1. Brendan Calandra
  2. Professor
  4. Georgia State University
  1. Jonathan Cohen
  2. Assistant Professor
  4. Georgia State University
  1. Maggie Renken
  2. http://maggierenken.com
  3. Associate Professor
  5. Georgia State University

Acquainting Metro Atlanta Youth with STEM (AMAYS)

NSF Awards: 1433280

2018 (see original presentation & discussion)

Grades 6-8

Acquainting Metro Atlanta Youth with STEM/ICT (AMAYS) is a design-based research project involving the creation, implementation, and evaluation of a unique, ICT-rich  learning environment for urban middle school youth. The AMAYS intervention has involved groups of participants working on a flexible, modularized, informal computer science curriculum. Types of AMAYS activities include: 1) Guided instruction leading to the creation of pre-designed apps using MIT's App Inventor, 2) more lightly guided problem-based tasks that allow students to tweak, troubleshoot, or remix existing apps, and 3) creating their own apps from scratch. The design of each activity is geared as much as possible towards presenting students with opportunities to use computational thinking concepts, practices, and perspectives (Brennan and Resnick, 2012). Activities are also designed to connect the app building with relevant, tangible, and when possible, socially responsible themes. Rather than being designed as one-size-fits-all, these activities were created with our target population in mind; and they are the result of a target audience analysis, a pilot study, and review of relevant academic literature. Our target audience are largely African American middle school students who are participating in a free after school program called After-School All Stars Atlanta, which operates at multiple middle school sites in the City of Atlanta, Georgia. AMAYS participants interact with one another, doctoral student researcher/mentors, undergraduate role models from local HBCUs, and teachers during AMAYS time.

The AMAYS team has finished two years of design, development, and pilot testing.  AMAYS in its current form is now being implemented and evaluated at 9 middles school sites during the 2017/18 school year. Evaluation has been guided by the following questions:

  1. Does the intervention facilitate:
    • the acquisition and development of participants’ disciplinary knowledge and scientific practices?
    • a change in perceptions of and interest in STEM/ICT and STEM/ICT careers?
  2. Which aspects of the intervention are effective and under what circumstances?
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