learn / 2019

Engineer Factory #MathSwag

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Grants Challenge by The Engineer Factory, a Project of Community Partners

The Engineer Factory will strengthen the math skills of 500 third through eighth grade students at ten (10) under performing schools in South Los Angeles, Inglewood, Watts and Compton. This will be accomplished with weekly #MathSwag Labs at the schools lead by future STEM teachers in the CSU Math Science Teacher Initiative. The program will also use peer volunteers and parent participation.


What does your organization do?

The mission of the Engineer Factory is to increase the number of students from underrepresented populations (girls and students of color) pursuing higher education and careers in STEM.

Briefly tell us a story that demonstrates how your organization turns inspiration into impact.

The oldest son of the Engineer Factory founder showed a strong interest in engineering early one. He would dismantle phones and toasters just to see how they work. When in middle school in Inglewood, the son enrolled in the school MESA program in 2006. He had always been a quiet, “Spock-ish” kind of student and he found “his people” in the MESA program! The MESA Coordinator was amazing and took the students to engineering competition throughout the region. When at competition, the son would text his parents things like “there are 8 our us…350 here”. The parents learned to understand that at these competitions that although there were 350 participants, the “8 of us” meant that there were a total of 8 African American and/or Latino student participants. Initially the students, often the only students from underserved communities would feel a bit intimidated…until they started winning! The Inglewood MESA teams from 2006-2008 won more JPL, Aerospace Corporation, Raytheon and Regional MESA competitions than any middle school in Southern California!

This cohort of 26 Black and Brown students all continued STEM studies in high school and 100% went on to four-year colleges! Our son remains friends with many of these students who went on to earn degrees from prestigious colleges such as MIT, Columbia, NYU, UCLA, UC Berkeley, RPI and Olin. The majority of them graduated with degrees in engineering and other STEM majors.

The Engineer Factory founders saw how confident and empowered these students were and sought to create an organization that would adopt the best practices of that MESA program to create a vehicle for encouraging more students of color to pursue engineering and STEM. We also witness many of the challenges and barriers that our son and the other students faced (e.g. math, professional mentors, need for STEM professional development for elementary and middle school teachers in underserved communities). Engineer Factory’s mission is to produce more STEM professionals from South LA, Inglewood, Compton and Watts than industry can handle!

Which of the learn metrics will your submission impact?​

  • Proficiency in English and Language Arts and Math
  • Students’ immersion in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math content
  • Student education pipeline

In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

  • South LA
  • South Bay
  • County of Los Angeles
  • City of Los Angeles

How will your project make LA the best place to learn?

In summer 2018, the Engineer Factory partnered with California State University to conduct a Summer Algebra Institute. We enrolled 35 middle school students in this six-week program with the goal of strengthen math skills or math confidence/ math swag) while reinforcing the math instruction with hands-on engineering projects. Each student was administered pre- and post-test program math assessments by the UCLA Math Diagnostic Testing Program. After the six-week program 88% of the students had improved math scores and demonstrated increased math proficiency. Engineer Factory will build upon this success by creating year-round math labs at local schools and expand the Summer Algebra Institute to serve 500 elementary and middle school students in the 2020-2021 school year.

How will you execute this program?

Selecting the ten (10) sites: The Engineer Factory will issue a Request for Proposals (RFP) to identify ten (10) schools in South Los Angeles, Inglewood, Watts and Compton where less than 30% of students met math proficiency on standardized testing.

Create MathSwag Labs: The Engineer Factory will hire Math Lab Coordinators who will be responsible for offering eight (8) hours of math and STEAM programming at each school site, each week. Engineer Factory will recruit from the CSU MSTI students and the future teachers will be tasked with developing innovative and fun approaches to math instruction and implement hands-on STEM projects that reinforce math learning.

Also, each student will take the UCLA Math Diagnostic Test Program (MDTP) pre-assessment. The report reveals individual student strengths and challenge areas. The coordinator will create an Individual Math Plan for each student, focusing on areas of need. The post-assessment will be administered at the end of the school year to measure progress.

The Engineer Factory has a volunteer program where dozens of high school and college students volunteer with the organization to help younger students with STEAM workshops and math program. High school students receive community service hours from their school and college students get experience in working with students.

Each of the MathSwag Labs will conduct at least two (2) Family Math/STEAM Nights where all students and families will be invited to participate. The events will hopefully support a culture of fun, STEAM learning and encourage families to engage in math activities at home.

The 500 students will be selected from underperforming schools in South LA and surrounding neighborhoods. The majority of students in the target neighborhood are Latino and African American and come from low-income households.

The program will operate throughout the 2020-2021 school year.

The Engineer Factory will gather baseline data on each student and the aggregate. We will measure math progress by: increased math grades; improved scores on the UCLA MDTP math assessment and improved standardized math test scores.

In what stage of innovation is this project?

Post-pilot (testing an expansion of concept after initially successful pilot)

Please explain how you will define and measure success for your project.

The Engineer Factory defines and measures success for our #MathSwag project as follows:

1) We will gather baseline math data for each student at the start of the program (e.g. math grades, standardized test scores) and we will use the UCLA Math Diagnostic Test Program to conduct pre-program assessments for each student. We will gather year-end math grade and improvement on standardized test data, as well as have students complete the post-program MDTP assessment and document progress.

2) Success will also be measured by student participation in the #MathSwag program as tracked by sign-in sheets and attendance.

3) Success will also be measured by the number of volunteer hours provided by high school and college students as measured by sign-in sheets and attendance.

4) Finally, Engineer Factory will conduct a pre- and post-program survey of students, parents and school teachers to measure their feelings and hopes for math success at their school.