Elementary Informal STEM Experiences and STEM Career Interest

Virtual Paper ID: 56252
  1. aaa
    Katherine Dabney
    Virginia Commonwealth University
  2. Kimberly Good
    Virginia Commonwealth University
  3. Gerhard Sonnert
    Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
  4. Philip Sadler
    Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics

Abstract: Outreach that encourages exposure to STEM activities as well as enrollment in STEM courses in middle school and above have grown in recent years. Unfortunately, support in the elementary school curriculum for programs in areas such as engineering remains not yet widely available. Thus, practitioners and researchers have recently begun to examine the influence of informal out-of-school-time (OST) STEM activities. This study examines the association of two informal OST engineering experiences in grades K-4 with informal OST STEM career interest in grades 5-8 through a logistical regression model and the evaluation of prototypical odds ratios. Our analysis addresses two specific types of experiences: tinkering with mechanical devices and tinkering with mechanical devices. Results indicate that participation in informal OST engineering experiences in grades K-4 significantly correlates with STEM career interest in grades 5-8. Our findings suggest that early informal OST engineering experiences could boost the probability of future STEM involvement.

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