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miniGEMS 2018: A Mixed Methods Study Exploring the Impact of a STEAM and Programming Camp on Middle School Girls’ STEM Attitudes

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2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

June 19, 2019

Conference Session

Women in Engineering Division Technical Session 4

Tagged Division

Women in Engineering

Tagged Topic


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Paper Authors


Chaoyi Wang

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Chaoyi Wang is a Ph.D. candidate in education at the University of the Incarnate Word. She is a Doctoral Research Assistant and miniGEMS Assessment Coordinator in Autonomous Vehicle Systems Lab. Chaoyi Wang’s work provides professional research methods to evaluate miniGEMS STEAM program. Her research interests include in studying the functions of adult intervention in children’s play, exploring students’ interest in STEM fields, and discovering students’ self-efficacy.

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Michael Frye University of the Incarnate Word

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Michael T. Frye, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor of Engineering in the Department of Engineering at the University of the Incarnate Word, in San Antonio, TX. He is an Electrical Engineer who specialized in the field of nonlinear control theory with applications to autonomous air vehicles. Dr. Frye’s research interest is in discovering new and efficient techniques that mitigates the effects of uncertainty in complex nonlinear dynamics; such as seen in autonomous vehicle systems. Dr. Frye is the PI and Laboratory Director for the Autonomous Vehicle Systems Lab sponsored by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research.

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miniGEMS (Girls in Engineering, Mathematics, and Science) is a free two-week summer STEAM and programming camp for middle school girls launched in 2015. The goal of miniGEMS is to address the female gender gap and introduce more female students into STEM fields through project-based learning experiences. This study utilized mixed methods to identify the effectiveness of a STEM enrichment summer camp and explore how middle school girls’ STEM attitudes changed after participating in miniGEMS. A pre- and post- survey was conducted with 92 students in grades six through eight to measure their self-reported attitudes in mathematics, science, engineering and technology. The results showed a significant increase in campers’ self-perceived attitude in mathematics. In addition, semi-structured interviews were conducted with 22 campers to explore how the camp experiences altered attitudes toward STEM study and impacted their career interest. Interview findings indicated (1) campers had opportunities to develop STEM, robotics, and programming knowledge through various hands- on activities which made the camp fun and interesting, (2) teamwork and single-gender learning environment helped campers become more open to STEM subjects, and (3) coding and programming were two major themes in miniGEMS that affect campers’ career choices and interests in advanced studies in STEM.

Wang, C., & Frye, M. (2019, June), miniGEMS 2018: A Mixed Methods Study Exploring the Impact of a STEAM and Programming Camp on Middle School Girls’ STEM Attitudes Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--33113

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