Engineering Experiences: Research on Student Competency, Motivation and Persistence in STEM for Underserved Youth
This project will advance efforts of the Innovative Technology Experiences for Students and Teachers (ITEST) program to better understand and promote practices that develop students' motivations and capacities to pursue careers in fields of science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) by providing engineering experiences in atmospheric and related sciences to 112 middle school students. The collaborative project is dedicated to helping low-income youth achieve a brighter future through long-term, comprehensive educational enrichment activities. It will develop and study Engineering Experiences, in an out-of-school-time (OST) setting that combines project-based learning in STEM with engineering experiences and ongoing mentoring to prepare students for success in high school STEM courses and the future STEM workforce. The project builds on previously funded projects about nanotechnology experiences for high school students and adapts cyberlearning tools for Engineering Experiences. Middle school students will use engineering design principles on activities and projects involving wind power, aircraft design, atmospheric sensors, solar energy, and testing dropsonde models in a wind tunnel as part of an afterschool program.
Guided by the US Department of Education's out-of-school-time framework, the project will use survey, interview, and classroom observation data to capture the degree and under what conditions the interplay of individual and social processes contributes to knowledge construction that leads to student competency, motivation, and persistence in STEM. If data show that certain types of engineering experiences do positively influence low socioeconomic status (SES) and underserved students' competency, motivation, and persistence in STEM, then outcomes will be disseminated to other communities to help increase opportunities for more low SES students to engage in project-based engineering experiences.