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Launch Pad Communications Plan Book

  2. 2. Launch Pad Communications Erica Binns Ciara Bujanos Meredith Clampitt Abbey McLaughlin Megan Sayler Allie Wallace Liz Yardley Journalism 676, Strategic Campaigns University of Kansas May 6, 2010 2
  3. 3. Table of Contents Executive Summary....................................................................................4 Situation Analysis.......................................................................................6 Budget Summary........................................................................................9 Secondary Research..................................................................................11 Part 1: The Coalition for Space Exploration..............................................................................12 Part 2: NASA and the Space Industry.......................................................................................13 Part 3: Political Influences........................................................................................................14 Part 4: STEM Education in Elementary and Middle Schools..................................................15 Part 5: STEM Education in High School and College...............................................................17 Part 6: Engineering Schools and Math and Science Programs in Schools..................….........18 Part 7: Socioeconomic Influences.............................................................................................20 Primary Research.....................................................................................23 Part 1: Surveys...........................................................................................................................24 Part 2: Focus Group...................................................................................................................29 Part 3: One-on-One Interviews.................................................................................................29 Research Summary...................................................................................35 Key Publics...............................................................................................38 SWOT Analysis..........................................................................................41 Goals, Objectives and Tactics....................................................................46 Executions................................................................................................56 Sample “Discovery Voyager” Bus Wrap Design........................................................................57 “Discovery Voyager” Website....................................................................................................59 “Discovery Voyager” Media Kit.................................................................................................61 “Discovery Voyager” Satellite Media Tour...............................................................................66 STEM Career Awareness Commercial Script...........................................................................69 STEM Career Awareness News Release....................................................................................71 “Geek Week” Sample Programming Schedule..........................................................................73 Downloadable “Geek Week” Poster...........................................................................................75 “Where would you be without space?” Print Ads.....................................................................77 Coalition for Space Exploration Facebook Fan Page...............................................................81 Discovery Voyager Facebook Ad..............................................................................................84 Appendix A: Sources of Information........................................................86 Appendix B: Raw Primary Research.........................................................89 Survey........................................................................................................................................90 Physics Student In-Person Interview........................................................................................95 Focus Group Discussion Questions: University of Kansas Engineering Students.................98 3
  4. 4. Executive SummAry 4
  5. 5. Executive Summary To execute these goals, Launch Pad Communications recommends using a variety of traditional and non- traditional media that encourage the target audiences to take The Coalition for Space Exploration, which supports the action. We suggest fostering a relationship with an important efforts and interests of NASA and United States space intervening public, the Discovery Channel, to create a program, is currently in a precarious position. With the mobile learning bus that tours the country visiting schools retirement of the Space Shuttle fleet approaching, the and letting students experience STEM firsthand. We also American public has become increasingly skeptical of the recommend creating a “Geek Week” television programming importance of continuing to explore space. Meanwhile, special. Finally, we recommend developing an advertising United States youth are seriously underperforming in math campaign asking America “What would you do without and science literacy when compared to other industrialized space?” The results of these initiatives would be twofold; the nations. United States will be fostering future leaders in STEM fields, and the Coalition for Space Exploration will gain recognition Faced with an unresponsive public and poorly educated and public support for NASA and the space program. children, Launch Pad Communications researched these trends in depth. Our research indicates that there is a The budget for this plan is estimated to cost $99,726.90. lack of knowledge about careers that require a STEM education. There is also a strong correlation between student performance and parent educational background. A child with parents who have a college degree is much more likely to succeed in science and math. As far as successful approaches to teaching, students respond overwhelmingly better when learning is hands on and interactive, as opposed to passive. Key audiences for this plan include students between third and tenth grade, teachers, U.S. taxpayers and social media users. We also recommend targeting the following intervening publics: the media, parents, Coalition members, and the Discovery Channel. Launch Pad Communications has developed a plan recommending two goals for the Coalition to implement: 1. To encourage American youth to pursue careers in STEM-related fields, including the aerospace industry. 2. To increase public interest and support for an ongoing United States space exploration program. 5
  6. 6. SituAtion AnAlysis 6
  7. 7. may produce national security threats in the future. Coalition for Space Exploration Students between third and tenth grade may have an unfavorable perception of space exploration. Many students The Coalition for Space Exploration (Coalition) is a not-for- may be unaware of the history of NASA and may not realize profit organization which supports the efforts and interests how space exploration has improved technology in other of the National Aeronautic and Space Administration and fields. United States space exploration. It consists of a board of directors, a government affairs team, a public affairs team, member companies, contributors and partners. These organizations help contribute resources to its campaigns and Environment spread its messages. The Coalition for Space Exploration operates in the political sphere. As a government-run agency, NASA depends on funding from the government. The Coalition’s government Challenges affairs team mobilizes the Coalition’s member companies’ Washington, D.C. representatives to track and lobby for The current political climate is unfavorable to American space exploration progress. space exploration. President Obama denied funding for Project Constellation and may not be supportive of future The Coalition operates in the corporate sphere as well. space exploration expenditures. The Coalition’s corporate members pay a fee to belong to the organization while its corporate contributors donate The current educational climate is unfavorable to American money and other resources. The partners also help push the space exploration. In the 2006 Programme for International organization’s messages. Student Assessment comparison, the United States ranked 21 out of 30 among students within developed countries The Coalition for Space Exploration operates in the public in science literacy and 25 out of 30 in math literacy. On sphere. In order to promote space exploration in the the 2009 National Assessment of Educational Progress political sphere, the Coalition must garner support from math tests, fourth graders showed no signs of progress, representatives’ constituents. while eighth graders progressed modestly. In addition, STEM coursework may be perceived as more difficult than The Coalition for Space Exploration aligns with NASA’s other coursework. Therefore, it may not be as appealing to interests. Coalition members must work together with NASA students. The next generation of American students will to achieve common goals. unlikely fulfill the need for STEM-related employees. The current international climate is unfavorable to American space exploration. Foreign students are filling STEM courses at American colleges and universities, then returning to their home countries to develop foreign space exploration programs. Losing American leadership in space exploration 7
