learn / 2021
STEM FOR ALL SEASONS
What do you get from a group of passionate STEM providers faced with a pandemic and students stuck at home? STEM for All Seasons! Leading LA STEM organizations have come together in the ExpandLA network to provide coordinated STEM learning to thousands of students. By working collaboratively, the program provides under-resourced students access to unique STEM experiences, nurturing curiosity and empowering self-development through hands-on learning activities that highlight the rich STEM assets of LA. Help us continue in the next school year.
In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?
- County of Los Angeles
- City of Los Angeles
- LAUSD (select only if you have a district-wide partnership or project)
What is the problem that you are seeking to address?
LA is a region of remarkable diversity, yet diversity and opportunity rarely intersect. Students from marginalized communities lack access to robust out-of-school STEM learning experiences that expand their awareness of STEM. This exposure can equip children with skills and connections needed to benefit from a shifting economy. A study by WestEd, the Lawrence Hall of Science and SRI International showed that 40% of elementary teachers spend 60 min. or less teaching science each week and only 33% say they feel prepared to teach science. It also found that only 44% of principals believe it is likely for students to receive high-quality science instruction in their schools. The study showed that high-quality teaching requires specialized materials and experiences that schools are strapped to provide. The study was done pre-pandemic; COVID19 and its impact on the lives and education of LA’s youth created an even more urgent need to support the STEM learning and well-being of students.
Describe the project, program, or initiative that this grant will support to address the problem identified.
A group of LA STEM organizations, working through network organization ExpandLA, responded to the COVID19 crisis and created a program to increase access to STEM experiences to thousands of youth from marginalized communities. Called Season of STEM, the program has delivered STEM-based curriculum and enrichment programs to about 80,000 LAUSD students since its inception. This spring we served about 730 classrooms. This proposal aims to grow the program’s reach to an additional 300 classrooms for a total of 1,000 each season. The intent is to expand the program from LAUSD to countywide. The program will continue the unprecedented coordination of the work of the STEM organizations around common goals and practices, while providing STEM learning both as after-school enrichment and, more significantly, as part of the regular, core school day. Collaborating with teachers and building upon the methods of STEM learning proven effective this year, providers will reach as many upper elementary students from marginalized communities as possible with a hybrid approach that offers access through live, online platforms combined with customized asynchronous resources and featuring in-person STEM learning experiences either at students’ locations or provider sites, per County and District health guidelines. Recognizing the needs of students after a year of disruption, the program will also integrate social-emotional learning with STEM, emphasizing the natural connections between them.
In what stage of innovation is this project, program, or initiative?Expand existing project, program, or initiative (expanding and continuing ongoing, successful work)
Approximately how many people will be impacted by this project, program, or initiative?
- Direct impact
- Indirect impact
Describe how Los Angeles County will be different if your work is successful.
With a coordinated network of out-of-school time (OST) STEM providers under ExplandLA, Greater Los Angeles will gain and achieve a few critical goals: 1. significantly increase access and exposure to STEM experiences for youth from marginalized communities; 2. expanding the local collaborative network of STEM organizations; 3. opening up opportunities to partner with LAUSD and other organizations in an unprecedented way. The proposed program under the ExpandLA initiative aims to provide STEM-based instruction to 1,000 classes in Greater Los Angeles each season. With the continued coordination between STEM providers, that professional community will be strengthened, creating opportunities to engage more students and other members of the public. Additionally, Expand LA looks to encourage the growth and reach of a more diverse set of community STEM providers, offering new or early-stage OST organizations the chance to expand their reach in the new school year.
What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?
Since 2020, the Season of STEM program has brought together STEM providers around LA, including major science museums and small STEM non-profits, to serve about 80,000 students in LAUSD, the country’s second-largest school district, as it dealt with the disruption in student learning. The program provided coordinated STEM learning both as after-school enrichment and, more significantly, as part of the regular, core school day, delivering synchronous online experiences, and brand new asynchronous resources. To date Season of STEM has covered Summer 2020, Fall 2020, and Spring 2021 semesters, in partnership with LAUSD. A comprehensive evaluation looking at teacher, student and provider impacts is currently underway. Preliminary survey results indicate that 93% of teachers rated the program as excellent and 87% felt that the program was effective in engaging students.
Describe the role of collaborating organizations on this project.
By design, Expand LA aims to support, connect, and advocate for out-of-school time (OST) programs in the Greater Los Angeles area. The initiative’s main thrust is to remove barriers that currently exist so students can easily access rich programs that help develop each student’s understanding of the world around them. By strengthening these programs, ExpandLA can help ensure that all children and youth in Los Angeles benefit from OST programs that nurture their thirst for knowledge and creative pursuit and help them grow into the best versions of themselves.
Which of the learn metrics will you impact?
- Enrollment in afterschool programs
- Proficiency in STEM
Indicate any additional LA2050 goals your project will impact.
- LA is the best place to CREATE
- LA is the best place to PLAY
- LA is the best place to CONNECT