Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.
What does it take for a child of farm workers to realize his dream of becoming a mechanical engineer? Martin’s story shows what the CSW program can do: Martin began attending after school drop-in when he was 9, volunteered to help younger kids at 13, became a paid intern at 14, and at 16, he was hired to teach in the middle-school robotics program. At 17, Martin graduated from high school with a year of calculus under his belt. Now he’s a community college student and working as a lead teacher in the CSW elementary after school program while preparing to transfer to a university. The CSW gave Martin the support he needed: entry-level work; increasingly complex open-ended activities; and a community of learners and mentors to identify with.
Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.
Community Science Workshops in California have been in continuous operation for over 20 years: long enough to see former students bringing in their own children. CSW sites have saturated whole communities with science, and the program is seen as a public resource. Parents borrow tools for projects at home, and children bring their mom’s radio to re-solder the antenna. This level of ownership and agency significantly impacts community members’ attitudes about science, learning, and tool use. CSW sites together receive over 120,000 visits per year, and operate 57 individual programs. In an evaluation examining CSW impact on young people’s engagement, self-identity, skills, and choices in science, eighty percent of CSW participants report that they enjoy making things and doing experiments, and over 75% report “I can do things in the Science Workshop I didn’t think I could do before.”
Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?
This program model can scale up to impact thousands of youth in rural California who are ready for their chance to be the next generation of scientists, engineers, and critical thinkers. The CSW Network works closely with school districts, cities, and nonprofits to identify a local fiscal sponsor to adopt the program, provide dedicated space, and hire talented staff. By matching seed grants with local funding, as well as providing on-the-ground advocacy and ongoing support, the CSW Network ensures that these programs become permanent hubs for science education in their communities.