Project Profile

STEM-based University Pathway Encouraging Relationships with Chicago High schools in Automation, Robotics and Green Energy


This Developing and Testing Innovations project will advance efforts of the Innovative Technology Experiences for Students and Teachers (ITEST) program to better understand and promote practices that increase students' knowledge and interest in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) and information and communication technology (ICT) careers by connecting faculty and undergraduate students at Illinois State University with students and teachers at four Chicago-area high schools and four Community-Based Organizations (CBOs) that serve the communities around them. The project is based on the exploration of STEM-focused technologies including robotics, solar energy, and electric vehicles, and aims to serve students from populations that are underrepresented in STEM fields. Students will meet after school once per week to engage in informal, hands-on STEM educational activities. During the summers, students will attend a three-day STEM camp to apply and extend the knowledge they have gained throughout the year and learn about STEM educational and career pathways through field trips and guest speakers from STEM industries. Teachers at each of the high schools will serve as mentors for the students.

The research, guided by the National Research Council’s STEM Learning Ecosystem Model, will contribute to the disruption of inequities that hinder access to STEM career pipelines for participants by serving as a bridge between informal high school academic experiences, STEM-related higher education programs, and STEM-related career pathways. The project will recruit approximately 320 students from the four partner high schools.  The project will use a mixed-method data collection approach including observations, surveys, and interviews.  Utilizing a pre to post methodology, researchers will employ the Common Instrument Suite (CIS) of surveys, developed and validated by the Partnerships in Education and Resilience (PEAR) Institute. Survey data will measure student and teacher's STEM-related attitudes, including STEM engagement, STEM career knowledge, and STEM identity.   This work offers an approach to support youth in their understanding of the impact that automation, robotics, and green energy are having on the technology industry and the nature of that work. Additionally, the work will capture the effects CBO partners have in post-secondary STEM education and career pathways.

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.


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Principal Investigator(s)
Co-Principal Investigator(s)


Award Number
Project Duration
2022 - 2026
Board of Trustees of Illinois State University, Normal, IL
Project Work State
Project Status