Masters Thesis

Science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) subject curriculum and activities development for the Taft College Mobile Science Center / by Joe McFaddin

The position of the United States as a global leader in science and technology is being undermined, not by out-competing nations, but by the waning development of domestic science talent (NSB 2002; NSB 2003). Even though demand for professionals in science fields will outpace many other career fields (Dohm and Schniper 2007; NSB 2010), there is a projected shortfall of educated professionals resulting from low enrollment in science-based college programs (NSB 2002) and the problem is further compounded by large numbers of science and engineering retirees in the coming decade (NSB 2002). Also, United States students have not exhibited the best performance in core science subjects when compared internationally (Gonzales et al. 2008; Baldi et al. 2007) and domestic programs have not produced consistent improvements in science proficiency (Rampey et al. 2009). Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) initiatives are increasingly becoming perceived as a remedy for promoting early development in STEM-fields and increasing student preparation for entrance into STEM-related degree programs. Upon receiving a large amount of federal and corporate sponsorship, the Taft College STEM Program was initiated in 2009 and began outreach and associated program development within the Taft College campus as well as at K12 schools in the College’s service area. The Mobile Science Center (MSC) was conceived as an innovative tool that would house a Mobile Mission Command Center for the Goldstone Apple Valley Radio Telescope (GAVRT). While physics-based curriculum was prepared for engaging students in the use of the GAVRT, additional curriculum was developed for promoting learning in other STEM-subjects. Two modules, Forensic Science and Alternative Energy, were developed for implementation in local K-12 programs. This paper highlights the development and implementation of STEM curriculum for the MSC and includes an assessment of the effectiveness of STEM curriculum implementation in two test groups from Lincoln Junior High School and Taft College. In general, initial results do not support an improvement in student performance as determined by pre-post test analysis (Taft College p=0.19; Lincoln Junior High School p=0.053); however, there were indicators that future implementation has a high potential to yield positive measurable outcomes. 1

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