June 20, 2010
June 20, 2010
June 23, 2010
K-12 & Pre-College Engineering
15.872.1 - 15.872.12
It has been well documented that out-of-time STEM programs positively impacts the students and facilitators involved. However, we have yet to understand the sustained impact of middle school afterschool programs on its stakeholders. RAMP-UP (Recognizing Accelerated Math Potential in Underrepresented People), a National Science Foundation funded GK-12 outreach program at North Carolina State University (NCSU) has established the Fun Activities in Math and Engineering (FAME) at a local inner-city middle school. The facilitators of FAME were undergraduate and graduate Fellows and middle school math teachers. The objectives of this program were to re- enforce basic math concepts learned in the classroom and to expose the students to several fields of engineering while involving in hands-on engineering activities. For example, the activities incorporated understanding the key principles of engineering design, mathematical estimation and extrapolation, and how to appropriately collect data - skills which are clearly cross-disciplinary.
The FAME program was conducted weekly on a semester basis for 2 years (Fall 2007 through Spring 2009). Quantitative data in the form of surveys were collected at the end of each semester for the students involved. In addition, qualitative assessment data from the facilitators has been collected. In this paper we use the FAME program as a case study to evaluate the sustained impact of middle school after-school programs. This study reveals the positive relationship between the students and facilitators, and improved student and facilitator attitudes towards STEM fields throughout the 2-year period.
Participation in afterschool programs has been shown to be associated with educational success including greater engagement in learning and higher academic performance.4 Programs based in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) have often shaped and developed future scientists. For students to succeed in STEM fields Jolly, Campbell and Perlman3 suggest the necessary trilogy: engagement, capacity and continuity. Meaning students are engaged by having interests and motivation for the involvement in the sciences, student have the capacity or required skills needed to advance in these disciplines and students have the academic support and material resources (continuity) needed for these interests. After-school programs can provide a vehicle for realization of this trilogy outside of the classroom.
STEM based university and industry outreach programs have proven to greatly impact the community they serve. However, sometimes university or industry supported STEM outreach programs are comprised of a one day activity/demonstration exposing the youths to STEM fields. Though great in their attempts, these one day programs fail to develop mentor relationships between students and facilitators. It is this mentorship that has proven to profoundly impact the views of STEM fields of the students participating in these programs.1 We define sustainable STEM outreach as a partnership that maintains, fosters and promotes long-lasting interests in STEM fields.
Smith, A., & Parry, E., & Bottomley, L., & Albers, L. (2010, June), Middle School Sustainable Outreach? Fun Activities In Math And Engineering: A 2 Year Case Study Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. https://peer.asee.org/16823
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