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  1. Denise Nacu
  2. Associate Professor
  3. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  4. Northwestern University, DePaul University
  1. Sheena Erete
  2. Associate Professor
  3. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  4. DePaul University
  1. Ivonne Garcia
  2. Graduate Student
  3. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  4. DePaul University
  1. Bo Ju
  2. Graduate Student
  3. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  4. DePaul University
  1. Marianella Osorio
  2. Graduate Student
  3. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  4. DePaul University
  1. Nichole Pinkard
  2. http://digitalyouthnetwork.org/staff/nichole-pinkard/
  3. Associate Professor and Co-Founder of Digital Youth Network
  4. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  5. Northwestern University
  1. Miranda Standberry-Wallace
  2. http://www.linkedin.com/in/mstandberrywallace
  3. Community Relations and Engagement Manager
  4. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  5. Northwestern University
  1. Naomi Thompson
  2. http://www.naomi-thompson.com
  3. Postdoctoral Scholar
  4. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  5. Northwestern University

Building a Learning Ecology to Increase STEM Participation Among Middle Schoo...

NSF Awards: 1850543, 1850505

2021 (see original presentation & discussion)

Grades 6-8

Before the COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of in-person OST programs in early 2020, we had been engaged in building a STEM learning ecosystem centered on the Digital Youth Divas (DYD) program, designed to foster STEM learning, identity, and connection among Black and Brown middle school age girls. Three components of the learning ecosystem we have been designing, implementing, and studying include: 1) DYD youth programming involving girls and mentors, 2) the Caring Adult Network (CAN), a network of parents and caring adults focused on encouraging girls in STEM learning, and 3) the Divas Collective, a group of OST learning providers in one city working together to develop connected, inclusive, and welcoming STEM learning opportunities for girls. STEAMVille, our online learning platform, provides a dedicated space to connect youth, mentors, and caring adults around STEM activities. In this video, we describe our STEM learning ecosystem and how we shifted to an all-remote program during the pandemic.

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Discussion from the 2021 STEM For All Video Showcase (22 posts)
  • Icon for: Naomi Thompson

    Naomi Thompson

    Co-Presenter
    Postdoctoral Scholar
    May 11, 2021 | 09:38 a.m.

    Looking forward to some fun and productive discussions! 

  • May 11, 2021 | 11:02 a.m.

    Your transfer to online looks like a neat "home base" for many ventures for the Divas Mentors and those lucky enough to find the platform.  What are your future plans to continue the model?   Our project to work with sensors could always find a way to leap geographic limits...

  • Icon for: Sheena Erete

    Sheena Erete

    Co-Presenter
    Associate Professor
    May 11, 2021 | 03:06 p.m.

    We plan to continue some aspect of the online version of the program because it does allow people in different places to attend. So it really does attend to equity in a sense. However, we also know that relationships are more easily created in-person so we look forward to eventually getting back to that. Also, we have sent out kits to people’s homes so we’d love to understand a bit more about curriculum around sensors. 

  • May 11, 2021 | 04:13 p.m.

    You are right on target.  The term equity has a firmness that follows  technology for those in our projects. The need fellowship along with the tools of sensing.     Understanding how sensors work to supply data is more than knowledge on how the tools work..but how they are used.  That type of curriculum...based on projects, sharing to move from interests take time and practice.  Visit our video as we could use your thoughts on how learners take on roles to  progress into  non-competitive "cohorts" of fellowship.  We look forward to sharing more on the sensors and curriculum. 

  • Icon for: Emily Yam

    Emily Yam

    Informal Educator
    May 11, 2021 | 11:44 a.m.

    I love this idea of an ecosystem approach to STEM identity development- so, so important, and something that my facility (a large, public aquarium) is interested in. In large networks like this, it takes so much work to develop and grow all the connections. Before you deployed all your work with the Divas, was there built-in time to create more partnerships/ get to know all the other partner orgs? Or did you work with them in the past?

  • Icon for: Sheena Erete

    Sheena Erete

    Co-Presenter
    Associate Professor
    May 12, 2021 | 07:12 p.m.

