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As the university's central hub for interdisciplinary education research, the Center is involved in several long- and short-term projects. Read about our local, national, and international involvements below.

Collaborative Futures: Community-Engaged Ecology to Bridge Research and Local Interests (C Futures)

This National Science Foundation-funded RAPID project studies a process of involving the local community surrounding the H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest (HJA) in influencing the vision for research at the HJA after a large fire impacted 70% of the forest.

In the fall of 2023, a major wildfire burned over much of the HJA and threatened adjacent communities. The HJA is an internationally known center for forest and stream ecosystem research in the central Cascades of Oregon, and it is part of multiple research networks, including the Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) network, and the Experimental Forests network of the US Forest Service. Ongoing research projects were halted as the fire burned over old-growth forests and research infrastructure; as a result, rare and scientifically invaluable long-term data collection was interrupted.

In response to the fire, the HJA scientific community is launching a necessary process of revisiting how this most recent fire influences their research plans while the local community has to reimagine its preparation for future wildfires. The last decade has made it clear to both the research and local communities that fire is going to be a disturbance that influences everything for the foreseeable future. This project will invite the engagement of both the scientific and the local community as they prepare for the future. Involving the community in contributing to a long-term research agenda is unique. In engaging the local community in envisioning the research that might occur at the HJA we hope to answer questions such as: what does it look like to involve the community? Can we incorporate what they share with us about their interests, needs, fears and hopes into a long-term research agenda? What impact does inviting the community into the process have on both the community and the scientists?

This project is designed as a single case study. The focus of our proposed case study research is the impact of community engagement on the scientists, the participating public, and the long-term research planning itself. Our case study will include five elements: 1) community mapping, 2) community conversations, 3) brief surveys and in-depth interviews with HJA scientists, staff, and leaders, as well as community members, 4) observations of the research planning process, and 5) document analysis.

A steering committee of representatives from HJA partners and community organizations will identify and prioritize community partners to be included in conversations and ways of engaging with them, with specific consideration for bringing in a diversity of voices representing all aspects of the local community. The project will use existing venues and meeting spaces in the community and will partner with, and financially support, community organizations in setting up, hosting, and facilitating meetings specific to the purpose of the project.

We will discuss the results of our work with the HJA scientific community as part of the research planning process and with communities who participated in our research as part of a process for healing and restoration. Our goal is to directly support the process of engaging the local community in long-term research planning. We will share the results of our case study research with the LTER community as “promising practices” and with the science engagement and strategic science communication community more broadly, through publications, presentations, and online workshops.

NSF Award #2409274


2023 - 2025

This Aurorasaurus project tracks auroras around the world via reports on its website and on Twitter. Using Aurora-related tweets and reports, it generates a real-time, global map of the Lights. Citizen scientists then log in and verify the tweets. Each verified tweet or report serves as a valuable data point for scientists to analyze and incorporate into space weather models. The project has made a number of discoveries. For example, Aurorasaurus, in collaboration with citizen scientists and the scientific community, published the first scientific study of STEVE (Strong Thermal Emission Velocity Enhancement), an aurora-like phenomenon that appears closer to the equator and flows from east to west. Aurorasaurus also conducts outreach and education across the globe, often through partnerships with local groups of enthusiasts. Aurorasaurus is a research project that is a public-private partnership with the New Mexico Consortium supported by the National Science Foundation and NASA.


2022 - 2027

Polar STEAM is an NSF-funded project run by an interdisciplinary team at Oregon State University. Participants are supported in their creative, scientific, and educational practices as they develop and share creative works and educational resources that engage learners of all ages in understanding the critical global importance of polar environments and the people who call these regions home. Polar STEAM is an inclusive program that views our differences with curiosity and invests in diversity.

ISL Framework

2022 - 2025

This project will develop a repository of resources and supports to increase the usability, usefulness, and on-the-ground use of the Informal STEM Learning (ISL) Professional Competency Framework that was developed with previous NSF support (#1514815, 1514884, 1514890, and 1515315). The proposed resources and the integrated research will advance knowledge of professional learning, professional development, and the broader concept of professional work in the ISL field. The work proposed here could ultimately benefit individual communities and society at large by advancing the capacity of ISL professionals and a science-engagement field to more effectively respond to societal needs, concerns, and interests.

