“Being Me” (SPEA R25RR025132) was a program implemented in three District of Columbia Public Schools and two Prince George’s County Public Schools that engaged over 2500 students, teachers, school administrators, parents and family members through 21 school-based events and 13 in-person teacher trainings and workshops. We reached over 12,000 parents and community members through Family Learning Events (FLE) and school community-based events.
To date, 5 schools have utilized the curriculum over 200 hours with success reported by teacher’s and captured by an outside evaluator mandated by the NIH. The ambitious program and experimental model helped the project team develop concepts for a change in venue and approach. We learned that teacher terminations and the threat of school closure impacts the ability of principals to support external programs. Further, the demand to “teach to the test” is so critical to principal and school survival that our curriculum was easily moved to “supplementary.”
We conducted eight External Advisory Committee and 8 Internal Advisory Committee meetings and five Dr. Bear’s Cubs Summer Science Experience summer camps involving 78 students, most recently in June, 2014. Dr. Bear’s Summer Teacher Training Institute, a 5-day professional development program, has held four times for 30 teachers and STEM coordinators who provided feedback on the curriculum/activities. In summer 2013, we cross-walked the “Being Me” curriculum to both NGSS and CCSS standards with teachers and STEM coordinators from our three primary partner schools to reformat elements of the curriculum to match their individual school’s requirements and to utilize the modules within the context of activities/testing during the school year. Annually, we sponsored “Being Me” activities in the hospital’s atrium during Research Week where, in 2013, we engaged NIH Director Dr. G. Collins in an “art in the microscope” project prior to his keynote address. We successfully trained 18 high school volunteers as Mentors for Dr. Bear’s Cubs Summer Science Experience, several of whom returned as mentors for a second year; the majority of them are pursing science careers, supporting our concept of near peer mentorship and role modeling.
The “Being Me” team attended both the 2011 NBC4 Expo and 2 U.S. Science and Engineering Festivals (usasciencefestival.org) in 2012 and 2014 touching over 20,000 families (over 8,500 in FY 2014 alone) with “Being Me” materials. “Being Me” materials were used by the National Children’s Museum at its Museum Without Walls and Launch Zone sessions with over 10,000 visitors; an additional 8 FLEs outside of the school partner setting used “Being Me” materials as a focus. Results of these community outreach activities demonstrated that portions of each of the five curricula could be easily adapted to expand reach outside of the in-school environment to children who are demographically similar to those we will target with Discover SCIENCE.