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Benefits of the virtual platform for K-12 STEM Outreach

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Middle Atlantic ASEE Section Spring 2021 Conference



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April 9, 2021

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April 9, 2021

End Date

April 10, 2021

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Melanie Villatoro P.E. New York City College of Technology

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Melanie Villatoro, an Associate Professor in the Department of Construction Management and Civil Engineering Technology at NYC College of Technology, is a licensed Professional Engineer in the State of New York. Prof. Villatoro is passionate about student retention and performance, as well as STEM Outreach in K-12. She has served as Project Director for the National Transportation Summer Institute sponsored by the Federal Highway Administration multiple years. Prof. Villatoro leads a STEM outreach project at Daniel Hale Elementary School which provides civil engineering lesson plans, afterschool programs, family workshops and field trips. Prof. Villatoro is the Project Director for the Peer Advisement program sponsored by Perkins and designed to increase retention of females across the School of Technology and Design.

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Laurin Moseley CUNY New York City College of Technology

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The number of students enrolling and graduating with STEM degrees in the Unites States must increase exponentially in order to meet the predicted job shortages in STEM. Perkins Peer Advisement is a grant funded program at College X committed to increasing enrollment and retention of female and nontraditional students in engineering technology programs. Program activities include professional development, mentoring, faculty development, and community outreach. Community outreach is a critical component of the program as it benefits the undergraduate students hosting the events as well as the K-12 students participating in them. Studies indicate that greater exposure to STEM at early levels contributes to narrowing the STEM gap. The COVID 19 pandemic has forced all aspects of society to transition to a virtual platform. The pandemic has forced children to stay home and has limited their physical ability to participate in field trips and lab experiments; however, today’s technology allows for students to expand the opportunities accessible to them through a virtual world. This paper will focus on the transition of the program to a virtual platform and the successful expansion of the community outreach component as a result of this transition. The program offers monthly family STEM workshops at the local elementary school. In February, the program will host its annual Girl Day event in celebration of National Engineers Week. The 2020-2021 academic year was the first time these outreach events were held virtually. Although the transition presented a challenge at first, in the end there are many benefits to the virtual platform. This paper will provide a summary of the STEM Outreach activities and provide conference participants with a tool kit that can be applied at their home institutions and local communities.

Villatoro, M., & Moseley, L. (2021, April), Benefits of the virtual platform for K-12 STEM Outreach Paper presented at Middle Atlantic ASEE Section Spring 2021 Conference, Virtual . 10.18260/1-2--36287

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