1. Brendan Calandra
  2. Associate Professor
  3. Acquainting Metro Atlanta Youth With STEM (AMAYS)
  4. Georgia State University
  1. Jonathan Cohen
  2. Assistant Professor
  3. Acquainting Metro Atlanta Youth With STEM (AMAYS)
  4. Georgia State University
  1. Maggie Renken
  2. Assistant Professor
  3. Acquainting Metro Atlanta Youth With STEM (AMAYS)
  4. Georgia State University
Public Discussion
  • Icon for: Lauren Allen

    Lauren Allen

    Facilitator
    May 16, 2016 | 12:11 p.m.

    This looks like a very promising way to get underrepresented populations engaged and interested in STEM. Can the presenters share a few examples of the actual activities that students will do throughout the curriculum, leading up to the final project? Also, how are students recruited and retained in the after-school program, and how many students participate at a single school?

  • Icon for: Brendan Calandra

    Brendan Calandra

    Presenter
    May 16, 2016 | 04:35 p.m.

    Hi Lauren – Great questions! We are now wrapping up design and development, and doing some beta testing in one of our schools this summer. We will then be running a one-year pilot study with around 50 students at one middle school site starting this fall. In our third and final year (after making adjustments based on what we learn in the pilot study), we will run a larger roll out involving between 350 – 400 students at up to 8 other middle school sites in urban Atlanta, GA. Recruitment occurs within an existing programmatic structure run by After School All Stars Atlanta (ASAS). We are working very closely with ASAS staff on that, and news of the AMAYS project has already stirred some excitement at the after school sites. The AMAYS experience currently involves students meeting after school for one school year. They will work in teams and with (ATL tech sector) mentors and instructors both at the school site for a few hours each week, and within a password protected online learning environment that we have (just about) developed. The first half of the school year will involve activities designed to engage specifically our students with app building and digital media development. There will also be an end of semester showcase and possibly a developer’s contest/demo of sorts for the community that will be combined with an ASAS parents’/community day. In the second half of the school year, AMAYS teams will do something like project based learning, applying their tech, research, and collaborative skills to help them solve a relevant (environmental, health, social and/or other) problem of their choosing. There are too many design details for us to be able to properly give you the whole picture, but we hope we answered some of your questions, and we would love to discuss further with anyone interested!

  • Icon for: Roger Taylor

    Roger Taylor

    Facilitator
    May 17, 2016 | 05:18 p.m.

    Hello Brendan, you mentioned that the students are recruited through an existing after school program, which always brings up the issue of selection bias and problems with generalizability. Is this something that you’ll be addressing in a subsequent phase of this project?

  • Icon for: Maggie Renken

    Maggie Renken

    Co-Presenter
    May 18, 2016 | 03:51 p.m.

    Hi Roger,
    You bring up a great point (and fairly common challenge) associated with selection bias and generalizability. Fortunately, we are working with a well-established and relatively large after school program. While the program doesn’t cater to the all the students in the targeted schools, the participation rates are fairly high. Undoubtedly, some selection bias remains which is why, as Brendan mentioned elsewhere, we are thinking about scalability in terms of integration of the AMAYS curriculum in school settings, not just after school, and to a broader population. With regard to generalizability, our research and development plan follows a design-based approach. The model we develop during our pilot likely will be adapted based on our findings. The aim of this iterative process is to help us create a model that “fits” across multiple settings. Neither of these contextual pieces (the size of the after school program nor the design-based approach) fully address issues with selection bias and generalizability—especially in a measurable sense—but they allow us to situate our research in a real world setting while keeping these issues in mind. I would love to hear ideas you (and others!) have for addressing these and similar challenges.

  • Icon for: Jennifer Adams

    Jennifer Adams

    Facilitator
    May 16, 2016 | 12:45 p.m.

    This is indeed an interesting project. I would like to hear more about the perspectives of the middle school kids (either examples of or themes from data) and how this was integrated into the design of the projects as well as some of the STEM-focused issues that will be addressed, that are meaningful and relevant to the young ppl in the project.

  • Icon for: Brendan Calandra

    Brendan Calandra

    Presenter
    May 16, 2016 | 04:34 p.m.

    Hi Jennifer,

    Great question! We will definitely be able to provide more detail on that (e.g., themes from our data) once we have run our pilot, as AMAYS activities include lots of opportunities for student input. We have, however gathered some preliminary feedback from students, teachers, and STEM/ICT professionals. ASAS students we surveyed said they would be interested in doing the kinds of STEM/ICT related activities we have designed into AMAYS, which are also 21st century skills that tech professionals we surveyed said they valued in the workplace. Students also showed some excitement about doing the sorts of things that actual STEM-ICT professionals do. Hopefully we can tap more into that by reaching out to ATL metro area professionals to mentor the students and continue to advise us. Other STEM/job pipeline related issues we have noticed students showing an interest in (in the past) have tended to be centered around issues that affect them directly (like cyberbullying and career opportunities), or the community (like brownfields, food deserts, and local geography/history). Students are also very much interested, as we might have guessed, in pop culture. We have taken this into account, and also worked with our AMAYS team members who have been STEM teachers, and worked with our advisory board to come up with a series of sample topics for the students in case they are having trouble coming up with their own during the PBL phase of the AMAYS (after) school year. If you are interested, I can shoot you an email with some of that.

  • Icon for: Jennifer Adams

    Jennifer Adams

    Facilitator
    May 18, 2016 | 12:41 p.m.

    Thanks Brendan, that would be great. It seems like there is a range of interests, I would be interested in learning more about the community-based projects that students have explored as PBE is an interest of mine.

