Developing a Live Science Show and Educational Outreach Resources to Engage Hispanic Students and Families in the Rio Grande Valley in STEM
Many of the Hispanic children and families who live in the Rio Grande Valley lack opportunities to engage in inspirational and educational experiences introducing Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) concepts and related careers. The University of Texas, Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) will adapt and research the "Energy and U Show," which will introduce thousands of children and families to an exciting and dramatic that shows interconverting different forms of energy. The show will meld the excitement of chemical demonstrations and the natural connection between energy and STEM education in a fully produced, on-stage science extravaganza. A foundational philosophy of the show is that there is additional real value in getting children and youth onto a college campus. For many of its participants, this is their first time sitting in a seat at a university, the first opportunity for them to envision themselves in this environment. In partnership with the University of Minnesota, which originally developed the show, UTRGV will adapt the show, now presented in English, to a bilingual, culturally accessible format that is designed to Hispanic family audiences and student groups in learning about energy and related careers. Evaluation results demonstrate that the show has effectively engaged thousands of Minnesota students. The target audience will be upper elementary (4th-5th grade), middle school students, and their parents. This project will be led by UTRGV, nation's second-largest Hispanic Serving Institution, with a student enrollment of 28,000, of which over 90% are Hispanic and more than 60% are first-generation college students). In addition to the show, the project will include: (1) a manual to guide implementation of the program and related resources at different national or international venues; (2) educational resources for parents, teachers and school counselors introducing STEM careers and specific STEM college majors; (3) mentoring of UTRGV faculty in outreach activities; and (4) dissemination of the show to other campuses and venues.
The project will conduct ongoing research and evaluation guiding the adaptation of the show and investigation of factors contributing to positive educational impacts of the project, which will be carried out by a bilingual/bicultural researcher. Project research instruments will measure student level of engagement, interest and learning, as well as college interest, in surveys and analysis of data pre and post demonstration. The project will specifically investigate the impact of language on student impacts. Each component of this project will be studied to determine program intervention effectiveness (the scientific demonstration and language of the demonstration). To determine program effectiveness, a baseline of data before program implementation will be established concerning Hispanic students, their persistence, and perceptions of the environment. The project will measure parent perceptions of STEM careers for their children through pre and post demonstration surveys and focus groups. Student and parent research participants will be able to use surveys or respond to other research activities in the language of their choice. Project findings will contribute to the knowledge base concerning how linguistically and culturally adapted science shows and related resources adapted into can have positive impacts regarding the STEM knowledge and careers of students and parents from low-income and Hispanic communities.
This project is funded by the National Science Foundation's (NSF's) Advancing Informal STEM Learning (AISL) program, which supports innovative research, approaches, and resources for use in a variety of learning settings.
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