Increasing Interest and Awareness in STEM Programs

Saturday, 14 February 2015
Exhibit Hall (San Jose Convention Center)
Matthew E. Love, Wesley College, Dover, DE
Background: To coincide with National Chemistry Week, the Delaware American Chemical Society (DE-ACS) Section hosts a Family Science Adventure program at the Independence School, in Newark, DE. A goal of this program is to build awareness of chemistry at the local level. Every year, Wesley College STEM students participate in this event and they conduct a series of "fun" hands-on experiments that explain various chemical principles. Activities, geared toward grades K-6 children, were open from noon to 3, on November 1, 2014. This year, we surveyed the participants (both parents and children) before and after the event, to demonstrate any measureable increase in student interest after program participation. Methods:Responses to three survey questions designed to measure interest in science before and after the event were recorded on a 5-point Likert scale.  A Wilcoxon Signed-Rank test was performed on each of the three questions to test whether the difference between the expressed interest in science recorded on the surveys before and after the event was statistically significant.  A confidence interval of the proportion of students who indicated that they now have an increased interest in science after the event was also constructed.    Results: Based on student’s responses on the surveys we were able to identify a measurable and statistically significant change in interest towards science. Additionally, based on one of the questions related specifically to student interest we were able to verify a greater interests in science from the confidence interval. Conclusions: We show clear evidence that such STEM-related programs develop positive attitudes and perceptions towards STEM programs. The participating children gain confidence and become more persistent in their scientific knowledge and ability. Acknowledgements: This outreach program was supported by a National Science Foundation (NSF) Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (Delaware-EPSCoR) grant EPS-0814251 and an Institutional Development Award (IDeA) from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences of the National Institutes of Health under grant number 8 P20 GM103446-14. Mathew Love is graduate student in the MAT program at Wesley College.