VT PEERS is rerouting engineering pathways to reach kids in rural Appalachia
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VT PEERS project focuses on developing pathways for careers in engineering through applied research projects. Their project will build in-class activities with science teachers and industry partners that teach engineering and science concepts in ways that highlight industry connections and job possibilities for children and teachers.
So VSEPR stands for Virginia Tech partnering with educators and engineers and rural schools. It's an applied research project funded by the National Science Foundation, a partner with educators, different school systems in three different counties. We also partner with regional manufacturing companies in those areas to develop some hands-on engineering activities that we integrate into the natural science curriculum of the school. One of the overarching aims for the project is to broaden conceptions of what engineering work is and who can do it. And so one of the reasons for partnering with these schools and integrating engineering and sciences. Often people don't know an engineer or they may not understand what engineering work is. In rural areas, it might be that there's less of those opportunities. So by meaningfully working with great science teachers and integrating engineering activities into the science classroom, we can help broaden the conceptions of what engineering is and who can do that sort of work. I think the unique thing about the VT peers program is the integration of the industry partner. All of those industry partners that we work with in each one of the counties have something to offer, not just about specific engineering technologies, but everybody needs to have some understanding of how engineers problem-solve about what are some of the ways that engineers engage with other people, both other engineers and non-engineers to go about lookin