Animando a Estudiantes con Technologia (AET) - Encouraging students in the field of information technology
Animando a Estudiantes con Technología (Encouraging Students in the Field of Information Technology or AET) is an ITEST Strategies project targeting elementary, middle, and high school Latino students in Watsonville, CA. Project partners include the Pajaro Valley Unified School District and the Math Engineering Science Achievement Program (MESA) at the University of California, Santa Cruz. AET builds on the work of several successful NSF-funded initiatives including Girls Creating Games (HRD 02-17221) and Math and Parent Partners in the Southwest (ESI 99-01275) by testing a model of parent engagement and leadership (PEAL) in combination with an out-of-school youth IT education program. The PEAL model creates a strong network of community support for IT learning while enhancing parent capacity to understand and utilize cyberinfrastructure and cyberlearning. A Parent Leadership Committee will be formed to assess community IT resources and needs, while parent workshops and family activities provide an understanding of IT tools and career paths. The project uses structured, hands-on, seven-week, out-of-school IT education modules (Intensives) in conjunction with bridging activities to maintain youth engagement in IT and in the AET community of learners. The IT Intensive Program offered to 5th graders increases IT literacy through a project-based survey course of various computer applications taught by high school near-peer educators. Topics include computer basics, electronic communication, web navigation, multi-media presentations, and virtual reality. Intensives at the middle school level increase IT fluency through digital game design and 3D animation (both of which teach basic programming concepts and project management), support the development of academic fundamentals, and teach youth to apply math and engineering concepts. Both middle and high school students participate in MESA activities designed to build teamwork, leadership, and academic success. Successful navigation of these transitions, along with support for IT interests, development of IT fluency and awareness of careers will contribute significantly to realizing career options in IT for Latino youth. Additionally, a Summer Teacher Colloquium provides educators with embedded teacher training in IT skills, content, and pedagogy. AET is projected to reach 175 youth participants each year. The project evaluation will be conducted by SRI International. A mixed-methods approach will be used to assess the feasibility of combining the PEAL model and Bridged Intensives to increase the IT interest and readiness of Latino students, families and the local community.