Building Diverse and Integrative STEM Continua Using Socio-Environmental Systems In and Out of Neighborhoods (DISCUSSION)

Friday 3:00pm-4:00pm TSU - Humphries: 118
Poster Session Part of Friday

DISCUSSION is a collaboration between two major HBCUs located 50 miles apart NC (NC A&T) and North Carolina Central University (NCCU). This pilot communicates the words and needs for families who seek avenues for their children to be included on the competitive trajectory for STEM careers. Our goal is to help under-served neighborhoods cross organizational boundaries in the STEM enterprise by using the food-energy-water nexus as a teaching module. This pilot is maturating into a high-performance core of stakeholder partners including universities, civic organizations, and school systems. DISCUSSION provides mid-scale infrastructure to bridge the gaps between thresholds using affordable programming. Data collection methods include tracing instruments to measure social cognitive outcomes, such as career interests, self-efficacy, and outcome expectancies of student growth and sense of belonging in STEM fields. We are reaching families and students who are geographically in proximity of excellent institutions of higher education but are yet marginalized by lack of exposure to early system thinking learning opportunities. The core concept is deployment of culturally relevant socio-environmental frameworks using twenty- first- century STEM system thinking skills. The activities are designed to secure a foundation for scaling from single institution and network entities to multiple institutions and network entities. Other US regions can adapt our ideas to empower teachers with new approaches to: (1) increase science learning at minimal cost, (2) link university expertise to public school systems and (3) strengthen the education foundation necessary for economic development and prosperity. DISCUSSION is powerful model for helping to realize the benefits of shared interests in STEM excellence, equal opportunity, diversity and inclusion.