Senators Collins, King Announce $182,845 Grant for Saint Joseph’s College Chemistry Program

Initiative will provide opportunities for service learning through community engagement.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Angus King (I-Maine) announced that Saint Joseph’s College will receive a $182,845 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for the College’s “Chemistry for the Community” initiative. Through the initiative, Saint Joseph’s College will create a service-learning chemistry curriculum that will partner Saint Joseph’s students with high school students in the Windham/Raymond school district. The partnership will enhance the College’s chemistry curriculum and simultaneously provide benefits to local students interested in STEM-based fields.


“STEM education is an important part of ensuring that our students are prepared to enter the 21st century workforce,” said Senators Collins and King. “This initiative will help Saint Joseph’s students deepen their understanding of their chemistry coursework, while also providing encouragement and support to Maine high school students – a win on all fronts that will help Maine students succeed.”


“Saint Joseph’s College students will be doing science out in the community as part of their courses,” said Dr. Emily Lesher, Assistant Professor of Chemistry (Principal Investigator). “Our hypothesis is that service learning provides an authentic context to motivate chemistry learning and helps develop students' identities as scientists, which has been shown to improve student learning, retention, and success.  There is a big difference between reading about a subject and being responsible for constructing an idea and engaging with the community as an expert on the idea.”


Specifically, Chemistry for the Community will:


1) develop and implement a service-learning-oriented chemistry curriculum at Saint Joseph's College;


2) evaluate the specific benefits of this curriculum as students build on their roles as community-engaged scientists;


3) create and share a new service-learning-oriented chemistry instructional model called "Chemistry for the Community" for other institutions who wish to follow the same path.


The NSF supports research, innovation, and discovery in order to provide a foundation for economic growth in America. Founded in 1950 by an act of Congress, the NSF is an independent federal agency that works to advance the frontiers of science and engineering so that our nation can develop the knowledge and cutting-edge technologies needed to address current and future challenges.