Project Profile

Skills21STEMStarter: An Incubator and Launch Pad to STEM Entrepreneurship and Careers


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 engaging in hands-on field experience, laboratory/project-based entrepreneurship tasks and mentorship experiences.

Education Connection's Center for 21st Century Skills, in collaboration with a consortium of education and industry partners, will develop an online open source platform with an integrated incubator curriculum that engages high school students, teachers, and mentors in synergistic collaborations to advance students' competencies and skills via the design and launching of STEM-related products and services. The project will be tested, iterated, and implemented in 25 diverse in-school settings and 2 afterschool settings to assess its effectiveness. The project will be implemented as a high school Capstone course and engage over 1,100 predominantly underrepresented students in the development, iteration, and launching of challenge project solutions. The focus of the project is on development of entrepreneurship skills in high school students and teaching them how to persist in the STEM marketplace.

The guiding research questions of the project are: (1) What coherent sets of experiences effectively and efficiently support student competency, motivation, and persistence for productive participation in the STEM-related workforce of today or in the future? (2) What instructional and curricular models can effectively engage teachers to utilize and integrate technologies to enhance student understanding of STEM-related occupations? (3) What roles might business and industry workforce members play in motivating students to become aware of, interested in, and prepared for careers in the STEM-related workforce? and (4) What are effective and productive ways to ensure broadening participation by engaging underrepresented populations in STEM programs and careers? Using a quasi-experimental design, the EDC research team will compare 12th grade students enrolled in STEM Starter Capstone courses with their peers enrolled in traditional Capstone courses. Participating schools will serve as sites or blocks, each offering two STEM Starter Capstone courses and two traditional Capstone courses.


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Principal Investigator(s)
Primary Contact


Award Number
Project Duration
2016 - 2021
Education Connection, Litchfield, CT
Project Work State
Target Gradespan(s)
High school (9-12)
Project Setting(s)
Formal Education
Informal Education
Geographic Location(s)
Project Status
Additional Disciplines
Bioscience - general
Additional Target Participants
STEM Professionals
English Learners