The University of Toledo | Nurturing STEM

Nurturing STEM

UToledo Inspires Children to Dive into Their Curiosity and Unlock Their Inner Scientist

Leveraging its expertise as a public research university, The University of Toledo’s scientists and engineers are leading national early STEM education research projects and actively engaging young people in on-campus events to fuel the next generation’s excitement about scientific discovery.

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An innovative early childhood STEM education program led by Charlene Czerniak, Ph.D., professor emeritus of science education and engineering research professor, is expanding across the country to support the natural curiosity of children in military-connected families through teacher training and interactive science lessons from pre-K through 3rd grade. The $3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Defense advances UToledo’s successful program created in 2011 with a $10 million grant from the National Science Foundation.

Charlene Czerniak, Ph.D.

Kevin Czajkowski, Ph.D., professor of geography and planning, is working to transform K-12 science curriculum in the U.S. using more direct observations to solve environmental problems. NASA is investing an additional $11 million in the Mission Earth program initially launched in 2015 with $10 million in support.

Kevin Czajkowski, Ph.D.

Ngalula Sandrine Mubenga, Ph.D., assistant professor of electrical engineering technology, has been named the leader of a new Electricity Regulatory Agency in her native country of the Democratic Republic of the Congo where she supports aspiring engineers through her nonprofit organization.

Ngalula Sandrine Mubenga, Ph.D.

As part of continued efforts to address the health of the Great Lakes, Tom Bridgeman, Ph.D., director of the UToledo Lake Erie Center and professor of ecology, is launching a new “floating laboratory” to engage middle and high school teachers and students in the science of preventing harmful algal blooms that threaten clean drinking water for thousands.

Tom Bridgeman, Ph.D. Tom Bridgeman, Ph.D.

The National Science Foundation is supporting efforts of Lesley Berhan, Ph.D., engineering associate professor and associate dean of diversity, inclusion and community engagement, to attract and support academically talented and low-income students who want to pursue an engineering degree through the innovative GEARSET program.

Lesley Berhan, Ph.D.

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed how teachers teach, but the importance of support at home for learning has stayed the same. Susanna Hapgood, Ph.D., associate professor of teacher education, is launching a project to build informal educational opportunities for families that reinforce classroom science learning.

Susanna Hapgood, Ph.D.

Each year dozens of underrepresented students entering high school visit The University of Toledo for CampMed, a two-day introduction to medical school in partnership with the Toledo Area Health Education Center program that since 1998 has inspired future healthcare providers with hands-on activities taught by current UToledo faculty and medical students.

Students participating in CampMed

During the COVID-19 shutdown, Michael Cushing, Ph.D., professor of astronomy and director of UToledo’s Ritter Planetarium, brought the science to children through live chats with an astronomer. During virtual meetings he fielded questions about shooting stars, planets, exoplanets, the rings around planets and even “Star Wars” movies.

Michael Cushing, Ph.D.

“We really want to show kids how everyday products are being made and the science behind it,” says Gabriella Baki, Ph.D., associate professor of pharmacy and practice and director of UToledo’s unique Cosmetic Science and Formulation Design Program, who partnered with Imagination Station to teach local girls how to make a moisturizing face mask and shower jelly in an event to spark their interest in chemistry.

Gabriella Baki, Ph.D.

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