LinCT: Linking Educators, Youth, and Learners in Computational Thinking
This project will advance efforts of the Innovative Technology Experiences for Students and Teachers (ITEST) program to better understand and promote practices that increase students' motivations and capacities to pursue careers in fields of science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) by producing empirical findings and/or research tools that contribute to knowledge about which models and interventions with K-12 students and teachers are most likely to increase capacity in the STEM and STEM cognate intensive workforce of the future.
The LinCT (Linking Educators, Youth, and Learners in Computational Thinking) project at the Science Museum of Minnesota (SMM) will engage female teachers-in-training and youth from underrepresented demographics in immersive technology experiences and STEM education. LinCT will guide teachers to develop their understanding and use of technology in the classroom, as well as prepare youth for a future where technology plays a key role in a wide range of professional opportunities. The project aims to inspire teachers and youth to see the possibilities of technological competencies, as well as why the incorporation of technology can build meaningful learning experiences and opportunities for all learners. The LinCT program model offers learning and application experiences for participating teachers and youth and provides an introduction of technological tools used in SMM educational programs and professional development on approaches for engaging all learners in STEM. Both groups will provide instruction in SMM technology-based Summer Camps, reaching 1,000 young people every year. In each following school year, project educators will develop and deliver technology-based programs to nearly 1,000 under-served and underrepresented elementary students. The project will allow teachers and youth to deliver exciting and engaging technology-based programs to nearly 4,000 diverse young learners. As a result, all participants in this project will be better equipped to incorporate technology in their future careers.
The LinCT project will investigate effective approaches for broadening the participation of underrepresented populations by providing female pre-service teachers and female youth with opportunities to lead programming at the Science Museum of Minnesota (SMM). Over three years, the LinCT project will employ 8-12 female teachers-in-training [Teacher Tech Cadres (TTC)] and 12-24 female youth [Youth Teaching Tech Crews (Y-TTC)] from demographics that are underrepresented in STEM fields. The integration of these groups will result in relationships fostered within an educational program, where all participants are learners and teachers, mentors and mentees. The results of this unique program model will be assessed through the experiences of this focused professional learning and teaching community. The LinCT research study will focus on three aspects of the project. First, it will seek to understand how the teachers-in-training and youth experience the project model's varied learning environments. Next, the study will explore how the TTC's and the Y-TTC's motivation, confidence, and self-efficacy with integrating technology across educational settings change because of the program. Finally, the study will seek to understand the lasting aspects of culture, training, and community building on SMM's internal teams and LinCT partner institutions (University of St. Catherine's National Center for STEM Elementary Education and Metropolitan State University's School of Urban Education).