The T3 Alliance is a National Science Foundation project. There are 32 Upward Bound programs participating as grant sponsored sites, while other UB programs are a self-supporting participants in the project. While striving to respond to the Q&A’s generically, some of the questions are specific to NSF sites.
What is the Teaching Through Technology (T3) Alliance?
The Teaching Through Technology (T3) Alliance is a National Science Foundation award to the University of Alaska Fairbanks Upward Bound program. T3 Alliance increases UB students’ STEM identity and enhances the quantity and quality of high-impact, STEM-focused career activities, with a particular focus on three emerging technologies – Raspberry Pi computer coding, 3D printing, and autonomous systems. T3 Alliance is a resource that includes curriculum and training using low-cost, replicable materials to ensure instructional success even when implemented with non-STEM professionals.
The T3 Alliance goal is to actively engage students, hold their interest, and empower their growth mindset to see the connection between the power of technology and using design thinking approaches to address a community engagement project of local importance. The project curriculum focuses on four elements that prepare students for STEM careers:
1. Technology instruction in programmable/codable Raspberry Pi, autonomous systems and 3D printing;
2. Skill development in science communication, leadership development, growth mindset, and design thinking, as well as STEM career knowledge;
3. Community engagement projects; and
4. A comprehensive network of training, communication, and support for college access professionals.
Find additional information at <t3alliance.org>
What if you have more than one Upward Bound project?
Multiple programs and sites are encouraged to participate in the project. The participants need to be close enough to participate in after school or weekend activities. The students will be working as a team in a blended learning environment where a component of their learning will be hands-on projects guided by a UB T3 Alliance instructor, or online lessons. The NSF T3 Alliance projects funds for 10-15 student participants, but can self-support expand the project as they desire.
How is the T3 Alliance structured regarding time commitment from UB participants? For example, is the curriculum delivered on Saturdays during the academic year, during the summer, or both? How many lessons are in the T3 Alliance, and how much time does each lesson require?
The project curriculum varies depends on how the UB program is structured and how many schools are served. Primarily the participants will come together after school or on weekends to work hands-on with a UB T3 Alliance instructor on technology projects. The lessons can range from one to three hours of content.
How are the project curriculum and training delivered?
The T3 Alliance instructor can receive hands-on training, or they can access the curriculum and training modules through the T3 Alliance web portal. There are levels of competency, and participants can progress as quickly as they desire.
Participants will receive training on communication strategies and skillsets needed to accomplish STEM-related service projects. Onboard training and workshop opportunities for instructors and program directors are available on the webpage.
How many lessons total are in the T3 Alliance curriculum, and how much time does each lesson require?
Each technology subjects has at least 20 structured lessons, and vary in their classroom delivery times according to their level of difficulty and the participants’ familiarity with the topics. The lessons progress in difficulty and challenge. In general, the structured lessons can be completed by a student in as quickly as one hour and up to three-hour learning blocks. “Stretch Goal” activities are available for instructors who are working with highly motivated students.
What outcome(s) do you expect T3 Alliance to impact?
T3 is designed to enrich the current UB program goal of preparing students for postsecondary education by increasing their awareness and interest in STEM-related majors and career fields. T3 will measure the impact the curriculum has on raising students’ knowledge and interest in STEM-related areas. T3 supports the goals of your program, which is to keep the students active and interested in attending school, getting good grades, and moving onto higher education.
Are other activities involved?
Along the way, we seek to involve students in a service-learning project centered around the abilities of the technologies (i.e., what can be accomplished with the technology to help the local community, either independently or with the combined use of UAVs, 3D manufacturing and code-able devices). The local community is the UB community, the school community, or the business /broader community in general. We have a lot of examples of service projects as inspiration. Through the service-learning project, students are exposed to and learn about team building, communicating science, system design thinking, and leadership skills/practices.
Where, when, and how will IRB approval be obtained for the collection of data from human subjects?
IRB approval for the T3 Alliance has been obtained at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, through IRBNet, and is an “Exempt” project because of the non-invasive nature of the data. The T3 Alliance evaluation expands on the research plan implemented with the Track 3 EPSCoR grant (Modern Blanket Toss), which served as the initial research the T3 Alliance grant is replicating. An NSF approved evaluator will conduct the project evaluation. Student data will be securely coded and anonymous. Student participation will include the informed consent of the active participants and program approval. The project is primarily interested in the basic demographics of the population served and the individual’s post-secondary success. Students occasionally complete a quick online survey with no identifying information. The students’ identification demographics are scrubbed, so no individuals are identified. We want to see if participating students are attending college and the career area they are interested in pursuing – so the evaluators are working on how the National Student Clearinghouse can be used or if we will need to incorporate a voluntary reporting format by the students. There will be some case study examples, but those will probably be focused on strong staff and programs. In one case we are interested in how the leadership team maintains continuous communication over the performance of the grant.
