CISTAR Pivots to Virtual Outreach for Middle Schools with Underrepresented Populations

Achievement date: 

Educators pivoted during the Covid pandemic to virtual outreach in middle schools with significant underrepresented student populations, with the support of the Center for Innovative and Strategic Transformation of Alkane Resources (CISTAR), an NSF-funded Engineering Research Center (ERC) based at Purdue University.


During a pandemic in which educators struggled to provide quality education, teachers appreciated the assistance of the CISTAR program. Students enjoyed the virtual programs and received them enthusiastically, with 85 percent rating them positively.


The Center recruited CISTAR Fellows to develop age-appropriate CISTAR-related learning modules and science demonstrations, which were developed with assistance from Purdue’s School of Languages and Cultures (SLC). The partners implemented procedures to make outreach accessible including platform capabilities, as well as translating and making accessible PowerPoint decks and other materials.

The educators also developed assessment measures to document initial impact and benefit, and will continue to assess all parties—middle school children, teachers, and CISTAR Fellows. The SLC will lead a working session at the CISTAR biannual meeting with middle school teachers and Fellows involved in outreach to discuss how to improve and grow the outreach program, inviting graduate Fellows who might be interested in outreach.