  • Icon for: Teresa Eastburn

    Teresa Eastburn

    Facilitator
    May 16, 2016 | 12:47 p.m.

    Now this project, AMAYS, addresses the need for broader impacts to close the growing achievement gap among underserved and underrepresented youth! I particularly like elements of your own design: the collection/review of past curricula that address the “real, current, and state-of-the-art”; chosen activities that best address technology and communication (apps, media, with 21st century skills); the development of a face-to-face as well as online learning for students; and the wise use of existing research to build upon. Your design cycle is iterative and builds in realistic timeframes that allow improvements along the way. What challenges have you faced in the design and development phase thus far? I’m a firm believer that these challenges offer us all the best opportunity to advance learning so I hope you have some examples there! Also, what challenges are you anticipating as you go into the after-school environment? How are you recruiting participants? Will they be in attendance throughout the pilot and later programs? Are there specific methods you are using to engage females and their own self efficacy around STEM fields? How long will the after-school program run and for how many days each week and for how long each day? No doubt you will learn a great deal with the pilot come 2016/2017! Best of luck moving forward with implementation! Also, is the online platform viewable to others? Did you follow any compliance standards for the web if you are collecting data for those under 13? Thanks for your feedback!

  • Icon for: Brendan Calandra

    Brendan Calandra

    Presenter
    May 16, 2016 | 04:35 p.m.

    Hi Teresa,

    Thanks for the feedback! We are sure we’ll have more challenges to report once we have finished our pilot year, but some we have experienced during our planning phase and beta testing include: a) preparing school computer labs, b) student attrition, c) working AMAYS into existing after school scheduling, and d) the fact that not all ASAS teachers are STEM teachers. These experiences have definitely helped us to plan better for the pilot, although we expect to face some of this during the pilot as well. Our curriculum and learning environment are designed to be very inclusive and provide the students with lots of opportunities to work together, participate actively in the learning experience, and choose aspects of the curriculum they would like to work on. We hope this will make the learning experience accessible and engaging for all of the girls and boys involved. We are also bringing women and men to serve as mentors from the ATL area tech sector, and including examples of successful men and women from similar backgrounds as part of the learning experience.

    The after school program runs for the entire school year, and the current plan for AMAYS students is to meet at the school sites twice a week for around 90 minutes total with a snack break in between. The online platform is password protected.

  • Icon for: Lauren Allen

    Lauren Allen

    Facilitator
    May 16, 2016 | 04:36 p.m.

    So glad to hear you’re partnering with an existing after school program and are getting good traction and excitement around this project! Do you imagine the same students will be involved in subsequent years of the project, and/or are there further programs in high school or summer learning where they could continue to dig into areas that they find interesting once they’ve finished the AMAYS program?

  • Icon for: Brendan Calandra

    Brendan Calandra

    Presenter
    May 16, 2016 | 04:56 p.m.

    We are hoping that AMAYS students will continue with other STEM activities offered by ASAS after school once their AMAYS year has finished. Now that you mention it though, it might make sense to present other affordable STEM learning opportunities in the area to participants at the end of the AMAYS year. We would also like to eventually see whether having participated in AMAYS influences participants’ affinity for or performance in STEM subjects during the school day.

    Our vision for scale up (if AMAYS proves to be effective) would be extending the time students can be a part of the program, expanding the number of student participants, and eventually tying AMAYS into the regular school day. The AMAYS learning environment is also designed in a way that would allow designers the option to change the technologies and topics participants work with pretty easily.

  • Icon for: Shannon Carlin-Menter

    Shannon Carlin-Menter

    Research Assistant Professor
    May 17, 2016 | 11:21 a.m.

    This is great! Do you also support STEM career development with your students? If so, are you supporting the students’ college trajectory and/or following the students longitudinally to see what affects your programs had on their college/major choice?

  • Icon for: Brendan Calandra

    Brendan Calandra

    Presenter
    May 17, 2016 | 11:32 a.m.

    Hi Shannon – That is an important question that has come up often in discussions about AMAYS, impact, and potential scale up. Our current design is meant to introduce students to STEM/ICT careers in middle school through an authentic and interactive after school experience. As part of scale up, we hope to extend this experience and related evaluation through high school and into college/careers. We would love to hear any suggestions you might have – thanks!

  • Icon for: Jonathan Cohen

    Jonathan Cohen

    Co-Presenter
    May 17, 2016 | 11:50 a.m.

    I’d also add that our design calls for AMAYS students to work with mentors from the local STEM/ICT professional community. This type of mentor support has been shown to be an important part of STEM-related growth, particularly for students from underrepresented populations.

  • Icon for: Shannon Carlin-Menter

    Shannon Carlin-Menter

    Research Assistant Professor
    May 17, 2016 | 11:55 a.m.

    That’s excellent! How do you go about recruiting the mentors? What’s the time commitment/activities related to what they do and do you reimburse the mentors’ efforts?

  • Icon for: Jonathan Cohen

    Jonathan Cohen

    Co-Presenter
    May 17, 2016 | 12:04 p.m.

    Our mentors are volunteers who are connected to the educational collaborative of the Technology Association of Georgia, one of our partners on this project. In addition to site visits, the mentors will serve as AMAYS team advisors, connecting with the students through our online learning environment.

  • Icon for: Brendan Calandra

    Brendan Calandra

    Presenter
    May 17, 2016 | 11:23 a.m.

    Some AMAYS links:

    Our team: http://amays.gsu.edu/amays-team-2/
    On Twitter: AmaysAtl
    Contact: amays@gsu.edu

  • Further posting is closed as the showcase has ended.