The Graduate STEM Fellows in K-12 Education Program (GK-12) reached its 10th year anniversary in 2009. Almost 300 projects have been funded and have positively impacted over 7,000 graduate students interacting with over 10,000 teachers in more than 5,000 schools. Graduate students (GK-12 Fellows) have benefitted from participating in this program by acquiring communication, teaching and team building skills to make them better STEM professionals. A recent overall program evaluation indicates that participation in the program has motivated graduate students to complete their degrees. Nearly three-quarters of GK-12 former Fellows are employed in higher education and the majority of them found employment in less than three months. Unemployment rate of former Fellows is negligible.
During this talk, I will present a general description of the program including program goals and a summary of major findings. I will mention how the program has impacted graduate students, teachers and institutions of higher education. I will also present a geographic distribution of funded projects and the major disciplines and research topics involved. A challenge of the GK-12 program continues to be how to sustain the projects after funding provided by the National Science Foundation ends. Sustainability in this case refers not only to seeking financial support to continue the projects but also finding ways to continue activities developed by the projects such as seminar or courses to train graduate students with value-added skills for their future careers. I will present some examples of how sustainability can be achieved.
Training graduate students with value-added skills (communication, teaching and team building) is of prime importance for their careers especially for seeking employment and for future activities as STEM professionals. Teachers and students in K-12 schools also benefit from their interaction with GK-12 Fellows.