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Breaking New Ground from the STEM-Up

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

Broadening Participation

Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.268.1 - 25.268.16

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Paper Authors

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Gary Cruz Great Minds in STEM

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Lupe Munoz Alvarado Great Minds in STEM

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Breaking New Ground From The STEM-UpIn the ten-year period from 1998 to 2008, the percent growth in engineering bachelor degreesawarded to U.S. citizens and permanent residents was 16.8 percent; among Hispanics the growthwas 26.9 percent. Despite this growth, of the 65,715 engineering bachelor degrees awarded in2008, only 8 percent were awarded to Hispanics. The Engineering Workforce Commission,reports that in fall 2008, Hispanics composed 9.5 percent of the 443K students enrolled in anundergraduate engineering program. According to the National Science Foundation, in fall2008, only 38 percent of 4-year, first-year Hispanic students indicated intend to pursue a scienceor engineering degree.Great Minds in STEM (GMiS) is a national organization focused on accelerating the awarenessof science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) among the nation’s most underserved andunderrepresented communities. GMiS seeks to motivate and empower students, parents, andteachers with the knowledge, skills and resources to pursue educational pathways that will leadto a technical career in the STEM workforce.As GMiS maintains a hand on the pulse of the national STEM crisis, it has created a STEMMovement within the Boyle Heights community of Los Angeles to ameliorate the flailingnumbers of Hispanics prepared to enter into and pursue STEM careers. According to theNational Assessment of Educational Progress, in 2009, math and science proficiency scores forHispanics students in LAUSD were significantly below the national average for Hispanics. Themath scores of 4th grade Hispanic students in LAUSD was 218 versus a national average of 227.The national average math score for 8th grade students was 254 for LAUSD compared to anational average of 266. The national average science score among 4th grade students was 130compared to 119 for LAUSD students. Among 8th grade Hispanic students, the national scienceaverage was 131; in LAUSD the average was 118.In an effort to build STEM capacity, Great Minds in STEM developed the STEM-Up™Initiative. This Initiative is a community-building, culturally responsive mechanism intended toeffectively create sustained affinity toward STEM. The ultimate goal of STEM-Up is totransform the attitudes, perceptions and behaviors of students, teachers, administrators andparents regarding the pursuit of math and science as a viable career pathway. This Initiative, asan action strategy, materialized from a set of design principles, grounded in a theory of change.This theory suggests that a catalyst for boosting student interest and achievement around STEMcan be created through community engagement. By implementing this catalyst through a chainof values, STEM-Up™ intended to demonstrate that a broad, comprehensive and integratedeffort to engage an entire community of 92,000 residents can complement and enhance school-based STEM education strategies. The design principles developed to underpin the theory ofchange and serve as a practical roadmap for transformation is known as AIMS - Awareness,Inspiration, Motivation, and Skills.As a community-building model, rather than a traditional school-based/reform model, driven byacademic performance indicators, STEM-Up responded to the grass-roots STEM Movement. Inits design, the Initiative relies, in part, on the parents and teachers as STEM Ambassadors, whoare informed with the tools and resources to change the apprehensions and negativitiesassociated with math and science. STEM-Up values parents and teachers as transformativeinstitutional agents. Empowering them through training and educating, that acknowledges theimportance of their cultural reference within the vernacular of STEM culture, parents andteachers become more critical in creating transformative change in their community.Now, in its third-year of a five-year pilot contract from the U.S. Department of Defense, theSTEM=Up Initiative has developed a menu of opportunities that has successfully engaged 18 K-12 schools and hosted over 18,000 students through direct classroom and out-of-school activities.STEM-Up has developed school agendas, hands-on classroom activities for 4th 6th gradestudents, the Viva Technology Program for middle school and high school students, parentworkshops, an educators institute, and teacher ambassadors. This paper will discuss STEM-Upas a comprehensive best-practice to make math and science a common practice within anunderrepresented community

Cruz, G., & Alvarado, L. M. (2012, June), Breaking New Ground from the STEM-Up Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas.

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