Kay White, branch president, reports:
The Chapel Hill branch sponsored a STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) program, called SPARC, in the fall of 2008. The project provided a 5-week program, 2 days a week, for 3rd to 5th grade girls in the After School Program at the Oak Grove Elementary School in Durham, NC. Our goal was to provide one to two hands-on activities with a female professional in a STEM field. Two to three branch members were in attendance at each session and assessments were made at various points during the program. In terms of diversity, there were 2 Hispanics, 1 white, and 14 African-American girls.
In assessing the success of our program, we valued the comments by our branch volunteers about what they observed. What we learned was that
- girls at this age have great enthusiasm for anything new,
- they don’t know many people in STEM careers, but at the end of the program
- they had learned some of the careers of some of the women professionals we had in STEM careers.
In addition, each child left the program with a notebook which was full of their notes on the various STEM professionals and on the various hands-on activities.
What we learned about our program:
- that the discussion on the biography of the professional would be shortened to allow more time for hands-on activities.
- that the program we have modeled can be refined and copied in other After School Programs and
- that it is easy to get the girls excited about STEM hands-on activities but
- that it is difficult to predict if the girls at this age will go into a STEM career.
We have begun our Spring 2009 SPARC program at Oak Grove and will report on that program at a later date