The Centers for New Directions were awarded funding to conduct nontraditional (NT) projects at the secondary and post secondary level. Each project was designed to recruit and/or retain students in nontraditional programs of study. A listing and description of these practices is provided below.
Center for New Directions-
Lewiston Lewis-Clark State College (LCSC)
In concert with Tech Prep, New Student Recruitment, and the Girls Scouts of Eastern Washington and Northern Idaho, the Center for New Directions at Lewis-Clark State College (LCSC) hosted two Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Conferences for regional middle school and high school students. The conference consisted of hands-on STEM exploration activities facilitated by LCSC faculty and student STEM role models. STEM exploration hands on stations included the following: six Natural Science stations, two Technical Industrial stations, one Business Technology station, and one Education station.
The first day of the two day STEM conference was developed and implemented in partnership with LCSC’s Tech Prep Program. Day one of the conference was attended by 110 Tech Prep high school students with an interested in STEM. Of these participating students 13 responded to the online survey. Of the 13 responses, 46.2% of those students felt that this conference had an important impact on expanding female students’ options in STEM related careers. Twenty-three percent of the same pool of students felt that this conference had a very important impact on expanding female students’ options in STEM related careers. Eighty-five percent of respondents reported awareness of STEM and nontraditional careers. Fifty four percent of respondents expressed interest in attending future STEM and or nontraditional conferences, events, camps, clubs, etc. Overall, students felt that this conference meet their overall expectations.
The second day of the two day STEM conference was developed and implemented in partnership with The Girls Scouts of Eastern Washington and Northern Idaho. The conference was attended by 28 girls ages 11 – 14. The conference titled, “…Expanding Your Horizons in Science and Mathematics™ nurture(s) girls’ interest in science and math courses to encourage them to consider careers in science, technology, engineering, and math.” Expanding Your Horizons Conferences are held in 35 states across the U.S.
Of the 28 girls that attended the conference, 22 participants submitted their questionnaires. Eighty-two percent of respondents reported feeling more confident about their ability to succeed in STEM careers. After the conference, respondents reported that they would consider taking more STEM courses in school; 64% of respondents would consider taking more science courses, 82% of respondents would consider taking more technology courses, 27% of respondents would consider taking more engineering courses, and 23% of respondents would consider taking more math courses. All-in-all, students reported having fun at the conference and eighty-two percent of respondents expressed an interest in attending the conference in the coming year.
The goal of these conferences is to help LCSC students develop STEM leadership skills and provide opportunities for current students in non-traditional occupations to become STEM role models. Faculty members in STEM related disciplines worked side-by-side with current nontraditional students to develop hands-on, experiential-based activities that provided prospective students the opportunity to explore STEM fields of study and career pathways.
Research supports that, “Women and Girls need to see female role models in the workplace that look like them—over and over and over again. They need to receive the message that women can work in STEM careers and be successful and fulfilled in their work life, while still having a personal life. And they need to receive this message repeatedly.” The LCSC STEM conference provided girls and boys with the opportunity to see role models in action that spark their interest to pursue nontraditional careers. Not only, did high school students get to meet and work alongside current LCSC students, but LCSC students worked with their own college instructors and “role models” to develop these hands on activities. This pilot project demonstrated potential and will likely be improved upon and implemented again in the coming year.