This fourth iteration of the special topics course in the fall of 2017 marked the growth of the HSTEM course. In the beginning of the semester, the facilitators held an introductory meeting for students so that they could learn more about the course and register. The course had 17 students and 5 faculty/staff facilitators. We developed and worked on 4 different projects we believed were critical in expanding the HSTEM initiative and spreading the inclusive environment across STEM departments at Amherst and beyond. We conducted in-depth research in these topics and created posters summarizing our results, which we presented in a community-wide Salon on December 12, 2017.
Read more about each project and see the outcomes below.
Expanding/Deepening HSTEM Interventions at Amherst College
Although we have made progress in our 3 semesters of the HSTEM course, there is further work to be done (other departments, more work in our science curriculum, etc.) We hoped to expand HSTEM's impact on further science courses by building on the workshop developed n the Fall 2016 course. Workshops are a short intervention that could be implemented in a wide range of STEM classrooms to initiate conversations about and assess the issues surrounding diversity & inclusion in STEM. We developed a revised workshop from the feedback received in the pilot workshop in Fall 2016. We hope to carry out this workshop in the future semesters.
A common challenge for grassroots initiatives is recording and sharing the work that is being done. This group's work includes: designing and developing an archive of HSTEM artifacts and other relevant materials, starting a documentary using that archive material and video footage from previous HSTEM events and shooting new footage of HSTEM practices in action, and conducting interviews with HSTEM alum, faculty and staff.
In 2020, Amherst College is hoping to host a conference to share the work of HSTEM and provide clear pathways for other campuses to get involved/contribute to the initiative. The conference convened teams of faculty/students/staff focused on inclusion and transformation work at institutions of higher education with a goal to forge a larger community network. This group's work was largely focused on developing a strategy to ensure student representation in the planning of the conference. We examined partner institutions and other national models on conferences, working with the administrative group of HSTEM to come up with ideas on how to assess other conferences.
Supporting Engagement of Elementary School Aged Children in STEM
Working with Professor Purdy and Professor Jeong in Amherst Biology Department, we developed 1-2 age-appropriate science activities for late-elementary age kids. Over the semester, our team learned about designing activities for this age group that support science learning and encourage interest in STEM, developed activities based on best practices in the field, and performed initial planning on presenting these activities to kids in the local community.