Going Virtual: Reflections from Research and School Educators on Navigating Professional Development and STEM Club Opportunities

Amari Simpson, Lara Hebert, Luisa Maria Rosu, Meagan C. Pollock, Lynford Goddard, Tasha D. Henderson

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


Influencing the rates of women, African American, Hispanic/Latino, American Indian/Native American, and low-income persons in STEM occupations is an ongoing goal for various STEM fields. Catalyzing Inclusive STEM Experiences All Year Round (CISTEME365) is a multi-year project to increase these groups' participation in STEM majors and careers. Through content grounded in STEM equity and practices, we worked closely with middle/high school teachers, counselors, and administrators across the state of Illinois to 1) establish a network community, 2) design, extend, and implement informal STEM-learning clubs during the summer with hands-on, project-based engineering tasks, and 3) connect young people to engineering-based summer learning opportunities including industry exposure. In the face of the global pandemic, professional development opportunities for educators and informal learning experiences for students demanded new adjustments to content delivery unseen before. We discuss our leadership team's adjustments to online content delivery and school educator's efforts to create and sustain a virtual STEM club through reflexive practices. Specifically, we transitioned a 10-day, in-person professional development during the summer to a 5-day, blended professional development, where asynchronous and synchronous activities were led by CISTEME365 staff. Additionally, we adjusted our STEM equity and content materials for school educator's immediate use for the virtual-formatted school year. We developed our professional development practice around remaining flexible and accessible (via check-ins, discussion forums, email, and open office hours) to school educator participants. In collaboration with school educators, we discuss the challenges and promises of virtual content delivery. We offer insight into how to deliver the best both virtual professional development and informal STEM club opportunities for all students and educators going forward.

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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