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  1. Adrienne Smith
  2. President
  3. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  4. North Florida College, Cynosure Consulting
  1. Bill Eustace
  2. Professor
  3. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  4. North Florida College
  1. Guenter Maresh
  2. Professor
  3. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  4. North Florida College
  1. Christie Prout
  2. Research Assistant
  3. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  4. Cynosure Consulting
  1. Lura Sapp
  2. STEM SEALs Program Coordinator
  3. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  4. North Florida College
  1. Rebecca Zulli
  2. Senior Partner
  3. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  4. Cynosure Consulting

North Florida Community College STEM SEALs: STEM Sea, Air, and Land Remotely ...

NSF Awards: 1812913

2021 (see original presentation & discussion)

Grades 6-8

Since COVID-19 began spreading in the US and quickly established as a global pandemic in March of 2020, the NSF-funded STEM SEALS team at North Florida College (NFC) faced the touch decision to either cancel their inaugural hands-on STEM enrichment camp planned for Summer 2020 or rushing at full speed to take it virtual.  The biggest concern in making the decision to go virtual was a passionate belief in the importance of not losing the hands-on focus that had been planned.  After all, the STEM SEALs effort at NFC was designed to expand access to high quality STEM experiences for historically underserved students in a high poverty, rural area.  Changing from the in-person delivery to distance learning with minimal preparation presented a daunting challenge and also a unique opportunity; the opportunity to innovate and provide guidance to other STEM providers who are considering moving a hands-on informal STEM experience virtual.  In this video we describe an innovation, the use of teacher-student dyads in the informal STEM space, and the unanticipated benefits of such a pivot born out of these challenging times.

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Discussion from the 2021 STEM For All Video Showcase (16 posts)
  • Icon for: Catherine McCulloch

    Catherine McCulloch

    Facilitator
    Senior Project Director
    May 11, 2021 | 06:26 a.m.

    Adrienne and team, you mention that impacting STEM belonging is a goal of your project. What did you learn about the impacts on STEM belonging during the remote activities that you were able to implement this last year?

  • Icon for: Christie Prout

    Christie Prout

    Co-Presenter
    Research Assistant
    May 12, 2021 | 11:50 a.m.

    Because of the quick pivot to a remote offering, our focus was on translating the high quality STEM camp into an enjoyable virtual educational experience. Students provided information about their knowledge of STEM before and after the virtual Summer Institute.  They also responded to surveys at the end of each educational module to track their learning.  At the end of the camp, students were asked to reflect on their experience and to offer feedback on recommended improvements.  From these responses,  we saw comments by 54% of the students similar to “I personally liked learning the coding processes that went into coding the micro:bit. Learning the code and seeing it work was really satisfying". Other students provided feedback such as  “It could be frustrating at times but when completed was satisfying.” and “This experience was amazing and I learned something new every day of this camp” indicating the excitement and connection the students felt to the material even though they were doing the camp completely virtual. 

  • Icon for: Luiz Oliveira

    Luiz Oliveira

    Researcher
    May 11, 2021 | 08:01 a.m.

    Hello STEM SEALS! I am very impressed by how you were able to motivate and incentivize STEM topics to students in these rural regions of Florida. I really believe that such an initiative better prepares students for a rapidly changing technological world and gives them the opportunity to explore their passions. 

    I am curious to know if you perhaps plan on expanding the project to other rural regions of Florida or even the US?

  • Icon for: Christie Prout

    Christie Prout

    Co-Presenter
    Research Assistant
    May 12, 2021 | 11:51 a.m.

    While the program is still in its early stages of development, the focus is currently on providing STEM experiences for rural students in the North Florida College (NFC) service area that includes 6 counties.  However, the research team hopes the learning will be beneficial for other rural regions of Florida and nationally. 

  • Icon for: Christie Prout

    Christie Prout

    Co-Presenter
    Research Assistant
    May 11, 2021 | 10:25 a.m.

    Welcome to STEM SEALs! We are happy to see you and offer information to learn about our program located in the rural region of North Florida in the six-county service area (Hamilton, Jefferson, Lafayette, Madison, Suwannee, and Taylor) between the urban areas of Tallahassee and Jacksonville.  Research states that low income, rural students that are found in these regions contend with issues of

    • geographic isolation
    • insufficient internet bandwidth to support online access and full adoption of technological advances
    • limited access or engagement in advanced coursework in mathematics and science even when they demonstrate high potential, and
    • economic barriers that inhibit future employment and educational opportunities. 

