learn / 2014

Seeding STEM at LA County Alliance for Boys and Girls Clubs

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Maker Challenge by Los Angeles County Alliance for Boys and Girls Clubs (LACABGC) and the West San Gabriel Valley Boys and Girls Club

Seeding STEM is a collaborative education program for middle school aged youth developed by ELAC and the Jaime Escalante Math Program


Please describe yourself.

Collaboration (partners are signed up and ready to hit the ground running!)

In one sentence, please describe your idea or project.

Seeding STEM is a collaborative education program for middle school aged youth developed by ELAC and the Jaime Escalante Math Program

Which area(s) of LA does your project benefit?

  • Central LA
  • East LA
  • South LA
  • San Gabriel Valley
  • San Fernando Valley
  • South Bay
  • Westside

What is your idea/project in more detail?

Seeding STEM is a collaborative education program for middle school aged Boys and Girls Club members developed by East Los Angeles College and the Jamie Escalante Math Program. Over the course of twelve weeks, 36 instructional hours plus lab time, over 500 11-14 year olds will participate in hands-on, project-based common core complementary STEM curriculum facilitated by trained Boys and Girls Club staff and STEM coaches from ELAC. Participants engage in the Engineering Design Experience, a problem-solving process favored by engineers and design teams across the country. LACABGC will take this successful pilot program which ran this spring with six clubs to all 26 Boys and Girls Club organizations in the county.

What will you do to implement this idea/project?

The curriculum was created by East Los Angeles College instructors in alignment with common core standards for a pilot program which ran from February 25 – May 22, 2014 with six LA County Boys and Girls Clubs serving 120 youth. The curriculum and staff training have been recorded and are ready to roll out to all clubs over the course of the 2014-15 school year. Funding will supply staff training, equipment and materials for the project-based learning projects (participants build a motorized toy car with electric gears, gliders that demonstrate the relationship between force and motion, gravity cruisers, and fuel cell vehicles). The West San Gabriel Valley Boys and Girls Club, a LACABGC member organization, will facilitate the training and tracking of program deliverables and participating clubs will be responsible for providing staff, space and 11-14 year old members interested in participating in this transformative engineering design experience. A STEMFest at the end of the twelve week program provides an opportunity for participants to show off their projects with peers and community stakeholders throughout the county.

How will your idea/project help make LA the best place to LEARN today? In 2050?

Careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) are rapidly on the rise. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce by 2018 STEM jobs will have increased by 17% over ten years as compared to 9.8% growth for non-STEM jobs. In addition, STEM workers tend to earn 26% more than their non-STEM counterparts. Despite all of this growth, as a country, we are failing our youth in terms of preparation for STEM jobs of the future. The United States is ranked 49th in the quality of science and math education and only 16% of American high school seniors are proficient in math and interested in a STEM career. In order for the United States and specifically Los Angeles to remain a global leader there must be a shift to bridge this gap.

Middle School is a vital time for young people. Kids are deciding where they fit in and what excites them. Capturing their interest in STEM at this age (11-14) encourages continued studies STEM courses in high school and college and post graduation career paths.

Additionally, minority young people are at a statistical disadvantage for quality STEM education and are disproportionately represented in the Boys and Girls Clubs of LA County (2012 US Congress Joint Economic Committee report on STEM Education). The opportunity to serve and inspire Boys and Girls Club members through STEM opportunities supports the county’s workforce development needs for the future as well as fulfills the Boys and Girls Club mission to enable all young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens.

Whom will your project benefit?

Over 500 youth members of Boys and Girls Clubs in Los Angeles County (see list below, 20 members and two facilitating staff per club) will directly benefit from participating in Seeding STEM as will the professional staff and volunteers trained to facilitate the program. Indirectly, the surrounding schools and communities will benefit from engaged kids in the classroom and neighborhood inspiring their peers towards STEM fields of study.

Antelope Valley Boys & Girls Club Boys & Girls Club of Carson Boys & Girls Club of Hollywood Boys & Girls Club of Malibu Boys & Girls Club of Pasadena Boys & Girls Club of Pomona Valley Boys & Girls Club of San Fernando Valley Boys & Girls Club of Venice Boys & Girls Club of West San Gabriel Valley Boys & Girls Club of Whittier Boys & Girls Clubs of Long Beach Boys & Girls Clubs of Santa Monica Boys & Girls Clubs of the Foothills Boys & Girls Clubs of the Los Angeles Harbor Boys & Girls Clubs of the South Bay Challengers Boys & Girls Club East Los Angeles Boys & Girls Club East Valley Boys & Girls Club Fort MacArthur Youth Center Los Angeles Boys & Girls Club Salesian Boys & Girls Club of Los Angeles Santa Clarita Valley Boys & Girls Club The Boys & Girls Club of Burbank and Greater East Valley, Inc. Variety Boys & Girls Club Watts / Willowbrook Boys & Girls Club West Valley Boys & Girls Club

Please identify any partners or collaborators who will work with you on this project.

