Skip to main content

Preparing Students for Middle School Through After-School STEM Activities

An Erratum to this article was published on 07 November 2016

Abstract

The middle school years are a crucial time for cultivating students’ interest in and preparedness for future STEM careers. However, not all middle school children are provided opportunities to engage, learn and achieve in STEM subject areas. Engineering, in particular, is neglected in these grades because it usually is not part of science or mathematics curricula. This study investigates the effectiveness of an engineering-integrated STEM curriculum designed for use in an after-school environment. The inquiry-based activities comprising the unit, Think Like an Astronaut, were intended to introduce students to STEM careers—specifically engineering and aerospace engineering—and enhance their skills and knowledge applicable related to typical middle school science objectives. Results of a field test with a diverse population of 5th grade students in nine schools revealed that Think Like an Astronaut lessons are appropriate for an after-school environment, and may potentially help increase students’ STEM-related content knowledge and skills.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

References

  1. Adelman C (2006) The toolbox revisited: paths to degree completion from high school through college. US Department of Education, Washington

    Google Scholar 

  2. After School Alliance (2009) America after 3 PM. Report funded by the JCPenney after school fund. http://www.afterschoolalliance.org/AA3PM.cfm

  3. Alspaugh JW (1998) Achievement loss associated with the transition to middle school and high school. J Educ Res 92(1):20–25

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Aspler R (2009) After-school programs for adolescents: a review of evaluation research. Adolescence 44(173):1–19

    Google Scholar 

  5. Augustine NR, Barrett C, Cassell G, Grasmick N, Holliday C, Hackson S, Murray C (2010) Rising above the gathering storm, revisited: Rapidly approaching category 5. National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, Institute of Medicine, Washington

    Google Scholar 

  6. Barmby P, Kind PM, Jones K (2008) Examining changing attitudes in secondary school science. Int J Sci Educ 30(8):1075–1093

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Brophy S, Klein S, Portsmore M, Rogers C (2008) Advancing engineering education in P-12 classrooms. J Eng Educ 97(3):369–387

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Carr RL, Bennett LD, Strobel J (2012) Engineering in the K-12 STEM standards of the 50 US States: an analysis of presence and extent. J Eng Educ 101(3):539–564

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Chandler J, Fontenot AD, Tate D (2011) Problems associated with a lack of cohesive policy in K-12 pre-college engineering. J Pre-College Eng Educ Res (J-PEER) 1(1):5

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Cook PJ, MacCoun R, Muschkin C, Vigdor J (2008) The negative impacts of starting middle school in sixth grade. J Policy Anal Manag 27(1):104–121

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Dabney KP, Tai RH, Almarode JT, Miller-Friedmann JL, Sonnert G, Sadler PM, Hazari Z (2012) Out-of-school time science activities and their association with career interest in STEM. Int J Sci Educ Part B 2(1):63–79

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Darling-Hammond L (2010) The flat world and education: How America’s commitment to equity will determine our future. Teachers College Press, New York

    Google Scholar 

  13. Darling-Hammond L, Sato M (2006) Keeping good science teachers: what science leaders can do. Teach Sci 21:177–196

    Google Scholar 

  14. Davies SC, Peltz LJ (2012) At-risk students in after-school programs: outcomes and recommendations. Princ Leader 13(2):12–16

    Google Scholar 

  15. Fitzmaurice GM, Laird NM, Ware JH (2004) Applied longitudinal analysis. Wiley, Hoboken

    Google Scholar 

  16. George R (2000) Measuring change in students’ attitudes toward science over time: an application of latent variable growth modeling. J Sci Educ Technol 9(3):213–225

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Goldhaber D, Lavery L, Theobald R (2015) Uneven playing field? Assessing the teacher quality gap between advantaged and disadvantaged students. Educ Res 44(5):293–307. doi:10.3102/0013189X15592622

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. Hannemann A (2007) Incubating innovation: Diversity efforts rejuvenate life science work force. Science 5(11). http://sciencecareers.sciencemag.org/career_magazine/previous_issues/articles/2007_05_11/science.opms.r0700033

  19. Katehi L, Pearson G, Feder M (2009) Engineering in K-12 education: understanding the status and improving the prospects. National Academies Press, Washington

