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  1. Mary Dussault
  2. https://www.linkedin.com/in/marydussault/
  3. Principal Investigator
  4. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  5. Center for Astrophysics Harvard & Smithsonian CFA...
  1. Harry Houghton
  2. Education Specialist
  3. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  4. Center for Astrophysics Harvard & Smithsonian CFA...
  1. Adreenne Law
  2. Associate Director of STEM & STEAM Program
  3. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  4. Timothy Smith Network
  1. Susan Sunbury
  2. Project Manager
  3. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  4. Center for Astrophysics Harvard & Smithsonian CFA...
  1. Erika Wright
  2. https://www.linkedin.com/in/erikawright/
  3. Education Specialist
  4. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  5. Center for Astrophysics Harvard & Smithsonian CFA...

Innovative Technology-Enabled Astronomy for Middle Schools II (ITEAMS II)

NSF Awards: 1433431

2019 (see original presentation & discussion)

Grades 6-8, Informal / multi-age

YouthAstroNet, an NSF-supported research project led by the Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian, seeks to inspire youth traditionally underrepresented in the sciences to pursue STEM career pathways and cultivate STEM identity. YouthAstroNet engages middle school-aged youth from across the country in authentic astronomical science experiences. The research study investigates which key features of the program correlate with five outcomes: Astronomy Content Knowledge, STEM Career Interest, Science Affinity, STEM Identity, and Computer Affinity.

Project research data sources include pre- and post-surveys administered to youth and educators, and embedded web analytics of participant activity. When controlling for the different program treatment features along with students’ prior attitudes, interests, and demographics, two program features were found to be predictive of small but significant student gains in the above 5 outcomes. These were the degree to which participants reported using the 'Core' program tools and activities (e.g. using telescopes, image processing software, asking questions); and the degree to which they reported making authentic connections between science and other topics.

YouthAstroNet gives participants an early entry into authentic scientific inquiry. The program provides tools for capturing and processing real-time astronomical data, with opportunities for open-ended and personalized investigations. Participants experience STEM investigations that align with professional scientific pursuits, where the projects do not have a right answer, but multiple possible outcomes. The program seeks to develop a sense of scientific success based on the execution of a real scientific skill. This concept of success promotes the development of science identity and career interest for diverse learners.

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