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Engagement in Practice: Successes Gleaned from the St. Elmo Brady STEM Academy

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2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

Community Engagement Division Technical Session 4

Tagged Division

Community Engagement Division

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Paper Authors


Jerrod A Henderson University of Houston Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Jerrod A. Henderson (“Dr. J”) is an Instructional Assistant Professor in the Cullen College of Engineering at the University of Houston. He joined the University of Houston after six years as a chemical engineering faculty member at the University of Illinois. He has dedicated his career to increasing the number of students who are in the pipeline to pursue STEM careers. He believes that exposing students to STEM early will have a lasting impact upon their lives and academic pursuits. He is a co-founder of the St. Elmo Brady STEM Academy (SEBA). SEBA is an educational intervention aimed at exposing underrepresented fourth and fifth grade boys to hands-on, inquiry based STEM experiments and activities. SEBA accomplishes its goals through an innovative educational curriculum and by engaging students’ fathers or male mentors who learn STEM alongside them. His work has been recognized by local news, community organizations and most recently by Illinois campus as a recipient of the Campus Award for Excellence in Public Engagement.

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Ricky P Greer University of Houston


Ryan G. Summers University of North Dakota

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Ryan Summers is Assistant Professor of Science Education in the Department of Teaching and Learning. Originally from southern Illinois, Dr. Summers obtained his B.S. in biological sciences, with a minor in chemistry and teacher’s certification, at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, IL. He taught high school science, including biology, chemistry, physics and other offerings in rural and suburban settings, before leaving to pursue his graduate studies full time at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Dr. Summers completed his Ph.D. in May of 2016 at UIUC in Curriculum & Instruction, in the math, science and technology division with a focus in science education.

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Jason W. Morphew University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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Jason W. Morphew earned a B.S. in Science Education from the University of Nebraska and spent 11 years teaching math and science at the middle school, high school, and community college level. He earned a M.A. in Educational Psychology from Wichita State where he focused on the interaction of epistemological beliefs, anxiety, persistence, and learning in math, as well as the development of nature of science beliefs among graduate students. He is currently a doctoral student in Educational Psychology focusing on issues from both STEM education and cognitive science. His research interests involve investigating the role of individual differences on student performance in STEM courses. Recently he has investigated expert novice differences in perception and problem categorization in Physics.

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St. Elmo Brady STEM Academy (SEBA) is an after-school and Saturday program that leverages partnerships between engineering and education faculty to provide STEM experiences to fourth and fifth grade boys and their fathers/role models from groups traditionally underrepresented in STEM. Studies show that students, especially from underrepresented groups, lose interest in STEM at an early age. SEBA attempts to counteract declining STEM interest by exposing participants to hands-on, inquiry-based STEM activities and educating them about STEM pioneers with a particular emphasis on professionals who are also from underrepresented groups such as the academy’s namesake, Dr. Brady, the first African American to earn a PhD in chemistry in the United States (1916). Informed by an Integrated STEM Education Framework, SEBA seeks to investigate the following research questions: 1: How are students’ interests in and motivation towards STEM impacted by participation in SEBA? 2: What characteristics of SEBA support underrepresented boys’ development of a positive disposition toward STEM careers? Program evaluation utilized a mixed-methods approach including focus groups and surveys. Lessons learned from preliminary data, collected from 24 participants, revealed that after just 1 year, 23 students (95.8%) were more interested in science, 91.7% reported that they were more confident in their science and math classes, and 87.5% indicated that they participated more in their science and math classes. Twenty-two students (91.7%) reported that they enjoyed and learned from having fathers involved with the program. SEBA provides a valuable service to underrepresented students in the community by supporting their STEM learning, and has been well received by parents and administrators alike. The success of this program hinges on its ability to bridge the gap between universities and the community. There are plans in place to grow the program in terms of participants and expanding to additional schools and cities.

Henderson, J. A., & Greer, R. P., & Summers, R. G., & Morphew, J. W. (2017, June), Engagement in Practice: Successes Gleaned from the St. Elmo Brady STEM Academy Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--28237

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