Press Release



To develop cyber-enabled instructional methods based on video game practices to transform Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education



Las Vegas, Nevada - Sept. 19, 2013 
// The Nevada System of Higher Education (NSHE) has received an award of $749,700 from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for a period of three years to develop Cyber-Learning Activities to Scaffold STEM practices (CLASSP). This project is funded through NSF's Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research, Track III-Infrastructure Improvement Program; whose mission is to support the strategic goal of broadening participation of underrepresented minorities, women, persons with disabilities, individuals in underserved rural regions of the country, and to improve future research and development competitiveness of EPSCoR jurisdictions.

The goal of CLASSP is to establish a cyber-learning framework to attract interest and participation in STEM education for underrepresented students in urban and rural centers.


CLASSP will be introduced to students in Nevada through existing partnerships within the Nevada Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness Undergraduate Program (GEAR UP). GEAR UP targets the college preparation for at-risk and minority students with a vision to change the culture of schools located in economically disadvantaged communities so that students are prepared academically and have resources to attend and succeed in college. Through this partnership, CLASSP's learning methodology will be piloted in hybrid formats with students in the urban settings of Reno and Las Vegas. It will then be expanded to meet the interests and needs of rural educators and students in remote areas of Nevada.


CLASSP will be under the leadership of Principal Investigators, Dr. PG Schrader and MaryKay Orgill from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. "CLASSP is a pilot project that combines a rich line of research from the area of online learning with a valuable feedback system that has been informed by video games," stated Dr. Schrader. "Ultimately, CLASSP is an opportunity to examine best practices for Nevada's future by providing opportunities to engage traditionally underrepresented middle school students in STEM activities across socio-economic and geographic boundaries throughout our amazingly diverse state."

The project will develop collaborations between researchers, faculty members and students across NSHE including, Drs. Henry Sun and Kumud Acharya, Desert Research Institute, Las Vegas; Dr. Jacque Ewing-Taylor and Nancy Latourrette, M.S; University of Nevada, Reno.


The program will evaluate how gaming literature can be utilized to promote significant gains in personal interest, discourse, argumentation, and peer review in an online, hybrid setting. CLASSP will promote educational practices that will engage the participants by adapting systems typically used in videogames to encourage specific behavior such as; world exploration, questing, or social play. 

"CLASSP offers an excellent opportunity to leverage some of the strengths of the state in order to benefit all students in Nevada. Because I grew up in Nevada, the fact that knowledgeable researchers and educators from across the state are coming together to improve science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education means a lot to me, and I'm excited that I am able to contribute to such a project in my home state," stated Dr. Orgill.


Subsequently, the program will identify best practices to train and support network practitioners implementing Next Generation Science Standards, Common Core State Standards, and STEM education through this infrastructure. The project's low technology requirements can easily be integrated into the most rudimentary technology infrastructure, which makes CLASSP particularly effective in meeting the needs of rural educators and students in remote areas of Nevada. The lessons learned will inform teacher training and STEM education of diverse students.


"We are so pleased that Drs. Schrader and Orgill and their team received this very competitive award from the National Science Foundation. This was one of five projects funded, and it will deliver sustainable learning activities to complement existing NSF investments in broadening participation. Additionally, the project will demonstrate novel and effective strategic approaches for inclusiveness that can be adapted and replicated nationally," concluded Dr. Gayle Dana, Nevada State EPSCoR Director.


About NSHE  The Nevada System of Higher Education, comprised of two doctoral-granting universities, a state college, four comprehensive community colleges and one environmental research institute, serves the educational and job training needs of the nation's fastest growing state. The NSHE provides educational opportunities to nearly 106,000 students and is governed by the Nevada Board of Regents.
About Nevada EPSCoR  
The goal of Nevada Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) is to support collaborative research partnerships between higher education institutions and private industries to create long-term improvements in scientific research and infrastructures, strengthening our research and development capacity in Nevada and at a national level.  Nevada EPSCoR programs enhance graduate education, stimulate undergraduate student research, and promote the involvement of women and underrepresented groups in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines. 
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Martha Delgado
Nevada EPSCoR
(702) 895-5580 
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