Partnership Earns Motorola Grant

06/28/2009
By From the Lowell Sun

LOWELL -- A program designed to build a research and learning network linking UMass Lowell graduate students in Engineering, Sciences and Education with students and teachers at Lowell High School and Lawrence High School is among 92 programs around the country that recently received a Motorola Foundation Innovation Generation Grant.

The $50,000 grant will support the program Vibes and Waves in Action and the development of interactive laboratory and computer experiments in audio and radio communications. The experiments will be implemented in the high schools by UMass Lowell graduate students.

Five students in master's and doctoral degree programs in the university's Center for Advanced Computation and Telecommunications have been working with Physics teachers and freshmen at Lowell and Lawrence high schools for Math, Science and Technology for more than a year to introduce research topics, tools and experiments that support the Physics and Mathematics curriculum.

"This grant will allow us to bring sophisticated equipment, such as network and spectrum analyzers and software radios, into high-school classrooms and engage students in hands-on experiments while educating them on the future of communications technology," said Engineering Professor Kavitha Chandra, who directs the project.

"At the same time, graduate students become more perceptive on how to communicate their research to a diverse audience and serve as mentors to the young students," Chandra added.
 
The Vibes and Waves program, two years in development, has forged stronger connections between researchers in the Graduate School of Education and College of Engineering, said Judith Boccia, director of the Office of School Partnerships and the program's co-director.

"High-school teachers and students are eager for hands-on science experiments with sophisticated equipment to enhance their curriculum and extend their understanding of complicated topics," Boccia said. "The graduate students bring these exciting lessons to the classrooms, and at the same time model what it's like to be a scientist. Teachers value the extra help in the classroom and the opportunity to learn themselves about cutting-edge science research.

"In the long term," she added, "we hope a good number of the high-schoolers who've had the Vibes and Waves experiences will choose to study Science or Engineering in college and ideally choose to do so at UMass Lowell."