Collaborative Research: Project STEAM: Integrating Art with Science to Build Science Identities Among Girls
The University of Alaska Fairbanks will partner with the National Optical and Astronomy Observatory, the University of Alaska Museum of the North, and the University of Washington-Bothell to bring biomaterials, optics, photonics, and nanotechnology content, art infused experiences, and career awareness to art-interested girls. This full scale development project, Project STEAM, will explore the intersections between biology, physics, and art using advanced technologies at the nano to macro scale levels. Middle school girls from predominately underrepresented Alaskan Native, Native American (Tohono O'odham, Pascula Yaqui) and Hispanic groups, their families, teachers, and Girl Scout Troop Leaders in two site locations- Anchorage, Alaska and Tucson, Arizona will participate in the project. Centered on the theme "Colors of Nature," Project STEAM will engage girls in science activities designed to enhance STEM learning and visual-spatial skills. Using advanced technologies, approximately 240 girls enrolled in the Summer Academy over the project duration will work with women scientist mentors, teachers, and Girl Scout Troop Leaders to create artistic representations of natural objects observed at the nano and macro scale levels. Forty girls will participate in the Summer Academy in year one (20 girls per site- Alaska and Arizona). In consequent years, approximately180 girls will participate in the Academy (30 girls per site). Another 1,500 girls are expected to be reached through their Girl Scout Troop Leaders (n=15) who will be trained to deliver a modified version of the program using specialized curriculum kits. In addition, over 6,000 girls and their families are expected to attend Project STEAM Science Cafe events held at local informal science education institutions at each site during the academic year. In conjunction with the programmatic activities, a research investigation will be conducted to study the impact of the program on girls' science identity. Participant discourse, pre and post assessments, and observed engagement with the scientific and artistic ideas and tools presented will be examined and analyzed. A mixed methods approach will also be employed for the formative and summative evaluations, which will be conducted by The Goldstream Group. Ultimately, the project endeavors to increase STEM learning and interest through art, build capacity through professional development, advance the research base on girls' science identity and inspire and interest girls in STEM careers.