Is there a comparison group whose performance is compared to that of RUB participants who receive the T3 Alliance curriculum? If so, who will be the members of this group, and how will they be selected?
In addition to the raw number of participants progressing onto college in STEM fields and the pre- and post-performance indicators of the students’ interest in STEM fields, the comparison group will be the National demographics of UB performing students and the National statistics of underrepresented groups entering STEM fields.
Will the fact that our RUB projects already have a reasonably strong STEM focus (e.g., many of our RUB’s learning activities this past summer were associated with UAV drones) potentially compromise your baseline measurements?
The T3 Alliance is a value-added project and should only continue to support your program with additional materials and training. We intend to learn from you (and other RUB coordinators) as well as grow our understanding(s) of integrating high-interest technologies into successful STEM education.
To what extent could we implement the T3 Alliance curriculum and utilize T3 Alliance equipment and supplies with the students in our two Upward Bound Math and Science (UBMS) projects?
Even if these UBMS students were not officially part of your study, we would still like to find a way for them to learn more about coding and 3D printing. In general, that is not a problem. We want the lessons learned to spread across the project. For the official purposes of the grant, the materials, supplies, and training are for the RUB, and we wouldn’t want to limit the resources from reaching their intended audience. Specifically, feel free to use additional funding/resources to purchase supplies that would facilitate disseminating the lessons to other students and programs.
What is the maximum number of students who can participate in each site? For example, if all 200 of our Regular UB students wanted to join, would that be possible?
Ideally, a maximum of two students per device is preferred. Therefore, a site with 15 devices could work with a total of 30 students. Yes, if you have additional funding/ resources to purchase more supplies, then all the students at your site can participate.
What additional staff needs to be hired (how many persons with what qualifications for how many hours) to implement T3 Alliance at our site?
No additional staff needs to be hired. Professional development will be provided to T3 Alliance instructors. Each participating site should select one designated individual to serve as the UB T3 instructor. In many cases, this person is a math/science specialist. The T3 instructor needs merely to have a high interest in learning and teaching more about UAVs, 3D printers, or code-able devices – they do not need to be a current user – we will assist them with all they need to know. The RUB needs to commit to letting the coordinator attend specialized training held at the beginning of each project year at a regional location. The annual training includes hands-on training in the use of the technology and utilization of the web presence for receiving distance support. The T3 Alliance instructor will have continuous support and training throughout the project.
How quickly can I begin?
Programs can begin as quickly as desired. An additional consideration is there is a much better implementation success when both Instructor and Director participate in a T3 Alliance Onboard training. While face-to-face Onboard training is provided, it is not a prerequisite to starting the program. A current list of training and workshop opportunities is maintained on the website.
The Onboard training is a four-day rapid orientation to all of the resources and philosophies of the project. Instructors receive instruction in recognition of growth mindset behaviors, hands-on technical skills surrounding Raspberry Pi devices, 3D printers, and autonomous systems, as well as the use of design thinking to engage a group of students in addressing local community issues. Using field trips, we model the design thinking process and the application of technology to address locally significant matters. You will hear from Upward Bound students and experienced educators with examples of projects from around the country.
T3 Alliance curriculum is intentionally designed to take into consideration UB programs that do not have dedicated technology, math, or science instructor on staff. A quality instructor interested in the use of technology can be trained to use the available technology with students.
A sample four-day Onboard training agenda is available on the website.
What is the cost of attending a T3 Alliance training?
Quite simply, every detail of the training is pre-arranged. Upon arrival at the training location, all aspects of the training (unless otherwise listed) are covered in an all-inclusive price that includes housing, meals, snacks, refreshments, transportation, including airport pick-up and delivery, field trips, and an instructor’s Raspberry Pi Starter Kit.
Can Raspberry Pi coding be taught in a year? How do instructors receive support?
Students and Instructors can accomplish a lot in one year. At training events, a lot of material is covered in a relatively short time, and we expect many will not remember all the workshop details. Hence, we have an ever-expanding curriculum with tutorial videos available to provide the support required for instructors to be successful. New curriculum and instructional videos are regularly added to the website.
How is the curriculum and instructor support provided?
T3 Alliance subscribed member have priority access to curricula, instructor support, regional workshops, design challenges, and trainers through the summer of 2020. On-site and regional training opportunities delve further into the Community Engagement projects, as well as supporting the Raspberry Pis, 3D printing, and autonomous vehicles curriculum.
