Philadelphia’s youth are disconnected from STEM fields at an early age. According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress (https://www.nationsreportcard.gov/profiles/districtprofile), just 8% of Philadelphia’s 4th graders are proficient in science and only 15% are proficient in math. In the communities we serve, 2016 state tests showed even more dismal figures, with math proficiency rates under 10% at 13 out of 18 of our neighborhood elementary schools (http://www.education.pa.gov/data-and-statistics/PSSA).
Why It Matters
Recent reports from PEW Trusts suggest that engaging Philadelphia’s students in hands-on STEM education could drastically reduce the city’s deep-poverty rate. This because in technology driven world, the career opportunities in the STEM field are only growing. According to a Georgetown University Study, by 2020, 63 percent of jobs will require at least some college. (Georgetown Public Policy Institute, Job Growth and Education Requirements through 2020) This is especially true in Philadelphia where 36% of employment opportunities are in Education & Healthcare. (Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Employment Statistics) Although last year, 84 percent of teens attending our Clubs planned to go onto a 4-year college, across Philadelphia, only 25 percent of public-school-students enroll in college and only 10 percent earn a degree. (http://www.philly.com/philly/news/local/20100914_New_Phila__campaign_aims_to_increase _college_graduation_rate.html)
The Boys & Girls Club Model
Data from the National Youth Outcomes Survey indicates that 12th graders who participate in STEM programming at the Club are twice as likely to express interest in STEM careers as those not attending Club programs. (Boys & Girls Clubs of America, NYOI Survey 2017) Providing STEM programming through Boys & Girls Clubs is especially effective because the distinctive setting of our Clubs allows us to integrate STEM into all aspects of our youth development. Our STEM Learning Labs offer a variety of hands-on programs to help engage youth including:
STEM Mentoring Program: This nationally recognized program engages youth in science and technology exploration. Youth complete three units over the course of a year. Units include JR FLL robotics, Quickball Math, and the Endangered Species Adventure. We maintain a small group setting, ensuring that participants are able to benefit from individual attention and instruction.
DIY STEM is a hands-on, activity-based STEM curriculum which connects youth aged 9-12 to science themes they encounter regularly. Special attention is paid to connections of theory and application and the common interactions members have with these scientific principles. DIY STEM currently includes five modules: Energy and Electricity, Engineering Design, Food Chemistry, Science of Sports: Football.
First Lego League and Junior First Lego League: These robotics programs for youth ages 7 to 16 years old are designed to get children excited about science and technology - and teach them valuable employment and life skills. Last June, our Jr. FLL teams participated in an exhibition where each group had to design a creative solution that cities could use to overcome the impact of natural disasters.
Energizing Education is a hands-on program created by PECO, The Franklin Institute and The NEED Project that focuses on the science behind alternative energy sources and energy efficiency.
During the 2016-2017 program year, we implemented STEM Learning Lab programs at all of our Clubs. According to our local NYOI Survey results, 91% of our Club members enjoy learning new things in math and 65% would like to have a science or technology job in the future. Additionally, on average participants ended the school year with a 3.22 GPA in science showing a growth of .06 grade points and a 2.9 GPA in math showing growth of .02 grade points.