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.