    Our intervention is the STEM SEALs program that has three main Challenges - LAND, SEA, and AIR - (like Navy Seals) - designed for middle school students to participate and learn exciting, hands-on STEM activities during the Summer Institute held at North Florida College.  We have been busy, even during COVID, in development of the program with assistance from our regional middle school educators and even holding virtual camp in 2020.  These educators have participated in three main capacities: (1) as members of a Design Team to ensure the learning modules are age appropriate, engaging, align and incorporate content standards, utilize student’s prior knowledge and skills, and incorporate STEM and pedagogical best practices; (2) as members of a Review Team who not only provide invaluable insight to the development team on the design modules but also are exposed to innovative ways to apply STEM in their classrooms, and (3) as part of a Dyad paired with students learning in the virtual Summer Institute. 

    As the STEM for All Video Showcase program is all about community sharing, would you (the visitor) be willing to tell us about your program by answering the following questions?

    Q1. How has your program utilized and involved regional educators?

    Q2. Are you in a rural region that has had to deal with the obstacles to providing STEM activities to students? If so, what are you doing to provide assistance to students?

    Q3. Do you have any suggestions for overcoming the issues with internet connectivity in rural regions?

     
  • Icon for: Jaime Gutierrez

    Jaime Gutierrez

    Facilitator
    Research Associate II
    May 11, 2021 | 02:34 p.m.

    Hi Adrienne and team, thanks for sharing! You I'm interested in learning more some of the unanticipated benefits referenced in your summary for teachers and students. Also curious to hear about the how the teachers build STEM-awareness and how it's measured?

  • Icon for: Christie Prout

    Christie Prout

    Co-Presenter
    Research Assistant
    May 12, 2021 | 11:54 a.m.

    The pivot to a virtual delivery made the STEM SEALs LAND Challenge immediately more versatile and resulted in quicker progress towards leveraging virtual platforms.  Being able to access the STEM SEALs experience remotely became highly advantageous given its target of appealing to students in rural areas.  The only issues seemed to be slow internet in some areas, but most students worked through this challenge successfully.  The dyad framework also had unintended benefits of providing STEM exposure and professional development for teachers through the virtual camp, allowing for continually engaging the educators even after the camp ended. Many instructors maintained interest in the STEM SEALs grant and larger mission to build a STEM ecosystem in the area. By connecting directly with teachers and then connecting teachers to each other and the STEM SEALs development team, the project has made faster progress in creating a core group of educators who can serve as ambassadors as the College looks to strengthen its connection to regional K-12 institutions.

     Teachers, as well as students, provided information about their perceptions of STEM before and after the virtual camp.  We saw a statistically significant increase in the confidence of educators to do activities involved in the engineering design process from pre to post- Summer Institute.

  • Icon for: Channa Comer

    Channa Comer

    Facilitator
    STEM Educator
    May 12, 2021 | 08:09 p.m.

    Hello Adrianne and team,

    Thank you for sharing your work. How did you handle the challenge of internet bandwidth insufficiencies with a fully virtual program? What were other challenges you faced working virtually? How were students recruited for the summer enrichment camp? What do you consider to be the greatest successes of the virtual program?

  • Icon for: Christie Prout

    Christie Prout

    Co-Presenter
    Research Assistant
    May 13, 2021 | 10:52 a.m.

    While we did have a few issues with internet connection during the 8 days of the Summer Institute, the expert team at North Florida College were very patient and supported the students and educators over the whole of the camp experience. The challenges faced going virtual were addressed by ensuring that the materials were thorough and provided ample explanation, videos were made by the college faculty to substitute for in person demonstrations, and utilizing online platforms students would be familiar with such as Google classroom and Zoom meetings daily.

    Once the decision was made to utilize dyads of teachers and students learning together, the recruitment for the Summer Institute began with connecting with teachers who would be interested in participating in the virtual program and their own children or close relatives who wanted to participate as these would be the only participants who would meet safety guidelines for COVID protocols at the time. 

    The greatest successes were being able to connect with rural middle school students with a rigorous, challenging, but fun STEM program during pandemic protocols, and making new and lasting connections with middle school faculty that has continued to develop through related activities since the Summer Institute 2020.

