Building Confidence, Performance, and Participation in S.T.E.M. (2017-18)

How might we change the persistent student perception that math, science, and computer science are only for certain groups of people acknowledging that the current state of STEM participation at RCDS is heavily skewed toward white and Asian male students?

Our Goal

This project aims to facilitate diversity of STEM participation across gender, socioeconomic class, race, and academic tracks. More specifically, it addresses underrepresentation of female, black and Latino students in STEM. We will coordinate and expand on initiatives to improve confidence, performance, and participation in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math; research and share best practices; and track data over time.

Project Overview

STEAM, a key component of 21st-century education, provides foundations such as a growth mindset, perseverance, critical thinking, problem solving, observation, and exploration - all vital to success across disciplines. As students build these skills, their sense of empowerment or agency grows exponentially, helping them to tackle issues in our increasingly complex world. A STEAM skillset is fundamental in today’s tech-savvy and saturated world, providing more pathways to academic success and many of the most in-demand and fulfilling careers.

Through a three-tiered and cyclical approach of research, coordination, and outreach, we are facilitating diversity of STEAM participation and therefore, student agency, across gender, socioeconomic class, race, and academic tracks, by providing more opportunities to more students. We hope to build student, faculty, and parent awareness of underrepresentation in STEM subjects, bringing it into the forefront of mindfulness so that the opportunities that currently exist at RCDS may be leveraged to include more underrepresented students. We have already begun this process by reaching out to faculty at RCDS and coordinating current initiatives such as WISE/WISC so that student participation may be increased during the upcoming year. Our coordination and outreach efforts are informed by our research, which is well underway. We have interviewed Upper School students to learn how we can better support them, started a database of STEAM and inclusion related programs at RCDS, and communicated with peer schools to look at a variety of ways to increase participation.

This summer, we will introduce our project to parents along with resources that can help spark student interest in STEM fields. Our outreach to faculty, students, and parents will continue throughout the year, and we hope to build a positive awareness, environment, and approach for addressing the issues that our project is examining. By continuing the three-tiered and cyclical method of research, coordination, and outreach, we hope to change the persistent student perception that math and science are only for certain groups of people, involve more students, and therefore, create more leaders in the world of STEM.


STEM/STEAM projects geared towards LS/MS students

Our top five STEM/STEAM blogs/websites filled with fun, hands-on activities, projects, and experiments.

  • Left Brain Craft Brain -
    We love this blog! It was created by Anne Carey, an MIT-educated chemical engineer turned stay-at-home mama who writes about crafty ways to encourage learning in our kids. STEAM projects are her favorite.
  • Babble Dabble Co -
    This blog is filled with creative projects. It was created by Ana Dziengel, an architect, award winning furniture designer, and blogger. She’s now a professional crafter, amateur scientist, and art teacher to her three children.
  • Steve Spangler Science -
    Steve Spangler is a teacher, science toy designer, speaker, author and an Emmy award-winning television personality. Spangler is the founder of, a Denver-based company specializing in the creation of science toys, classroom science demonstrations, teacher resources and home for Spangler’s popular science experiment archive and video collection. Spangler is a frequent guest on the Ellen DeGeneres Show where he takes classroom science experiments to the extreme.
  • Scientific American -
    Every Thursday, you can find a new science activity to try in Scientific American’s Bring Science Home section. They offer a nice range of activities like generating electricity with a lemon battery and exploring friction by launching items.


Here are seven options parents might be interested in when exploring the world of STEAM kits.


Subscription Name

Monthly Fee


3 to 7

Kid Art Lit


5 to 8

Kiwi Crate


9 to 16+

Tinker Crate


7 to 14

Spangler Science Club


6 to 14

Bits Box


8 to 11

Genius Box


7 to 13



Summer/Fall STEAM-related field trips, exhibits & museums to visit

New York Botanical Gardens -
Artworks by world-renowned artist Dale Chihuly are now on view at NYBG in his first major garden exhibition in New York in more than ten years.

Central Park

Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum -
The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum is dedicated to the exhibition and interpretation of history, science and service as related to its home aboard the aircraft carrier Intrepid, a National Historic Landmark. As you explore the Museum you will be able to examine original artifacts, view historic video footage and explore interactive exhibits.

American Museum of Natural History -

New York Hall of Science -

Liberty Science Center -

Bronx Zoo -

Storm King Art Center -
Widely celebrated as one of the world’s leading sculpture parks, Storm King Art Center has welcomed visitors from across the globe for more than fifty years. It is located only one hour north of New York City, in the lower Hudson Valley, where its 500-acre landscape of fields, hills, and woodlands provides the setting for a collection of more than 100 carefully sited sculptures created by some of the most acclaimed artists of our time.

Rye Nature Center -
Visit and walk the Turtle, Rabbit, Deer, Rock, Dragonfly, and Tree Trails. They also have a new Storybook Trail starting at the playground. You can download the digital edition of the map here.

Marshlands Conservancy Center -
Marshlands Conservancy is a 147-acre wildlife sanctuary composed of diverse habitats. Forest, meadow, salt marsh and shore can be explored and appreciated here. There are three miles of trails and one-half mile of shoreline along the Long Island Sound. County parks map & guide

The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk -
See how students from Connecticut – and from 18 countries around the world – used art to depict "teamwork" as The Maritime Aquarium hosts Creative Connections' annual "International Children's Art Exhibit." Countries represented include India, Guatemala, Gambia, Brazil, Sri Lanka, Japan, Jordan, Uganda, Cyprus, Ireland, Nigeria and more.

Bruce Museum, Seaside Center -
Consistently voted the "Best Museum" by area media, the Bruce Museum is a regionally based, world-class institution highlighting art, science and natural history in more than a dozen changing exhibitions annually. The permanent galleries feature the natural sciences that encompass regional to global perspectives.

Earthplace, The Nature Discovery Center




Kaori McManus
Upper School Math Teacher

Joanne Ciuccio
Middle School Computer Science Teacher

Jen Doran
Upper School Science Teacher

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