S10-STEM5-1 - Introducing STEM to 7th Grade Girls using SeaPerch and Scratch

1. Innovative Practice Full Paper
Sujing Wang1 , Stefan Andrei1, Otilia Urbina1, Dorothy Sisk1
1 Lamar University

This Innovative Practice Full Paper discusses an one-week summer camp that used  the SeaPerch and Scratch game programming as engaging hands-on approaches to teach 7th-grade middle school females programming concepts, engineering skills, and scientific principles to increase their knowledge and interest in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Adding diversity to the STEM workforce and increasing enrollment in STEM degrees is critical for fulfilling the needs of our modern economy. Today, many organizations are preparing future workers for the modern workforce by implementing academies/camps to engage students in STEM disciplines at a young age.  Exposing young students to the critical thinking and reasoning skills that are intrinsic to STEM disciplines can help to combat the decline of students in STEM careers and pique female interest. We have developed a programming and robotics academy to demonstrate STEM concepts to 7th grade females. Our STEM academy differs from others in several ways: First, it was for 7th-grade girls only, creating a collegiate social learning opportunity, in order to improve female participation. Second, we hired female instructors and invited female professionals from local industries to assist the academy by serving as mentors. Third, it introduced STEM concepts to the females. Fourth, it adopted social learning, e.g., buddy system. A formal assessment of the 2018 academy found that the academy’s female participants experienced a significant increase in knowledge and interest in STEM. This paper describes the organization, coordination, content, and assessment of the STEM academy. It describes how the academy was organized and taught, which includes a brief description of the instructional materials, the concepts taught in each hands-on session, how the academy was assessed, the assessment results, the first-year experience of conducting the STEM academy, and lessons learned. This paper provides all the information needed for others to host similar academies and further prompt the effort to increase female participation in STEM careers.