Latina SciGirls: Promoting Middle School-Age Hispanic Girls' Postitive STEM Identity Development
As part of its overall strategy to enhance learning in informal environments, the Advancing Informal STEM Learning (AISL) program funds innovative resources for use in a variety of settings. In this project, Twin Cities Public Television (TPT) will produce Latina SciGirls, a fourth season of the Emmy Award-winning television and transmedia project SciGirls. Latina SciGirls includes six half-hour television episodes of SciGirls filmed in Spanish, showing groups of Hispanic girls and their Latina STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) mentors investigating culturally relevant science and engineering problems of interest to Hispanic communities across the U.S. Television mentors and girls will be filmed in Hispanic communities in the southwest and southeastern U.S. and represent various cultural backgrounds and ethnicities. TPT will also create a series of family and girl-friendly online role model video profiles in Spanish and English of Latina STEM professionals. In addition to the media components, the project will provide opportunities to connect girls and their families with in-person Latina role models and STEM programming via community outreach in diverse Hispanic communities across the country. The goal of the project is to promote positive STEM identity development in middle school-age Hispanic girls. Hispanic women are the largest group of minority females, constituting 8% of the U.S. population, however, the participation of Hispanic women in science and engineering is significantly low: in 2010, just 2% of all of the scientists and engineers in the U.S. workforce were Hispanic women. The approach to Latina SciGirls is rooted both in research-based strategies proven to engage girls in STEM, and the need to address specific barriers that prevent many Hispanic girls from participating fully in STEM activities. These barriers include lack of STEM identity (girls' perception of themselves as scientists or engineers), limited exposure to STEM role models, and low parental engagement and English proficiency. Research shows that Hispanic girls have high interest and confidence in STEM, and a strong work ethic, but lack support and exposure to STEM professionals. TPT will uniquely leverage the power of national media and outreach to enable Latina STEM professionals to interact with girls and their families both onscreen and in person. Latina SciGirls episodes will be broadcast nationally by PBS and the nation's largest Hispanic network, Univisión, and streamed online at PBSKids.org. Resources will be made available to additional Spanish-speaking communities nationwide through the NSF-funded outreach program, SciGirls CONNECT, and through partnership with the National Girls Collaborative Project. TPT will commission an external research study with the University of Colorado-Boulder, which will test the hypothesis: The SciGirls model, when augmented to address specific barriers to STEM engagement of Hispanic girls ages 8 to 13 and their parents, will promote the development of positive STEM-related identities in Hispanic girls. In this capacity, the study will investigate Hispanic girls' personal experiences engaging with the project deliverables and how those experiences contribute to their STEM-related identity development against cultural and gender-based stereotypes. An external evaluation by Knight-Williams, Inc. will include front-end, formative and summative phases. The front-end evaluation will involve stakeholders in the development of a Spanish language program that features culturally appropriate storylines and showcases Latina STEM professionals. Formative evaluation will include focus groups of girls and families offering their reactions to the appeal and perceived value of the program. Summative evaluation will capture the reach of the broadcast, online components and community events. TPT will disseminate the research and evaluation findings through presentations at national conferences, including the American Education Research Association, National Science Teachers Association, and at www.InformalScience.org. The project's evaluation and research about the complexities of the cognitive and experiential factors that influence Hispanic girls' STEM identity development will contribute to the field's understanding of this subject and the larger efforts of broadening minority women's participation in STEM.