Through the Engineering STEM Identity initiative, approximately 2,300 students in ten rural and urban Maricopa County school districts will be immersed in environments that encourage interest in science, technology, engineering and math, known as the STEM fields. This immersion will encourage students to build their confidence and competence in these areas and boost their persistence in STEM education leading to future STEM careers.
STUDENT STEM IDENTITY
A STEM identity is the self-perception of competence with science, technology, engineering and math formed through experiences and recognition. Student experiences with STEM contribute to how they envision themselves interacting with or within the disciplines. Students need opportunities for recognition tied to their successes in STEM activities like peer-reviewed journals and applying engineering practices to solving problems on their campuses.
Most students decide before the end of middle school if they are interested in science, technology, engineering or math. Many students’ interest in STEM is hindered by a lack of role models, lack of confidence or the lack of being able to envision themselves in STEM careers, known as an overall lack of STEM identity.
A student’s STEM identity is influenced either positively or negatively by
social and economic status
experiences, whether successful or not, in STEM fields
an overall perception of STEM professionals as “cool” or “not cool”
Unfortunately, U.S. engineering firms face the risk of a shortage of talented engineers. To remedy this, developing STEM identities in school needs to be a priority in order to develop future leaders in those industries.
The strength of a student’s STEM identity correlates to that student’s persistence in the STEM fields. In other words, if students can picture themselves as scientists or engineers in the future, they are more likely to pursue those careers. If they do not see STEM as a part of their identities, they will likely ignore those college and career options. If students are immersed in a STEM culture explicitly focused on building STEM identities, student success in STEM disciplines will increase.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
If you are passionate about working in the STEM field, you can inspire future scientists and engineers by becoming a STEM role model for a Maricopa County school. Being a STEM role model allows students to see someone with a STEM identity more personally and to envision themselves working in STEM areas.
MCESA trains STEM professionals to become classroom STEM role models and matches them with a teacher and classroom to mentor. Classrooms work with your schedule and STEM role models do not even need to drive to the school to connect, thanks to online video technology. Learn more about becoming a STEM Professional Role Model
ESI MENTIONS and PUBLICATIONS
- "Developing Tomorrow’s STEM Professionals in Rural Arizona School" on the U.S. Department of Education i3 Community blog
- "Grantee Spotlight: Maricopa County Education Service Agency" on the U.S. Department of Education i3 Community blog
- White Paper on Engineering STEM Identity