Community Dialogue Events
Participating Project BUILD libraries host Community Dialogue events to engage in conversations with representatives from their local communities, including ASCE volunteers, local business/industry, community organizations, Girl and Boy Scout leaders, 4-H, homeschool groups, caregivers, and teachers, with an emphasis on including representatives from groups currently underrepresented in STEM professions.
Ready – Set – Create Learning Experiences are designed to help youth in grades 2-5: 1) Solve challenge-focused (real or simulated) problems using an engineering design process and 2) Use age-appropriate technology to model how engineers build a better world and improve the local community. Libraries have made STEM learning experiences available to patrons through a dedicated space called a Ready – Set – Create Learning Center. The space includes a banner, a table, and several bins that contain the activities.
Evaluation Plan (Lead, Jennifer Jocz)
Education Development Center (EDC) will conduct the external evaluation of Project BUILD. In addition to assessing the overall impact of Project BUILD (summative), EDC will investigate the extent progress is made toward meeting project goals and stakeholder outcomes (formative). Specifically, the evaluation seeks to examine:
- How and to what extent the program impacts youths’ understanding of and interest in engineering, including related skills and careers
- How library staff and professional engineers work together to implement the program, and what they gain from the partnership
- How and to what extent libraries form community partnerships and adopt the Community Dialogue model to reach underserved audiences
Research Plan (Lead, Dr. Robert Tai)
Project BUILD brings together youth, their families, librarians, and professional engineers in a STEM learning environment centered on engaging youth grades 2-5 with activities that highlight the engineering design process. Seeking to serve the underserved segments of the library communities, the overarching aim of the project is to provide experiences that expand young people’s learning preferences to include STEM-related careers as possible options. Project BUILD also provides access to knowledgeable engineering professionals who participate in sessions and offer guidance through their insights and experiences. The better understand this process, Co-PI Tai and his team at UVA are exploring the following research questions:
- Regarding characteristics related to the youth’s preferences for learning, what common factors might identify youth who engage in project activities and what common factors might differentiate between youth who continue with program engagement and those who do not?
- What programmatic factors (i.e. design and composition of program activities, library recruitment, librarian engagement, professional engineer engagement, etc.) might influence youth’s initial and continued engagement in project activities as well as youth’s reported future career interests?
The conceptual framework identifies seven different types of learning activities common in informal STEM education programs. These seven learning activity types include: 1) collaborating, 2) competing, 3) discovering, 4) creating/making, 5) performing, 6) caretaking, and 7) teaching. See diagram below.
Program activities typically combine these seven types of learning activities to various degrees and our research has shown that youth have varying levels of preferences for engaging in these types of activities. The background research and survey validation and reliability have been established in prior work by Co-PI Tai. The survey has been pilot tested with students in Grades 2 – 12 and adjustments made to shorten and streamline the instrument for this program have been incorporated.
The theory underlying our analysis is that youth with learning activity preferences will at times match with the program learning activity types and at other times will not. Our aim is to examine interaction between the learning activity preferences of youth and the learning activity types included in the library programs. The research questions target both this interaction and the potential influence of family members, librarians, and engineers engaging to various degrees at the various library partner sites.