1. Deanna Privette
  2. i3 STEM Grant Coordinator
  4. Metro Nashville Public Schools
  1. Jeannie Whitlock
  2. i3 STEM Lead Instructional Coach
  4. Metro Nashville Public Schools

Career Connections: Bridging the gaps through STEM Explorations and Communit...


2019 (see original presentation & discussion)

Grades 6-8

Join us as we explore inquiry based extended learning opportunities for underserved and under-represented middle school student populations.  We will describe our program that includes hands on STEM explorations, as well as, collaborative events with community partners for college and career connections.  This video will demonstrate how to increase an interest in STEM through the events that are offered to the underserved and under-represented students in Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools.

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Original Discussion from the 2019 STEM for All Video Showcase
  • Icon for: Jeannie Whitlock

    Jeannie Whitlock

    May 12, 2019 | 07:54 p.m.

    Thank you for viewing our video!  We are excited to share our project with you. 

    The 2017/2018 school year activities enabled students to gain hands-on experiences, applying critical thinking skills, while making college and career connections during the after-school clubs, Saturday sessions, and summer camp. 

    We are beginning the fourth year of our grant working with underserved and underrepresented students within 7 middle schools in the Metro Nashville Public School System.  This past year, we worked with 572 students, 17 teachers along with support from community partners and parents.

    We are especially interested in effective strategies used to entice students to choose an academic after school activity over sports or non-academic social clubs. 

    The i3 Leadership team is available to share their project experiences as well as preliminary findings from our Executive Summary and look forward to any questions/comments about our program.

    Deanna Privette & Jeannie Whitlock



  • Small default profile

    Susan Simpson

    Higher Ed Faculty
    May 13, 2019 | 09:30 a.m.

    This is a wonderful program. Brava to Deanna and Jeannie!!

  • Icon for: Deanna Privette

    Deanna Privette

    Lead Presenter
    i3 STEM Grant Coordinator
    May 13, 2019 | 11:28 a.m.

    Thanks for viewing and for the compliment!  We are both excited and encouraged by our research findings thus far.

  • Icon for: Sara Lacy

    Sara Lacy

    May 13, 2019 | 11:25 a.m.

    This does look like a wonderful program.  I'm eager to learn more about  your research agenda.  What questions areyou asking, what data are you collecting, and what are your  preliminary findings?  

  • Icon for: Deanna Privette

    Deanna Privette

    Lead Presenter
    i3 STEM Grant Coordinator
    May 13, 2019 | 11:57 a.m.

    Thanks for the questions!  Here’s a summary of some of the main data points for which we are researching/collecting data. 

    • attendance/participation comparing students participating in 1, 2, or all 3 extending learning events
    • tracking data to see if students participating in our program views and interests in STEM changes or in pursuing a STEM career
    • academic gains in Math and Science for students
    • monitoring academic/observation scores for teachers in our program

    We've had positive results!!!  

    • 73% of our students entering HS are choosing a STEM academy
    • 75% of students are expressing an interest in pursuing a STEM related career
    • academic gains for students in both math and science have doubled from one year to the next
    • 73% of our teachers in the program have maintained or increased state standardized testing scores based on their students' performance. 
  • Icon for: Christine Cunningham

    Christine Cunningham

    May 13, 2019 | 03:26 p.m.

    Your video mentioned working with community partners—this caught my attention. Can you describe how they have been involved in the project? I was also interested in how the activities for the afterschool, Saturday, and summer camp components were decided or developed. Do these connect to the school science curriculum?

  • Icon for: Jeannie Whitlock

    Jeannie Whitlock

    May 13, 2019 | 03:47 p.m.


    Thank you for your interest.  

    We have had great results with our community partners.  Most often, we use our community partners on our Saturday sessions.  We take students to colleges or businesses that have STEM career connections. They generally prepare stations for our students to rotate through.  A few examples include biomedical engineering activities at Vanderbilt, rocketry activities at Fisk, agriculture activities at Tennessee State, and Audio Engineering at Belmont.  

    Our after school curriculum is primarily Engineering Everywhere, by the Museum of Science.  We have found that the easiest access point to STEM is through engineering.  We supplement the EE curriculum with additional materials to assist the students in creating a STEM Expo project.  Saturdays, as I said earlier, are usually "field trip" based where we get students out into the community.  We create our own summer curriculum based around a theme.  Our partners assist during the summer, as well.  This summer, our theme is Adventures in Aero where students will investigate everything about aero from kites to drones to flight simulations.  

    The activities do not directly connect to the standards they are learning in class at the time.  EE units are not designed to “cover” or teach standards. The goal of each EE unit is to help kids develop their engineering skills. In doing this, many units link to science or engineering content standards.  We have all activities include 21st century skills of creativity, collaboration, communication, and critical thinking.  

  • May 13, 2019 | 03:40 p.m.

    What a wonderful program you have developed to motivate middle school students! How do you decide which subjects and activities are most effective for middle school students? How do you create college and career connections for these students?

