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NASA’s Summer of Innovation in the Rio Grande Valley: Does Summer STEM Engagement Increase Student Interest and Teacher Instruction Among Underrepresented and Underserved Youth?

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Evaluation: Diversity in K-12 and Pre-college Engineering Education

Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Tagged Topic


Page Count


Page Numbers

26.9.1 - 26.9.17



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Paper Authors


Margaret Baguio University of Texas at Austin

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Margaret Baguio is the Senior Education and Outreach Coordinator for NASA's Texas Space Grant Consortium at The University of Texas at Austin's Center for Space Research. She has over 30 years education experience including classroom teaching, as a 4-H and Youth Extension Agent for the Texas Agri-life Extension Service, managed a USDA Science and Literacy grant for underrepresented and underserved youth, and provides space education programs for teachers at students in her current position with Texas Space Grant Consortium. She has a Bachelor of Science degree from Texas State University, post-graduate work at Texas A & M University and a Masters in Education from The University of Houston.

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Wallace T. Fowler P.E. University of Texas, Austin

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Dr. Wallace Fowler has served on the faculty of the Department of Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics at the University of Texas at Austin since 1965. His early research focused on low thrust interplanetary trajectory optimization. In the 1970s, his research focus broadened to include spacecraft attitude dynamics, tumbling satellite dynamics and retrieval, spacecraft rendezvous and proximity operations, and spacecraft / mission design. His current research centers on spacecraft / mission design and space systems engineering.

Dr. Fowler's has received over a dozen local, regional, and national teaching awards. He is a Fellow of both the ASEE and the AIAA. He is a member of the University of Texas Academyof Distinguished Teachers. He served as President of ASEE in 2000-2001. He was the recipient of the 1985 AIAA/ASEE John Leland Atwood Award and the 1994 ASEE Fred Merryfield Design Education Award. He currently directs the NASA Texas Space Grant Consortium.

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Susana Ramirez PSJA ISD

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Susana Ramirez is the Elementary Science Coordinator for PSJA ISD. She is currently in her 13th year with the district. She serves as the Grant Coordinator for the Rio Grande Valley Science Association and is a member of numerous professional organizations including National Science Teacher Association, Science Teacher Association of Texas, Texas Council of Elementary Science, Texas Science Education Leadership Association and NASA Texas Space Grant. Other honors: Mentor Teacher of the Year for the state of Texas in 2005. Teacher of the Year at her campus in 2008 and received the Toyota Excellence Science Teacher of the Year in 2008. In 2009 she was named Texas Elementary Science Teacher of the year by the Texas Medical Association. She is an alumni for NASA LiftOff and a NASA Heliophysics Ambassador.

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Judit Györgyey Ries The University of Texas

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Judit Györgyey Ries is a Research Associate at the University of Texas/McDonald Observatory, and at the Center for Space Research. She received her undergraduate Astronomy degree at the Eötvös University in Hungary. She has an M.S. in Aerospace Engineering and a PH.D. in Astronomy from the UT at Austin. She has worked with the McDonald Observatory Lunar Laser Ranging, and in 1997 she joined the Small Solar System Objects project conducting astrometry for orbit determination of Near Earth Asteroids candidates. She is also collecting and analyzing light curves to determine physical characteristic.
She is also actively involved in Public Outreach, giving talks to wide range of audiences from elementary school children to retirees and amateur astronomers. With colleagues at the Center for Space Research she has conducted many Astronomy and Space Science workshops for teachers to help implementing the new Texas Science curriculum.

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NASA’s Summer of Innovation in the Rio Grande Valley: Does summer STEM engagementincrease student interest and teacher instruction among underrepresented and underserved youth?(RTP – Strand 4 or Program/Curriculum Evaluation )Summer and after-school programs present a prime venue for fostering student interest in STEM becauseof their informal atmosphere and their unique ability to inspire and excite children through enrichmentexperiences and hands-on, project-based group activities. Out-of-school time (OST) activities allowstudents to connect with STEM on a personal level, which is especially important for students who areunderrepresented in these fields and may not have previously felt encouraged to pursue STEM. Summerof Innovation (SoI) was designed to give students an opportunity to engage in OST learning at an earlyage and during a critical period in the education cycle: summer. While professionals in STEM mayattribute their decision to pursue STEM careers to an out-of-school experience, many formal and informaleducators do not feel they have the skills and knowledge to successfully engage youth in programs topositively impact STEM learning.In 2009, President Obama announced the “Educate to Innovate” campaign to foster a renewedcommitment to strengthen Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) education. In January2010, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) launched the Summer of Innovation(SoI) project in response to the President’s call to action. SoI’s clearly articulated Vision, Mission, andObjectives are centered on building local educational capacity for supporting STEM education forunderserved and underrepresented middle school students.This paper examines the SoI program in the Lower Rio Grande Valley of south Texas. SoI is gearedspecifically towards underserved and underrepresented students in grades 4-9 and leverages a multi-faceted, partnership-based implementation approach to maximize the project’s scale and research whileallowing for local flexibility and innovation. By identifying local needs of schools and providingsustained professional development to certified educators in support of effective content delivery, weincrease capabilities of summer programs to provide program models that are viable for replication orscalability of student interventions.Specific questions addressed in this report ask: 1. What NASA themes were selected? 2. Did activities provided reach the planned diversity of teachers and students? 3. Did participating teachers gain knowledge, build critical instructional STEM skills, and increase self-confidence in motivating students in STEM? 4. Did participating students gain STEM knowledge and become excited about moving forward in the STEM education and career pipeline? 5. What are participating teachers' and students' opinions about their experience in the activities provided through the LRGV SoI project?Conclusions and RecommendationsThe project achieved its goals for reaching females and minorities to disseminate mission information anduse NASA-themed experiences to excite students about STEM. The ringing endorsements by thepredominantly female and minority participants indicates the project is succeeding in using NASA themesfor teacher training along with summer camp activities to increase capabilities and interest in STEMstudies and careers. The teachers' and students' expressed intentions for using and sharing what they havelearned will contribute to sustainable progress toward increased diversity and equity in the STEMpipeline.

Baguio, M., & Fowler, W. T., & Ramirez, S., & Ries, J. G. (2015, June), NASA’s Summer of Innovation in the Rio Grande Valley: Does Summer STEM Engagement Increase Student Interest and Teacher Instruction Among Underrepresented and Underserved Youth? Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.23342

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