    That is such a great question Emily. Yes, we already had many of these partnerships in place. As you mentioned, these partnerships take a significant time to build meaningful relationships. Also, we have a Community Relationships and Engagement Manager who is a Black woman from the community and that works full time on building these partnerships. Feel free to check out our paper that we co-wrote with her about establishing partnerships with parents and organizations that will be published and presented at the RESPECT 2021 conference.

  • Icon for: Miranda Standberry-Wallace

    Miranda Standberry-Wallace

    Co-Presenter
    Community Relations and Engagement Manager
    May 15, 2021 | 12:28 p.m.

    Thanks, Sheena! @Emily, Sheena is spot on! We have a multifaceted approach for nurturing existing and cultivating new partnerships with other orgs for our program, community and families in formal and informal ways. Strategies range from having a role like mine, Community Relations and Engagement, dedicated to personal, community-based approaches to partnership building, to our implemented technology solution, the STEAMville platform, which affords us to ability to spread and deepen relationships beyond geographical bounds and recommend partner programs based on our youths’ interests.  Please do check out the RESPECT paper and the platform at steamville.org. Happy to chat more!

  • Icon for: Caitlin Martin

    Caitlin Martin

    Researcher
    May 11, 2021 | 03:08 p.m.

    Hi, incredible Divas team! I am not surprised at how seamlessly the program was able to pivot quickly to remote opportunities, not just bc of the tech platform but bc of the strong relationships and trust built between the program and families and the community over the years. Have you been able to recruit new girls and families since the face-to-face programming ended? One mentor talked about the diversity of activities available now -- what do you see girls gravitating toward? Sounds like social justice was a theme at least in one of the activity starters. Would love to hear more!

     
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    Discussion is closed. Upvoting is no longer available

    Denise Nacu
  • Icon for: Sheena Erete

    Sheena Erete

    Co-Presenter
    Associate Professor
    May 12, 2021 | 07:12 p.m.

    Thanks Caitlin! Yes, we were able to recruit new girls and families. Actually, this was one of our largest amount of girls who signed up for the program ever. However, their participation has been less than the number that registered, which is expected even in f2f. Yes, social justice was one that was very popular, and we have a number of outside organizations that have interesting work that the girls have taken to.

  • Icon for: Heidi Carlone

    Heidi Carlone

    Facilitator
    Distinguished Professor
    May 12, 2021 | 11:57 a.m.

    I have long admired the Digital Youth Divas program and, like Caitlin mentioned above, I'm not surprised (though still impressed) at how the group adjusted to pandemic conditions. Can you provide a little more information about how you (re-)organized the mentoring part of the project this year? I'm also curious about your team's approach to fostering mentors' development and learning. Congrats on the successful year, team! 

     

  • Icon for: Naomi Thompson

    Naomi Thompson

    Co-Presenter
    Postdoctoral Scholar
    May 12, 2021 | 02:09 p.m.

    Hi Heidi! The mentors worked remotely all year — they deserve so much credit as so many of them were also in virtual school and dealing with their own COVID-related issues. As the Divas were split into two groups - New and Returning - we split the mentors up as well. I met with each group weekly to review lesson plans, discuss facilitation strategies, and reflect on how the sessions were going. The majority of our mentors have served as STEAM mentors with us before. We had a few PD sessions on specific topics during those meetings but were mostly able to jump right in with these knowledgeable and experienced mentors! At the beginning of the year, the mentors also worked to check in with individual families to see how everyone was doing during the COVID crisis and encourage them to return for this year’s program. Especially through the work of our Community Engagement Manager (Sheena mentioned above) we have learned that those personal touches go such a long way in building relationships.

     
    1
    Discussion is closed. Upvoting is no longer available

    Heidi Carlone
  • Icon for: Candice Woods

    Candice Woods

    Manager, Development and Partnerships
    May 12, 2021 | 12:27 p.m.

    This program looks super engaging! As you move forward, is there plans to have current Divas become mentors to the next generation of Divas once they enter high school and/or university?

  • Icon for: Naomi Thompson

    Naomi Thompson

    Co-Presenter
    Postdoctoral Scholar
    May 12, 2021 | 02:10 p.m.

    Hi Candice! The short answer is yes! Previous iterations of the work have shown us that moving from participant to mentor can be an incredibly generative pathway. In our new location, we don’t yet have any Divas moving from middle school to high school, but it is absolutely our intention to find ways for these learners to stay involved in the program as they grow their expertise and interest. Serving as a mentor is a paid position as well, so moving into a mentor role also demonstrates that there are employment opportunities in STEAM!

