An important component of the program was that each participant was given a female mentor, most of whom were Latina and African American college students studying engineering. The Girls Math and Technology Program placed a similar emphasis on female role models for middle school girls and also showed increased confidence in mathematics based on pre- and post-test data (DeHaven and Weist, 2003).

These studies also support the observation made in Chapter 2 and elsewhere that the strands must be understood as interrelated. For example, here the evidence indicates that interest (Strand 1) can be sustained over many years. At some point, a sustained interest in science is likely to change the ways in which individuals understand the concepts in a domain (Strand 2) and how they view themselves in relation to science (Strand 6).

Strand 2:
Understanding Scientific Knowledge

Several studies have examined students’ learning of science concepts and explanations by relying largely on academic outcome measures—test scores, grades, and graduation rates. One program exception is an evaluation of Kinetic City After School (Johnson, 2005). Kinetic City includes a variety of investigations, hands-on activities, and games, as well as an interactive website with science adventures, all organized to support particular standards drawn from the Benchmarks for Science Literacy (American Association for the Advancement of Science, 1993). The evaluation included a pre- and post-test based on the program’s learning goals, which included concepts pertaining to animal biology (e.g., classification and adaptation). Students also completed a creative writing activity that incorporated their understanding of the scientific concepts covered in the program. Mean scores for both components of the evaluation (pre/post-tests and the writing task) increased after completion of the program, suggesting that students acquire content knowledge through participation. Johnson also compared the effects on program participants who had access to an additional computer-based component of the program (the Kinetic City website) with those who did not. She found that the inclusion of the website component led to significantly greater positive impact on students’ science knowledge.

Three other programs—Gateway; Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement (MESA); and the Gervirtz Summer Academy—have shown positive effects using academic outcome measures. Gateway is an out-of-school-time mathematics and science program for high school students from nondominant groups. It includes an academic summer program and separate mathematics and science classes during the school day that involve only Gateway students (Campbell et al., 1998). The study of the impact of Gateway included a matched comparison group of students who were not in the program. It found that participants had better high school graduation rates, better SAT scores, and were more likely to complete high school

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