Tennessee Explorers: Partnering With Public Television to Tell the Stories of the STEM Explorers Who Live Among Us

September 15th, 2011 - August 31st, 2013 | PROJECT

This CRPA project seeks to inform Tennessee residents about STEM research that is occurring at Vanderbilt University and the scientists that are undertaking this exciting work. Tennessee Explorers is a two-part television series which uses an interview format to present scientists, both as real people and as research professionals. Questions for the scientists include where they grew up, what they did as children, and how they progressed to the stage of being an accomplished scientist. Moreover, each scientist or engineer will discuss their research and associated processes, conveying the exploratory nature of science. Two 30-minute programs will air on Nashville Public Television (NPT) featuring 3 NSF-funded scientists on each show. The programs will be broadcast 10 times throughout the state and will be available online for subsequent use by teachers and the general public. This is a unique collaboration between the Emmy-award winning staff at NPT and university research faculty. It is a true partnership with each contributing their expertise to inform the public about cutting-edge scientific research. Obvious in all of the ideas, there is the undercurrent that youth encouragement will be generated in terms of models and careers to become future scientists. While the intended audience is the Nashville area, affiliated PBS stations will broadcast the interviews across the state reaching an estimated 100,000 individuals in the first year. The television series and subsequent explorer interviews will be made available through the new Tennessee Digital Learning Library, while DVDs will be distributed to schools and science museums upon request. If successful as judged by the extensive evaluation studies, this program will likely be expanded as a national model.

Project Website(s)

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Project Products


Team Members

Keivan Stassun, Principal Investigator, Vanderbilt University
Charles Chappell, Co-Principal Investigator, Vanderbilt University
Elizabeth Curley, Co-Principal Investigator, Nashville Public Television


Funding Source: NSF
Funding Program: ISE/AISL
Award Number: 1104330
Funding Amount: 150000


Audience: Educators | Teachers | General Public | Museum | ISE Professionals
Discipline: Nature of science
Resource Type: Project Descriptions
Environment Type: Broadcast Media | Media and Technology | Websites | Mobile Apps | Online Media