Public Discussion

  • Icon for: Allison Rowe

    Allison Rowe

    Communications Coordinator
    March 20, 2017 | 03:57 p.m.

    Thank you for viewing our video! My name is Allie Rowe and I am serving as Communications Coordinator for this SMART INCLUDES project. Our project seeks to broaden participation in STEM education with community water research. We welcome your questions and comments, and we look forward to joining you in discussion!

  • Icon for: Joni Falk

    Joni Falk

    Center Co-Director
    March 20, 2017 | 04:20 p.m.

    This is a very appealing video and you have gotten me very interested. Now I have many questions. First, the video mentions that the NSF INCLUDES will allow scale up of the SMART program in 8 states. How have you measured the success of the SMART program? Are Junior and Senior HS students who participated more likely to enrol in STEM courses in university or to pursue STEM? Have you looked at other indicators? Second, you mention connecting students with trained mentors and real life role models. Can you say more about this? Does this happen in person, or online? Last,what challenges have you encountered when attempting to scale up? Any lessons you can share for others attempting to scale their work?

      You might enjoy connecting to leaders of this other presentation in the Video Showcase that focuses on marine science. See http://includes2017.videohall.com/presentations...

     

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    Allie Rowe

    Guest
    March 21, 2017 | 02:34 p.m.

    Thank you so much for providing feedback, Joni! With regards to your questions:

    1) Measures of success - For these first three years, an external evaluator measured our project’s impact by surveying students and teacher-mentors. The factors we measured amongst participating students include self-reported confidence in performing STEM-related tasks, confidence in taking STEM courses, and interest in pursuing a STEM major or career. For instance, last year, 83% of URM participants (n=18) and 71% of female participants (n=34) reported that the SMART program increased their interest in pursuing a STEM major or career. And while we cannot prove causation, 41% of SMART students are now accepted or enrolled in a STEM degree program (of approximately 125 currently college-eligible SMART students). In the future, we hope to use the S-STEM and T-STEM survey instruments to better measure confidence and attitudes towards STEM (http://miso.ncsu.edu/)...in other words, we want to know if our program empowering students and teachers to engage in STEM. We also want to start measuring activity (e.g. the quantity and quality of mentor/mentee interactions and participation in STEM-related activities).

    2) Mentors and role models - The first and most essential step is identifying and enlisting mentors: dedicated, “champion” teachers who can devote time outside of the classroom to guiding SMART students as they tackle research projects. When teacher-mentors lack the tools or expertise needed, they serve as connectors, helping students link up (in person) with STEM professionals who can fill the gaps (e.g. wastewater treatment facility staff, EPA officials, university faculty and students) and then facilitating communication (sometimes STEM professionals are not used to interacting with high school students, and vice versa). The ultimate goal here is to develop a community of support for students.

    3) Scale-up challenges and lessons - Communication between partners can prove challenging, especially given the large geographical spread. Keeping everyone informed and receiving input involves a lot of work on both ends. We learned it is worth the time and expense to meet in-person. A member of the UMaine team visited partners in several states. These exchanges greatly helped inspire involvement. Similarly, drawing multiple partners together at a recent NSF conference, in the same room, allowed partners to build trustful relationships.

  • Icon for: Allison Rowe

    Allison Rowe

    Communications Coordinator
    March 21, 2017 | 02:36 p.m.

    And thank you for recommending that we connect with leaders of the SEAS project on marine science-- I think that is a great idea for us to explore! Your suggestion brought up a question we’ve been grappling with. All our partners to date initiated their projects in alignment with the model created at UMaine. We wish to link up with other pilot projects, but it seems a daunting task. How can two up-and-running projects converge? What pieces of project processes would need to come into alignment? We welcome anyone’s thoughts/suggestions here!

     

  • Icon for: Joni Falk

    Joni Falk

    Center Co-Director
    March 21, 2017 | 02:55 p.m.