  8. 8. Why Take Action Now? The number of American STEM students is dropping, while demand for STEM students in other industries and company types (such as Google) is not slowing. The Obama administration has shifted its priorities from manned space shuttles to public-private ventures. To avoid losing more funding, the Coalition must find a way to reach the government. This can be done either directly through lobbyists or indirectly through constituents. The space shuttle fleet will be retired at the end of this year, leaving American astronauts stranded on Earth if relations with Russia deteriorate. This may also develop into a national security issue. In order to maintain leadership as a nation in space, public and government support for space exploration must be attained. 8
  9. 9. Budget SummAry 9
  10. 10. Budget Summary STEM curricula development $2,500.00 Hulu/YouTube online advertisements (estimate) $25,000.00 Online volunteer network website (yearly; $100.00 Social media optimized news releases (two; $500.00 Educator fulfillment kits $2,500.00 Media kits $1,000.00 Discovery Voyager website (yearly; $100.00 Discovery Voyager banner advertisements (estimate) $5,000.00 Discovery Voyager Facebook advertisements ( $21,000.00 Print advertisement in National Educator Conference program book (estimate) $500.00 “Where would you be without space?” webisodes $9,000.00 Billboards for three month cycle each (three billboards, three months each; Lamar Advertising) $5,778.00 Print advertisements (estimate) $20,000.00 Coalition collateral materials $2,000.00 Subtotal $94,978.00 Five percent contigency* $4,748.90 Total $99,726.90 *Contingency funds may be allocated for production, manufacturing and labor costs incurred. 10
  11. 11. SecondAry ReseArch 11
  12. 12. Secondary Research Members of The Coalition help increase and continue aid for government investments in space travel and exploration. These members are key individuals who are a part of After looking at the issues facing The Coalition for Space industries, associations, private firms and businesses that Exploration’s campaign, Launch Pad Communications support the growth of space travel and exploration. The determined that the research could be divided into seven Coalition is continuously seeking new members and partners sections relevant to the mission of the Coalition. The involved with any U.S.-based company or organization to seven topics researched were: 1. The Coalition for Space assist in the campaign for space exploration funding and Exploration; 2. NASA and the space industry; 3. political awareness. influences on the space industry; 4. STEM education in elementary and middle schools; 5. STEM education in high school and college; 6. engineering schools and math and science programs in schools; and 7. socioeconomic STEM Education Case Study influences. Within each part of research, we examined past case studies relevant to the topic, history, successes and The nation’s STEM supporters (including the public, the failures, current and past news articles and trends. President, Congress, scientists and engineers) are urgent to institute more science and math education in the younger school levels because of the decline in math and science scores. Supporters consider STEM education to be essential Part 1: The Coalition for Space for the nation’s prosperity, security, health and quality of life. The organization, sponsored by Lockheed Martin (an Exploration information technology firm), is committed to this cause. It is made up of 70,000 engineers and scientists who are relying Purpose, Mission and Members on the “bright young men and women to keep the people it serves safe while improving their lives with the latest According to The Coalition for Space Exploration Web advances.” The Coalition is using short and long-term goals site, its main purpose is to promote awareness of space to accomplish this. Two efforts are the National Engineers exploration through education and public outreach Week and Engineers in the Classroom. This is a “partnership programs using cost effective methods. It utilizes the media with the K through 12th grade schools.”According to and publications to secure political support and budget Lockheed Martin CTO Ray O. Johnson, this program resources for space exploration. Its mission is “to promote “[sends] practicing engineers into the classrooms to work the importance of space exploration to the national agenda with the teachers and supplement the curriculum with hands via cost-effective, high-yield public outreach activities that on activities that are fun for the kids.” include both traditional and new media to help secure political support and budget resources for NASA and space The hope of the program is that students will view these exploration.” guests as role models who are teaching more than the standard textbook could. Educators and engineers are finding these one-on-one classroom exchanges to be highly 12
  13. 13. effective and are increasingly seen as rewarding to STEM efforts. Robotics, which includes the developing of machines Part 2: NASA and the Space to carry out tasks too risky for humans, are reportedly the Industry most popular among classrooms. It is said that robotics is comparable to the thrill of working with athletic competition. NASA Mission Statements and Vision: Researchers also found that one of the professions students find most appealing is space exploration. This information “NASA’s mission is to pioneer the future in space was gathered by The Coalition’s interview with Johnson. exploration, scientific discovery and aeronautics research.” Achievements and Possible Setbacks Aeronautics, Exploration Systems, Science A major setback to date has been the budget cuts. Since the and Space Operations Coalition works closely with the government and government advocacy groups, the need for a strong government budget NASA conducts its work in four principal organizations, and support are what keep the space exploration thriving. which are called mission directorates. The four principal organizations are Aeronautics, Exploration Systems, Science While this may be viewed as a potential misfortune, the and Space Operations. Coalition has released a series of press releases that highlight its positive features. A poll in 2009 indicated that the top two benefits to human space exploration, according to the public, are 1) Exploration: human spaceflight draws upon Brief History of NASA our instinctive and pioneering nature to search out new horizons and 2) Down to Earth benefits: launching humans According to, President Dwight D. Eisenhower into space results in an array of valuable spin offs to improve established NASA in 1958 in a response to the Soviet Union’s life on Earth. launch of the first artificial satellite the previous year. President John F. Kennedy proposed sending astronauts to the moon before the end of the 1960s. Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first of 12 men to walk on the moon Social Media and the Coalition on July 20, 1969. NASA also focused on researching and developing applications for space technology in the hope of The Coalition has kept up with the increased use of social developing weather and communication satellites. After the media in the virtual communities. Features of the Web site Apollo mission, NASA worked on creating the first space include space Web casts, communication tools for educators, shuttle, a reusable ship that could provide regular access interested space advocates and a section dedicated to kids. It to space. The space shuttles were first launched in 1981 also utilizes Facebook, Twitter and blogging to its advantage and have had more than 120 successful flights. There are with numerous daily updates regarding space, NASA and the only four more missions planned before the shuttles retire Coalition’s advancements. this fall. In 2000, the United States and Russia partnered 13
