Diversify STEM to change the world
Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) occupations are in high demand and continue to be among the fastest growing within the 21st century workforce across the US economy (BLS, 2017). And yet, despite comprising 27% of the US Population, only 11% of science and engineering jobs are held by Black, Latinx, and Native American workers (NSF, 2018).
The needs of this quickly evolving 21st century global workforce creates both an economic and social imperative to ensure students of color are equipped to engage in the STEM sector at parity with their peers.
Eliminating the barriers facing Black, Latinx, and Native American students who have the desire to enter STEM and computing professions has the potential to meet the projected demand for STEM workers in our future workforce, while broadening the economic opportunities of underrepresented communities of color. Moreover, by investing in youth of color to enter and persist in STEM and computing occupations, they develop the skills to engage in the modern workforce while being empowered to leverage their lived experiences to solve the most pressing problems facing society (Bobb, 2016).
What is SMASH’s role?
SMASH empowers our scholars to be agents of change through a three-year project-based learning program to critically analyze problems facing their communities and create STEM based solutions utilizing a design thinking framework.
Since 2013, the SMASH program has integrated computer science as a focal content area in order to increase scholars’ computing skills and knowledge. Over the course of the program, scholars participate in a 3-year sequenced project-based learning curriculum to increase their interest, engagement, and knowledge of computing content.
The Logic Model
The SMASH logic model outlines our approaches, short-term outcomes, and long-term outcomes the program aims to achieve.
SMASH measures short-term, medium-term, and long-term student outcomes. Short-term impact for each summer academy is measured by:
The most important aspect [of] SMASH was seeing other colleagues with similar aspirations as mine. Having mentors in the careers I was interested in and seeing my friends be as dedicated as me to get to our dreams was one of my main fuels growing up. Juntos podemos., Massachusetts Institute of Technology
SMASH has provided me with the faith and confidence to push through the hard times of college and remind myself that I belong where I am., University of California, Los Angeles
Participating in SMASH was the first time I saw myself reflected in my peers. It motivated me to go to college and to specific types of colleges. The positionality of SMASH within the larger context of communities of color in general and people of color in STEM motivated me to pursue social justice endeavors., Stanford University
SMASH alumni consistently perform higher than their peers and the national average on key post-secondary academic indicators. Our alumni programming provides coaching, networking, internships, and other supports that help SMASH alumni transition into college and the workforce.
Decades of social science research shows that students – especially underrepresented students of color – retain knowledge better when they can connect to what they learn and apply it to the world around them.
That’s why we piloted SMASH Rising a project-based internship program for our SMASH alumni who are rising first and second year college students. They gain early workplace exposure with industry leaders, and the industry taps the talent of our amazing young people. Alumni worked on projects including cryptocurrency, app development, and cancer research.
2018 SMASH Rising Partners
Download a PDF of this report here.
For more SMASH-based research, visit Research at the Kapor Center.