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Take Flight: Using Drones to Get Rural Middle School Girls Interested in STEM Careers

Photo of a young girl exploring the parts of a drone

Project Name
Using drone technology, communal motivation, and strength-based approaches to engage middle school female students from rural areas in STEM

Description

Take Flight is building awareness around STEM occupations for female students in middle school Science and CTE (Career and Technical Education) classrooms. It builds on changing the message. The Take Flight project emphasizes communal goals, and works to dispel the concept of who belongs in STEM, by broadening ideas around skills in multiple STEM disciplines. For female students in rural communities, this means shifting how conversations, careers and learning around STEM skills take place; challenging stereotypes and social constructs, and broadening the way rural students and educators view, talk about, and connect to STEM.

The Take Flight project has 3 main objectives:

  1. Change the message. To increase the motivation of female students to pursue STEM goals in rural communities, messages about STEM must be delivered in new ways to include communal goals, specifically those that are collaborative and/or altruistic.
  2. Use the disruptive and multidisciplinary mechanism of drones. Drones are not just disruptive. They have the multidisciplinary ability to reshape STEM industries by design and application. They lend themselves to breaking stereotypes and promoting communal goals and, thus, are the perfect “vehicle” for delivering a new message about STEM identity.
  3. Deliver the new message using strengths-based approaches. Learning contexts must be designed to engage female students, mitigate stereotype threat, and leverage students’ assets.

Take Flight will provide critical insights and much-needed research into effective strategies for supporting girls in exploring STEM careers and the role Universal Design for Learning can play in removing barriers and increasing access for a broad range of learners. UDL will be utilized in the design and implementation of the curriculum, the delivery of the materials and lessons, and the evaluation materials.

Timeline

2022–2026

Funder

NSF Innovative Technology Experiences for Students and Teachers (ITEST)

Partners

Maine Department of Education 
NH Department of Education 
Career & Technical Education Schools

Project Leadership

Amanda Bastoni, CAST (PI)
Jess Gropen, CAST (Co-PI)
Sam Johnston, CAST (Co-PI)
Eric Feldborg, former CTE State Director NH and STEM Education Consultant

Contact

For more information about this project, please contact Sarah Hocking.

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