Who can become a WV SPOT Member?
STEM faculty or teams of researchers located at any West Virginia college or university are eligible to become WV SPOT members as an easy, low-cost, high-impact way to fulfill Broader Impacts sections of large-scale STEM grants. Our team will work with you to train approximately 10 undergraduate ambassadors per year to provide education and outreach visits to K-12 schools. All you have to provide is a yearly membership fee and a liaison from your research team who can create a feature presentation for K-12 audiences and an accompanying hands-on activity. The liaison will also need to attend a portion of the annual training weekend and communicate with WV SPOT staff to certify ambassadors to give the presentations.
Sample Statements for Broader Impacts:
To increase awareness of [our science], we will invest in education and outreach through the existing program the West Virginia STEM Public Outreach Team (WV SPOT). Adapted from an outreach model with over two decades of success in reaching a wide array of audiences in Montana, WV SPOT recruits and trains undergraduate ambassadors to deliver STEM-themed presentations to K-12 schools throughout the state (Williamson et al, 2014). Presentations feature current, local, cutting-edge science and advertise other STEM engagement programs that students can join, giving the message that “you can be part of science right here and right now.” The program reaches an average of 4,000 students and teachers per year, increasing the scientific literacy and 21st-century skills of ambassadors, and increasing exposure of K-12 students to STEM and college role models.
This grant will provide funds to purchase WV SPOT membership, allowing our broader impacts efforts to “plug in” and leverage the program’s existing advertising, recruiting, training, and management mechanisms. We will fund a [graduate student liaison, postdoc, or other] to develop a feature presentation to showcase [our science] (NOT included in WV SPOT membership). In return for membership, the WV SPOT program provides peer review and advice on the presentation to ensure that it meets Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS Lead State, 2013) and is relevant to West Virginia K-12 audiences, as indicated in the attached letter of commitment (a representative from SPOT will provide a letter). Once certified, our feature presentation will become an option for educators to request for their students through the WV SPOT web interface. Membership funds also include ambassador recruitment (ex: posters and talks in outreach seminars and clubs at West Virginia colleges and universities), ambassador training (ex: meeting travel and logistical planning), and management coordination (ex: scheduling ambassador visits to schools). With this support level, a typical WV SPOT presentation reaches 1,000 K-12 students and teachers per year, a large portion of whom are part of rural, low-income communities and represent potential first-generation college-goers. Finally, SPOT membership includes important evaluation data and graphics to track and represent program impacts (including number of schools reached, number of presentations given, number of students and teachers reached by grade level and location, ambassador impressions of visits, and teacher evaluations of visits).
NGSS Lead States (2013). Next Generation Science Standards: For states, by states. Washington, DC: National Academies Press. www.nextgenscience.org/next-generation-science-standards.
Williamson, K., Grimberg, I., Key, J., Heatherly, S. A., Des Jardins, A., Larson, S. L., Larson, M. B., McKenzi, D., and Littenberg, T. B. (2014) “The Space Public Outreach Team (SPOT): Adapting a successful outreach programme to a new region,” Communicating Astronomy with the Public, 16, 8-18.
Membership Annual Cost:
The annual membership cost is $10,000. This includes a management fee, ambassador recruitment, training, and retention fees, and ambassadors honorarium.
Who can become a WV SPOT Sponsor?
West Virginia businesses, companies, or individuals who would like to have greater community impact and visibility, especially in STEM fields, can become a WV SPOT sponsor. Being a WV SPOT Sponsor means investing in West Virginia students and teachers at all levels. By sponsoring our ambassadors’ training, you are helping West Virginia college students develop science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) competency and communication skills. Our ambassadors have a wide range of skills and are enthusiastic and driven. If your organization is looking for new talent, WV SPOT sponsorship could be an excellent way to find good future employees. By sponsoring trips to schools, you are helping to increase the exposure of K-12 students to college role models and STEM opportunities that they can join. Without your sponsorship, schools pay $50 for the WV SPOT team to come to their school. If your area is particularly under-resourced, your sponsorship could be that much more important!
Sponsorship Annual Levels