During the training, the T3 Alliance trainers model the technology as if in front of a classroom of students. Using this process helps to consider the options available to maximize materials and physical classroom environments. Consideration of these issues will determine how much equipment is needed.
How much equipment is needed?
The T3 Alliance has a custom-designed Raspberry Pi computer kit that students assemble as an operating computer. Each kit comes with a wide variety of sensors used in the curriculum. A picture of the kit and a list of all the components are on the website at <https://t3alliance.org/t3-core-kit-rpi/>. The classroom kits have components that are customized to the curriculum and cost $300. Ideally, each student has access to their own RPi Computer kit, but students can share kits.
Your equipment needs can be customized to the implementation size of your UB program.
Recommended equipment purchasing includes:
1) A Qidi 3D printer for use with the T3 Alliance 3D printing curriculum, which is built around a durable, low-cost printer.
2) A T3 Alliance Classroom Instructors and Spare Parts Kit containing items that assist with larger groups and includes a router programmed as a local Wi-Fi network, delicate sensors, and electronic parts and tools that students can share across the classroom.
What is included in becoming a MEMBER of the T3 Alliance?
T3 Alliance members receive direct access to the staff trainers, online support, phone support, real-time video support, guest speakers, archived conversations, problem-solving collaboration, design challenges, design thinking and community engagement technical support, priority registration and the reduced rate at regional workshops, and weekly Google Live training sessions.
What types of equipment (UAVs, 3-D printers, etc.) would we need to purchase, and how much would the grant provide toward the cost of those purchases?
Each project is provided with starter kits and an annual refresh (eventually providing, 3D printer, Raspberry Pi coding package, and UAVs). Also, each NSF participating site has $3,500 sub-award per year of participation. These funds will provide annual support for individualized operating expenses at the site level.
How much would it cost us to replicate this experience with our UBMS students? For example, how much would does it cost to purchase additional materials to provide the same experience for our UBMS projects?
The total supply costs are approximately $1,500 annually for 15 students. We are currently receiving requests from programs to join the project. Stay tuned for more details.
What costs are allowable on the sub-award?
At the beginning of each grant year, you will be asked to submit a $3,500 budget and brief narrative (1-2 short paragraphs). Each site is anticipated to use some of these funds to refresh, replace, or expand kits as needed. Also, a program may elect to use these funds to hire a guest speaker, organize field trips, or contract a content specialist, to name a few possible examples. These funds need to directly benefit the T3 Alliance objectives by supporting participants and contributing to overall program success. Your budget will be reviewed at the beginning of each grant year by the Principal Investigator, UAF Grant Fiscal Officer, and UAF Procurement and Contracts Office to ensure the projected expenses are allowable and approved. Notable deviations to your budget need to be submitted for prior approval to ensure costs will be reimbursed.
For more specifics on allowable costs on the T3 grant, please refer to the T3 Scope of Work (provided) and the National Science Foundation Grant Policy Manual, Chapter IV – Allowability of Costs: https://www.nsf.gov/pubs/manuals/gpm05_131/gpm6.jsp
If you have any specific questions regarding your budget or allowable costs or would like to submit a revision to your budget, please contact the Grant Fiscal Officer, who is managing the project funding. Please see Question #18 for GFO contact information.
How will I get reimbursed for the expenses? When can I start spending?
Your first year of participation, the sub-award will be created through the University of Alaska, Fairbanks Procurement and Contracts Office. Each additional year of participation, a modification will be processed to increase the sub-award budget, as indicated in the approved budget and budget narrative. Your institution will be required to review, sign, and return the requested documents promptly. Once the sub-award is set up and the modification is processed, you may spend funds as outlined in your budget. (Please see #14 for modifications to your budget or projected expenses). UAF will reimburse approved expenses as invoiced. Invoices must be submitted before the deadline indicated in the sub-award to ensure reimbursement. However, invoices may be submitted at any time throughout the grant year.
Will the sub-award accumulate Facilities and Administrative (F&A) cost at the negotiated rate for our institution to support administrative-related costs?
Given the nominal amount of funding for the annual sub-award and the administrative assistance provided by the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, we request that F&A is waived for your institution. This will allow all $3,500 to be applied to support the project directly. This means that your institution will be providing voluntary administrative support and resources to support the project. If you have any concerns about waiving F&A, please contact the Grant Fiscal Officer, who is managing the project funding. Please contact the Grant Fiscal Officer for additional information.
Who do I contact if I have questions, or if I need to submit an invoice or report?
For PROGRAM-RELATED QUESTIONS, please contact.
John Monahan, Director, and Project Investigator
University of Alaska, Fairbanks
Adam Low, Assistant Director
University of Alaska, Fairbanks