STELAR Webinar: Strategies for Increasing Diversity in STEM Learning Environments
Summary: The ITEST program supports projects that provide technology-rich environments that help prepare youth, particularly from groups traditionally underrepresented in STEM, to enter the STEM workforce. A challenge to successfully delivering STEM education programming is the continued participation of diverse program participants, who may face social or external pressures or barriers in their immediate environment that may limit their attendance. During this webinar we heard from ITEST projects that are developing innovative program models to successfully recruit, retain, and engage youth from underrepresented communities in authentic STEM learning experiences.
Sally Stevens shared strategies for engaging rurally located Native American and Hispanic youth in STEM including (1) an innovative mentoring program, (2) culturally themed STEM topics, and (3) a hybrid model of “flash” STEM activities paired with fieldtrips. Michael Evans shared how their project is using fundamental concepts in energy conservation and sustainability through an informal design-based studio to engage rural Appalachian middle grade students in STEM. Anika Ward and Joseph Adamji shared strategies for recruiting youth from diverse backgrounds and how to keep them engaged. They shared findings and lessons learned from their project that has youth using computational thinking to address nutrition and food justice issues.