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CT Challenges Profile

Integrating Computational Thinking into a Minority Girls Program on Global Challenges


As computing has become integral to the practice of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), the STEM+Computing program seeks to address emerging challenges in computational STEM areas through applied research on the integration of computational thinking (CT) and computing activities within STEM teaching and learning in early childhood education through high school. This specific project is a program for minority girls and is an Exploratory Integration STEM+C endeavor to implement and test the integration of computational thinking in an extant research-based science program for low income minority girls. The extant program is Exploring Global Challenges, which will be adapted for the integration of computational thinking in its curriculum and activities. This integrative education approach is considered an inspiring, motivating, and rigorous context for bolstering minority girls' science and computational abilities. The project will afford an opportunity to conduct research about the potential for urban education in an out-of-school programs to be a leverage points for altering students' career intentions and preparation for STEM and computationally intensive careers. This is a collaborative effort among Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville, the iBIO Institute EDUCATE Center, and the East St. Louis Christian Activity Center.
This project builds upon an extant research-based STEM program, Global Challenges and the iBIO Institute EDUCATE Center's Stellar Girls curriculum. Working with underserved third and fourth grade girls from East St. Louis, IL, the project will select one, 40-student cohort, to progress through a two-year program. Support from a team of experienced educators and students will explore global science and societal challenges that require students to find solutions for real-world, global issues while applying STEM and computational skills. Participating girls will engage in this curriculum for 10-weeks, three hours per week, and academic sessions, for four sessions over the course of two years. The project fills a gap in the literature by advancing our understanding of integrated STEM and CT curriculum as a means to foster greater knowledge and interest in science, CT, and computer sciences among urban minority girls who do not receive computer science education in their schools. Iterative design cycles integrating the voices of the girls will reveal emerging design principles that may be applied in other CT-integration initiatives. Through mixed methods research, the project will evaluate participant perceptions of the newly designed CT-integrated curriculum, as well as STEM and CT knowledge skills acquisition.