QESST Teachers Introduce Solar Curriculum During ASU’s Summer COMPUGIRLS Program

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The NSF-funded Research Experience for Teachers (RET) program at the Quantum Energy and Sustainable Solar Technologies (QESST) Engineering Research Center (ERC) has partnered with the Center for Gender Equity in Science and Technology (CGEST) at Arizona State University (ASU) to promote science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education to adolescent girls through emerging solar technologies. The partnership allows QESST RET teachers to try out their new solar curricula ideas on ASU’s COMPUGIRLS program participants before they implement it in their home classrooms.


The COMPUGIRLS program motivates women belonging to diverse race-ethnic-social class groups to become more deeply excited about potential careers in STEM fields by empowering them to become techno-social change agents. QESST’s participation in CGEST’s summer engineering programs accelerates the dissemination of its emerging solar curricula among young women in science while helping its RET teachers to refine their methods and approach. Teachers who participate also have the opportunity to develop connections between the lab and the classroom that can be helpful as they implement the new curricula at home.


In 2014, QESST implemented an NSF RET program to provide teachers with unique opportunities, tools, and resources to design, develop, and implement new solar curricula in their home classrooms.  The CGEST partnership adds the COMPUGIRLS program to the available resources for QESST’s RET participants. COMPUGIRLS is a culturally responsive technology program hosted by CGEST for adolescent girls (grades 8-12) from under-resourced school districts in Arizona, Colorado, New Jersey, and Wisconsin. The program provides fun summer, after-school, and year-long programs where participants learn the latest technologies in digital media, game development, and virtual worlds.

Twenty COMPUGIRLS from Phoenix Collegiate Academy High School visited the QESST labs to interact with RET participants as well as QEEST scholars and learn about the importance of solar energy technologies. The girls also explored how they might personally become innovators in the new field of sustainable solar energy. During the summer visit, the girls spent time in the cleanroom and participated in hands-on activities provided by the QEEST RET. Teachers gained valuable experience in the delivery of their lessons and were provided feedback from QESST faculty and scholars, as well as from the CompuGirls.