Access to STEM Framework
While the Initiative’s goal is focused on increasing the number of girls with an engineering mindset and a STEM identity— the Initiative will benefit all students, improving the overall quality of all afterschool STEM opportunities and lifting up both boys and girls as they become future innovators. As STEM system builders we work to increase access to STEM learning opportunities in afterschool and summer learning programs. Additionally, we need to explore how to support programs to engage and nurture all young people’s interest in STEM learning. We need to address how programs are designing and implementing programming to broaden participation in STEM for learners in poverty, learners of color, learners in rural areas, and girls in STEM. Working with national experts, we have developed an Access to STEM Framework that we hope will be a useful guide for supporting programs in this transformation. A framework is a way to illustrate the particular concepts and variables that are connected to a specific issue (e.g. Access to STEM). It can serve as a map, illustrating connections, and a way of identifying strategies and actions for addressing the specific issue(s).
Download the Access to STEM Framework
Engineering MindsetEngineering Mindset Overview
Download the brief
Download the Engineering Mindset graphic
For more information on each practice, please visit the links below.
- Children consider problems in context
- Children use a specific problem-solving process
- Children investigate the properties and uses of materials
- Children consider constraints and criteria that require trade-offs
- Children envision multiple solutions
- Children apply science and math knowledge to problem solving
- Children evaluate designs and make improvements
- Children persist and learn from failure
- Children work effectively in teams
- Children envision themselves as engineers
Pathways to an Engineering Mindset
STEM and Engineering programs, activities, and curriculua fall into a into a set of categories that represent an education pathway for students to use as they build their engineering skills and mindset.
This sequence does not reflect a linear progression of knowledge and skills. Our intent is not to recommend that students do engineering activities before participating in an engineering club or competition. This is more of a framework to think about how students might develop their skills and provide “hand-off” points between categories.
These categories are:
1. Engineering activities are short, hands-on experiences conducted at home or included as part of an afterschool program. They introduce kids to the creative nature of engineering and build confidence in their ability to come up with novel solutions and construct technologies. Examples include Teach Engineering.
2. Engineering units are conducted as part of afterschool programs. These extended, project-based units devote more time to developing engineering mindset. They set a meaningful context for the problem, and present engineering as a multi step process that includes various phases, such as conducting background research, brainstorming ideas, building technologies, and testing/evaluating solutions. Examples include Engineering Adventures, Design It!
3. Afterschool engineering clubs. Devoted exclusively to engineering, these clubs allow kids to form a community and encourage the engineering mindset by working in teams, persisting through failure and creating a culture of innovation. Examples include Girls Who Code Clubs, Future Engineers.
4. Club-based engineering competition teams. These engineering clubs meet regularly under the supervision of a leader or instructor who helps prepare the club for some kind of team competition. In the club meetings, kids work together to complete a specific project that will be submitted for judging.
5. Summer engineering camps. Multi-day immersion allows for powerful opportunities for kids to build relationships with peers and mentors and to develop science and engineering practices and habits of mind. Students see their own skills developing and begin to self-identify as engineers. Examples include Girls Who Code Summer Immersion, TryEngineering Summer institute.
6. Engineering competitions. Many companies, governmental agencies, and nonprofits have created competitions to drive engagement in STEM. Some of these initiatives are national in scale, with substantial prizes for students. Although students may work in groups to complete their projects, membership in a club is not required.
7. Mentoring opportunities connect kids with role models through work with local engineering professionals. Students build their engineering mindset through experience in academic, industrial, or governmental workplaces. In addition, students receive guidance on their career and personal development. Examples include Girls Who Code Camps.
Download the Pathways Progression
Engineering Mindset Activities
As part of the Million Girls Moonshot Engineering Practice Support Equity webinar series, the Design a Space Capsule amplifies four engineering mindset habits of practice.
The following materials support the activity:
As part of the Million Girls Moonshot Engineering Practice Support Equity webinar series, the Stringed Instrument Package amplifies three engineering mindset habits of practice.
The following materials support the activity:
Role Models and Mentors
- Toolkit: Creating Connections with Role Models: The Power of Collaboration
- Blog: Mentor Challenge: What’s One Thing You Can Do to Make Lasting Impact?
- If/Then Ambassador Collection – This is What a Scientists Looks Like
- Field Guide: to Host a Community of Practice – Bright spots and opportunities, challenges and lessons learned
- White Paper: Changing the Game in STEM with Family Engagement
- Blog: COVID-19 Requires Us to Reimagine Family Engagement
- Parents as Learning Partners Roles and Description and Reflection from Digital Youth Divas
The Mathephant in the Room – Families and Math from Ready4K
- Family Guide for Engaging Girls in STEM from SciGirls
- SciGirls Strategies: How to Engage Girls in STEM from SciGirls