- Year 2019
- NSF Noyce Award # 1439904
- First Name Jerry
- Last Name Dwyer
- Discipline Biology, Chemistry, Engineering, Math, Physics
Taylor McWilliams, Texas Tech University, Taylor.Mc@ttu.edu
A number of Texas Tech Noyce scholars participate in outreach by helping to lead after school STEM Clubs for K-12 students. These STEM Clubs benefit both the students and the scholars. The after-school STEM Clubs are hosted once a week at local and surrounding area K-12 schools. Each week students are encouraged to come and participate in an hour long, hands on, and engaging lesson pertaining to one of the STEM disciplines. These sessions are important in attempts to increase STEM interest amongst our younger populations. In addition, a number of our clubs are held in high needs schools where STEM interest is even further reduced. By leading these clubs, scholars gain valuable preservice teaching experience in a relaxed and fun environment. In addition, they are exposed to the students in and the challenges of a high needs teaching environment. As a result, these clubs help prepare our scholars for their teaching assignments in high needs schools.
The goal of the after school STEM Club programs is to increase student success in the STEM disciplines. As a result, our efforts are guided by questions such as why do students choose to attend STEM Club? We also are interested in investigating whether completing a year in an after school club can change student perceptions about STEM and their own abilities within STEM disciplines.
Noyce scholars were asked to design and gather supplies for a STEM activity that they wished to conduct during their club session each week. The only requirements surrounding the activity were that the activity was hands on, engaging, and related to a STEM discipline. Developing the hour long curriculum provided scholars an opportunity to practice curriculum development on a very small scale. Additionally, the scholars were able to participate in research by administering various pre and post surveys to the club participants to help us track the success of the programs.
The goal of the after school STEM Clubs is to increase interest in the STEM disciplines and to encourage students to seek STEM degrees and professions. As a result, we are analyzing participant pre and post surveys in hopes of discovering that we were able to change student perceptions about STEM and their abilities dealing with STEM topics. In addition, we hope to learn why students choose to attend STEM Club. For example, are they interested in the activities and learning the material? Or, are they being forced by their parents to attend? Were they lured by the promise of a provided snack? If there are incentives that appear to work that we can control and replicate in future STEM Clubs, we want to identify these as they will help future clubs be even more successful.
We hope that we are able to positively impact students’ perceptions of the STEM disciplines by their participation in our clubs. Preliminary results indicate that students in high needs schools see that they themselves are capable of being successful in a STEM discipline and this motivates us to continue hosting and growing our after school STEM Club program. In addition, we believe that participation in our after school clubs prepares our Noyce scholars to be better teachers. They get real time experience in curriculum development and classroom management. In some cases, this experience occurs long before they begin student teaching. We are strong advocates of all teacher education programs including practical experiences.