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Service Learning: Community And Cultural Values That Engage Under Represented Groups Into The Stem Pipeline

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2008 Annual Conference & Exposition


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008



Conference Session

Successful K-12 Programs for Girls & Minorities

Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

13.1075.1 - 13.1075.8



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Paper Authors

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Leslie Wilkins Maui Economic Development Board


Isla Young Maui Economic Development Board, Inc.

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ISLA YOUNG: Ms. Young joined the MEDB Women in Technology Project in December 2003. She serves as a Program Manager working with students, educators, industry leaders, and the community. She serves as the Hawaii statewide coordinator for Project EAST profiled in this paper. She holds a baccalaureate degree in Business and Information Systems form the University of Phoenix. Email:

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Service Learning: Community and Cultural Values that Engage Under Represented Groups into the STEM Pipeline


Environmental and Spatial Technology (EAST) is a high school elective class that uses sophisticated technology in service projects designed to improve students’ critical thinking and problem solving skills. EAST is a national initiative that now includes more than 220 schools in Arkansas, California, Hawaii, Iowa, Illinois, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Pennsylvania. It is a project-based, service-learning class that integrates technology into the traditional high school curriculum. EAST students work in teams to solve real world problems in their schools and communities. Among the technologies that EAST students interact with on a daily basis are: networking and network system administration, presentation applications, computer aided design (CAD), visualization software, global positioning systems (GPS), geographical information systems (GIS), web page design, computer generated animation, solid modeling and assembly, database management, computer programming, and design concepts and applications. There are over 12,000 students nationwide participating in EAST.

EAST develops partnerships with industry and government agencies to provide access to technology for the students to use in their projects. The benefit of this model for females and minorities is the requirement that recruitment and selection for participation in the EAST program represent the diversity of the school’s student population in terms of gender, academic performance, age, race, and socio-economic status. There are on-site visits by the program administrator to ensure that there is equitable access to participation for all students and that the student enrollment is representative of the student body. Equity is improving because it is emphasized.


Introducing and teaching STEM concepts via hands-on activities has been found to stimulate interest in STEM for all students, including girls.1 According to the National Council for Research on Women, “strategies that increase girls’ success in the sciences are also effective with boys, especially those from underrepresented groups.”2 One strategy that the Council identified as effective in encouraging girls in STEM is the incorporation of a cooperative, hands- on approach in math and science programs.3 Programs combining hands-on activities such as student designed projects, and the provision of role models through mentoring, internships, and career-oriented field trips have been found to lead to interest in STEM, increased self- confidence, and better skill and concept development by girls.4

Research also shows that girls are less likely than boys to be involved in informal science and mathematics activities outside of school, in-school program initiatives are a desirable way to provide girls with equal opportunity and access.5 In order to stay engaged, female students need to see mathematics and science as interesting and fun6. This often means demonstrating real- world applications that improve people’s lives7.

Wilkins, L., & Young, I. (2008, June), Service Learning: Community And Cultural Values That Engage Under Represented Groups Into The Stem Pipeline Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--4313

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