Students to Launch

2022 - 2025

Students to Launch is a 3-year program that will allow approximately 2,300 youth and their adult mentors from informal science education programs to attend NASA space launches. These intense experiences will serve as the anchor for hands-on, informal science education programs for both youth participating in the launch and associated pre-launch activities and for youth who engage in pre-launch programming but do not travel to the launch. Further, social-media based outreach developed and promoted by youths who attend the launches and become “Space Ambassadors” has the potential to reach hundreds of thousands of science-interested youths nationally and internationally.

Cultivating Indigenous Research Communities for Leadership in Education and STEM (CIRCLES)

2022 - 2027

The goal of the Cultivating Indigenous Research Communities for Leadership in Education and STEM (CIRCLES) Alliance is to develop Native-based STEM education activities for K-12 and higher education students. This is done between the partner institutions and their local tribal communities and colleges. Project partners will be developing or building strong relationships with tribal communities and colleges to understand what educational activities are meaningful to their community and support the success of Indigenous/Native American students in STEM.

STEM Storytelling with Podcasts for Blind, Visually Impaired and Sighted Students (SSP)

2022 - 2025

The STEM Storytelling with Podcasts for Blind, Visually Impaired and Sighted Students (SSP) project will broaden participation in STEM for blind and visually impaired (BVI) and sighted upper elementary students through engagement with podcast technology. BVI individuals are significantly underrepresented in the STEM workforce. Research has shown that BVI students face many obstacles in pursuing education pathways to STEM fields, beginning in early education. These obstacles include negative attitudes of both students and teachers regarding the ability for BVI persons to engage in STEM careers, and the lack of BVI-accessible STEM resources in classrooms. This project builds on the success of the children’s science podcast, Tumble, to engage BVI students in the use and development of podcasts to promote STEM learning and career awareness.

Well-Rounded Access Program (WRAP)

2022 - 2025

The Well Rounded Access Program (WRAP) is the Oregon Department of Education’s (ODE) approach to increase access to well-rounded courses through funding from the US Department of Education’s Expanding Access to Well-Rounded Courses Demonstration Grant. This five year, $9.8 million federal grant was awarded to ODE in October, 2020. ODE proposes to focus its approach to developing, expanding, and implementing, a course-access program by expanding access to STEAM-related courses as well as building capacity to develop and maintain an arts program. Course options developed through the proposed grant will be accessible to students through a combination of in-person, online, and distance learning formats to meet the diverse and evolving needs of Oregon’s students and communities. The STEM Research Center will head up formative and summative evaluation of all program elements.

NASA Heliophysics Education Activation Team (NASA HEAT)

2022 - 2026

NASA Heliophysics Education Activation Team (NASA HEAT) engages communities across the nation with educational programs about heliophysics. As part of the NASA Science Activation program, NASA HEAT actively partners with scientists, educators, and communicators to provide understandable science educational content and experiences to learners of all ages.

Advancing Public Engagement with Science across the Long Term Ecological Research Network (APEAL)


The Advancing Public Engagement with Science across the Long Term Ecological Research Network (APEAL) project’s goal is to improve how Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) sites are engaging with their (local) community (non-profits, other governmental agencies, local internship programs, etc.). The premise behind the project is that scientific organizations that are deeply embedded into communities, or are relying on long-term relationships with the communities they are part of, might have a strategic interest in authentic engagement with those communities, in part to ensure that research efforts can be sustained over time The project will survey and interview LTER scientists, leaders, and staff from the 28 LTER sites about their strategic notions around science outreach. It will investigate several key LTER sites in depth to see what they are already doing toward public engagement of science (PES); what is going well or poorly? Then, using all that information, alongside other evidence-based public engagement with science (PES) strategies within STEM research organizations, to support the broader LTER Network in improving engagement with their community.

