Ignite: Empowering Students through STEM Curricula Integrating the Sustainable Development Goals (2019-2020)

This Bass Connections project brought together an interdisciplinary team of innovators and educators to optimize the Ignite curriculum for implementation in the Durham Public Schools system. Ignite promotes active mentorship, catalyzes collaboration and fosters global awareness and citizenship.

The project team focused on creating content through an online platform of all existing Ignite curricular materials, implemented a semester-long program with a public school in Durham, and assessed its impact student interest and engagement. This work provided the foundation for scaling the Ignite curriculum on STEM education to a larger number of Durham schools in subsequent years.


Fall 2019 – Summer 2020

Team Outputs

Hope Springate, Nirmala Ramanujam, Mary Elizabeth Dotson, Valentina Alvarez. Online Thinktific platform for virtual curriculum.

Nimmi Ramanujam. Ignite: Empowering Local Students through STEM Curricula ($78,385 grant awarded from Burroughs Wellcome Fund, 2020)

Mary Elizabeth Dotson, Valentina Alvarez, Maria Tackett, Gabriela Asturias, Isabela Leon, Nirmala Ramanujam. 2020. “Design thinking-based STEM learning: Preliminary results on achieving scale and sustainability through the IGNITE model,” Frontiers in Education.


Ignite Design-Thinking Based STEM Learning

This Team in the News

Week One Reflection

This project team was originally part of the Education & Human Development theme of Bass Connections, which ended in 2022. 


Images: Courtesy of Duke Center for Global Women’s Health Technologies

Courtesy of Duke Center for Global Women’s Health Technologies.

Team Leaders

  • Libby Dotson, Pratt School of Engineering-Biomedical Engineering
  • Nimmi Ramanujam, Pratt School of Engineering-Biomedical Engineering

/graduate Team Members

  • Robert Morhard, Biomedical Engineering-PHD
  • Ruiming Xiong, Economics-AM

/undergraduate Team Members

  • Jamal Burns, History (AB)
  • Madison Frazier, Neuroscience (BS)
  • Rhea Jain, Public Policy Studies (AB)
  • Hope Springate, Biology (BS)

/yfaculty/staff Team Members

  • Rae Jean Proeschold-Bell, Duke Global Health Institute
  • Jory Weintraub, Science & Society