Website Helps STEM High School Students

Librarians at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville are linking STEM students to some useful online resources.

Knoxville’s new STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) high school opened in the fall of 2011 in the former L&N Railroad station on World’s Fair Park. The L&N STEM Academy is committed to using the latest technology to prepare students for STEM careers. It’s a challenging environment in which assignments require critical thinking to solve real-world problems, and teachers of different subjects cross-plan their lessons around a single project. Each student has been given his or her own iPad2 to serve as both computer and notebook. Students even use the iPads to discover their assignments by scanning QR codes posted on classroom doors.

The costly technologies that enable the school’s innovative learning environment translate into fewer dollars for the school media center. UT librarians are stepping in to supplement the research materials available to STEM students.

A website hosted by the UT Libraries provides links to free science and technology resources. SOIL (an acronym for STEM Oriented Information Literacy) is the creation of Thura Mack, UT Libraries coordinator for outreach and community learning services; Peter Fernandez, research services librarian for Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources; and School of Information Sciences student Lisa Kellerman.

The librarians hope resources on SOIL will enhance skills the STEM students will need when they begin taking dual-credit courses at UT in their junior year. The site includes research tips, guides to citing sources, a tutorial on plagiarism and academic integrity, and directories to STEM internships (a planned capstone experience for L&N STEM Academy students).

The resources on SOIL are freely available at library.utk.edu/outreach/soil.

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