The University of Puerto Rico – Río Piedras (UPRRP) is one of the leading Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSI) in the Nation, as demonstrated by its strong track record as the leading source of underrepresented minorities who go on to professional careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), and its emergence as an important research center. These important results have been fostered via a strong institutional commitment to the integration of research and education, and through a close working relationship with the National Science Foundation (NSF) and other federal agencies. NSF has funded a cadre of high-quality of STEM programs at UPRRP, including Math and Science Partnership (MSP), Robert Noyce Math and Science Master Teacher Programs, Integrative Graduate Education and Research Training (IGERT), Center for Research and Education in Science and Technology (CREST), Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER), Undergraduate Mentoring in Environmental Biology (UMEB) and Geo-Internships.
Using the Innovation through Institutional Integration (I3) model, we seek to “maximize our yields” by building a Center for Science and Mathematics Education (CSME) based on existing NSF funded programs in the broad area of environmental sciences and the relationships they have established with the STEM educational community in Puerto Rico. More specifically, CSME will focus initially on the solid waste problem in Puerto Rico, and later expand to other interdisciplinary issues of relevance. The Center will provide the infrastructure for developing cooperative teaching approaches, supporting pilot studies, support for internet resources and for research in science education, including statistics support, building survey support, and other assessment tools. By utilizing funded NSF projects that are at different points on the educational continuum, CSME will have a holistic effect on the pipeline, leading to increased numbers (yields) of students entering careers in STEM fields.