Integrating Professional Mentorship with a 3D-Printing Curriculum to Help Rural Youth Forge STEM Career Connections.
Economically disadvantaged youth residing in mountain tourist communities represent an important and understudied rural population. These communities typically include a large percentage of children that are English language learners. Our NSF STEM Career Connections project, A Model for Preparing Economically-Disadvantaged Rural Youth for the Future STEM Workplace, investigates strategies that help middle school youth in these communities to envision a broader range of workforce opportunities, especially in STEM and computing careers. This poster highlights the initial findings of an innovative model that involves working with local schools and community partners to support the integration of local career contexts, engineering phenomena, 3D printing technologies, career connections, and mentorship into formal educational experiences to motivate and prepare rural youth for future STEM careers. We focus on select classrooms at two middle schools and describe the implementation of a novel 3D printing curriculum during the 2020-2021 school-year. Two STEM teachers implemented the five-week curriculum with approximately 300 students per quarter. To create a rich inquiry-driven learning environment, the curriculum uses an instructional design approach called storylining. This approach is intended to promote coherence, relevance, and meaning from the students’ perspectives by using students’ questions to drive investigations and lessons. Students worked towards answeringmore »