  14. 14. together to establish a permanent human residence in space exploded 73 seconds later. The second major space shuttle aboard the International Space Station. The International disaster that was significant to NASA history is the Columbia Space Station is a multinational project representing the launch. According to an article on ProQuest, On Feb. 1, 2003, work of 16 nations. Columbia began its descent back to earth. Columbia lost contact with NASA and exploded with debris falling in Texas, In 2006, NASA planned on building a permanent moon Arkansas and Louisiana. The tragedy was investigated and base, Constellation. However, President Obama vetoed the it was confirmed that the explosion was caused by technical moon base construction in February 2010 because of budget and organizational failures. constrictions. Earth Science satellites are collecting data on the Earth’s oceans, climate and other features. NASA recently completed Part 3: Political Influences the deployment of the Earth Observing System, which is the world’s most advanced and comprehensive capability NASA’s Fiscal Year 2011 Budget to measure global climate change. The NASA Science organization monitors global environmental issues. The U.S. government added an increase of $6 billion over five years to the original $100 billion budget this In terms of the future, NASA plans to develop year. NASA was told to cancel the Constellation project in transformative technology such as heavy-lift technologies order to put money toward other things. These include: and demonstrations to pursue new approaches to space transformative technology development and flagship exploration. NASA hopes to launch robotic precursor technology demonstrations, robotic precursor missions, missions to multiple destinations in the solar system, create research and development on heavy-lift and propulsion U.S. commercial spaceflight capabilities, increase and technologies, U.S. commercial spaceflight capabilities, future extend the uses of the International Space Station, research launch capabilities, extension and increased utilization of the and observation pertaining to climate change, NextGen international space station, NextGen and green aviation and and green aviation, cross-cutting technology development focus on STEM education. in a new Space Technology Program and improvement in education, specifically STEM education. The Constellation program was developed to gain experience operating away from Earth. Some goals included developing Two major disasters have set back the NASA program and a new spacecraft and booster vehicle to replace the space affected the public’s confidence in NASA’s shuttle launches. shuttle that is retiring this year, as well as traveling back to The first was the Challenger. According to an article on the moon and possibly Mars. The Obama administration’s, the Challenger was one of four space shuttles decision to cancel the project resulted from its desire to created by NASA in the 1980’s. The Challenger flew nine spend government money on Earth first. There was also missions prior to the disaster in 1986. Prior to takeoff, a focus on developing new and stronger technologies and the Challenger experienced several problems. After the focusing on the younger generations to further STEM problems were supposedly fixed, the Challenger took off and education. 14
  15. 15. Government Committees U.S. Space Policy The Office of Science and Technology (OSTP) was In 2006, President Bush authorized a new space policy that established in 1976 to help the President understand the created hope for future exploration in space and advances effects of science and technology. The mission of the OSTP in technologies. Some main goals of that policy were to is to provide the President and his staff with scientific and strengthen the nation’s leadership in space, increase technical advice. Its purpose is to ensure that the policies of the benefits of space exploration, enable a commercial the Executive Board are informed by sound science and to space sector to strengthen U.S. leadership, increase ensure that the scientific and technical work is coordinated national homeland and economic security and encourage to provide the greatest benefit to society. The OSTP focuses international cooperation with foreign nations on space on the subject technology as it relates to American concerns activity. such as health care, public safety, education and maintaining U.S. technical and strategic superiority in space. In order to achieve these long-term goals, the U.S. strives to develop space professionals, improve space system Congress has several committees relating to science, development and procurement, increase and strengthen space and education. It includes the Senate Committee on interagency partnerships and strengthen and maintain the Commerce, Science and Transportation (25 members) with U.S. space-related science, technology and industrial base. a subcommittee on space and science, the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources (23 members), the Senate However, with NASA’s budget cuts and the shifting focus Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (23 from developing new technologies in outer space to the members), the House Committee on Science and Technology Earth, the United States’ space policy will have to adapt to (43 members) with subcommittees on research and science this changing environment. education, space and aeronautics and technology and innovation. Major federal STEM education programs include the Part 4: STEM Education NIH Ruth Kirschstein National Research Service Awards, which constitute the largest majority of spending on in Elementary and Middle STEM education and focuses on postdoctoral research Schools in health-related fields. There are also NSF Graduate Research Fellowships, which aim to increase the size Why Is STEM Education Important? and diversity of the U.S. workforce in science and engineering. Other programs include NSF Mathematics According to the U.S. Labor Department, 15 of the 20 fastest and Science Partnerships, NSF Research Experiences for growing occupations require significant math or science Undergraduates, ED Science and Mathematics Access to preparation. STEM workers earned about 70 percent more Retain Talent Grants and ED Mathematics and Science than the national average in 2005. Between 2004 and 2014, Partnerships. employers are expected to hire approximately 2.5 million 15
  16. 16. STEM workers who are entering their occupation for the first to promote student participation in AP math, science and time. This adds up to a 22 percent increase in the next 10 English courses. Enrollment in AP courses has increased 70 years. percent in all students as well as 122 percent for minority students since the program began. UTeach is another According to the National Center for Education Statistics, program designed to train math and science teachers. one third of fourth graders and one fifth of eighth graders UTeach graduates have a 70 percent teacher retention rate, cannot perform basic math computations. This may be compared to a national average of 50 percent. because nearly 70 percent of U.S. middle school students are taught math by teachers with neither a major nor certification in math. There is also a relationship between “Important, but Not for Me” student performance and his or her parents’ education. Every year between 1990 and 2009, eighth grade students A 2007 survey, conducted by Public Agenda and Ewing whose parents had at least some education after high school Marion Kauffman Foundation, was administered in Kansas scored above the all-eighth-grade average. Those whose and Missouri asking students and parents about math, parents had no more than a high school degree scored science and technology education. Findings were based on significantly less than the average. a random survey of 1472 parents and 1295 middle and high school students in Kansas and Missouri, 12 focus groups Although the U.S. scores consistently lower in math and and a series of interviews with local employers, leaders and science tests compared to other countries, it’s not because of experts. Although the results are regional in scale, they echo a lack in instructional time. In 2007, the U.S. averaged 148 those of national research on the same subject. hours per year of eighth grade math instructional time, or 13 percent of total instructional time. The international average The survey found that parents are aware of the importance was just 120 hours and 12 percent. Additionally, countries of math, science and technology, but remain complacent. outperforming the U.S. in science and math spend 10 percent Ninety-one percent of parents and 79 percent of students less of their respective GDPs on primary and secondary believe having basic math skills is absolutely essential. education than the U.S., on average. Similarly, 60 percent of parents and 47 percent students believe understanding basic scientific ideas and principles are absolutely essential. However, less than one third of all National Math and Science Initiative parents and students believe understanding higher-level math, such as calculus and advanced sciences like physics, is The National Math and Science Initiative (NMSI) was absolutely essential. launched in March 2007 by top leaders in American businesses, education and science to help remedy this drastic Although students agree on the importance of higher-level decline in math and science education by replicating proven math, science and technology, most find it irrelevant. Nearly programs on a national scale. Programs include: Advanced half of all students surveyed said they would be unhappy Placement Training and Inventive Program (APTIP), if they ended up in a career that involved a lot of math or awarding $79 million in grants to non-profits in six states science. 16
