STEM CareerLaunch: Evaluating the Feasibility of a STEM Career-Based, Collective Impact Model on Youth in Boys & Girls Clubs
Increased exposure to STEM content and career pathways during out-of-school time contexts can significantly extend STEM learning and aspirational interests among middle and high school youth. Using a collective impact approach, the STEM CareerLaunch pilot project tests the feasibility of redesigning a widely used, national youth and career focused program for and by the National Boys & Girls Clubs of America to extend STEM learning and promote awareness, interest, and readiness for STEM-related occupations among youth. STEM CareerLaunch integrates extant STEM programs, such as First Robotics, Girls Who Code and Jason Learning, with newly developed STEM content and opportunities to create and test a comprehensive STEM learning and career program for youth. The results of this pilot will inform a more expansive effort to bring STEM CareerLaunch to an already networked 4,000 Boys & Girls Clubs, reaching over four million youth from predominately underrepresented groups in STEM, and youth participating in other afterschool/summer program throughout the United States.
Approximately 100 youth and informal educators in Boys & Girls Clubs in Fitchburg and Leominster, Massachusetts will participate in this pilot feasibility study. A five-pronged approach will be instituted including: (1) high quality out of school time STEM programming, (2) connected STEM career education, (3) mentorship, (4) professional development for the informal educators, and (5) incentives such as internships and field experiences for youth participants. The developmental evaluation will focus on program implementation, participant outcomes, and scale-up. Data collection methods will include quantitative and qualitative approaches such as baseline student data, project tracking logs, retrospective surveys, focus groups, staff interviews, and observations. A summative evaluation will also be conducted.
This endeavor is led by a collaborative partnership between the National Boys & Girls Clubs of America, Worcester Polytechnic Institute STEM Center, the Fitchburg and Leominster Public School Districts, and others. It is primarily funded by the Advancing Informal STEM Learning (AISL) program, which seeks to advance new approaches to, and evidence-based understanding of, the design and development of STEM learning in informal environments. It is also co-funded by the Innovative Technology Experiences for Students and Teachers (ITEST) program which is committed to better understanding and promoting practices that increase students' motivations and capacities to pursue careers in fields of science, technology, engineering, and or mathematics (STEM).
This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.