Cal State Bakersfield, Fresno State and Stanislaus State received a combined $2.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation to form a regional team of science and math experts to think outside the box when it comes to teaching science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

They will participate in intense creative-thinking “Ideas Labs” with nationally recognized math and science mentors to design a more interactive curriculum for lower-division chemistry and mathematics classes, according to a press release. The team will apply the practices to their coursework and center it around research on real-world problems in the San Joaquin Valley, beginning with air pollution.

Each university will focus on a discipline that presents the greatest challenge for its own students. Fresno State will focus on chemistry and math, CSUB will focus on chemistry and Stanislaus State will focus on math.

The project hopes to increase the pool of Hispanic, first-generation and low-income students with STEM degrees to better reflect the demographics of the region. Another goal is to help chemistry and math students feel a greater sense of belonging, a stronger sense of self-efficacy and identity and feel connected to faculty and their peers.

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