  • May 14, 2021 | 03:06 p.m.

    Thanks for sharing this exciting work, STEMSeals team!

    I appreciate your project's dedication to students in the rural places you serve that is their home. Also, I know there can be tensions in rural communities when student learning is perceived as taking their focus and future away from their own communities. I'd like to hear more about how you designed experiences that addressed STEM topics and connected to the rural settings and communities you are serving. 

  • Icon for: Christie Prout

    Christie Prout

    Co-Presenter
    Research Assistant
    May 18, 2021 | 02:05 a.m.
     Hi Daniel, thanks for your question. When we began to think of STEM experiences that we could provide for the middle school students in our region, we wanted to make the activities they experienced in the Summer Institute relate to the local industries found in this north central part of Florida. This area of Florida has large farming operations, timber operations, lumber manufacturing, pulp and paper manufacturing, along with some boat manufacturing, but of course, Florida is known for NASA rocket launches, fishing and ecotourism. Then, we chose the three disciplines of the Navy SEALs, Land, Sea, and Air, to mimic with our students experiences.   In the Land Challenge, the students learn to build and code rovers, which can relate to the NASA program with rovers on Mars or to tractors with pulling farm equipment or future robots doing the farming for the farmers. For the SEA Challenge we relate the activities to building and coding boats and taking water samples for environmental analysis. For the Air Challenge, we have the students learn to fly drones and build and code a weather station, which relates to the use of drones for land management with the weather monitoring for farming/timber production and surviving in the tropical region. So each Challenge relates to the regional industries or life in Florida, and exposes students to the necessary STEM activities that will be the future of sustainability of the area industries.
  • Icon for: Adrienne Smith

    Adrienne Smith

    Lead Presenter
    President
    May 18, 2021 | 10:07 a.m.

    Dan --We have also leveraged our access to those mostknowledgeable about the local context by soliciting the input of a group ofeducators from the region who, in collaboration with the expert team at thecommunity college, experiment with prototypes and co-create challenges that willbe relevant to students’ lives.  We havebeen intentional about making explicit connections to the local STEM school-to-careerpipeline through the selection of challenges that relate to local issues and areperformed locally using materials manufactured at the local community college,a college who provides training to ready students for careers within the region.  We hope to continue to build upon the literatureof place-based education by showing how a community college can anchor a STEM ecosystemin a rural area by recognizing, valuing, and nurturing the incredible assetsstudent within a culture of tinkering bring to STEM.  

  • Icon for: Julie Robinson

    Julie Robinson

    Higher Ed Faculty
    May 16, 2021 | 01:43 p.m.

    We are in a rural region of North Dakota and experience many of the issues that you describe. Our project is focused on rural, and Indigenous, populations as well. One of our emphases is bringing the learning (like you, focused on relevant engineering design tasks) into the specific community in which we are working and designing it both with and for that unique area in collaboration with educators and Tribal Elders. I appreciate so much your intentionality with maintaining the important relationships forged between teachers and students and the focus on fostering STEM identities! 

  • Icon for: Christie Prout

    Christie Prout

    Co-Presenter
    Research Assistant
    May 18, 2021 | 02:06 a.m.
     Thanks so much for your comment, Julie.  In reviewing your program Project ExCEED, it seems we are providing similar rural focused Engineering Design and STEM activities for the region teachers to develop their confidence in being able to learn and teach these type activities.  Our program did add the use of the dyads, where the teachers were both the learners and facilitators for students in the Summer Institute. This may be an option you want to consider in the future. We found from our research analysis, even during the all virtual summer experience in 2020, that the teachers developed from pre to post STEM SEALs statistically significant improvements in confidence in doing multiple aspects of Engineering Design tasks and self-efficacy in explaining when teaching Computational Thinking (Coding) skills.  

     

  • May 18, 2021 | 09:47 a.m.

    Thank you for sharing your important work. I really like that you are examining students' developing STEM identities in a rural location with such strong connections to the local context. Great work!

  • Icon for: Christie Prout

    Christie Prout

    Co-Presenter
    Research Assistant
    May 18, 2021 | 11:50 a.m.

    Hi Elizabeth, thank you for watching our video and connecting with us.  We are excited to help students in our region and potentially beyond to really see themselves connected to STEM in their everyday lives as well as their future careers as STEM-able, STEM-skilled, and STEM-belonging.

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