This is discussion about E-STEM: Educating the Next Generation of STEM Entrepreneurs.
This sounds like a very exciting project! I'm most interested in the activities developed around volunteer engagement. Who are the volunteers? How often will they engage with students? What will be the platform for their interaction (in person, via videoconferencing, etc.)? Will they deliver content knowledge?
Thanks for the positive feedback. In NFTE's current model, volunteers do a few things. They are guest speakers to complement a lesson (think an accountant coming in when the teacher is doing the lesson on profit and loss statements) or entrepreneurs when the students are starting to build their business's idea and mission statement. Volunteers also do business plan coaching and judging of business plan competitions and host class trips to their own businesses.
For E-STEM all of this will happen and more. First the volunteers will be STEM professionals or STEM entrepreneurs. We will be adapting our experiential activities with a STEM focus. So for instance we will update our Innovation Game - designed to get the students thinking about new products and services. But for E-STEM we will train STEM volunteers to actually co-lead this activity with the teacher to really reinforce the opportunities in the STEM field. Also we would like to have groups of STEM professionals actually do the same activities as the kids would do and film them doing them so students can see how people working in STEM would think through the same challenges NFTE presents them with.
We plan to put lots of this STEM volunteer interaction and content on video so that the teachers can use it on-demand so to speak. Also, with enough resources we want to connect the classrooms so that video-conferencing could be used to bring more volunteer expertise into each classroom - but also so classrooms can interact with each other. This project is pending for an i3 grant with all the bells and whistles.
Hope this answers your question.
This entry is so great. I strongly believe in NFTE's model, and see this as a really great example of a program that is dedicated to the student in a long-term capacity to achieve success.
What are ways in which this program has thought about its role as an intervention, and overcoming the "soft learning" issues ie. study habits, attitude/self-esteem that the student may have from years of being behind in math in school?
Thanks for the great comment.
NFTE's intervention has already been proven to do a few things quite well. We had an evaluation done by Harvard School of Ed some years back that found that students who participated in NFTE had highly increased self expectations when it comes to careers they intend to pursue and their further education plans. A few other recent studies (Ou and Reynolds, 2009 and Beal and Crocket, 2010) have shown that changing these attitudes is vital to long-term educational and career achievement. Also, the Harvard study found NFTE participants with a small, but significant, uptick in independent reading.
So we are pretty confident all of this will transfer to E-STEM, but we are also building more of a team approach within the implementing schools for E-STEM so that in addition to the E-STEM teacher, a math teacher and a guidance counselor will be working with the students. We think this will help overcome some of what you are referring too. We'd love to hear other thoughts.