Making Connections to Support STEM Transitions

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Strategy 5

Translating youth interests into STEM career and entrepreneurship opportunities

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 5: Translating youth interests into STEM career and entrepreneurship opportunities

Strategy 5 Works to translate youth interests into STEM career and entrepreneurship opportunities

Why would you use this strategy?

This strategy connects youths’ interests with potential STEM career opportunities they may not otherwise encounter or know about.

Who would use this strategy?

Networks and programs in states and communities with a need to cultivate and sustain a strong STEM workforce.

“I think it’s great to support youth in translating their interests into STEM-related careers, and in the process of doing so, I think it’s even more important to support them in fostering strong relationships with their peers, OST staff, school community, and STEM professionals. These relationships will ensure they are most successful and happy in their careers.”

-Brianna, Sunrise of Philadelphia

Target Outcomes

Important Considerations

Design Considerations at the Network Level

youth and program leaders work together at table

Design Considerations at the Program Level

Case Study: Adult Brokering Across Settings to Connect Youth to Opportunities: “We Hear Everyday, ‘This Isn’t Me.’” Translating Interests Toward STEM through Entrepreneurship at Sunrise of Philadelphia in PSAYDN

Background on Sunrise of Philadelphia: Creating Space for Youth Voice and Choice

Supportive relationships (e.g., caring adult mentors, family members, or friends) can meaningfully impact learning trajectories for youth by connecting them to new opportunities, knowledge, and experiences. These supportive relationships facilitate “brokering” to connect youth to resources, mentoring, materials, and new communities. This brokering helps to facilitate connections across settings for youth as they nurture and refine their interests. 

The Sunrise of Philadelphia (or, Sunrise) high school program emphasizes the role of “caring adults and academic supports that help youth stay on the path to graduate, while also planning for the future and building the skill needed to succeed.”

Strategically, the physical Sunrise of Philadelphia spaces are all located within K-12 schools from which they recruit students so it is easy for students to get to the program. Students visit Sunrise afterschool or between classes and are most-often asking for career or college-related advice. Then caring adults who run the Sunrise programs effectively “broker” new opportunities for those youth.

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 five 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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