  17. 17. You have to use basic math every day of our life. It’s just in groups to explore a particular NASA career in the areas of good to know, but you don’t need a whole bunch more STEM. The students then create a presentation marketing than that. When are we ever going to use x plus y and all that career. In 2008, the winning team created a Web site that? –Urban student about astrobiologists. I hate math just because it’s hard for me to understand Many regional events are also aimed at STEM education how that’s ever going to come back and help me. There’s awareness including Science is for Girls in Texas and just not a point. –Suburban student STEMapalooza in Colorado. The University of Texas at San Antonio hosted 400 girls in grades six through eight at Science doesn’t matter unless you want to become a the Science is for Girls workshop. The workshop included doctor or something like that. –Suburban student outreach events to encourage girls to consider careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics by Learning about concrete opportunities in college and the introducing them to successful female scientists in small- workplace warmed students to the idea of taking math and group settings. STEMapalooza, presented by the University science courses and taking them seriously. Many students of Colorado Denver, is a two-day, free event for students of suggested they would have taken more math, science and all ages to engage in hands-on, minds-on activities. These technology in high school had someone explained the real activities include fast track racing, robotics, gaming, film world opportunities to them. production, staging, rocketry and more. STEM-Related Programs Part 5: STEM Education in Existing STEM-related programs continue to provide High School and College support for student and educators. For example, Raytheon’s Year of Math in Action program reached more than On both local and national levels, dozens of STEM-related 50,000 young students in 2009. The initiative included competitions are available for high school and college MathMovesU, a program that “engages young students with students who wish to demonstrate their abilities in a unique, interactive experiences through activities they enjoy competitive atmosphere. Many of these competitions utilize most, such as sports, music and fashion while fostering multiple aspects of STEM education and are focused on student achievement.” Highlights of the program were the teamwork and group efforts over individual accomplishment. Sum of all Thrills ride at Epcot Disneyworld, MATHCOUNTS National Competition title sponsor, MathMovesU Middle School Scholarship & Camp program and the Raytheon U.S. National Science and Math Competitions STEM Model for education. Many science and math competitions are team-based Another national program, the No Boundaries Contest question-and-answer tournaments. For example, the sponsored by NASA and USA Today, has students working National Science Bowl is an annual event sponsored by the 17
  18. 18. Department of Energy for high school students. Teams of Invention competitions, such as The Collegiate Inventors four students compete by answering multiple choice and Competition, are also available for college-level students short answer questions. who seek to solve problems with inventive STEM-related solutions. The National Chemistry Olympiad is similarly structured and is sponsored by the American Chemical Society. This competition has multiple tiers, starting with local schools and finishing with a worldwide competition. Part 6: Engineering Schools Other competitions, such as Science Olympiad, are more and Math and Science activity-based than question-and-answer based. Science Programs in Schools Olympiad hosts tournaments on multiple levels, from intramurals to national tournaments. In addition to these Math Programs for Elementary School competitions, Science Olympiad encourages students’ Through High School Students interest in science by engaging them in classroom activities, research and workshops year-round. Avid Academy for gifted youth in Irving, Calif. is among the most prestigious math and science programs in the country, connecting gifted students from both public and National Engineering and Technology private institutions as well as home-schooled students. Competitions Avid Academy partners with families, teachers, school administrators and businesses to help build character, Engineering and technology competitions are typically develop talents, provide development opportunities and team-based and primarily focus on a practical application encourage collaboration. There are a number of classes of knowledge. Many of these competitions are based around that can be taken spanning the realm of math and physics. designing and building robots, which are highly flexible Each course lasts for 10 weeks and takes place at Concordia for competitions. This is because they can range from the University. extremely simple, cost-effective variety to vastly complex and expensive machines. The Center for Talented Youth (CTY) at Johns Hopkins University seeks all students of the highest academic ability. BattleBotsIQ is one such competition where teams of high CTY conducts a talent search to find youth of the highest school students use math, physics and engineering to academic ability and will serve all qualified students, build tournament-worthy robots. The National Robotics regardless of their ability to pay. CTY caters to all pre- Challenge, which is open to middle schools, high schools collegiate students and offers special programs ranging from and colleges, also provides STEM-inclined students the early development stages to high school students. opportunity to compete in robotics contests in a variety of difficulty levels. LeapAhead! Summer Math Program is the most affordable of the options. LeapAhead! conducts online math programs 18
  19. 19. during in the summer months for only 20 minutes a day, have a positive effect on student interest in careers in science four times a week. LeapAhead’s research concluded that disciplines. Many former participants have successfully students who are not exposed to stimulating, educational entered challenging undergraduate programs throughout the activities during the summer, lose a couple of month’s worth nation, including those at Baylor. of math skills. LeapAhead’s overall objectives are to enrich a student’s interest and boost confidence in math and review. MIT’s Office of Engineering Outreach Programs offers The program also aims to reinforce math concepts and skills unique enrichment opportunities free of charge to middle and to strengthen problem-solving skills. These programs school and high school students who attend public schools are only offered for grades three to six. in the Boston area. MIT is devoted to the advancement of knowledge and education of students in areas that contribute Texas Mathworks Summer Math Camp, at Texas State to or prosper in an environment of science and technology. University, is for K-12 students and encourages them to do The programs are as follows: math at a high level. Often times, summer math camps and after-school programs include undergraduate counselors 1. MIT STEM Program: a year-round academic enrichment mentored by more experienced math teachers. Texas opportunity for talented middle school students from Mathworks strongly believes that developing students’ Boston, Cambridge and Lawrence, Mass., who want to natural math abilities early is critical to their success in explore their interests in science, technology, engineering algebra and more advanced math. and math. 2. MIT Science and Baseball Program: MSBP is a four- Canada/USA Mathcamp is an intensive five-week summer week summer program aimed at improving the math and camp for mathematically talented high school students. At science skills of entering eighth grade boys in Boston and Mathcamp, students can explore undergraduate and even Cambridge by building on their interest in baseball. graduate-level topics while building problem-solving skills 3. Minority Introduction to Engineering and Science that will help them in any field they choose to study. This (MITES) is a rigorous six-week residential, academic camp is located in Cambridge, Mass. enrichment summer program for promising high school seniors who are interested in studying and exploring Baylor University High School Summer Science Research careers in science and engineering. This national program Program is an annual summer camp established in 1991. stresses the value and reward of pursuing advanced Its purpose is to give superior high school students hands- technical degrees and careers while developing the skills on experience by working on research projects with Baylor necessary to achieve success in science and engineering. science professors in many disciplines. This program occurs 4. Saturday Engineering Enrichment and Discovery during the University’s first session of summer school and (SEED) is a seven semester, academic enrichment and is open to students between their junior and senior years career exploration program for public high school students of high school. Students are selected from high schools from Boston, Cambridge and Lawrence, Mass. Using throughout the United States to be involved in this summer the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks as a guide, research program, which allows them to earn one semester instructional staff develops original curricula that will hour of college credit. It is hoped that this experience will support students’ grasp of the math and science concepts 19
