STEAMbassadors 2021

Project: Research project

Project Details

Description

In the summer of 2020, researchers and practitioners from City Colleges of Chicago, Northwestern University, and community partners organizations, kicked off the first season of a newly-designed STEAM workforce initiative called STEAMbassadors. STEAMbassadors, a mentorship workforce program, engages cohorts of college-going 18-24 year-olds in discovering, strengthening, and sharing their developing STEAM passions and interests with youth from their communities towards the goal of integrating STEAM into everyday youth creative activity. Building on the successes and lessons learned in the inaugural season, the STEAMbassadors program will again be offered in 2021, as described below.

At its core and by design, STEAMbassadors enacts a “from community, for community” model to address inequities and lack of educator (teachers and mentors) representation from underserved, underrepresented communities, particularly in computer science learning and career pathways as revealed in the annual CME Computer Science (CS) Opportunity Landscape report. Robust research from the learning science community identifies mentors and mentorship as successful approaches to supporting youth in out-of-school learning environments. Furthermore, mentorship is a role that transitions young adults from participants to more expert practitioners, developing workplace skills and deepening interests and experiences, especially in STEAM content areas, while also strengthening their identity as civic leaders.

In addition to the general lack of STEAM educators highlighted above, the STEAMbassadors program aims to address two additional challenges to providing high quality, community-based computational STEAM programming in marginalized neighborhoods. These neighborhoods, understood through the landscape report and also the MyChi MyFuture (formerly City of Learning) mapping of existing STEAM programming and socioeconomic, demographic and other important geographic community-level data using ARC GIS, have been historically discriminated against and left out and are low-income and largely comprised of black and brown youth who lack out-of-school time (OST) learning opportunities generally. In sum, the three challenges are:

● The training of a representative STEAM educator and mentor workforce with the content, social and technical skills needed to connect with and motivate youth to discover their STEAM identities and build their STEAM superpowers, particularly in coding, digital making, and computational thinking – the foundations of computer science.
● The provisioning of engaging STEAM programming across the parks, libraries, and schools, where students can gather and learn safely in their own, local communities and these organizations can work in collaboration to develop their own micro, STEAM-learning ecosystems.
● The curation of culturally-engaging STEAM learning experiences, with a focus on computational thinking and CS, that more meaningfully connect students to their learning and communities.
StatusActive
Effective start/end date3/1/212/28/22

Funding

  • CME Group Foundation (Pinkard AGMT 4/21/21)

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