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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.


Resources

Fellows

Kaori McManus
Upper School Math Teacher

Joanne Ciuccio
Middle School Computer Science Teacher

Jen Doran
Upper School Science Teacher


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