  20. 20. they are being taught in school. Each SEED Academy module focuses on a different technical discipline, from In the U.S., subjects covered in one grade are often again Mechanical Engineering to Robotics to Synthetic Biology. covered in another grade, taking away time from new concepts. Other countries have much tighter, upward spirals in learning, only repeating the minimum. “The initial Performance of American Students reaction to our drop in ranking is to assume that our middle Compared to Other Countries schools are at fault,” says LeTendre. “Low gains between third and fourth grades indicate this is not a middle school According to an article in the Washington Post on Dec. 8, problem, however, and it is not a slump, but indicative of a 2008, students are not doing any better than students in system-wide low level of achievement.” the 1990s on an international science exam. Students in Singapore, Taiwan, Japan and Hong Kong outperformed A 2007 article in The New York Times stated that on the U.S. fourth graders in science, but American students also most recent national assessment, the highest-performing outperformed 25 other countries. The average U.S. score was state in math was Massachusetts, and in science, North 539 on a 1,000 point scale. Dakota. Mississippi was the lowest-performing state in both math and science. In math, Mississippi students’ Eighth graders who also took the exam are not doing any achievement was comparable to those of peers in Bulgaria better. Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, England, and Moldova. In science, Mississippi students were Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovenia, Hong Kong and Russia comparable to those in Norway and Romania. all topped U.S. eighth graders in science. The average U.S. score was a 520 on a 1,000 point scale, down almost 20 points from fourth grade. Eighth graders also fell behind all of these countries except the Czech Republic and Slovenia Part 7: Socioeconomic in math scores, with an average score of 508. Taiwan led Influences math with an average score of 598. Francis Eberle, executive director of the Arlington County-based National Science Including Minorities Teachers Association said, “We need to pay attention to the results. We’re just static, and other countries are improving.” The Project Demonstrating Excellence (PDE) conducted a social action project which studied the achievement gap An article from The Science Daily in August 1998, suggests between minority and non-minority students in the United that in general, American students are showing a drop in States. The research shows that fewer minority students international rankings in math and science between the were enrolled in higher-level math and science courses than fourth and eight grades – educators are calling this period of non-minority students. It was also noted in the research time a “slump.” Dr. Gerald K LeTendre, assistant professor of study that 42.8 percent of minority and 61.5 percent of non- education at Penn State said, “Our studies indicate that this minority students were enrolled in at least one advanced is not really a slump, but simply a continuation of low gains placement math or science course. Students and teachers from year to year.” were surveyed and asked questions based upon three specific 20
  21. 21. education related issues: 1. Disparity in academic motivation of students to participate in after-school STEM; 2. Whether Benefits to student participants in after-school programs teachers and school administrators saw a need for STEM include: after-school enrichment; and 3. Developing STEM after- • Exposure and experience in hands-on real life school programs that were centered on problem applications of math, reading, writing and science taught solving and higher order thinking skills to develop students’ in the classroom. interest in STEM careers. • Improved student assessment scores. • Improved student attendance at school. The results spurred a non-profit program based out of • Improved student conduct and self-discipline. Houston, Texas called C-STEM (communication, science, • Development of good citizenship and study skills in technology, engineering and math), an after-school program motivated students. that assisted schools with reducing achievement gaps in the • Higher graduation rate from high school and college in STEM courses. It is believed that this program can address STEM fields. the management, research and implementation of quality Incentive-based scholarships and internships for students hands-on enrichment activities that will increase the number taking higher level math and science courses can also serve of students interested in pursuing careers in STEM fields. as a motivator for participation. 2.4 percent of Hispanics and 2.7 percent of African Americans hold science and engineering degrees in Relating the Real World to Science the United States. These groups represent the largest academic achievement gap in math and science. If properly According to C.R. Barman, author of Students’ Views About implemented and maintained, STEM enrichment programs Scientists and School Science, says that students view can reduce this gap. C-STEM provided information on science, as well as other subjects in their schools, as separate the perceptions of the 30 participants before and after the domains of knowledge that are not personally applicable to C-STEM program over a one-year period. The sampling them. They have difficulty connecting science to their own frame was 47 percent minority and 43 percent non-minority. lives, so this has ultimately led to a decline in good attitudes It was noted that getting children interested in STEM towards science. Because of this, there is a lower interest in courses begins with early childhood development. Not only careers related to science. In a study conducted to examine does it come from homes, but it also comes from role models the impact of a 10-day informal learning immersion science and mentors with whom children can identify. camp on low-socioeconomic status, seventh grade students and teachers visited places that affected their daily lives During the one-year C-STEM program, the students were such as a sewage treatment facility, zoo, planetarium, forest surveyed every week. Surveys found that two out of three and power plant. By the end of the camp the results showed students who have gone through STEM programs want to that both teachers and students were positively impacted by return to the program as a mentor after graduation and that their experiences at the camp. While at these sites, students one out of two indicated the likelihood of pursuing STEM were engaged in activities that supported science concepts careers at the post-secondary level. important to how those facilities functioned. The students’ 21
  22. 22. content knowledge was enhanced and expanded. A commonly used strategy that incorporates goals of connecting school and real world science is through informal learning experiences during on-site visits. Sorrentino and Bell (1970) summarized this literature, and found five common “attributed values” teachers had for taking students on site visits. They claimed these values were “1. providing first-hand experience; 2. stimulating interest and motivation in science; 3. giving meaning to learning and interrelationships; 4. enhancing observation and perception skills; and 5. increasing personal development.” When students were given free time during the on-site visits, they engaged in content-related conversations. The tape recorders that the children had to wear revealed that they were conducting learning-related conversations more than 80 percent of the time. Based on the Fennema-Sherman subscale of science anxiety, students reported significantly less science anxiety after participating in the summer camp. Students also reported significantly more in their ability to do science. 22
  23. 23. PrimAry ReseArch 23
  24. 24. Primary Research Part 1: Surveys Primary research conducted for the Coalition is separated Launch Pad Communications used the class-created survey into three parts: surveys, a focus group, and one-on-one of former space campers and collected data from other interviews. demographics to expand its reach. Since the majority of the space campers who responded were in high school, we The survey was conducted between March 3 and March 13, also extended the survey to seven college students studying 2010, under the auspices of the Kansas Cosmosphere and engineering and three elementary school students, in Space Center (KCSC). Students enrolled in the Strategic addition to their interviews. Communication Campaigns course at the University of Kansas generated questions for the survey on behalf of the The survey showed that all ages chose television or computer Coalition for Space Exploration. KCSC e-mailed a link to with Internet use as their most-used medium. YouTube an online survey to 1,242 former Space Camp participants. is the most popular networking site and all ages were in Two hundred seventy-nine e-mail accounts were invalid and agreement that parents influence their interests in school 411 of e-mails were opened. Twenty-eight students and one and education. Differences became apparent in television professor from Strategic Communications Campaigns were channel choices. Each respondent