Full-Scale Development: STEM Guides: Building Coherent Infrastructure in Rural Communities
This full-scale development project will address the need for creative models to support STEM learning in underserved rural communities that lack traditional infrastructure such as science centers. The project will create and study an innovative model of capacity-building: viz., small networks of community-embedded “STEM Guides” will be trained to identify a range of existing STEM resources available in their local regions, and to connect STEM-interested youth with them in creative and personal ways. Anticipated learning outcomes for youth and families include greater awareness of and interest in STEM experiences and pathways. At the regional level, the project will build capacity through increasing the STEM Guides’ knowledge of local STEM opportunities, and by enhancing connections among STEM-related resources, programs, and industries. The project will implement and study STEM Guide networks in a staggered series of five low-income, rural regions, providing startup resources and professional development. The project will increase the frequency and depth of out-of-school STEM experiences for approximately 3,000 youth aged 10-18 at a relatively low cost, creating a national model for STEM capacity-building in rural settings. It is led by the Maine Mathematics and Science Alliance, with 4-H, Cornerstones of Science (library-based STEM) and Maine’s university system as collaborators. EDC is the primary external evaluator.