931 Engaging a Diverse Community in STEM Courses at the Alamo Colleges District

Wednesday, 9 January 2019
Hall 4 (Phoenix Convention Center - West and North Buildings)
John Strybos, Alamo Colleges–San Antonio College, Live Oak, Texas

Handout (33.9 MB)

The Alamo Colleges District (ACD) is a network of five community colleges serving San Antonio, Texas, and surrounding areas. It has a student population of approximately 60,000 that reflects a diverse community in ethnicity, age and income. The network includes Minority Serving Institutions successfully incorporating climate science and sustainability-related projects to engage students in STEM courses. San Antonio residents are familiar with extreme weather conditions, such as extreme droughts and intensified annual rainfalls, and ACD understands the importance of educating its students and the community about meteorology, climate change and sustainable solutions. This presentation will discuss initiatives to engage students in STEM programs while preparing them in weather data and climate change.

ACD has developed innovative tools and formats to engage a younger generation and train a future green workforce. ACD plans to introduce a climate science class to cover the AMS Climate Studies course material. The AMS Climate Studies program is designed to inform students about wide variations in weather patterns that are occurring at a local level. ACD identified online classes and dual credit students as the potential teaching formats and audience for this course. With electronic textbooks and online resources, the AMS Climate Studies course is uniquely suited for an on-line class. Dual Credit students are junior and senior high school students taking college classes for college credit, are highly motivated, inquisitive, and typically expect electronic textbooks and on-line supplemental material.

Climate science courses will introduce real world weather data, so the students will be able to understand climate principles, weather patterns and the impact of climate change. ACD plans to provide students with real-time San Antonio weather data by connecting current and new weather stations at each of the five campuses into one online application. Students will have access to hyperlocal weather data for class projects and additional research. Additionally, a project to convert an old trailer into a Mobile Weather Station will be used as a STEM classroom to prepare students to understand weather data and its local applicability. The trailer will become a tool to promote meteorology, drive to communities, and educate middle and high school students about the complexities of climate science. This educational outreach tool will have meteorological equipment and work stations to promote interactive experiences.

ACD is also training a green workforce with sustainability-related courses, certificates and degrees such as Environmental Science Lectures at San Antonio College, Wind Power Generation, Wind Turbine Troubleshooting, Photovoltaics Technical Sales and Solar Photovoltaics Systems at St. Philip’s College, and Wastewater Minimization and Pollution Prevention and Waste Water Treatment at Northwest Vista College. These courses are provided toward accredited certificates and degrees, as well as Marketable Skills Achievement Awards.

Over 680 kW-capacity of solar panels have been installed at three campuses and the systems are connected to an eGauge system to provide an educational tool readily available to students. The 400-kW solar array located at St. Philip’s College Southwest Campus is used as a training tool in solar panel installation and maintenance, and the solar panels on the rooftop of the San Antonio College’s Scobee Education Center and adjacent bus stop are used as simulation training about energy and space science.

Finally, William R. Sinkin Eco Centro serves as a community outreach center operated by San Antonio College to promote environmental sustainability. Eco Centro is open to students, faculty, staff and the community, and supports student projects such as hydroponic and vertical farming, the refurbishment of a shipping container for food production in a controlled atmosphere, and the installation of a shipping container home to be used as a teaching facility about sustainable design and construction.

- Indicates paper has been withdrawn from meeting
- Indicates an Award Winner