Project Profile

Science, Engineering, and Technology for Students, Educators, and Parents


 The Science, Engineering, and Technology for Students, Educators, and Parents (SETSEP) program will provide K-3 students and their parents with hands-on, activity based instruction in science, engineering, and digital technology. Through its parent organization, the Chicago Pre-College Science and Engineering Program Inc. (ChiS & E), SETSEP will: (a) expose participants to a range of science content and digital technologies, (b) foster an awareness of STEM careers, (c) empower parents with tools and resources to support their children, and (d) provide ongoing professional development to teachers. A host of partners including Chicago Public Schools (CPS), the Museum of Science and Industry, J.P. Morgan Chase Bank, Mercy Hospital, and the Illinois Institute of Technology will collaborate to implement the program. The SETSEP project builds on the history and success of the Detroit Area Pre-College Engineering Program (DAPCEP). Participants and Settings: Approximately 360 low income, minority K-3 students, their parents, and 30 teachers from seven Chicago public schools will participate in SETSEP. Project participants represent two underrepresented groups in STEM; African American (3/4 of project participants) and Hispanic (1/4 of project participants). Saturday workshops for SETSEP students and parents and summer institutes for SETSEP teachers will be held at the Chicago Museum of Science & Industry, a partnering SETSEP organization. A biennial community fair with speakers, exhibits, student work showcase and instructional activities will be culminating events for SETSEP participants. Project Design and Deliverables: The project will collaborate with Chicago Public Schools to recruit K-3 students, their parents, and teachers from seven designated public schools situated in low-income minority communities. Project participants will engage four -three hour Saturday sessions each semester. An age appropriate STEM related curriculum has been developed for each grade level; Kindergarten (Little Hydrologist), Grade 1 (Little Chemist), Grade 2 (Little Electrical Engineer), and Grade 3 (Little Mechanical Engineer). The parent component is geared towards providing parents with STEM content, tools, and resources to better support their SETSEP students. Parents and students will be required to commit to the program for four years. Project deliverables include an interactive bilingual website, K-3 curriculum and activities, training materials and workshops, parent support materials and resources, and biennial community fair events. Project Outcomes, Impacts, and Evaluation: The broader impacts of this project will be reflected by the rich, intensive exposure to science content and digital technologies through hands-on, cyber-enabled learning activities for over 360 students, their parents, and 60 teachers from low income, underrepresented communities. The project should: (a) enhance participant STEM knowledge and interest among underrepresented groups in STEM, (b) foster an awareness of STEM careers, (c) build STEM instructional capacity through over 90 hours of intensive, professional development and training institutes, and (d) help parents to better support their students interest in STEM. The evaluation study will employ a mixed methods approach to examine project implementation, effectiveness, and impacts. Document reviews, interviews, assessments, observations, focus groups, student portfolio and digital artifact analysis, and attendance records will be used to measure project impacts, content knowledge, motivation, STEM interest, and project success. Formative assessments will provide iterative, ongoing opportunities for project refinement and adjustments. The formative and summative evaluations will endeavor to capture participants' interest, engagement, and motivation. In addition, data collected from SETSEP will be used in a comparative analysis of similar variables tracked in its sister program, the Detroit Area Pre-college Engineering Program (DAPCEP). Broader Significance and Importance: The timely Science, Engineering, and Technology for Students, Educators, and Parents Program has the potential to contribute to the field?s limited understanding of the impact of such programs on early K-3 exposure to science content and technology, early STEM career awareness, K-3 parent empowerment, and teacher professional development transferability from informal to formal education settings. Few programs exist that provide authentic science experiences and content, in a range of critical STEM disciplines such as chemistry and engineering, for K-3 students at each grade level while simultaneously providing relevant intensive science, academic, and social support to their parents. The data collected by SETSEP will not only inform the program but the longitudinal data from SETSEP and DAPCEP will be compared and analyzed, potentially providing rich opportunities to identify cross-programmatic practices and critical factors impacting scalability and project success. The resulting potentially transformative model may challenge existing beliefs regarding early receptiveness to science content, technology, and STEM careers by K-3 children, from low income underrepresented groups, in informal and formal settings.


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Principal Investigator(s)


Award Number
Project Duration
2010 - 2013
Chicago Pre-College Science and Engineering Program, Inc., Chicago, IL
Project Work State
Target Gradespan(s)
Elementary school (K-5)
Middle school (6-8)
Geographic Location(s)
Project Status
Additional Disciplines
Engineering - general
Additional Target Participants