Making Connections to Support STEM Transitions

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Strategy 2

Coordinating between in school and out-of-school settings to cultivate youths' STEM interests

Making Connections, aims to understand and support transitions and handoffs that remove barriers and connect youth to STEM learning opportunities.

Understanding how to make connections across settings in systematic ways can support the study of, replication, and scaling of strategies for making connections across settings in out-of-school STEM learning.

Strategy 2: Coordinating between in school and out-of-school settings to cultivate youths' STEM interests

Strategy 2 is concerned with the coordination work schools and out-of-school (OST) programs do to identify and extend STEM interests.

Why would you use this strategy?

Supporting transitions to STEM academic and career opportunities requires coordination between school and OST providers to match student interests with available STEM opportunities.

Who would use this strategy?

Networks and programs that need to build on and extend youth interests between spaces and improve communication alignment between school and out-of-school time programs.

“We have an award ceremony and ask the schools to nominate a girl who’s interested in STEM . She doesn’t have to be straight-A student, but maybe she’s part of the math club. The idea is that we’re holding them up to be recognized for their interest in STEM , and we want the girls to know it’s cool to be in STEM.”

-Lena, Girls Inc. of Lynn

Target Outcomes

Important Considerations

Design Considerations at the Network Level

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Design Considerations at the Program Level

Case Study: “We Want the Girls to Know it’s Cool to be in STEM”: Coordinating Across OST and School Settings to Create Opportunities that Position STEM as a Helping Profession in Massachusetts Afterschool Partnership (MAP)

Coordinating Between OST Programming at Girls Inc. of Lynn and Local Schools to Create STEM Opportunities for Girls

Coordinating across settings, including out-of-school time programs, schools, and career opportunities, requires meaningful partnerships and brokering connections for youth (Ito et al., 2020).

Program staff at Girls Inc. of Lynn coordinate across out-of-school time programs, schools, and colleges through its STEM programming that fosters long-term engagement for the girls it serves. Girls Inc. of Lynn aims to deliver “life-changing programs and experiences that equip girls to overcome serious barriers to grow up Strong, Smart, and Bold through research-based programming, delivered by trained professionals who focus on the development of the whole girl” (Girls Inc., 2022).

Through work that coordinates across out-of-school and in-school settings, Girls Inc. of Lynn supports lifelong STEM as a lifelong learning pathway for girls that follows them from middle school through college and beyond.

Connections between and across STEM learning settings and experiences can promise to foster meaningful, lifelong STEM learning for youth, yet the detailed and concrete mechanisms for how this learning is connected remains unclear. Little is known about how STEM learning is connected in systematic and sustainable ways.

Making Connections, aims to understand and support transitions and handoffs that remove barriers for youth by connecting STEM learning across ages and settings, ensuring youth interest and motivation persists.

These products are based on research conducted through a collaboration between the Connected Learning Lab at University of California Irvine and STEM Next and their regional partners. It was made possible thanks to the generous support of The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and Samueli Foundation.

Strategy two is is one of eight still-evolving strategies, for coordinating and brokering connections across settings in STEM ecosystems. These are intended to serve as tools for making connections across settings to support STEM transitions and unlock academic, workforce-related, and civic opportunities for all youth, especially underrepresented groups like girls, youth of color, and youth from low-income families.

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