June 14, 2015
June 14, 2015
June 17, 2015
Minorities in Engineering
26.529.1 - 26.529.18
Research shows that fewer students, and particularly minority and low-income students, enterand persist in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) programs in the UnitedStates than in other programs. This is often attributed to a lack of knowledge and exposure toopportunities in STEM. Southwest Florida is one such area where minority and low-incomestudents especially lack an awareness of STEM as a viable career option. To address thisconcern, Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) in partnership with the Collier County NationalAssociation for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) hosted a two-week on-campusSTEM camp during summer 2014. The program objectives were to increase the students’awareness of STEM fields by exposing them to real-world math and its application in relatedcareer fields. The camp also introduced students to practicing professionals in local STEMindustries, creating potential internship opportunities for program participants. Through theseexperiences, the summer STEM camp sought to improve students’ skills in mathematics, thusincreasing their likelihood of being accepted into college or university to pursue STEM degrees.Thirty-eight (38) students from 10 different local high schools participated in the summer camp.The group was evenly split among males (N=20) and females (N=18), with 75% of the campparticipants coming from groups that are traditionally underrepresented (Black or Latinodescent) in STEM fields. The students also represented high-performing students among highschool freshmen (23%), sophomores (27%), and juniors (50%) and had an average GPA of 3.83.In order to meet the objectives presented above, a committee of individual from variousbackground including academia, business, and committee outreach designed a curriculumincorporating math and hands-on projects in STEM. The camp was delivered in three (3) phases.The morning phase was math instruction delivered by a certified high school mathematicsteacher. The afternoon phase included exposure to careers in STEM fields and hands-on projectsoffered by regular university STEM faculty. The third phase consisted of panel discussions withlocal STEM professionals, panel discussions format with university admissions and financial aidofficials, and field trips to companies and organizations with major emphasis in STEM fields.In order to assess whether students’ mathematics skills improved as a result of participating inthe summer camp, a combined practice SAT and ACT mathematics pre-test was given to thestudents on the first day of the camp. The students were given a practice SAT/ACT post-test onthe last day of the camp. Thirty-five percent (35%) of students increased their SAT math scores,and 23% increased their ACT math scores. The highest increase, 43%, was noticed among 10thgraders on the SAT practice test and 27% among 11th graders. Surveys were also giventhroughout of the camp in order to assess the students’ perspectives of STEM fields to evaluateits effectiveness. By the end of the summer camp, over 95% of the students expressed an interestin pursuing STEM-related careers, and seven students received paid internships. These resultsemphasize the need for more programs to expose minority students to opportunities in STEM.
Villiers, C., & Gilbert, S., & Barringer, T. A., & Hyatt, A. M., & Horton, J. W., & Hinds, D. (2015, June), Development of a STEM Summer Program for Underrepresented High School Students – A Success Story Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.23868
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