CSUSM to Share in $1.5 Million CSU Grant to Fund New STEM SQUARED Program

Three-Year Award Will Support Service Learning in STEM Disciplines

The Corporation for National and Community Service has awarded the California State University (CSU) with a Learn and Serve America Higher Education grant totaling $1.5 million. The grant, which amounts to $500,000 annually over three years, will fund a new program, STEM SQUARED, to support service learning and promote student success in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) disciplines.

California State University San Marcos (CSUSM) is one of five California State University (CSU) campuses that will develop demonstration projects as part of grant activities. Using grant funds, the CSUSM Office of Community Service Learning (OCSL) will develop two service learning opportunities that will provide outreach to middle and high school students.  In the first program,  Cal State San Marcos students in introductory physics courses will serve as facilitators in an after-school science program for middle school students as part of a course requirement. Program activities will include age-appropriate versions of projects that the CSUSM students themselves have completed. The after-school program will be held weekly for two months during fall and spring semesters.

In the second program, upper division CSUSM students will serve as robotics consultants to robot competition teams at local high schools. Faculty from the physics department will visit the high schools each semester, and upper-division CSUSM STEM students will provide weekly technical expertise and support. The CSUSM students will participate in this program during or after their enrollment in physics 402, a course focused on robotics. CSUSM students will also enroll in an additional physics course where they will receive credit for participation in the service learning activities and receive training on how to effectively mentor high school students in an informal science setting. 

"Community service learning has a proven record of enhancing students' understanding of course material, while helping to address real-world community needs," commented Dr. Darci Strother, director of the OCSL at CSUSM. "This grant will help expand the reach of service learning into the STEM disciplines and enhance STEM education for our youth at a time when the needs could not be more pressing or real."

For more information about the OCSL at CSUSM, visit www.csusm.edu/OCSL or call 760-750-4055.

About Learn and Serve America

Learn and Serve America is a program of the Corporation for National and Community Service, an independent federal agency created to connect Americans of all ages and backgrounds with opportunities to give back to their communities and their nation.

"Community service learning has a proven record of enhancing students' understanding of course material, while helping to address real-world community needs. This grant will help expand the reach of service learning into the STEM disciplines and enhance STEM education for our youth at a time when the needs could not be more pressing or real."

Dr. Darci Strother
Director of the OCSL at CSUSM