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Engineering Outreach: Ambassador Girls Empowering Girls in the Field

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Conference

2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access

Location

Virtual On line

Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

Pre-college Engineering Education Division Technical Session 15

Tagged Division

Pre-College Engineering Education

Tagged Topic

Diversity

Page Count

16

DOI

10.18260/1-2--34554

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/34554

Download Count

90

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Paper Authors

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Sarah Hug Colorado Evaluation and Research Consulting

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Dr. Sarah Hug is director of the Colorado Evaluation and Research Consulting. Dr. Hug earned her PhD in Educational Psychology at the University of Colorado, Boulder. Her research and evaluation efforts focus on learning science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, with a special interest in communities of practice, creativity, and experiences of underrepresented groups in these fields across multiple contexts.

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Suzanne Eyerman Fairhaven Research and Evaluation

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Suzanne Eyerman, Ph.D. is a researcher and evaluator for STEM programs in higher education, K-12 classrooms, and afterschool programs. A former classroom teacher, Dr. Eyerman has investigated learning in a variety of contexts, including school playgrounds and children’s museums. Currently, her works focuses on increasing the participation of women and people of color in engineering and computer science. Dr. Eyerman received her B.A. in Psychology from Monmouth University and her Ph.D. in Education from the University of Colorado, Boulder. Her research interests are in the areas of representation in STEM fields, girls’ and women’s identities in STEM fields, engineering and computer science in K-12 education, and iteration.

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Trina L. Fletcher Florida International University Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0002-1765-5957

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Dr. Fletcher is currently an Assistant Professor at Florida International University. Her research focus includes people of color and women in STEM and quality in K-12 and higher education. Prior to FIU, Dr. Fletcher served as the Director of Pre-college Programs for NSBE. Additionally, she spent time in industry holding technical and operations-based roles and has experience with outreach projects focused on STEM education and mentoring.

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Araceli Martinez Ortiz Texas State University

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Araceli Martinez Ortiz, PhD., is Research Associate Professor of Engineering Education in the College of Education at Texas State University. She leads a comprehensive research agenda related to issues of curriculum and instruction in engineering education, motivation and preparation of under served populations of students and teachers and in assessing the impact of operationalizing culturally responsive teaching in the STEM classroom. As executive director of the LBJ Institute for STEM Education and Research, she collaborates on various state and national STEM education programs and is PI on major grant initiatives through NASA MUREP and NSF Improving Undergraduate STEM Education and NSF DUE . Araceli holds Engineering degrees from The University of Michigan and Kettering University. She holds a Masters degree in Education from Michigan State and a PhD in Engineering Education from Tufts University.

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Michael A. Soltys University of Colorado, Boulder Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0001-7059-7584

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Mike Soltys is an Instructor for the Engineering Plus degree program at at the University of Colorado. Mike is passionate about engineering education, and teaches engineering design in First-Year Engineering Projects (GEEN 1400), Engineering Projects for the Community (GEEN 2400), Statics (GEEN 3851), Thermodynamics (GEEN 3852) and Theoretical Fluid Mechanics (CVEN 3313).

Mike is the co-PI for TeachEngineering, a curricular digital library with the goal of democratizing engineering by project to providing free, standards-aligned, hands-on engineering curricula for K-12 STEM teachers.

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Abstract

The EngineerGirl Ambassadors program is designed to recognize, support, and promote high school girls who intend to give back to their community through youth outreach activities. In its second year, the program is an extension of the National Academy of Engineering’s “EngineerGirl” online community, established in 2001. EngineerGirl Ambassadors apply in the spring for acceptance to the program in the fall and attend the Society of Women in Engineers (SWE) conference with a local adult sponsor to participate in professional development. The Ambassadors program emphasizes the “Five Cs” of youth development: confidence, connection, competence, character, and caring/compassion. Trainings for the Ambassadors relate to multiple aspects of informal STEM education, including recruitment, activity selection, problem based learning, and effective questioning. Ambassadors also attend the traditional SWE events, such as keynote talks, the outreach expo, and programming centered on developing leadership qualities. High school Ambassadors develop programming, partner with community leaders such as school administrators, librarians, and nonprofit leaders to secure venues for their youth-focused activities and receive a modest sum to purchase materials for programs. The Ambassadors recruit participants with an emphasis on middle school students who are underrepresented in engineering (female students, as well as students who identify as Native American/Pacific Islander, African American/black, and LatinX/Hispanic), utilizing school and community connections to reach middle school students (e.g., asking former middle school science teachers if they can recruit in their classrooms). Upon the completion of their programs, they assist in survey data collection for the evaluation team, and a selection of participants are observed. Ambassadors are encouraged to return to the SWE conference the following year through SWE-funded awards, so they can serve as role models to newly selected Ambassadors. Program evaluation includes participant observation, survey data collection and analysis of Ambassador’s participants, interviews with Ambassadors and sponsors, and (in year two) surveys of sponsors and Ambassadors directly following the SWE conference experience. Ambassadors described increased confidence in engineering, and stronger connection to a network of like-minded young women. Results indicate youth attending outreach activities run by Ambassadors increased their interest in engineering (88%), know more about what engineers do (91%), know the engineering design process (84%), and feel increased belonging to a group interested in the field (87%). Program formative and summative evaluation uncovered multiple challenges and worked with the program director, staff, and the steering committee to address challenges, such as coordinating travel with youth participants, selecting with equity and diversity in mind, balancing innovation with “field tested” outreach programs, and coaching at a distance throughout the academic year. Challenges and successes will be addressed at length in the full paper, for example, the authors will describe the rubric development and refinement process in detail, including how changes may have supported a focus on equity in the selection process.

Hug, S., & Eyerman, S., & Fletcher, T. L., & Ortiz, A. M., & Soltys, M. A. (2020, June), Engineering Outreach: Ambassador Girls Empowering Girls in the Field Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--34554

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