SIROW and its partners are currently working with over thirty 3rd-8th grade students in a program that combines one-on-one mentoring with science and engineering exploration in two Tucson area schools. In the summer of 2012, the NSF funded i-STEM Project was launched with the goal of designing, implementing, and evaluating an innovative model for engaging underrepresented students, specifically Native Americans and Hispanic youth, in science, technology, engineering, and math. UA students are volunteering as mentors to Yaqui youth as they work on “hands on” inquiry-based science related activities.
Much has been written about the reasons for the significant underrepresentation of women and other underrepresented groups in STEM careers and education programs. Hall, Dickerson, et al. (2011) found that high school students listed personal interest and encouragement from parents and significant others as the top two factors that influence students’ choice of a STEM major. Re-searchers have also explored the perception within some cultures of the role of the scientist or science in general, as being in opposition to cultural beliefs about the natural world and spirituality (Murray, 1997; Riggs, 1998). Additionally, in our own informal discussions with parents and community members, there is fear that their children will leave the community for post-secondary education or jobs, if they pursue technical or science careers. The experiences, products, and information that will emerge from the i-STEM project will yield new avenues for community partnerships and suggest new strategies for increasing and diversifying STEM participation in our community, specifically among underrepresented groups. Throughout all of the phases of the project, new information will be shared with participants, educators, scholars, and anyone interested in creating meaningful, engaging science experiences and pro-grams for underrepresented youth, specifically Native American and Hispanic youth. Please check the SIROW website for updates, products, curriculum, and other information.
Story featured in Gender and Women's Studies Spring 2013 newsletter.