    Google Scholar 

  20. Khadaroo S (2009) Wanted: more math and science teachers. ABC News. http://abcnews.go.com/US/Story?id=6565821&page=1

  21. Lane KL, Pierson MR, Givner CC (2003) Teacher expectations of student behavior: Which skills do elementary and secondary teachers deem necessary for success in the classroom? Educ Treat Child, 26(4):413–430

  22. Maltese AV, Tai RH (2011) Pipeline persistence: examining the association of educational experiences with earned degrees in STEM among US students. Sci Educ 95(5):877–907

    Article  Google Scholar 

  23. Moore TJ, Tank KM, Glancy AW, Kersten JA (2015) NGSS and the landscape of engineering in K-12 state science standards. J Res Sci Teach 52(3):296–318. doi:10.1002/tea.21199

    Article  Google Scholar 

  24. Museus SD, Palmer RT, Davis RJ, Maramba D (2011) Racial and ethnic minority students’ success in STEM education (ASHE Higher Education Report Vol. 36, No. 6). Jossey-Bass, Hoboken. doi:10.1002/aehe.3606

  25. National Middle School Association and National Association of Elementary School Principals (2002) Supporting students in their transition to middle school. A position paper jointly adopted by the national middle school association and national association of elementary school principals. www.nea.org/tools/16657.htm

  26. National Science Foundation (2012) Science and engineering indicators 2012. Arlington VA: National Science Foundation (NSB 12-01). Accessed online 2 August 2106, http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/seind12/pdf/seind12.pdf

  27. Newell A, Zientek L, Tharp B, Vogt G, Moreno N (2015) Students’ attitudes towards science as predictors of gains on student content knowledge: benefits of an after-school program. School Sci Math 115(5):216–225. doi:10.1111/ssm.12125

    Article  Google Scholar 

  28. NGSS Lead States (2013) Next generation science standards: for states, by states. National Academies Press, Washington DC

    Google Scholar 

  29. Owen SV, Toepperwein MA, Marshall CE, Lichtenstein MJ, Blalock CL, Liu Y, Grimes K (2008) Finding pearls: psychometric reevaluation of the Simpson-Troost Attitude Questionnaire (STAQ). Sci Educ 92:1076–1095. doi:10.1002/sce.20296

    Article  Google Scholar 

  30. Peterson K, Fix S (Eds.) (2007) After school advantage: powerful new learning opportunities. http://www.statewideafter schoolnetworks.net/after school-advantage-powerful-new-learning-opportunities

  31. Schweingruber H, Keller T, Quinn H (eds) (2012) A framework for K-12 science education: practices, crosscutting concepts, and core ideas. National Academies Press, Washington

    Google Scholar 

  32. Snijders TA, Bosker RJ (2012) Multilevel analysis: an introduction to basic and advanced multilevel modeling. Sage Publications Inc, Thousand Oaks

    Google Scholar 

  33. Tai R, Liu C, Maltese A, Fan X (2006) Planning early for careers in science. Science 312:1143–1144. doi:10.1126/science.1128690

    Article  Google Scholar 

  34. Turner S, Ireson G (2010) Fifteen pupils’ positive approach to primary school science: When does it decline? Educ Stud 36:119–141. doi:10.1080/0305569090314

    Article  Google Scholar 

  35. Van Overschelde JP (2013) Project lead the way students more prepared for higher education. Am J Eng Educ (AJEE) 4(1):1–12

    Article  Google Scholar 

  36. Vedder-Weiss D, Fortus D (2011) Adolescents’ declining motivation to learn science: inevitable or not? J Res Sci Teach 48(2):199–216

    Article  Google Scholar 

  37. Wiggins GP, McTighe J (2005) Understanding by design, 2nd edn. ASCD, Alexandria

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgements

The authors express their gratitude to two anonymous reviewers, guest editor Parker and Mr. James Denk for providing careful and thoughtful guidance. Work reprinted here was supported partially by grant number DRL1028771 from the National Science Foundation. This work was conducted under Human Subjects Research Protocol 14-27402, approved by the Institutional Review Board, Baylor College of Medicine.

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Alana D. Newell.

Additional information

An erratum to this article is available at http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10956-016-9669-6.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Moreno, N.P., Tharp, B.Z., Vogt, G. et al. Preparing Students for Middle School Through After-School STEM Activities. J Sci Educ Technol 25, 889–897 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10956-016-9643-3

Download citation

Keywords

  • STEM
  • After school
  • Engineering education
  • Middle school preparedness