STEM Lending Library and Resource Center

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STEM Lending Library and Resource Center

United States
Project Stage:
Start-Up
Budget: 
< $1,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Many studies articulate the acute need for America to significantly increase its investment and focus on k-12 STEM education, else we risk losing our competitive edge as a country of innovation. President Obama’s recent “Educate to Innovate” initiative that earmarks billions of dollars to enhance STEM education in the country is one of many efforts that are underway to improve STEM education. However, even the federal government cannot do it alone. Our mission is to increase the pipeline of underrepresented populations, including girls, who pursue careers in STEM areas by exposing more of them to STEM professionals, hands on STEM activities and by encouraging their participation in competitive STEM contests.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

The STEM Lending Library and Resource Center seeks to impact students in underserved and underrepresented communities initially in the metro Atlanta area with future plans to expand the model throughout the nation. Anywhere where there are students in schools who cannot afford to purchase STEM materials, the STEM Lending Library and Resource center will be able to fill a need. Research suggests that the majority of these students in America are in urban areas. “In 2006, African Americans, Hispanics and Native Americans comprised little more than 9 percent of American adults who held jobs in STEM related fields. The report ("Expanding Underrepresented Minority Participation: America's Science and Technology Talent at the Crossroads") states that this statistic must triple in order for these groups to be fairly represented.” "According to data compiled by the National Science Foundation (NSF), women make up almost half (49 percent) of the Nation's workforce, but only 25 percent of the STEM workforce. Research suggests that in elementary school, as many girls as boys have positive attitudes about science. A recent NSF funded study of fourth graders showed that 66 percent of girls and 68 percent of boys reported liking science. By the eighth grade, however, boys report twice as much interest in STEM careers as girls. Issues such as stereotypes, cultural expectations, self-efficacy and the behavior of teachers and parents are all potential contributors to girls' attitudes about STEM at an early age. Barriers persist as young women leave high school to enter post-secondary school. Although women now make up the majority of undergraduate students, participation of women in STEM degree programs remains markedly low. Issues such as a lack of female role models or a female peer group, and unsupportive classroom environments have been shown to deter women from pursuing or remaining in STEM degree programs in post-secondary school."

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

The lending library concept is simple… schools simply do not use science equipment on a daily basis. So why purchase it when you can simply check it out, the same as you would a book from the library. Even in schools where access to adequate STEM oriented resources is not an issue, the materials are typically not items that are used on a daily basis. In other words, there may be a one week lesson that requires use of a microscope (for example), and beyond that, the microscope may sit unused for the majority of the year. As such, it is believed that a lending library, generally speaking, would facilitate more efficient use of the scarce resources that are available to support education in America. The Institute for Computing Education at Georgia Tech currently has a program set up to loan out a total of 24 Lego NXT robots. The kits are highly sought after as they are typically reserved the entire year by various groups. I am not aware of any other organizations that have a comprehensive STEM materials lending model. Not only would we aim to stock robotics kits, we will endeavor to have materials that cover the full range of science and engineering disciplines. Example of other materials are as follows: Microscopes, telescopes, digital scales, K'nex bridge building kits, circuit boards, laser optics kits, etc.. We will also have less expensive items such as prisms, pulleys, magnets, and motors, to name a few. Funds permitting, we will also make custom purchases (after appropriate vetting) for educators for items that can be reused by others.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

I intend to establish a STEM Lending Library & Resource Center that K-12 schools, particularly those in underserved communities serving underrepresented populations, including girls, can leverage to afford their students and teachers access to materials and training resources in order to increase access to hands-on STEM activities within the classroom; and to increase participation of underrepresented groups in STEM academic contests (i.e., Science Olympiad, FIRST, etc..) The lending library will acquire STEM materials and kits that schools can essentially check-out for classroom use for a predetermined amount of time. Aside from a security deposit for potential loss and damage of products, there would be no cost required by the schools to borrow the items. The Resource Center will serve as a conduit for teacher training and collaboration, partnerships, awareness of science competitions, and advocacy for increased access to quality STEM activities for students. Via partnerships with professional STEM organizations and direct recruitment efforts, it will recruit STEM professionals to serve as co-captains of STEM competition teams who will work the students alongside teachers. They will have shared accountability in the success of the efforts and will be expected to assist with planning, fundraising (if needed), and visit the school to assist the students with their competition efforts. Additionally, they will be expected to conduct at least two STEM workshops for the students during the year. These workshops may leverage the STEM materials that have been loaned to the school.
About You
Organization:
Stem Lending Library and Resource Center
About You
First Name

Nathaniel

Last Name

RIley Jr

About Your Organization
Organization Name

Stem Lending Library and Resource Center

Organization Phone
Organization Address

Mableton, GA

Organization Country

, GA

Country where this project is creating social impact
How long has your organization been operating?

Less than a year

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Innovation
What stage is your project in?