Innovations in Development: Building Supports Towards a Useful, Usable, and In-Use Framework of Professional Competencies for the Informal STEM Learning Field

2022 - 2025

The Association of Science-Technology Centers, the Center for Science and Industry (COSI) Center for Research and Evaluation and Oregon State University’s STEM Research Center (led by Kelly Riedinger and Martin Storksdieck) are collaborating for this innovation in development project to develop a repository of resources and supports to increase the usability, usefulness, and on-the-ground use of the Informal STEM Learning (ISL) Professional Competency Framework that was developed with previous NSF support (#1514815,1514884, 1514890, and 1515315).

Learning In and From the Environment Through Multiple Ways of Knowing (LIFEways)

2022 - 2026

Many of our urgent environmental challenges, from soil degradation and water pollution to global climate change, have deep roots in how we relate to nature and to each other, and how complex systems impact human well-being: “If the water is sick, the fish get sick, and then we get sick – everything is interconnected” (Diné Elder Dr. David Begay). We see Western science and Indigenous ways of knowing (IWK) as both contributing to our understanding of how humans fit within local and global ecologies and recognize that both knowledge systems can make essential contributions to addressing environmental issues and supporting sustainable, healthy communities for generations to come. While we engage with both knowledge systems, we intentionally uplift Indigenous ways of knowing, being, and living in the environment in order to build awareness of their value.

Reservoir Observer Student Scientists (ROSS)

2022 - 2025

Reservoir Observer Student Scientists (ROSS) is a citizen science program that helps students to understand their local aquatic ecosystem and water quality issues and contribute water samples to monitor lake ecosystems.

Authentic Research through Collaborative Learning: Undergraduate Research Experiences in Data Rich Arctic Science (ARC-Learn)


Quality research experiences support undergraduates to successfully continue their education in STEM fields. However, many of these programs are intensive experiences that occur over the summer months, often requiring students to travel to distant or remote locations to participate. This common structure limits access for many students. ARC-Learn is a 2-year undergraduate research experience that provides a more flexible, lower-intensity model to eliminate common barriers to participation. Over the course of two years, ARC-Learn students work within an affirmative science community and are exposed to the full “arc” of research, from understanding scientific challenges to sharing the results of research with the public.

Modeling Zoos and Aquariums as Inclusive Communities of Science for Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (MoZAICS)

2021 - 2025

The STEM Research Center is collaborating with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center’s Treatment and Research Institute for Autism Spectrum Disorders (TRIAD) at Vanderbilt University Medical Center on a research in service to practice project funded by the National Science Foundation’s Advancing Informal STEM Learning project to support the Modeling Zoos and Aquariums as Inclusive Communities of Science for autistic individuals (MoZAICS) project. MoZAICS focuses on developing an evidence-based framework of inclusive practices for zoos and aquariums to support science learning for individuals with autism across the full zoo/aquarium experience including the general visit, programs, exhibits, internships, volunteering, and employment opportunities. The project will also support the building of a community of practice of zoo/aquarium practitioners dedicated to the comprehensive inclusion of autistic individuals and toward building an overall strategy of inclusion across the AZA community.

Sense of Belonging in Undergraduate Field Education: Implications for the Design of Inclusive STEM Learning Experience

2021 - 2024

The Sense of Belonging in Undergraduate Field Education project - led by Kari O’Connell (STEM Research Center at OSU), Stephanie Shaulskiy (University of Michigan Biological Station), Alison Jolley (University of Waikato in New Zealand), and Lucas Hill (evaluator, University of Wisconsin-Madison) - will fill a critical hole in the scholarship of STEM teaching and learning by advancing understanding of how student sense of belonging develops in undergraduate learning experiences outside of the traditional classroom.

