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Class partners with local libraries to bring hands-on STEM learning … – UKNow

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Dec. 21, 2022) — Kody Frey, an assistant professor in the University of Kentucky College of Communication and Information’s School of Information Science, and his CIS 112 Accelerated Composition and Communication class collaborated with the Lexington Public Library to bring experiential learning opportunities into the Lexington community.
The event, titled “Hands-On Science with University of Kentucky STEM Students,” took place on Nov. 15 and 17, at the Central Library location. Students, parents and community members were welcome to drop in at any time.
Frey’s class, which includes a variety of science, technology, engineering and mathematics majors at UK, focuses on integrated oral, written and visual communication skill development. In this partnership, his students were challenged to create a book that makes a complex STEM topic accessible to children. At the event, students read their books, led participants through an engaging activity and answered questions.
For Frey, this experience was a great way for students to make an impact outside of the classroom and adapt to real-life audiences.
“My class focuses on technical writing and communication, so we talked often about how we must be reader-centered instead of writer-centered,” Frey said. “I wanted (my students) to think about who they would be writing their books for and how they could adjust their complex, technical information for that group.”
Sophomore Tharanie Subramaniam, a computer engineering major, used her project to explain how the internet works. She employed various communication strategies she learned in class, like using metaphors to frame complex ideas, to teach the children that approached her booth.
“The internet is like a puzzle,” she explained to participants as they colored maps of computer networks. “And IP (Internet Protocol) is like a postal system, kind of like how you have a home address.”
This assignment was a course requirement, but for Frey’s students, completing their projects meant more than just checking a box and receiving a grade.
Nathan Baggett, a freshman engineering major whose project explained how magnets work, noted that his experiences in science labs as a child led him to pursue STEM in college.
“I still remember and enjoy those (labs), and I want to make a positive impact,” he said.
Community members shared the same sentiment. Christi Gresham, an employee of the Lexington Public Library, attended the event with her son Zachary. Zachary, a lover of all things robots and circuits, enjoys STEM labs so much that she will bring him to events like this even on her work-from-home days, she said.
“I think this is huge. He can’t experience this at school, and UK has been so good with little kids,” Gresham said. “And I learn things too! It’s not just for kids.”
Given the success of the event, Frey hopes to continue the CIS and Lexington Public Library partnership in the future.
“I love that (students) get to see the impact that the public library has on the community. It’s important to our college that we share this knowledge so students can better appreciate and protect these resources in the future,” Frey said.
“We were so happy to partner with Dr. Frey and his class,” Amanda Wheeler, the experiential learning supervisor at Lexington Public Library, said. “It’s so important for young students to see young professionals in STEM fields, because it increases their engagement and allows them to visualize themselves in those types of careers.”
The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity, and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion four years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. UK has been judged a “Great College to Work for” three years in a row, and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes’ list of “America’s Best Employers.”  We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for five straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.

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