Confirmed collaborators are East Los Angeles College and the Jaime Escalante Math Program which developed the curriculum and the West San Gabriel Valley Boys and Girls Club who successfully facilitated the pilot with six organizations this spring. Additionally, the Los Angeles County Alliance for Boys and Girls Clubs is committed to implementing Seeding STEM for its 26 member organizations throughout the county as part of its STEM initiative (facilitated by lead agency, West San Gabriel Valley Boys and Girls Club). The LACABGC has existed for over ten years and has a track record of county wide events and initiatives designed to bring together the collective strengths of the individual organizations which are independent non-profits with their own governing boards (examples include Youth of the Year, Teen Summit and myriad program and training opportunities). Three factors critical to the success of this collaboration are the commitment of organization leadership in providing the space and staffing for the twelve week program, staff commitment to training (13 hours), and the facilitation of pre and post perception and interest surveys to measure impact.

Los Angeles County Alliance for Boys and Girls Clubs: Antelope Valley Boys & Girls Club Boys & Girls Club of Carson Boys & Girls Club of Hollywood Boys & Girls Club of Malibu Boys & Girls Club of Pasadena Boys & Girls Club of Pomona Valley Boys & Girls Club of San Fernando Valley Boys & Girls Club of Venice Boys & Girls Club of West San Gabriel Valley Boys & Girls Club of Whittier Boys & Girls Clubs of Long Beach Boys & Girls Clubs of Santa Monica Boys & Girls Clubs of the Foothills Boys & Girls Clubs of the Los Angeles Harbor Boys & Girls Clubs of the South Bay Challengers Boys & Girls Club East Los Angeles Boys & Girls Club East Valley Boys & Girls Club Fort MacArthur Youth Center Los Angeles Boys & Girls Club Salesian Boys & Girls Club of Los Angeles Santa Clarita Valley Boys & Girls Club The Boys & Girls Club of Burbank and Greater East Valley, Inc. Variety Boys & Girls Club Watts / Willowbrook Boys & Girls Club West Valley Boys & Girls Club

How will your project impact the LA2050 “Learn” metrics?

  • Academic Performance Index scores
  • Seeding STEM includes a pre and post program perception and interest survey to determine program impact towards inspiring kids for STEM studies and careers.

Please elaborate on how your project will impact the above metrics.

The pre and post program survey measures changes in participant confidence in STEM subjects after successful completion of the 12 week program. Seeding STEM is designed as an intervention for 11-14 year olds to curb STEM apathy in high school and increase kids’ interest in STEM career paths. During the pilot program which ran in Spring 2014, participants showed a 35-50% improvement in their perceptions and performance self-evaluations of STEM subjects as well as a collective improvement in their plans to use STEM in their future careers from 49-67%.

Indirectly, we hypothesize that increased academic confidence will lead to greater academic performance in API measures as program curriculum is designed in alignment with common core standards.

Please explain how you will evaluate your project.

We will measure our success by pre and post survey outcomes for all participants, participation rates of individuals and member organizations and facilitator (staff and volunteer) reports on the success of the program.

What two lessons have informed your solution or project?

Collaboration is key for greater program impact. Engaging the educational talents and resources of local institutions such as East Los Angeles College and the Jaime Escalante Math Program ensured high quality curriculum serving common core standards.

We also learned that staff training and resources are necessary for engaged facilitators and program success. Ample training and coaching inspires confidence in youth development staff and is directly correlated with positive participant experience and outcomes.

Explain how implementing your project within the next twelve months is an achievable goal.

Throughout the course of the next academic year, Boys and Girls Clubs throughout Los Angeles County will be implementing after-school STEM initiatives including Seeding STEM. Because the program is 12 weeks long, it can complement and fit into STEM activities in either the fall, winter or spring.

Please list at least two major barriers/challenges you anticipate. What is your strategy for ensuring a successful implementation?

We anticipate there being a potential challenge in identifying space for a STEM lab required for the project (many pilot participants converted computer labs into “STEM” labs). Additionally staff training could be a challenge for organizations with tight personnel structures and budgets. To overcome these challenges, funding for Seeing STEM includes support for lab supplies and staff training expenses such as overtime and transportation).

Because this is a collaborative, we can also overcome space challenges by sharing resources (i.e. community partner locations, neighboring participating organizations, etc.).

What resources does your project need?

  • Money (financial capital)
  • Volunteers/staff (human capital)
  • Publicity/awareness (social capital)