    Alison, thanks for your detailed and informative reply! Wouldn't it be great to follow the 41% of SMART students who were accepted or enrolled in a STEM degree program to see how they do in higher education and examine longer term impacts of their involvement in SMART? I know it is beyond the scope of the current project... but still your video makes me wonder if they might be more proactive in seeking out mentors or participating in research experiences once they are admitted to higher ed. (just a thought)

      As to how to link up with other projects, the video showcase is a great way to make initial contact, by posting to each other's presentations. Perhaps that could lead to sharing of resources, ideas, and than perhaps possibly future collaborations. As you so aptly said, building partnerships is NOT easy.... (but then again a face-to-face visit to the Virgin Islands sounds fun! :) 

  • Icon for: Allison Rowe

    Allison Rowe

    Communications Coordinator
    March 21, 2017 | 06:49 p.m.

         Joni - I think continuing to follow SMART alumni for multiple years is a great idea. After all, the strongest indication of success would be if participation in our program empowered students throughout higher education and into the STEM workforce.

         I love your suggestion to measure proactivity in seeking out mentors. This reminds me that empowering students in STEM is not only about increasing student knowledge, interest, or participation in STEM, but also about helping students build those skills that allow for success in STEM (reaching out to mentors, collaborating, problem solving, thinking analytically...)

         Finally, thank you for your helpful insights into building partnerships. What your comment helps me realize is that there is no set path, but with communication, partnerships might emerge organically.

     

  • Icon for: Barbara Rogoff

    Barbara Rogoff

    Facilitator
    March 20, 2017 | 04:37 p.m.

    Thank you for your work!  It is very timely and holds promise for making a difference in greater inclusion in stem, as well as improving our environment.  I am curious about how the mentors work with the students.    Barbara

  • Icon for: Allison Rowe

    Allison Rowe

    Communications Coordinator
    March 21, 2017 | 02:38 p.m.

    Dear Barbara- Thank you for your comment and curiosity. Our project’s potential to benefit both students and the environment is what excites me most!

    Does my response to Joni above about how mentors work with students answer the questions in your mind? If not, what questions remain?

     

  • Icon for: Barbara Rogoff

    Barbara Rogoff

    Facilitator
    March 21, 2017 | 07:06 p.m.

    Thanks. I was interested in what the mentors DO with the students.

  • Icon for: Allison Rowe

    Allison Rowe

    Communications Coordinator
    March 24, 2017 | 11:09 a.m.

    Hi Barbara! Thanks for your question. Mentors accompany students from their school/community at the 5-day summer institute, guiding students through activities while themselves learning about the science and engineering of stormwater. Then, throughout the year, mentors assist students as they monitor and map water quality around their local communities, use sensor technology to collect data, and use computer modeling for data analysis to then help solve local stormwater issues. Specifically, this involves identifying sampling sites in the community, helping students choose research questions, working with students to troubleshoot any research challenges, introducing students to community water partners/STEM professionals that can help advance student research, and planning outreach activities in the community where students can present their work. During the school year, mentors organize weekly group meetings with all participating students, and also devote time for one-on-one advising as their students tackle capstone projects.

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    Pamela McLeod

    Higher Ed Administrator
    March 24, 2017 | 06:35 p.m.

    Barbara & Allie - I will add that here at ReNUWIt (Reinventing the Nation's Urban Water Infrastructure, based at Stanford and behind the CA dot on the map in this video), we will also engage graduate students and postdoctoral scholars to serve as "expert" mentors. These students/post-docs conduct stormwater research within our center; they will be paired up with the teams in our local schools and provide some of the assistance Allie describes above. They're also a direct link to our research programs/facilities.

  • Icon for: Chris Boynton, EdD

    Chris Boynton, EdD

    March 24, 2017 | 10:37 a.m.

    What a great project !  Love the actual live data and real projects.  Now that we have water we may be able to replicate this project.

