Promoting the participation of under-represented minorities in engineering is a national imperative. It is central for enhancing the likelihood of innovation, including a variety of perspectives when solving problems, and promoting social justice and broad access to the STEM workforce. Focusing on elementary school students is critical for broadening participation in engineering, as many children form lasting beliefs about their STEM identities and STEM self-efficacy by the time they are in fourth grade. While there has been a recent surge in efforts to integrate engineering in engineering curriculum in traditional school settings, out-of-school settings continue to play an important role in promoting equity in pre-college engineering experiences. Out-of-school settings in particular can be ideal for providing children with culturally-relevant engineering experiences.
This project focuses on the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE)'s Summer Engineering Experiences for Kids (SEEK) program. SEEK is a three-week summer program that engages 3rd-5th grade-aged children in hands-on, team-based engineering design projects led by "mentors" who facilitate the summer program and are typically undergraduate STEM students an in-service teachers. Since the program was first introduced in 2007, over 20,000 students have participated in SEEK. Based on early success of this program, NSF funded our multi-partner project to expand and strengthen the experience, conduct research on the impact of the program, and conduct research on how such outreach programs might grow in sustainable manners. Two objectives guide the research aspect of this project:
1. Evaluate SEEK’s success at influencing STEM-related academic and career identity, conceptual knowledge, and interpersonal and intrapersonal skills.
2. Generate evidence and a greater understanding of organizational contextual factors that operate to enhance, moderate, or constrain SEEK’s impact from site to site.
Our poster will present a summary of the large-scale data collection that occurred during the summer of 2018 at all 16 sites located across the US. We administered a variety of instruments (that have been vetted through peer-reviewed publication processes) to identify changes in the children's STEM-related outcomes over the course of the SEEK experience. We also collected background information with regard to socio-demographic characteristics, academic preparation, and personal and social experiences, which provide contextual information to help us understand differences between sites. To further operationalize the variation in organizational contexts across sites, we collected data from parents and mentors. In the poster we will share information about the instruments used for this study as well as findings from our 2018 data collection. Additionally, our poster will summarize the work that we have done to further strengthen the curricular and training aspects of SEEK.
This project was funded by the NSF ITEST program.
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