This project will explore how an afterschool program that combines narrative and storytelling approaches, STEM role models, and family supports, sparks elementary-age girls’ interest in STEM and fosters their STEM identity. The project will evaluate an inquiry-based, afterschool program that serves both elementary school girls and boys and explores if adding storytelling components to the out-of-school time (OST) learning will better support girls’ interest in STEM. The storytelling features include:
A secondary aim of this project is to build capacity of schools and afterschool providers to deliver and sustain afterschool STEM enrichment experiences. Museum-based informal STEM experts will co-teach with afterschool providers to deliver the Children’s Museum Houston (CMH) curriculum called Afterschool Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math (A’STEAM). Although A’STEAM has been implemented in over 100 sites and shows promise, to scale-up this and other promising afterschool programs, the team will evaluate how professional development resources and the co-facilitation approach can build afterschool educators’ capacity to deliver the most promising approaches.
Researchers at CLI will partner with Museum-based informal STEM educators at CMH, YES Prep, a high performing charter school serving >95% of underrepresented groups, and other afterschool providers serving mostly underrepresented groups experiencing poverty. Storytelling components that highlight females in STEM will be added to an existing afterschool program (A’STEAM Basic). This derivative program is called A’STEAM Stories. Both instantiations of the afterschool programs (Basic and Stories) include an afterschool educator component (ongoing professional development and coaching), a family component (e.g., home extension activities, in-person, and virtual family learning events), and two age-based groups (K-G2 and G3-G5). Further, the A’STEAM Stories professional development for educators includes training that challenges STEM gender stereotypes and explains how to make science interesting to girls.
The 4-year project has four phases:
Data sources include educator and family surveys, focus groups, and interviews as well as observations of afterschool program instructional quality and analysis of parent-child discourse during a STEM task. Constructs assessed with children include STEM interest, STEM identity, and STEM gender stereotype endorsement as well as standardized measures of vocabulary, science, and math. Findings will increase understanding of how to optimize OST STEM experiences for elementary-age girls and how to strengthen STEM interest for all participants. Further, this project will advance our knowledge of the extent to which scaffolded, co-teaching approaches build capacity of afterschool providers to sustain inquiry-based STEM programs.