Authentic Research Experiences for Teachers @ Long-Term Ecological Research sites

2021 - 2024

The goal of the Authentic Research Experience for Teachers at Long Term Ecological Research sites (ARETs@LTERs) project is to engage high school teachers who work with students from marginalized groups in the practice, process, and communication of data-intensive STEM. In this project, teachers work in partnership with scientists to explore how emerging stressors such as drought, marine heatwaves, and global warming impact communities and biodiversity across ecosystems. Four teachers are stationed at each of three LTER sites spanning critical habitat types: the arctic tundra (Arctic LTER), temperate montane forests (Andrews LTER), and marine coastal ecosystems (Santa Barbara Coastal LTER), forming a cohort of 12 teachers in year 1, joined by another 12 teachers in year 2.

Teaching for PROWESS

2020 - 2025

Teaching for PROWESS aims to increase access and success for community college students in mathematics courses on the STEM pathway. Guided by the IMPACT: Improving Mathematical Prowess and College Teaching document (American Mathematical Association of Two Year Colleges, 2018), the project will convene teams from eight community colleges mathematics departments to transform the teaching and learning of mathematics at both the classroom and department levels. This project is guided by a definition of active learning in mathematics (ALM) as described by Laursen and Rasmussen (2019); active learning in mathematics is grounded on four principles: (1) students’ deep engagement in mathematical thinking; (2) instructors’ interest in and use of student thinking; (3) student-to-student interaction; and (4) instructors’ attention to equitable and inclusive practices.

The Virtual Field: A Mitigation Strategy for the COVID-19 Pandemic

2020 - 2023

The COVID-19 pandemic is causing massive disruptions in higher education. Faculty across disciplines are struggling to quickly transition to virtual classrooms. Nowhere has this been more difficult than in the field sciences, where first-hand experience with the complexity of the natural world is essential for applying classroom learning to authentic settings, developing deep content knowledge and skills, and fostering identity as a field scientist.

interPLAY: Early Learners Developing STEM Skills through Play and Design

2020 - 2024

The interPLAY: Early Learners Developing STEM Skills through Play and Design project focuses on playful engagement with STEM exhibits for children three to eight years old. The project team is developing a tool for practitioners that can be used for reflection and evaluation of exhibit design, with an eye on broadening participation in early STEM engagement through play. The four-phase “Research in Service to Practice” study has received funding from the National Science Foundation’s Advancing Informal STEM Learning program.


2019 - 2025

The Lucy Student Pipeline Accelerator and Competency Enabler (L’SPACE) Virtual Academy is a new student collaboration program with NASA’s Lucy Mission to Jupiter’s Trojan Asteroids. This interactive, team and project-based, 12-week program is designed to engage a diverse population of college/university science and engineering students in rigorous, project-based STEM workforce development.

Developing Integrative Manufacturing and Production Engineering Curricula That Leverage Data Science (IMPEL)

2019 - 2023

The Developing Integrative Manufacturing and Production Engineering Curricula That Leverage Data Science (IMPEL) project is developing a modular curriculum with seven courses, credentials including certificates and a minor in data science for production engineering, and a course/module recommendation system to help students determine which course or module will best meet their needs. These resources will help people working in manufacturing to retool their skill sets to keep up with the modern world.

Convergence Accelerator Phase I (RAISE): Analytics-Driven Accessible Pathways To Impacts-Validated Education (ADAPTIVE)

2019 - 2020

Drs. Martin Storksdieck, Nancy Staus and Heather Fischer along with Kimberley Preston were part of a transdisciplinary team of researchers and practitioners from academia (Oregon State University, Arizona State University and Indiana University) and industry (The Boeing Company and Burning Glass Technologies) that developed a career guidance system at a national scale. The Convergence Accelerator Phase I (RAISE): Analytics-Driven Accessible Pathways To Impacts-Validated Education (ADAPTIVE) project consisted of the development and testing of meaningful data visualizations and analytics about the relevance of, and efficacy of, available learning opportunities and credentials to help learners make informed, labor market aligned reskilling choices.

STEM Ambassadors Program (STEMAP)

2019 - 2023

The STEM Ambassador Program is a collaborative project that seeks to foster greater inclusion in science by training scientists to engage members of the public in innovative ways outside traditional venues.