The first two summers (2013 & 2014) of Eastern North Carolina STEM (formerly Northampton Summer STEM Program) have been housed at Northampton County High School in Conway, North Carolina. Eastern North Carolina STEM was established in 2012 to increase the opportunity for promising students in underachieving districts to engage in STEM fields and to better prepare for rigorous college courses. For two consecutive summers, over 50 students have participated in project-based learning courses that aim to strengthen students’ problem solving, leadership, and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) content skills. We accomplish this by focusing on scholarship, leadership, and community engagement so that our students are able to better advocate for themselves and for the Eastern North Carolina community.
Eastern North Carolina STEM is a rigorous, student-centered program that immerses students in science, technology, engineering, and math courses in a facilitated and collaborative learning environment over the course of a free, three-week program. To date, students have been summatively assessed on their growth in content knowledge, attitudes towards STEM majors/careers, and growth mindset each summer. Students have made significant growth on all math, science, and technology assessment indicators. In addition, students completed 12 websites for local businesses, and the program’s attendance at community night doubled from 50 to well over 100 people between the first and second summers.
During the spring of 2014, the Directors of the Northampton Summer STEM Program were awarded the Teach For America Lindsay Budnick Award for Community Engagement and Impact, as well as the national Symantec Innovation in Teaching Award for their work on Eastern North Carolina STEM. During the summer of 2014, Governor Pat McCrory and NC Representative Leo Daughtry visited the STEM program to support its mission and activities.
This past summer (2015), ENC STEM co-directors, teachers, and teaching assistant interns (TAs) welcomed 71 Northampton County and KIPP Pride High School students to our two-week in-county STEM enrichment program at Gaston Middle School. Each day, students attended five 65-minute classes in the following subject areas: science, technology, math, and leadership development (there was a double block each day where students would have one subject area twice). On Thursday, June 18, 2015 students participated in an Interview Day planned by ENC co-directors and the Roanoke Rapids Chamber of Commerce. Then, students invited their family, their friends, and other community members to attend our third annual Community Night on Wednesday, June 24, 2015 where students led their guests through project-based problems, celebrated ENC STEM’s rising seniors, and demonstrated the program’s tradition of giving “shout outs.” On Saturday, June 27, 2015, ENC STEM staff members and 51 students took a field trip to the NC State Challenge Course in Raleigh, NC. This is the third year we have participated in this team-building experience that challenges students to try something beyond their usual comfort zones.
During the two weeks at Gaston Middle School, students also worked towards earning the opportunity to attend the residential program at the North Carolina School of Science and Math (NCSSM) in Durham, NC. In order to do so, students had to demonstrate perseverance, collaboration, professionalism, and on-task behavior. In the end, 48 students (24 from Northampton County High School and 24 from KIPP Pride High School) were offered spots at the NCSSM Accelerator part of ENC STEM. While at NCSSM, students participated in one of three week-long courses: 3-D printing, cloning, or forensic science. On Monday, June 29 and Tuesday, June 30, ENC STEM and Teach For America Eastern North Carolina co-hosted breakfasts for General Assembly Members, current Teach For America supporters, and other interested parties. At the end of the three weeks, students completed surveys for the NC Department of Public Instruction (NC DPI) and all students reported that they would recommend this program to a friend. In addition, all teachers and TAs completed reflections as well as feedback forms on the professional development opportunities they received. In fact, all staff members indicated that the professional development was both beneficial and relevant.