  • Icon for: Allison Rowe

    Allison Rowe

    Communications Coordinator
    March 24, 2017 | 11:37 a.m.

         Thank you, Chris! Yes-- we think the live data and real projects are key! Students we surveyed indicated that the experience of researching real issues facing their communities and helping to solve these local problems made them more likely to apply to STEM programs in college.

         You must be from California? We recently connected with a partner in the Bay Area-- Pam McLeod, Director of Education and Outreach at Stanford University. Given local conditions, this partner project will likely focus on water conservation. Please reach out to me (Allison.Rowe@maine.edu) if you'd like to discuss linking up with us and/or our partner in your region!

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    Erica Harvey

    Higher Ed Faculty
    March 24, 2017 | 01:20 p.m.

    I love the video of this project and the way you let the student participants tell a lot of the story!  We are hoping to do the same with our First Two INCLUDES pilot, which also has a video here.  We are piloting the idea of 2-week, residential research projects for students just before they start their first year in college, and like you, we want our students to become Hometown Ambassadors as part of the program.  While we aren't focusing on water, I think some of our program elements may be similar and would love to get in touch with you!

  • Icon for: Allison Rowe

    Allison Rowe

    Communications Coordinator
    March 27, 2017 | 12:22 p.m.

         Hi Erica-- Thanks for viewing our video and for the positive feedback! Thank you also for pointing us to your video-- I enjoyed learning about the First Two project! I am inspired by your mission to improve rural, first-generation college students' persistence in STEM. I love the idea of re-framing connection to home as an asset, and also the service learning aspect of your program.

         I agree that our programs could learn a lot from each other’s experiences! I see the following connections:

         1. Engaging students in research topics that are important to the local places and people they care about-- So far we have focused on water because water quality/availability is a universal issue. However, we would be interested in exploring a greater diversity of place-based research topics that would engage underrepresented students in STEM, such as the topic you bring up in your video, solar energy research in West Virginia! Perhaps we could work together to develop ways to identify these topics.

         2. The structure of summer research experience prior to yearlong program engagement-- For our pilot, that is a 5-day summer institute that introduces high school students and their teachers to the science and engineering of stormwater, moving into a yearlong internship program where students apply the skills they have learned through hands-on data collection and research. It sounds like for your program, that will be a 2-week summer internship for soon-to-be college freshmen, moving into a weekly seminar that will engage students in learning and practicing STEM skills. Maybe we could share methods of creating continuity and retaining students from the summer component to the yearlong component.

         3. Hometown Ambassadors. SMART students do work with a diverse array of community members in carrying out their research projects. We could discuss with you ways of connecting with these stakeholders. In our pilot structure, SMART students do not mentor younger students in their hometown. They do, however, help tell the stormwater “story” through outreach activities (e.g. public presentations of their research findings).That being said, the idea of reaching back to mentor younger students is compelling, and maybe we could talk to you about how you plan to set up such a program!

         4. Engaging rural students. In the past, our program has tried to reach out to students from rural areas of Maine. I foresee that engaging rural students will be also be a goal for the partners we have linked with so far (in the states of New York, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, California, Missouri, North Carolina, and Idaho). It would be great to compare notes with you about the challenges as well as the opportunities of working with rural youth!

         Please feel free to email me (Allison.Rowe@maine.edu) and our pilot project PI (musavi@maine.edu) if you would like to get in touch and explore ways we can collaborate!

  • Further posting is closed as the event has ended.

SMART INCLUDES: Creating a Diverse STEM Pathway with Community Water Research
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Based at the University of Maine, the goal of the SMART INCLUDES pilot project is to form a multi-state collaborative and define the strategic plan for scale-up to a national alliance focused on broadening participation of underrepresented students in STEM. This collaborative of multiple and varied organizations will align to collectively contribute time and resources to a pre-college educational pathway that uses long-term community mentored student research in local water issues.