STEM: Uniting Schools Through Biomedical Engineering Education
The purpose of the visit by graduate students, Purdue faculty, and a local middle school teacher was to provide fellowships for PhD students in the STEM disciplines (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) to work with middle school science and math teachers to develop lessons, curriculum and activities. This work was done in collaboration with the Jiangsu Institute of Education in China.
According to Li, "The students were very energetic and it was refreshing to see them so engaged in our lectures". His participation in the program included teaching inquiry-based science lessons to a group of 50-60 students while 200 teachers from across the province observed. They agreed that although their countries are unique in such aspects as culture, language and everyday life, education is one of the fundamental elements that makes us a global community.
Li became involved in the program in order to prepare and inspire students in a manner similar to how his seventh grade teacher impacted him. He feels that middle school students are very curious and impressionable, and the next few years of their education will be crucial in fostering their mental development, personal attitudes and future planning. He also recognizes the lingering effects of negative teaching experiences, as even the most fascinating topic can be rendered unappealing by ineffective instructors. As a fellow, his goal was to work closely with school instructors to develop methods and experiments that will generate significant interest in science, math and engineering, thereby having a positive impact in a young person's life.