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Promoting STEM Interests and Careers through FAME (Families and Museums Exploring)

Project Team: PI-Gail Jones 

Sponsor: National Science Foundation

Project Total: $956,574


The goal of the 3-year project is to research and test a new model to promote the development of positive attitudes toward STEM and to increase interest in STEM careers with a focus on underserved students and their families.  The project is a partnership with Marbles Museum, the Morehead Planetarium and Science Center, and the NC Museum of Natural Sciences.  Phase 1 examines science capital and habitus for a representative sample of youth at three age ranges: 8-9, 9-10 and 11-12 years, measuring access that youth have to adults who engage in STEM careers and STEM leisure activities.  They will also document access to resources, prior experiences in out of school settings, identity, self efficacy, interests, and career aspirations in STEM. Phase II tests a model to enhance science capital and habitus for youth, offering exciting and motivating STEM related programs to youth and their families with the goal of making the experience sustained, informal, and engaging.  The goal is to create an environment where youth and their families see science and engineering as something they do for fun, where they feel supported and valued, while promoting STEM career awareness, science identity, and an interest in exploring science and engineering beyond the life of the project.

The project has the potential to change the STEM capital of underserved youth and their families (e.g., Latino/as, African American, and those from low wealth) resulting in a more positive identity with STEM, increasing interest in STEM, and increasing career aspirations in STEM careers for the participating youth. This systems approach to STEM career education has the potential to transform views of STEM for individuals, families (including influences on siblings), and the local communities. If successful, this project could be a national model to effectively engage youth in STEM careers.