had different choices also invited to participate. The survey response rate was just than the next. However, similar demographics noted over 10 percent. Launch Pad Communications supplemented similar regularly watched channels: elementary students the online survey by administering it to seven engineering watched Nickelodeon, Teen Nick and the Disney Channel; students (four males, three females) and three elementary Space Campers watched the Discovery Channel and the students (two males, one female). History Channel; and engineering students had no common channels with one another. We noticed that surveyed older The focus group was conducted March 2, 2010, at Spahr students (Space Campers and engineering students) all used Library at the University of Kansas and consisted of eight Facebook, whereas only one of the elementary students did. engineering students ages 21 to 27. There were seven male Elementary students had little to no interest in a career in and one female participant. The focus group was videotaped math, science or space exploration; however, the majority of and transcribed. Out of the eight participants, there were the Space Campers and college students did. An interesting three mechanical, two petroleum, two chemical and one similarity was the parents’ interest in space exploration. In architectural engineering student. the engineering group, all except one person said they either agreed or strongly agreed that their parents were interested Eight one-on-one interviews with STEM majors from in space. In the Space Camper group, more than 50 percent the University of Kansas were conducted, including six agreed to this as well. This data indicates that parental aerospace engineering students, one electrical engineering influence is an important insight into what makes a child student and one physics major. Launch Pad Communications pursue a career in the STEM education field. also conducted informal interviews with three teachers from three different cities and school socioeconomic statuses as well as the program director of Science City in Kansas City. 24
  25. 25. Social Media Use 80 70 60 50 Males Percent of Survey 40 Respondents Fem ales 30 20 10 0 Facebook Twitter MySpace YouTube Blogs Other Type of Social Media 25
  26. 26. Most Watched Television Channels 90 80 70 60 Watch Occasionally 50 Watch Percent of Survey Regularly Respondents 40 30 20 10 0 Discovery ABC CBS Fox History NBC Comedy TNT ABC TBS Channel Channel Central Family Television Channel 26
  27. 27. "I admire Astronauts" Strongly Agree 60% Agree 36% Disagree 1% No Opinion 3% 27
  28. 28. "I Am Interested in Space Exploration" Disagree No Opinion 2% 5% Agree Strongly Agree 39% 55% 28
  29. 29. Part 2: Focus Group All participants agreed that parental influence on education is important and each of them was taught this at home. Each person had a story to tell about his or her family’s way of While some focus group responses were predictable based pushing education at home and it showed a good reason for on secondary research, Launch Pad Communications also why they are so dedicated in their schoolwork. uncovered new data. Focus group respondents explained that “engineering really runs life… all fields of engineering For leisure activities, although they have little time, all work hand-in-hand to make human beings work.” Basically, respondents use Facebook and many of them play sports or engineers problem solve. When asked to give an example exercise to relieve stress or unwind. of a universal problem they would typically work on, they explained that the only thing that they have in common with All of the participants agree that we need to focus on one another is “solving balances.” Every participant agreed our problems on Earth before spending money on space that in order to survive in the engineering program, you have travel. They all agreed space was “cool,” but also felt the to enjoy problem solving and must like math. They explained “it doesn’t concern me” attitude toward space exploration. how they have to work together to solve problems because The participants made good points about space not being a if they didn’t they would not be able to get the right answer. tangible resource that can be seen. All that participants see One participant admitted, “If you have a good study group, is our money being spent but little return. This heightens the you learn better, otherwise you won’t pass the test.” suspicion that the Coalition for Space Exploration needs to educate people about everything that space has and can do When asked what they felt was the most challenging for our society in the future. part about this field, all respondents stressed how time consuming it was. They felt that it might be making them miss out on something in school, but all agreed it was worth it in the end to continue in their major. Most agreed that Part 3: One-on-One Interviews money and the rewarding feeling of creating something beneficial for society keeps them going when it gets really University Students tough. Some personality traits that the participants noticed as common are “hands-on people” and “nerdy kids.” When All but in one interview, participants used Facebook asked about their high school activities and clubs, most regularly and all have a passion for science, math or both. participated in academic-type programs but some were All students said they participate in extracurricular activities embarrassed about it at the time of participation. They related to the engineering field and 25 percent were involved also made the impression that in high school “nerdy” had in STEM-related activities in elementary or middle school. a negative connotation but now is something they accept Seventy-five percent said they play sports or video games and enjoy. One participant noted that 97 percent of high during leisure time. When asked what the greatest part of school students don’t know that engineers are modern day being a STEM major is, 75 percent of interviewees said the inventors, which shows that most students are unaware and best part of the field is the challenges they face daily or the uneducated about engineering. hands-on experience. Fifty percent of respondents have family members in this field and believed that it played a 29
  30. 30. role in where they are now. One hundred percent of the When asked about the social atmosphere and if there was participants supported space exploration and want to see a problem with bullying, specifically for smarter students, more of it in the future. They all made it clear how much Bohlin’s answer was very interesting: Earth benefits from space exploration. Finally, 75 percent said they would like to pursue a career in the space industry. There is a sense of pride here to get good grades. Getting good grades isn’t seen as a bad thing. It’s cool to be smart… I don’t hear about people getting bullied for being smart. Maggie Bohlin: Special Education Teacher Instead, I hear about people getting bullied for being dumb. Maggie Bohlin is a Special Education teacher at Jordan She goes on to say, “It might be because teachers and the Community School in Chicago, Illinois. She teaches fourth, adults praise students for getting good grades, a lot of fifth and sixth graders. Jordan Community School is an positive reinforcement.” Bohlin compared her experience in inner-city school in Chicago. working in an inner city public school in Chicago with her student teaching experience in a wealthier suburb in Dayton, Bohlin described the school’s mission to have a curriculum Ohio. She said, “I think it has a lot to do with the way these that is enriched in science and math. She explained how the kids have been raised. When I was in Dayton, it was cool teachers use a lot of hands-on approaches to learning, like to not get good grades. Failing was seen as not caring; not lab experiments. She continually mentioned a school-wide caring was seen as cool. The suburban students cared about computer program called Study Island, which is very popular who you were dating and what you were wearing to school, and effective among students. like a persons ‘status.’ The inner city students wear uniforms to school and have other things to worry about.” Although many of the students don’t have access to computers at home, they enjoy listening to music and When asked her opinion on why some students don’t watching television. Many of Bohlin’s students enjoy typically like subjects like science, math, engineering and listening to a popular Chicago Hip-Hop and R&B radio technology, Bohlin stated the lack of interest is due to a lack station and artists like Lil Wayne. She also said that of opportunity to learn about the subject. She even uses television stations like Disney and Nickelodeon were very herself as an example: “To this very day I have no idea what popular, especially shows like iCarly and Hannah Montana chemical engineers do.” In terms of motivating students for girls. Many boys like Family Guy and wrestling shows to get good grades, Bohlin says the best method is to keep like WWE. Bohlin indicated that the school was lacking most the students engaged in the subject by having a fun project, after school sports except basketball. However, the school presentation or field trip at the end of the unit. If students does have a lot of after-school clubs. One club that stood know there is a reward, besides good grades, they are more out was the “S.W.A.T club, Students Working to Advance likely to work hard. Also, students will be more engaged if Technology, where students work with teachers and fix the learning is hands-on and interactive, rather than just computers that other students use.” pencil and paper. She again stressed the importance of providing students with the opportunity to learn all subjects in an engaging manner. “I feel that if they truly do learn 30