Idea phase

Share the story of the founder and what inspired the founder to start this project

Had there been a STEM Lending Library years ago in Memphis, TN., Nathaniel Riley, Jr,, the Founder, would have been attending a school that was a prime candidate to be a recipient of its services. A product of the Memphis City School system, Mr. Riley was the first of his siblings to attend college.He attended and graduated from MIT where he majored in Mechanical Engineering. As a college student, he served as the team captain of MIT’s, US FIRST team in 1996. Mr Riley’s undergrad thesis focused on how the strength of Charter school legislation affected the growth of charters.

The vast majority of service activities in the life of Mr Riley have focused on Education. He has run for office to serve on the school board of his county, served as Principal for a Day, participated in PTA, helped draft start-up charter school applications, and has developed curriculum for an after-school robotics program for local schools that he and another parent founded. Additionally he serves as an advocate for increased STEM education in area schools that are made up of a majority of underrepresented populations.Most recently he was nominated and voted to serve on the Foundation Board of Trustees for his school district.

His experience establishing the robotics after school program inspired him to start this project. As he met with educators in the k-12 and university community, he came to realize that there was a basic exposure and access issue where hands-on STEM and participation in STEM competitions was concerned. The STEM Lending Library & Resource Center aims to fill the gap.

Social Impact
Please describe how your project has been successful and how that success is measured

This project is still in idea phase, however the Founder’s experience with an after-school Robotics enrichment camp that he and another parent established provides encouragement that this initiative will be successful. Last year, while speaking with a mother at the end of class, she told myself and the cofounder of the program, that as a result of her son participating in our class that he wanted a Lego NXT for Christmas. That single comment gives hope that hands-on exposure to STEM will indeed serve as the spark that will ignite a lifetime of interest in and the pursuit of STEM careers in our youth.

Once the project is operational, there will be four critical measures of success for the STEM Lending Library and Resource Center:
1. Increased hands-on STEM in-class, and before/after school activities.
2. Hours spent in classrooms by STEM professionals
3. Increased participation of underrepresented youth in STEM oriented academic contests and enrichment activities (Science Olympiad, science fair, FIRST, summer camps, etc..).
4. Increased participation of target school teachers in STEM-oriented Professional development activities.

The baseline for each of the aforementioned success factors will be established by identifying equivalent STEM activities/impact in prior years at the school. Our goal is to increase the activities and the number of students who are afforded the opportunity to participate in STEM activities. In the case of teachers, the goal is to increase professional development opportunities and to identify and support teachers within schools who can serve as STEM advocates within their school community.

How many people have been impacted by your project?

How many people could be impacted by your project in the next three years?

1,001-10,000

How will your project evolve over the next three years?

A Board will be established to set direction and provide guidance to what will eventually be numerous local chapters that will based in/near urban areas. Establishing local chapters will better enable the organization to scale efficiently to meet the needs of communities across the nation. Metro Atlanta is the initial target area.

The organization will seek to establish strong partnerships with (to name a few) school districts, organizations such as Teach For America, KIPP, and companies that manufacture the STEM materials that we will loan.

We also plan to cultivate an online community of educator collaborators who share STEM education best practices. Finally, we aim to grow a large network of STEM Professionals and student volunteers to support the efforts of the organization.

Sustainability
What barriers might hinder the success of your project and how do you plan to overcome them?

Teacher Adoption – In an era of high stakes testing, teachers struggle to find time to teach the minimum required curriculum. Therefore, there may be a natural hesitation by teachers to incorporate hands on STEM activities. We will mitigate this by creating sample lessons to illustrate how the hands-on activities can be used to cover required curriculum standards. Knowledge sharing among teachers who are effective at incorporating lessons will also be encouraged via the resource center which will have an online collaboration component. Also, we will target specialty teachers and staff (i.e., After School Program Coordinator,etc) to incorporate STEM activities. In some cases, they may be in a better position to take on the responsibility of facilitating the STEM activities via a Science Club, or the like.

We will also seek to proactively build partnerships with organizations such as Teach For America (TFA) and KIPP Schools, to name a couple. In the case of TFA, their teachers are generally educating the same target population we are interested in impacting. In the case of KIPP Schools, as charters, they are by definition, innovative. This organization is also thought to be a viable venue in which we can reach our target student population.
Lastly, we will attempt to leverage the DonorsChoose website to identify educators who are already actively seeking out the types of materials we will be able to lend.

Volunteers – Identifying sufficient STEM professionals to commit to volunteering their time in the classroom will pose a challenge. We will address this by partnering with STEM professional organization and via direct marketing to companies with STEM professionals. We will be flexible and offer them the opportunity to assemble a team of people who can take turns volunteering in the schools if that works best for them. Additionally, we will educate them about our nation’s STEM crisis and how it affects student achievement, and America’s global competitiveness.

