Students’ experiences in community STEM programs

January 3 – Febuary 28, 2021

Meeting Abstract

S4-14  Tue Jan 5 16:15 – 16:30  Students’ experiences in community STEM programs Nation, JM*; Hansen, AK; California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo; California State University, Fresno

Given our rapidly changing world and the pressing challenges of climate change and health care, it is more important than ever for youth and the broader public to learn scientific knowledge and skills. To reach the most people possible and increase diversity in STEM fields, we need compelling educational approaches that incorporate the lived experiences of students. Partnerships between researchers, scientists, educators, and community groups can enrich and extend scientists’ research while providing authentic scientific learning experiences for K-12 students, especially from STEM-underrepresented groups. However, more research is needed on equitable long-term partnerships, including how these projects are organized and how partners align their interests and goals. In this paper, we present findings from university-community partnership projects that utilize a Community STEM Framework, an approach which draws from individual and collective strengths, contextualizes science learning, and positions youth as producers of content and artifacts. To situate this work, we review and highlight biology-related citizen/community science projects and maker/engineering projects designed for youth. We characterize projects according to their goals and format, then examine students’ experiences and the impact on youth in various Community STEM projects. A design-based research (DBR) approach was used to collect and analyze data on three Community STEM projects. The research followed DBR’s dual goals of informing local practice and providing insight into complex issues, producing a model of learning and innovation that applies on a broader scale. Engagement in program design was flexible, ongoing, and co-designed with researchers and practitioners. Given DBR’s focus on informing practice, we conclude with recommendations for this type of partnership in various biology contexts.

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