  31. 31. about something, they will become more interested in it. If of their time playing video games, playing online games you know more knowledge on a subject, you will like it. If or watching television. The Wii video games are the most you know nothing about a subject, you will put your head popular in her class, and RuneScape has been a popular down.” online game also. As far as television channels, Nickelodeon is the current favorite. Hays said the show iCarly is talked about daily. Debbie Hays: Fifth Grade Teacher When asked about bullying in her school, Hays said it was Debbie Hays is a fifth grade teacher at Andrews Elementary not a problem. In her school, being more intelligent is seen in Plano, Texas. She teaches science, social studies and in a positive light. Although, she said that you can tell the reading. Andrews Elementary is located in a suburban area gifted kids from the other kids; there is not much bullying of high socioeconomic status. at Andrews. One observation Hays thinks makes a huge difference at her school is the parents. She said the parents When asked about the school’s curriculum for science, are very involved and concerned with their kids during technology, engineering and math, she spoke about how school. Hays mentioned that last year 250 kids were tested the teachers use hands-on techniques to get the students for the gifted program because “everyone wants their child to involved and excited. Hays mentioned they also have a gifted be gifted.” program that students can test into each year. It is a creative learning program that travels to other schools once a week In Hays’ opinion, most students at her school show interest to work with other students. She also mentioned that using in these STEM-related subjects because about 50 percent technology (eight computers in her classroom) has recently of her students’ parents are engineers or in a similar field. become a big part of the curriculum because kids respond Even though that is the case, Hays said she believes kids do well to technology. Aside from in-school tactics, the school not realize how important STEM subjects are for the future offers many extracurricular programs. For example, the of society. If other students were more knowledgeable or environmental club teaches kids about recycling and how educated about the engineering field, she said the interest to create things that are helpful to the environment. Hays would rise. mentioned how the members of this club recently created a butterfly garden out of recycled materials. Other options for her students are Math Olympiad and an overnight Science Cari Davis: Seventh Grade Teacher Camp at Andrews Elementary. She explained how excited the students get for this and how much they learn in a fun Cari Davis is a seventh grade teacher at John Adams Middle environment. School in Albuquerque, New Mexico. John Adams Middle School is an inner-city school in a low socioeconomic area Hays mentioned that 90 percent of her students have with about 90 percent of students on free or reduced lunch. computers or computer access at home, 60-70 percent have cell phones, 80 percent have Wiis and about 15 percent When asked about the schools curriculum for subjects use Facebook. She explained that her students spend most relating to STEM, Davis explains the Math Strategies 31
  32. 32. class. This class is held daily for 45 minutes specifically Davis feels that the parents at her school are a major reason for students who are below their grade level in math. She many of the students do not do well. She said the parents thinks it is a positive thing for the students who need extra either do not know how to support them in education or are help and attention in order to grasp topics in math. Davis not around to do it. At John Adams, most of the parents did also explains the advanced classes that are available to not attend a college or higher level institute and therefore students in all subjects. Although only 10 to 15 percent of do not expose their children to the possibilities. This is one students qualify for these classes, she believes it is a good main reason why she thinks many students do not care about program. At John Adams they also have Gifted Science subjects in STEM. If their parents have no reason to care classes, which many of the students view as an honor. The about these topics, they usually instill those feelings in their final program she explains is MESA: Math, Engineering children. Davis had an interesting theory that students make and Science Achievement, which is only for eighth graders up their mind in third or fourth grade whether or not they at John Adams. This is targeted for students who have are good at math and science. After that decision is made, disadvantages in learning and focus on helping them to excel they either enjoy it or give up on it altogether. in math and science in the classroom. Davis said her most effective teaching method has been interactive whiteboards. The final question to Davis was, “What encourages her She explains that the students respond well to hands-on students to get good grades and succeed?” She believes that learning tactics. She believes technology is one of the most when the students can relate to, or enjoy something, they are effective ways to reach her students. In her school, students more motivated to do well. Recently, Davis said her students received clickers for two classrooms. Davis thinks clickers have been studying endangered animals and she noticed are attractive to students because the data is created almost that many students who are animal lovers have been scoring immediately and they can visualize what they are learning. higher on assignments. “Many of the students go to the community center after Davis claimed that even though it is a challenge to get these school,” Davis said. At the community center they have the students’ attention, when she succeeds at it, it is rewarding. opportunity to play sports, different types of games, arts She believes that as long as you can get the students to care and crafts and other activities with other students. Davis about something, they will want to learn more about it. said she thinks most of the students spend a lot of time at the center. She said about 60 to 70 percent have Internet access at home; however, they spend most of their time at home watching television or playing video games. She also Chris Alexander: STEM Professional mentioned PlayStation as the most popular console. Chris Alexander is the Vice President of Finance and As far as bullying, Davis said that it wasn’t a problem for Administration for the FNA Group. FNA Group is a the smart students. However, “They do get teased a little bit worldwide manufacturing company based in Chicago. and they definitely stand out.” She feels that there is not a Alexander graduated from the University of Iowa with negative connotation to getting good grades. It seems more a degree in mechanical engineering, emphasis on like a jealousy for the other students. manufacturing and materials with a minor in business and math. 32
  33. 33. Alexander discovered in high school his love for problem of exposure to the subject. He found that many students see solving and science courses. Alexander’s father owned college as a place to simply get a degree. a manufacturing plant and he credits his father’s plant for giving him the opportunity to explore his interest in “People can get excited about space, but I feel that it doesn’t engineering before going to college. have a lot of presence in schools or after school clubs. Not enough people are drawn to it early on (middle school/high “I loved applying everything I learned with my hands,” school) and when they get to college they think, ‘I need to Alexander said. “Growing up with access to the complete these classes and graduate.’ I feel like most kids manufacturing plant, I got to break apart the motors and graduate with something generic because they feel like look inside the engine. As you keep learning, you get more college is just another step in the process.” curious and want to explore it more. For students, or anyone really, to really understand what an engineer does, you need When asked about going to the moon, Alexander didn’t to have some sort of experience prior to studying it.” believe it was important because he didn’t know enough about it. Alexander noted that he was a straight-A student in high school. He had a lot of friends and played on the soccer team, When asked if he thought providing students with more even though he said he hated it. He doesn’t remember any access to clubs or information about space and technology of his high school friends enjoying similar subjects like math would be beneficial, Alexander gave a real life example that and science. In college, he noted that most of his friends he experienced that day of how smart students are and they weren’t in the engineering program either. He explained that don’t even know it. he needed, “a stable balance between engineering students and non engineering students.” Alexander didn’t consider “There’s a kid working at the hotel I am staying at. He’s himself ‘cool’ in high school or college, but he didn’t consider working the front desk and as I am checking-in he points himself a ‘dork’ either. to my Blackberry and starts talking nerd to me. He told me he programmed his Droid (smart phone) to turn on his In college, Alexander also discovered that he didn’t want to television. He starts to tell me this whole process and here I go into the engineering field as a profession. He explained am dumfounded. How did he just do that? He typed in some that his father influenced his decision to study engineering, code and created an application that changes the channel but not necessarily become a professional engineer. “My and turns down the volume on his television. Little does this father is a very successful entrepreneur and he knows that kid know, he has the ability to create the next Microsoft or having a powerful position is driven from an analytical something.” background.” Alexander’s father influenced him to pursue a unique education to gain insight that will help him later in Alexander explains how students don’t realize that their life, rather than simply becoming a professional. hobbies and past times are actually what professionals do. Students could make a career out of something they do for When asked about space exploration, Alexander believed a fun. reason that some students are not interested is due to a lack 33
  34. 34. “Kids in high school these days are smart. Smarter than me Science City is also fortunate enough to have a Challenger even, but they don’t realize it. Let me give you an example. Learning Center, which is an interactive space and science Take the iPhone or a laptop. There are kids in high school education center where groups work together to help send a creating specialty applications for the iPhone just for fun. successful mission to the moon or mars. The first Challenger They don’t realize that sitting behind their computer, Learning Center opened in 1988 as a living memorial to creating these games and features, is exactly what a the NASA Challenger crew and has since funded more computer engineer does.” than 50 centers in 31 states, as well as in Canada and the UK. Worldwide, each year more than 500,000 students participate in a Challenger Learning Center program. Jeff Rosenblatt: Director, Science City Rosenblatt said that all of its discovery area programs are Members of Launch Pad Communications visited Science equally popular among students and teachers. Science City City inside Union Station in Kansas City, Mo. on April 2, does provide educational materials for educators to use 2010. The Director of Science City, Jeff Rosenblatt, gave in preparing the students for the programs. However, he the group a tour of the facility and spoke candidly about the stressed that it doesn’t matter how skilled or knowledgeable success of its programs. the students are before attending a Science City program, because often the most responsive students are the most The first question we asked Rosenblatt was “What do the unexpected. For example, at-risk youth groups that students respond to the best?” His answer echoes our participate in the outreach programs seem to excel when previous research that activity-based learning is by far the given the responsibility and freedom to complete the best approach to teaching children science. Science City has discovery area tasks. created dozens of these activity-based learning programs in its Discovery Areas that schools, as well as the public, can In the summer, Science City hosts numerous week-long take children to explore. summer camps with themes such as “Space Exploration: Stars, Planets & Asteroids.” It offers community and Science City’s discovery areas, all of which focus on classroom outreach as well, where Science City’s professional STEM-related subjects, are led by staff members and are staff brings its interactive science demonstrations to schools supervised by teachers or parents. For example, in the Test and community events. Student groups, such as Girl Scout Kitchen, students learn about the science of food, and in and Boy Scout troops, can even hold overnight “camp-ins” at the Burns and McDonnell Engineerium, they can build and Science City and explore all night long. Most of Science City’s execute a robotics program. In the Planetarium, students business comes from word-of-mouth referrals and annual can experience a tour of the stars on the huge, 360-degree class field trips. Its marketing is mostly passive and in the screen. Science City also hosts group teambuilding activities form of a Web site and brochures. in its discovery areas that are appropriate for high school, college and adult groups. All of the discovery area programs last either one or two hours, depending on the age of the participants. 34
  35. 35. ReseArch SummAry 35
  36. 36. Summary of Key Findings Socioeconomic status also plays a part in education enthusiasm. Inner city students who received high grades were considered ‘cooler’ than those who didn’t. The opposite Launch Pad Communications uncovered many significant was true for suburban students, where failing was considered findings. The majority of seventh and eighth grade students not caring and not caring was viewed as cool. simply don’t care about math and science. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, one-fifth of Maggie Bohlin, a special education teacher in Chicago said eighth graders can’t perform basic math computations. that the best method is to keep the students engaged in the Many students don’t realize how math will help them in the subject is by having a fun project, presentation or field trip real world, so they give up on it. Because of this, scores are at the end of the unit. If students know there is a reward, down and there is a lack of knowledge in STEM curriculum. besides good grades, they are more likely to work hard. Also, Interestingly, it was found that there is a relationship students will be more engaged if the learning is hands on and between a student’s performance and his or her parents’ interactive, rather than pencil and paper. It is believed that if education background. Eighth grade students whose parents you can get the students to care about something, then they attended college or vocational school scored above the all will want to learn more about it. eighth grade average, while those whose parents had no more than a high school education scored significantly lower According to a study conducted in Houston, Texas, exposure than average. and experience in hands-on, real life applications of math, reading, writing and science leads to improved student Through our research, we discovered that the presence tests scores on knowledge tests, improves class attendance and influence of a parent or guardian is essential in the and encourages students to graduate from high school and amount of effort a child puts in to learning math and science. college in STEM fields. A 10-day informal study was done Debbie Hays, a fifth grade teacher from a suburban area with low-socioeconomic students that involved taking them of high socioeconomic status said that the parents are very to several on site locations such as the zoo, planetarium, involved and concerned with their kids during school. forest and power plant. Because the students were engaged Hays mentioned that last year 250 kids were tested for the in activities that supported science concepts that were gifted program because, “everyone wants their child to be important to how the facilities were run, their content gifted.” When we interviewed a Cari Davis, a teacher from knowledge was enhanced and expanded. It’s very important a low socioeconomic school, she agreed that the parents’ for students to be able to do interactive hands-on learning so involvement in their child’s education is key. Unfortunately, that they can relate science and math to the real world. They she has seen minimal parental involvement, which has will be able to retain more information and will enjoy the resulted in many of the students not succeeding in their subjects much more. courses. Davis said that the parents either do not know how to support their children or they simply aren’t around to do Finally, most people are unaware and uneducated about it. At the school Ms. Davis works for, most of the parents what engineering really is. During a focus group consisting of didn’t attend a college or a higher level institute so their engineering students, a participant noted that 97 percent of children aren’t as exposed to the possibilities. high school students don’t know that engineers are modern- 36
  37. 37. day inventors. The students in the focus group all agreed that you have to be a problem solver and like math in order to survive in the engineering world. It was also stated that money and the satisfaction of creating something beneficial for society are what mainly keep them motivated to continue down the engineering path. 37
  38. 38. Key Publics 38