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RAISE: Science Education for Incarcerated Youth

A sprout breaking through the pavement

Project Name
Reclaiming Access to Inquiry-Based Science Education (RAISE) for Incarcerated Students

Project Description

CAST, in partnership with the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, the Collaborative for Educational Services (CES), and the Department of Youth Services (DYS) created and tested an innovative new model for teaching science to incarcerated youth.

The project applies Universal Design for Learning principles to science curriculum in order to make it more accessible, engaging, and effective for diverse learners. The new model will help incarcerated youth:

  • improve their mastery of science content
  • improve their scientific thinking skills
  • develop an interest in the sciences and science careers

One major focus of the project is to design digital tools (tablet and laptop devices) to enable flexible learning options for student variability. A challenge of working with incarcerated youth is that researchers cannot use traditional science equipment.  Part of the project, then, is to use these digital tools to provide virtual science labs and effectively deliver science concepts.

Principal investigator Michael Krezmien from UMASS says RAISE is "unique because our response to this situation is to employ the principles of Universal Design for Learning to create a virtual science world that incarcerated youth can engage in. For instance, since these students cannot participate in typical laboratory experiences, we will be using technology to create virtual labs that they will be able to access with iPads and other technologies."


2014 – 2018


National Science Foundation


University of Massachusetts-Amherst, Center for Youth Engagement
Collaborative for Educational Services (CES)
Department of Youth Services (DYS)

Project Leadership

Michael P. Krezmien, PhD, UMASS-Amherst (PI)
Tracey Hall, PhD, CAST (Co-PI)
Martina Nieswandt, PhD,  UMASS-Amherst (Co-PI)


For more information about this project, contact Tracey Hall.

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