Astronomy Week: An Investigation Of The Implementation And Identity Formation Of Participants
Our society has a great need for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) professionals and educational institutions are currently having difficulty keeping up with society's demand (Carnevale, 2011). Outreach efforts are a key strategy to encouraging young people to pursue STEM careers and evaluation methods need to be used to ensure that this outreach is efficient and effective in helping young students see themselves as a prospective STEM professionals (Moskal, 2011).
The purpose of this dissertation study was to investigate the implementation of an Astronomy Week supported by the Center for Mathematics and Science Education (CMSE) and its impact on student identity formation. Three classrooms implemented the CMSE Astronomy Week curriculum and accepted a visit from the Starlab mobile planetarium. Data consisted of field notes from classroom observations, interviews with students and teachers, the Draw a Scientist Test (DAST), and surveys from both teachers and students.
Results provide evidence that this outreach effort was a significant science event that helped change the stereotypical beliefs about scientists, especially in minority students. Drawings of scientists and written responses provided valuable insight into participants' identity formation and desires to pursue a career in science. Results also provide suggestions for improving the programmatic and curricular aspects of the outreach program. Teacher interviews and questionnaire responses were particularly valuable in the development of suggestions for improving the program.