ASSESSMENT OF THE IMPACT OF SUMMER STEAM PROGRAMS ON HIGH SCHOOL PARTICIPANTS’ CONTENT KNOWLEDGE AND ATTITUDE TOWARDS STEAM CAREERS

M. Caplan

Columbia College Chicago (UNITED STATES)
For the past five years, the Science and Mathematics Department at “University”, in collaboration with After School Matters (ASM) from the city of Chicago, offers two, six-weeks summer programs for high school and rising high school students interested in the Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) fields. During this period (June through August), 80 students spend six weeks on the college campus participating in one of the two following programs:
1) 30 students participated at the Junior Research Scientists and
2) 50 students participated at the Comed Youth Ambassadors.

Both programs were designed by faculty and staff of the department. Students attended classes taught by college faculty and staff; participated in engineering design projects and problem-solving challenges, and attended other STEAM related activities.

These summer programs attract high school students from the inner city of Chicago exposing them to STEAM disciplines and careers through rigorous classes, laboratories and real life experiences. At the same time the programs provide them with the full college and career readiness experience.

The main goals of this program are to:
(1) introduce students to a wide variety of STEAM fields,
(2) increase student’s engineering mathematics and science knowledge, and
(3) facilitate students to learn about different STEAM fields they might be interested in pursuing.

To assess the impact of the program, the participants took a pre and post content knowledge test that included basic electricity and energy questions (the main topics covered in the two programs), and a pre and post survey regarding their attitude towards Mathematics, Science, Engineering and the 21st Century skills. In addition, the authors collected participants’ expectations of the program at the beginning of the summer session and their impressions of the program after the six week intervention.

Data analysis of the pre and post content knowledge test showed a significant gain in both groups, but their attitude toward STEAM careers did not show significant change. In this paper, the authors will present the programs and will discuss the impact of the program on the participants in each specific program.