Funding – We will rely on a combination of traditional fundraising efforts (financial contributions, grant writing, public & private funds, in-kind donations), partnerships, and revenue generating activities to sustain the organization. Revenue generating activities will include, but are not limited to: 1.Paid STEM enrichment classes and summer camps; 2.Reseller of STEM consumable materials;3.Equipment rental fees to general public (i.e, homeschoolers,etc).

Equipment Loss, Damages, & Maintenance – Security deposits will be required for all material that is borrowed to offset replacement costs. We will aim to leverage college student volunteers to assist in maintenance of equipment.

Tell us about your partnerships

This project is in early stages, therefore no formal partnerships have been established yet.

Explain your selections

This project is in early stages of development, therefore it's support is limited.

Friends And Family – This group of supporters will be the most important of all as these are the individuals who have and will continue to provide me the support and encouragement to continue with the development of this initiative. They are the individuals who know me best and know that education is my true passion. They will also be called on for financial contributions to support the organization. Additionally, some of these supporters will be able to offer human resources/talent, and collaboration/networking.

Once this initiative is further along, we expect to leverage support across most of the listed categories.

How do you plan to strengthen your project in the next three years?

Replication - Develop and refine a successful model in the metro Atlanta area that can be replicated in other parts of the country.

Impact – we will institute processes and collect data that will allow us to measure the impact that our program is having on students, teachers, and schools. For students, we would like to see a measurable increase in their participation in hands on science activities in class and via increased participation in Science competitions. We will also leverage pre and post interviews to identify student changes in attitudes about STEM. In the case of teachers, we will measure effectiveness via their incorporation of hands-on activities in their classroom, and also via the amount of STEM specific professional development that they obtain as a result of the STEM Resource Center availing them of opportunities.

Volunteer Recruitment and Retention – We will take steps to grow our database of committed STEM professionals who are willing to commit to spending time in the secondary school classrooms.

Program Improvement – For our enrichment programs that are developed in-house as revenue generating activities, we will adopt a course development process that insures high quality, highly effective programming by first running a pilot, then refining it based on the pilot, and finally, if successful, adopting the program as a formal offering. After every course, we will evaluate and refine any aspect of the program to insure continued effectiveness.

Partnerships and Accountability
Please tell us more about how your partnership was formed and how it functions. What specific role does each partner play? What unique resources does each partner bring to the initiative?

This project is in early stages, therefore no formal partnerships have been established. That said, potential partnerships resources are as follows:

We will seek to partner with organizations such as Teach For America, KIPP and Charter Management Organizations to increase target student and teacher impact.

We hope to be able to develop innovative partnerships with local college (2 and 4year) STEM departments. Potential benefits might be:
- Access to a pool of volunteer students who can assist with running the organization
- Access to STEM professors who are willing to commit to volunteering time in the classroom
- Secure storage of materials and equipment
- Professional development opportunities for teachers

Partnerships with Corporations and STEM professional organizations – The vast majority of our nations STEM professionals are in private industry and higher education. Therefore, these business partnerships along with the higher ed partnerships will be critical in order to fill the human capital needs of the program.

Partnerships with STEM equipment manufacturers such as Lego, Pitsco Education, Apple, HP, and Dell, to name a few, will also be a high priority for the organization. Potential benefits of these partnerships might be:
- Reduced cost when purchasing new and replacement materials
- In-kind donations
- Volunteers

Local School District partnerships will also be sought. Potential benefits of these partnerships might be:
- Secure storage of materials and equipment
- Central office buy-in and support of the organization, thus increasing chances of student impact within the districts’ schools

How are you building in accountability for students' successful STEM learning outcomes? Please provide a summary and examples.

We will rely on quantitative and qualitative data to measure successful STEM learning outcomes for students.

The metrics that support our quantitative data will track increases in:

1. The number of students exposed to hands-on STEM activities
2. School participation in STEM academic competitions
3. Teacher STEM oriented professional development activities
4. Volunteer hours contributed to the organization by STEM Professionals and college students

For example, we might service a school that previously had no participation in its area Science Olympiad, or FIRST competition. As a result of their ability to access materials from the STEM Lending library, they are now able to participate in such endeavours and feel as though they have had adequate preparation and training for the event.

Qualitative data will leverage principal and teacher surveys and direct observations in order to capture student changes in attitude and enthusiasm about STEM coursework and activities.

For example, after being exposed to building robots using the Lego NXT, students might ask their parents for robotics kits for their birthday as opposed to video games, or other no educational items.

Needs

Investment, Human Resources/Talent, Marketing/Media, Research/Information, Pro-bono help (legal, financial, etc.), Innovation/Ideas, Mentorship.

Please use this space to elaborate on your selection above and/or to add needs that may not be listed.

Since this project is in early stages of development,it's needs span many areas.

Offers

Investment, Human Resources/Talent, Research/Information, Innovation/Ideas.

Please use this space to elaborate on your selection above and/or to add offers that may not be listed.

I am happy to offer up my skills to assist in the success of education projects.