to student experience is a plus

      • Role models