CHEPREO, the Center for High Energy Physics Research and Education Outreach, is an NSF-funded multidisciplinary, multi-institution project that supports basic research in particle physics, grid computing, and advanced networking at CERN. CHEPREO is based in the Florida International University (FIU) physics department, but includes College of Education, Computer Science, and University Technology Services faculty and personnel, along with university partners at University of Florida, Florida State University, and the California Institute of Technology as well as universities in Brazil. Significant CHEPREO resources are devoted to excite, entice, and retain science and math students using the project’s cutting-edge science as a foundation.
CHEPREO’s Education and Outreach efforts have established a vibrant learning community of high school teachers, high school students, undergraduate students, faculty, and associated stakeholders over the past five years. The high school community, built on a foundation of pedagogic reform through physics modeling instruction and HEP outreach through QuarkNet, now extends to over 80 teachers in over 45 different schools in the South Florida region as well as many teachers in other states and regions in Florida impacting well over 10,000 students a year. High-school activities include intensive summer workshops for teachers, regular meetings of our teacher community named FizMo (Physics Modelers), and a series of high school student activities that entice students to pursue science degrees and careers. CHEPREO has also transformed the undergraduate experience through modeling-based, guided-inquiry introductory physics classes, the CHEPREO fellowship program, and the establishment of the Physics Learning Center. The undergraduate community impacts all physics majors and many other science and science/math education majors in addition to the fellows and modeling class students who are the direct recipients of the support.
The impact of the combined undergraduate and high school communities can be seen through multiple measures. Measures of the impact include improved conceptual learning, the first significant measurement of positive cognitive attitudinal shifts, improved success in an introductory physics courses, and increased enrollment and graduation rates for physics majors. Especially exciting is the reform has positively impacted all groups of students, including traditionally under-represented minorities and women. CHEPREO's success has been leveraged in many ways, including extending the reform movement deeper into the physics and curriculum and instruction departments, serving as a model for reform in other units in the university, and as a model for many complimentary funding proposals.