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Come SEE the Place-Based FEW (Food-Energy-Water) Nexus Curriculum Designed for Rural Middle Schoolers

Come SEE the Place-Based FEW (Food-Energy-Water) Nexus Curriculum Designed for Rural Middle Schoolers
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Aligned with the mission of SEE VT (Summer Enrichment Experience at Virginia Tech), the FEW (Food-Energy-Water) Nexus curriculum is supported by a critical pedagogy of place framework to increase educational opportunities in rural Appalachia. Responsive to the region, this curriculum focuses on sustainability in agriculture and engineering and aims to mitigate existing academic opportunity gaps for rural students.

This work is especially crucial due to the documented scarcity of educational opportunities in rural areas and limited number of rural students in higher education (Ardoin, 2018). For example, in Appalachian Virginia, only about 20% of the population over the age of 25 holds at least a four-year degree compared to non-Appalachian Virginians at almost 40% (Appalachian Regional Commission, 2019). One way to provide resources and access to higher education is through intentional outreach, in this case, outreach focusing on engineering and place-based education (culminating in a summer enrichment experience in 2021).

Statement of Innovation:
As doctoral students at Virginia Tech, the lead investigators share a belief in the goals of Virginia Tech as a land-grant institution and its motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve), and strive to support central Appalachian communities through innovation, research, and design. In keeping with the crucial spirit of creative and service-based inquiry, the grant research team will combine the challenges and opportunities of rural education with the design approaches of engineering education to create an engaging curriculum for high-potential rural middle schoolers that empowers and connects students with their sense of place and community. This proposed grant project seeks to support rural middle school students through the utilization of their unique funds of knowledge as rural students, as well as their unique lived experiences. The developed engineering curriculum will intentionally connect, under the umbrella of rural education, English Language Arts (ELA) and STEM by utilizing place as a source of knowledge.


Summer Enrichment Experience at Virginia Tech (SEE VT)


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