STEMSEAS: Case studies of Student Impact

Monday 3:15pm Tate 105


Sharon Cooper, Columbia University in the City of New York
Jon Lewis, Indiana University of Pennsylvania-Main Campus

The Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics Student Experiences Aboard Ships (STEMSEAS) Project leverages unused capacity during non-operational transits of ships in the U.S. academic fleet to provide undergraduate students with exposure to and experience with science, careers and life at sea. Since 2016 we have sailed >135 students on seven vessels operated by the University National Oceanographic Laboratories System (UNOLS). In this time STEMSEAS has become significantly connected to existing STEM programs and assets in ways that highlight the power of occupying a STEM ecosystem "node" dedicated to: (1) creating synergies; (2) broadening participation; and (3) growing the STEM ecosystem. STEMSEAS has been successful in recruiting diverse cohorts of undergraduate students, many from historically underrepresented groups in STEM fields, including Black and Latinx students, and those from community colleges and first generation college students.

This presentation will share several case studies of the impact of STEMSEAS on individual student trajectories. It will reflect on the power of this kind of transformative, out-of-the-classroom learning experience on students and the components of the experience that lend themselves to long-term effects. We will share mentoring strategies, learning philosophies, relationship building, and recruiting best practices that STEMSEAS has gained over its 5-year existence and how it plans to build on these into the future.