Access to “Out of School” learning experiences can play a prominent role in introducing low-income students to STEM projects and leading them down a pathway to a STEM career. Out of school programs, such as summer camps and afterschool activities, encourage alternative ways of learning complex material related to math and science (National Research Council, Learning Science in Informal Environments, 2009). 

However, many low-income youth do not take part in summer day camps. More than 3,000 of the 6,200 households receiving housing assistance through the housing choice voucher program (HCV) are led by low-income single parents. Although many of these families may be eligible for some assistance from the Montgomery County Department of Recreation, funding is limited. There is not enough of assistance to meet the high demand for financial help with summer camp registrations.

Community Partners, Inc. in collaboration with HOC, brings STEM activities in robotics to 60 low-income youth during two-week day camps in the summer.

At three HOC subsidized housing communities, the STEM Summer Day Camp Program offers robotics to students from grades 1-8. The program runs four hours a day, five days a week for two weeks. Teachers with specialties in STEM conduct hands-on activities following the LEGO®  robotics curricula. Participants work in pairs with their own robotics kit. On Friday of each camp week, participants travel to the Maryland Science Center in Baltimore and the National Building Museum in Washington DC for hands-on activities and special exhibits to see STEM in action.

The Lego Robotics program combines many of the indicators of the Common Core Curriculum. This support is a tool to narrow the achievement gap for low-income students.

In the summer of 2017 Community Partners conducted the STEM summer day camp at five subsidized housing apartment communities. Each location ran the camp four hours per day, five days a week, for two weeks. Using the LEGO robotics curricula, STEM instructors introduced the children to elementary programming and robot construction.

In total, 90 children attended the program.

The kids showed enthusiasm to learn the concepts of robotics, using math, physics and computer programming.

Attendance was greater than 95%.

The participants reported in the post-survey the following results:

  • 100% successfully built a functional robot (target: 100%) 
  • 83% reported an increased interest in science and math (target: 80%) 
  • 59% reported an intention to enroll in more STEM afterschool activities (target: 60%). Registrations in our after school programs confirm this.