Action Research Revelations: The Challenges and Promises of Implementing Informal STEM Experiences in K-12 School Settings (Work in Progress, Diversity)

Amari T. Simpson, Lara Hebert, Luisa Maria Rosu, Meagan C. Pollock, Lynford Goddard

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


We worked with K-12 school educators to improve their understanding and promote practices that purposely influence students' science, engineering, technology, and mathematics (STEM) interests and career trajectory. We also supported creating and implementing out-of-school STEM clubs that offer students inquiry-driven engineering design and other hands-on STEM experiences throughout the school year. As part of our larger project goals, we tasked a networked community of middle/high school teachers, counselors, and administrators to develop action research projects to improve STEM equity within their schools. We provide initial findings on school educators' experiences and perspectives implementing informal STEM learning within their schools through initial coding and analysis of document materials and transcripts. These materials reveal how unique school characteristics (i.e., support from multiple school educators, clear STEM club leadership roles, and intentional recruitment strategies) hinder or aid in successfully implementing informal STEM learning opportunities. With the COVID-19 pandemic unfolding, some school educators revealed the difficulty of setting up and transitioning their STEM club to a virtual format. Other school educators also remarked how shifts in their educator mindsets from our CISTEME365 STEM equity content led to reimagined instructional strategies that supported their students' STEM interests and awareness. Our study highlights the power of action research and a community of practice for implementing school-based, informal STEM opportunities. By exposing school educators to a broader set of STEM career pathways, emphasizing the field of engineering, our work aims to promote a pluralistic understanding of STEM career pathways for both K-12 educators and students.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
StatePublished - Jul 26 2021
Event2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference, ASEE 2021 - Virtual, Online
Duration: Jul 26 2021Jul 29 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Engineering


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