Please describe how your project has been successful and how that success is measured
The success of our project will be determined by a number of factors:
• Youth Response – We have already observed enthusiasm for Chemical Circus activities via comments from children such as, “This is cool!” and “Can we do this again?” Such responses indicate that youth are already developing more of an interest in science.
• Questionnaires – As a more quantitative measurement, we are currently developing brief questionnaires to assess youth participants.
• Participation – At locations such as the Boys and Girls Club where a number of activities are going on at once, we can monitor youth interest by headcount and percentage of students participating in the Chemical Circus as compared to other activities.
• Long-term tracking – We hope to be able to follow our youth participants as they graduate from high school and determine if we see an increase in college-going rate as well as likelihood to major in a STEM field.
We will also be looking at success of the project in terms of goals for our chemistry undergraduate students:
• Reports – Students will be asked to write a formal report on their experiences and what they have learned.
• Student enrollment and retention – We hope to see an increase in chemistry majors as well as an increase in the number of majors that graduate from our program.
• Performance on American Chemical Society (ACS) exams – Our students take standardized exams in a variety of chemistry courses. We will evaluate whether students participating the Chemical Circus perform better on these exams other students.
How will your project evolve over the next three years?
In our first year of undergraduate participation in the Chemical Circus, students from our department’s Chemistry Club have assisted in the development of demonstrations and hands-on activities, and participated in site visits. We will conduct a pilot program in the winter quarter that incorporates community engagement into an undergraduate course to increase student participation.
Future efforts will incorporate Chemical Circus participation into other courses. We will continue our work with BAM and the Boys and Girls Club, adding additional sites where possible, and expand the Chemical Circus to local high schools. Further, we intend to share our efforts with other STEM departments at CSUB, and ideally, the Chemical Circus will eventually become part of a larger “Science Circus.”