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Paper: Improving the Pipeline of Women in STEM Fields: Addressing Challenges in Instruction, Engagement, and Evaluation of an Aerospace Workshop Series for Girl Scouts
Volume: 457, Connecting People to Science
Page: 171
Authors: Sealfon, C. D.; Plummer, J. D.
Abstract: The Women in Aerospace and Technology Project (WATP) is a collaborative effort between the Girl Scouts of Eastern Pennsylvania, the American Helicopter Museum, Boeing Rotorcraft, Sikorsky Global Helicopters, Drexel University, West Chester University, and Arcadia University. The program aims to increase the representation of women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) fields; the evaluation team identified a secondary goal to assess growth in participants' understanding of scientific inquiry. Girls, grades 4–12, were invited to join Girl Scout troops formed at the American Helicopter Museum to participate in a series of eight workshops on the physics and engineering of flight. Five college women majoring in physics and engineering were recruited as mentors for the girls. Lessons were written by local aerospace industry partners (including Boeing and Sikorsky); the mentors then taught the lessons and activities during the workshops. To evaluate the impact of this project, we collected data to answer two research questions: 1) In what ways does the program impact participants' attitudes towards science and interest in pursuing science as a career? 2) In what ways does the program impact participants' understanding of the nature of scientific inquiry? In this article we summarize results from two sources of data: before and after survey of attitudes about science and end-of-workshop informal questionnaires. Across the seven months of data collection, two challenges became apparent. First, our assessment goals, focusing on scientific interest and inquiry, seemed misaligned with the workshop curricula, which emphasized engineering and design. Secondly, there was little connection among activities within workshops and across the program.
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