EMERGE in STEM (Education for Minorities to Effectively Raise Graduation and Employment in STEM) is a NSF INCLUDES Design and Development Launch Pilot. The project addresses the broadening participation challenge of increasing participation of women, the at-risk minority population and the deaf in the STEM workforce. The project incorporates in and out-of-school career awareness activities for grades 4-12 in a high poverty community in Guilford County, North Carolina. EMERGE in STEM brings together a constellation of existing community partners from all three sectors (public, private, government) to leverage and expand mutually-reinforcing STEM career awareness and workforce development activities in new ways by using a collective impact approach.
The project builds on a local network to infuse career exposure elements into the existing STEM activities and interventions in the community. A STEM education and career exposure software, Learning Blade, will be used to reach approximately 15,000 students. A shared measurement system and assessment process will contribute to the evaluation of the effectiveness of the collective impact strategies, the implementation of mutually reinforcing activities across the partnership and the extent to which project efforts attract students to consider STEM careers.
Learning Blade Software
Use of a STEM-education and career-exposure software platform (Learning Blade for grades 6-8) with a statistically-large population (~15,000 underrepresented minorities (URMs)including women could be engaged with Learning Blade during the pilot) will produce informative data and knowledge not yet presented in the literature. Assessments will show the impact of career exposure on URM students (compared to non-URMs) including, in part: awareness of career opportunities, interest in pursuing STEM careers and desire to take advanced STEM-based classes in high school and beyond. Leveraging the core concept of Learning Blade, career-exposure elements infused into mutually reinforcing activities (MRAs) throughout the grade 4-12 continuum will also be assessed to advance knowledge of infusion impact on URMs.
Learning Blade Introduction
Theory of Change Model
The Theory of Change Strategic Model supporting the pilot is shown below. The model shows a high-level view of the relationships between strategic efforts and activities, and expected outcomes. The model relies on collective impact and links to the framework to achieve desired outcomes on the far right in the diagram.
How EMERGE IN STEM fits into the Larger NSF INCLUDES Program
In 2016, the National Science Foundation unveiled a set of “Big Ideas” — 10 bold, long-term research and process ideas that identify areas for future investment at the frontiers of science and engineering. With its broad portfolio of investments, NSF is uniquely suited to advance this set of cutting-edge research agendas and processes that will require collaborations with industry, private foundations, other agencies, science academies and societies, and universities and the education sector. The Big Ideas represent unique opportunities to position our Nation at the cutting edge — indeed to define that cutting edge — of global science and engineering leadership and to invest in basic research and processes that advance the United States’ prosperity, security, health and well-being.
One of these Big Ideas is an area of focus called NSF INCLUDES (Inclusion across the Nation of Communities of Learners of Underrepresented Discoverers in Engineering and Science). NSF aims to transform education and career pathways to help broaden participation in science and engineering.
NSF has funded 67 launch pilots to date. The focus of these NSF INCLUDES launch pilots spans a number of broadening participation activities – from STEM engagement and preparatory experiences for students and other community members to educator training to new academic programs that expand access to STEM education.
NSF INCLUDES alliances engage partners from private and corporate philanthropy, federal agencies and scientific professional societies. The program’s structure provides a networked testbed for research on STEM inclusion, enabling participants to determine the key components and approaches that lead to progress in STEM inclusion, as well as elements that allow successful local alliances to be scaled up for broader use. Developments from NSF INCLUDES will inform other possible ways through which NSF programs can integrate an inclusion and diversity mindset.