  • Icon for: Jeannie Whitlock

    Jeannie Whitlock

    May 13, 2019 | 03:55 p.m.

    We use the after school curriculum Engineering Everywhere to guide our instruction.  We have found that the best integration of stem comes through the engineering lens.  We use current research topics and student interest to assist in developing  additional activities.  


    We have created some of the best college and career connections by getting the kids out into the community so they are able to experience some of the things they would in those careers.  For example, at Belmont University, we studied sound engineering.  They prepared activities that would be of interest to the students.  They had students record sound in a variety of locations to hear differences (classroom, stairway, anechoic chamber).  They also showed students a video clip from a TV show and had them sync the sounds and dialogue to the video.  


  • Icon for: Kenneth Huff

    Kenneth Huff

    May 14, 2019 | 06:15 a.m.

    The student testimonials in the video were wonderful and conveyed the difference your i3 STEM program has had with children.  How are students selected to participate in the Summer Camp?  Is the Summer Camp only open to students in the Metro Nashville Public Schools?  Are there plans to expand this summer opportunity for children in other areas? Thank you.

  • Icon for: Deanna Privette

    Deanna Privette

    Lead Presenter
    i3 STEM Grant Coordinator
    May 15, 2019 | 11:36 a.m.

    Thanks for viewing the video!  

    Our summer camp is only open to Metro Nashville Public School students, specifically 7 middle schools (included in the grant).  Students who are currently in our after school program receive the first opportunity to participate in the Summer Camp.  In addition, we also leave space for incoming 5th graders as a motivational strategy for them to join our after school sessions the next school year.  To date, there aren't plans to expand this opportunity.  Perhaps, when the funds from the grant expire, local funds will be dedicated to running a similar summer camp.  Metro schools does offer several other camps throughout the summer.

  • Small default profile

    Ashmi Sinha

    K-12 Teacher
    May 14, 2019 | 09:59 a.m.

    This program does an incredible job of bringing enriching experiences to the students; these students are constantly learning about our community and how they can contribute to its well being when they grow up. Great job inspiring the young minds!!

  • Icon for: Jeannie Whitlock

    Jeannie Whitlock

    May 15, 2019 | 11:32 a.m.


    Thank you for your response.  We feel that the students' experiences have been enriched as well.  Furthermore, it has been great seeing teachers take the activities they have tried and seen success with in the after school program take those same activities into their classroom.  They have had time to test out the strategies in a less test driven setting.  

  • May 15, 2019 | 12:24 p.m.

    Hi Deanna

    Great work! Did you monitor change of the grades of participants in STEM courses?

  • Icon for: Deanna Privette

    Deanna Privette

    Lead Presenter
    i3 STEM Grant Coordinator
    May 15, 2019 | 12:43 p.m.

    Throughout the year, we monitor the students' science and math scores.  Each student has projection scores for science and math and we monitor to make certain students are at or above projection.  We have quarterly data discussions with kids in our program for preparation for state assessments.

  • May 16, 2019 | 09:11 a.m.

    Very exciting program.  Thanks for sharing it.  I'm curious about your partners so I have a few questions:

    1. You seem to be leveraging local talent in STEM to bring professionals and academics in for after-school programs and other hands-on activities.  Is that a formal process or has it developed organically? 

    2.  Also, how broad is your STEM network?  I'm in the geosciences and historically we fail to fully capitalize on the excitement young people have about dinosaurs, fossils, rocks and natural disasters as they make decisions about their college majors.  Are you working with local geoscientists to showcase local, relevant and lucrative career paths? 

  • Icon for: Deanna Privette

    Deanna Privette

    Lead Presenter
    i3 STEM Grant Coordinator
    May 16, 2019 | 12:35 p.m.

    Jonathan - thanks for viewing!

    1.) Our after school program focuses on the engineering design process.  Our Saturday sessions have been developed organically connecting community partners with investigations in our after school sessions.  For example, after investigating viruses, we contacted a local university (Vanderbilt) and the school of biomedical engineering.  The graduate students connected with i3 students and were able to not only help students make college connections but career connections as well.

    2.) We have yet to study geosciences in our after school program and therefore, have not worked with any local geoscientists.  If and when we do, would you have any suggestions of who/where we could reach out?

    Discussion is closed. Upvoting is no longer available

    Jonathan Lewis
  • May 18, 2019 | 05:17 p.m.

    Thanks Deanna

    If you head in the geoscience direction I'd be happy to reach out to folks if helpful. You can reach me as needed. 

    I wish you continued success in this important work.  Please point your STEM-interested, college-bound students to the STEMSEAS project.  It can be a powerful experience (https://stemseas.wordpress.com/blog/).

  • Icon for: Marcia Quackenbush

    Marcia Quackenbush

    May 17, 2019 | 03:55 p.m.

    Thanks for sharing the inspiration and power of your student participants. What an uplifting video!

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