Innovative Science, Technology Engineering, and Mathematics Work Force Development Project
The iSTEM-WORK is designed to provide Black male students with STEM learning experiences that will increase the students’ exposure to innovation and creativity in the students’ exposure to innovation and creativity in the STEM disciplines.
The Morehouse College's Innovative Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Work Force Development Project will engage minority male students in an active, inclusive learning community to enhance their interest in science and mathematics education and careers. The objective of the project is to shift from passive learning to active learning within the context of real-life problem-solving scenarios in order to promote academic success in middle school and high school and prepare students academically to attend a college or university. Learning modules will expose students to innovation and creativity to provide a dynamic, engaging, and realistic environment of hands-on activities to learn concepts within physics and mathematics that have applications in real life. The publication of findings from this project will provide an avenue for improving minority participation in science and mathematics education and careers. This could have significant influence on the national educational agenda by providing empirical findings on the best approach to understand the mechanism underlying these findings. The program will incorporate a strong entrepreneurial component designed to develop these students into future science and mathematics business leaders who will not only participate in the science and mathematics workforce but will also contribute to the expansion of the science and mathematics workforce. The project will engage Black male students in a long-term Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics program that will include a four-week Summer Program, Hands-on Field Experience, and Saturday Academy during the academic year. The program will bridge middle school students into high school and impact 42 students/year by admitting 14 students each from 6th, 7th and 8th grades respectively for a 3-year experience that includes culturally sustaining: 1) academic, social integration and advising; 2) knowledge and skill development; and 3) support and motivation which ultimately impacts students' confidence, academic outcome and Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics career choices. The goals of the project are: 1) Increase Science and Mathematics identity; 2) Increase the awareness and perception of Science and Mathematics as a career; and 3) Increase broadening participation of underrepresented populations in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics programs and careers. The research plan will focus on the research questions: (1) What factors and key experiences effectively promote awareness of Science and Mathematics careers, motivation to pursue a Science or Mathematics career, and persistence in undertaking education pathways to those careers? (2) In what roles and in what ways do parents, mentors, caregivers, and other community members motivate students to become aware of, interested in, and prepared for Science and Mathematics careers? The effectiveness of proposed active-learning experiences to enhance science and mathematics education of underrepresented minority students will be evaluated using a mixed method approach including a focus on three inter-related subjective constructs known to predict persistence in science: scientific self-efficacy, science identity, and intent to persist in science. To ensure ongoing quality of the project activities, external formative and summative evaluations with both qualitative and quantitative analysis will be conducted to gauge progress toward program goals. This project is funded by the Innovative Technology Experiences for Students and Teachers (ITEST) program, which supports projects that build understandings of practices, program elements, contexts and processes contributing to increasing students' knowledge and interest in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) and information and communication technology (ICT) careers. This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.