STEM Academic Enrichment and Professional Development Programs for K-12 Urban Students and Teachers

STEM Academic Enrichment and Professional Development Programs for K-12 Urban Students and Teachers

Cecelia Wright Brown (University of Baltimore, USA) and Kevin A. Peters (Morgan State University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-2214-2.ch002


This chapter highlights exemplary STEM programs in an urban school district that can be replicated in K-12 schools. The programs were developed from partnerships established between Urban Higher Education Institutions (UHEIs) and K-12 students and teachers in an urban school district. The key criteria for the assessment of these programs, both quantitative and qualitative, were based on guidelines cited from the Building Engineering and Science Talent (BEST) Commission, the National Science Education Standards, and the National Science Resources Center: (a) challenging content/curriculum; (b) inquiry-based learning; (c) clearly defined outcomes and assessments; and (d) sustained commitment and support. The development of “real-world applications” promoted critical thinking skills and were linked to STEM state and national standards. Teachers were offered STEM professional development that enhanced their content knowledge and pedagogy. Each program case was independent of each other; therefore, they were not compared or contrasted.
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Setting The Stage

A review of academic achievement data of students from urban school report cards revealed that intervention programs would be helpful in improving the academic performance of individual students from targeted schools. Further, it was determined that providing quality professional development for STEM teachers would also assist in supporting students in mathematics and science. As a result, individual programs were designed to address the needs of urban K-12 targeted schools and students. The Huffington Post Education (2011), a three-year OECD Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) report compared the mathematics and science skills of 15-year-olds in 70 countries around the world and ranked the United States 17th for science and 25th for mathematics. This alarming report validates the need for all students in the U.S. to increase their skills levels in mathematics and science in order for the United States to become more competitive globally.

This chapter offers strategies for engaging pre-college students in urban school districts to pursue STEM research and careers. According to, “Planting the Seeds for a Diverse U.S. STEM Pipeline,” Bayer Corporation (2010), Dr. Mae Jamison, President, BioSentient Corporation stated that, “STEM education programs demonstrate the power and effectiveness of public-private partnerships to improve education and bolster student achievement.” Tables 1 and 2 describe teacher and student oriented programs discussed in this chapter.

Table 1.
STEM student-oriented programs
ProgramStudent NumberMajor ActivitiesDurationOutcome
Women In
Science and
15Academic Enrichment in STEM4 weeksPre-College Preparation
increase scores on State
standardized tests
Computer and
11Academic Enrichment in Mathematics and Computer Science6 weeksIncreased content knowledge in mathematics
Increased scores in
Mathematics and English
Mathematics-Science-Engineering Fairs200-150STEM Research Activities
during the Fall and Spring Academic Year
8-10 weeks during the public school academic yearIncreased research skills
Increased presentation and writing skills
Increased content knowledge in mathematics and science

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