Computer monitors with code in background

Students Test Drive Careers in STEM

by Claire Miller

College of Education and Human Development faculty members Brendan Calandra, Maggie Renken and Jonathan Cohen have partnered with a team of graduate students, After-School All-Stars Atlanta (ASAS) and the Technology Association of Georgia’s Education Collaborative on the Acquainting Metro Atlanta Youth with STEM (AMAYS) project, which is funded by the National Science Foundation.

“The goal of AMAYS is to increase traditionally underserved and underrepresented middle school students’ interest in technology-focused STEM careers and to support their 21st century skill development,” Calandra said.

Teams of students at multiple middle school sites in the city of Atlanta will interact with each other face-to-face as part of the ASAS after-school enrichment program and via an interactive learning management system, which the project team is developing using a model at the intersection of game mechanics, informal learning and culturally relevant education. AMAYS students will participate in a series of team-based, hands-on information and communication technology (ICT) activities designed to help them develop not only ICT-specific skills via mobile app development and digital media production, but also 21st century skills, such as information literacy, collaboration and complex problem solving.

Over the course of the project, Calandra, Renken, Cohen and their team are examining AMAYS students’ knowledge, skills, and perceptions related to STEM/ICT and STEM/ICT careers.

The AMAYS team will run a one-school pilot implementation of the program at Martin Luther King Middle School beginning in the 2016-2017 school year before expanding to a full rollout of the AMAYS curriculum and interactive learning environment at up to eight more Atlanta-area middle school sites in the 2017-2018 school year.