The fifth iteration of the special topics course in the Spring of 2018 was the first time that HSTEM course was offered as an official course, not a special topics course. The course had 10 students and 5 faculty/staff facilitators. We developed and worked on 3 different projects that primarily built on the projects that started in the Fall 2017 course. We presented our results in a summit at Yale on April 29th, in conjunction with students from Yale University, Brown University, Skidmore College, and Hampshire College.
Read more about each project and see the outcomes below.
Expanding HSTEM Initiatives: Developing a Condensed Model for HSTEM Course
One of the challenges of starting a new HSTEM course in other institutions is the semester-long commitment for both the students and the instructors. Thus, we developed a condensed, 2-week model of the HSTEM course. The program will be divided into two parts. The first part will set the foundations of HSTEM with various readings and reflections, and the second part will feature student projects that will be presented in a community-wide meeting at the end of the course. This course will be piloted at Amherst College at the end of our Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) program during the summer of 2018.
Developing Workshops to Foster Conversations about & Assess the State of Inclusion in STEM at Amherst College and Beyond
Short workshops are an easy medium in which to generate conversations about inclusion in STEM and gather assessments on the state of inclusion in the classroom. HSTEM developed and piloted a workshop in Fall 2016 in a general chemistry course to achieve such means. Last semester, we reviewed the workshop model and the student feedback to fashion an improved workshop model. This semester, we administered this new workshop model to students in resource centers at Amherst College. At the summit, we will present our general findings and suggestions for future modifications.
Supporting Engagement of Elementary-School Aged Children in STEM
Understanding and forging the relationship between the STEM experience and our identities begin at the elementary-school level. Thus, last semester, we worked to develop lesson plans and activities targeting elementary-aged children to foster enthusiasm for STEM from an early age and engage in a conversation about stereotypes in STEM. This semester, we implemented these workshops with three different groups of elementary-aged children and interviewed elementary school teachers to gather their their perspectives on student engagement in STEM. We hope to continue these workshops in elementary schools and have room for follow-up meetings to engage in deeper conversations regarding HSTEM.
HSTEM Summit at Yale brought over 90 faculty, staff, and students from 10 institutions. Held on April 29th, 2018, the second annual summit kicked off with a keynote speech by Dean Tricia Serio from UMass Amherst. The summit continued to poster presentations by students from Yale, Brown, Skidmore, and Amherst students, and then a panel with students and facilitators from all courses.
Photos were taken by Maeve McNamara, Amherst College Class of 2019.