     
    1
    Discussion is closed. Upvoting is no longer available

    Candice Woods
  • Icon for: Daniel Damelin

    Daniel Damelin

    Facilitator
    Senior Scientist
    May 12, 2021 | 11:39 p.m.

    The program sounds amazing, and I really appreciate the systemic approach with the inclusion of the caring adult network. Is this all done outside of school? Can you talk a bit more about how the Divas, the mentors, and the CAN interact? Is the Diva the focus or are there interactions between the mentors and the adults?

  • Icon for: Sheena Erete

    Sheena Erete

    Co-Presenter
    Associate Professor
    May 14, 2021 | 05:27 p.m.

    Thanks for asking Daniel. The program is entirely done during out-of-school time (OST). Since we know learner need various supports, we focus on interactions with the curriculum in the program, the mentors, the parents and caring adult network (CAN), and with other organizations that run STEM programs. Our goal is to build an ecosystem that supports Black and Latina girls -- but we know that a program by itself will not result in sustained interest.

  • Icon for: Sherry Hsi

    Sherry Hsi

    Researcher
    May 12, 2021 | 11:52 p.m.

    It is so wonderful to see the Digital Youth Divas program pivot online during COVID-19 and continue to build and knit a strong community of learners. With a shift to remote learning, I am wondering if you have observed or can share any stories about how families or siblings of youth or mentor families also engaged in the program informally since they were connected and building projects from home.

  • Icon for: Naomi Thompson

    Naomi Thompson

    Co-Presenter
    Postdoctoral Scholar
    May 14, 2021 | 01:16 p.m.

    Hi Sherry! That is such an interesting question. I really expected to see a lot more of parents in the Zoom calls with their children, but they've been a little more separate than I would have guessed. That's not to say parents aren't listening in or participating off-camera, of course. In one case, a young participant was struggling with having both school and Divas all-virtual, and we worked with her parents to make it so they could help her with her projects on their own time together. Parents know what their kids need!

    We also happen to have multiple sets of siblings in the group this year, so it has been fun to see the ways they navigate joining workshops from the same room vs different rooms, etc.

  • Icon for: Dr. Julia V. Clark

    Dr. Julia V. Clark

    Facilitator
    Retired Federal Employee
    May 13, 2021 | 11:36 a.m.

    The project is to be commended for making a smooth transition to online activities as the result of COVID intervened.  One of the things that impressed me about this project  is the informal out-of-school school activities. An important feature is parental involvement. This is so important as a mechanism for increasing students' interest and involvement in STEM. I am interested in knowing how the project involves parents.

  • Icon for: Ivonne Garcia

    Ivonne Garcia

    Co-Presenter
    Graduate Student
    May 13, 2021 | 08:04 p.m.

    Thank you so much! Throughout the past two years of the program, we have learned that parents are a huge factor in foster girls STEM interest. We developed a Caring Adult Network, meaning not only parents, but grandparents and others that care for the Divas, participate in our workshops. They learn about and have discussions around identity and learning support roles they play currently and others they can take on.

  • Icon for: Diana Acosta

    Diana Acosta

    Graduate Student
    May 14, 2021 | 11:55 a.m.

    This project is great and the ecosystem approach is impressive! Because STEM identity and interest can often start developing during the early years, I wonder if you have any ideas about how you might tailor your program for girls younger than middle school age. Thanks for sharing your work!

  • Icon for: Sheena Erete

    Sheena Erete

    Co-Presenter
    Associate Professor
    May 14, 2021 | 01:05 p.m.

    Great question Diana! Actually we've gotten that a lot and have expanded our program to girls as young as 9-10 years old (4th-5th graders). They are so enthusiastic and we have created cohorts (some mixed grades) where the older girls can mentor the younger girls. Other than that, we haven't had to change that much other than the mentors are more aware of the various ages and gives more autonomy vs more guidance as needed. 

     
    1
    Discussion is closed. Upvoting is no longer available

    Diana Acosta
  • May 18, 2021 | 10:31 a.m.

    What a great project.  What is the key change from the online experience you will bring into 2021-22 when students are back in school?

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