This workshop was held in April 2019 at the STEM Learning Ecosystems Community of Practice Spring 2019 Convening.
Speakers: Kenneth Hill, Chicago Pre-College Science and Engineering Program, Inc.; LaTina Taylor, Chicago Pre-College Science and Engineering Program Inc. Crystal Gallegos, Parent, Chicago Pre-College Science and Engineering Program, Inc.; William Penn, Parent, Chicago Pre-College Science and Engineering Program, Inc.
The Chicago Pre-College Science and Engineering Program, ChiS&E, has a successful curriculum and strategy that has allowed the program to scale from its original location in Detroit. The program is free to parents, however their attendance is mandatory. Entrance is granted to all families interested and families must attend a registration and parent orientation session.
ChiS&E meets four Saturdays during the fall and four Saturdays during the Spring, starting with K-3 students and their family member or caregiver learning concepts alongside them.
Program lead LaTina Taylor explains what keeps families so engaged. “After every Saturday session, we ask students to reflect on what they learned and what their favorite part of the day was,” says Taylor. “A majority of the kids will say something like ‘My favorite part was learning with my mom or dad.’ If your child is writing something like that, families are going to continue to come to the program. In rain and snow storms, they come, because the kids are having a good time. We have them hooked.”
ChiS&E seeks to:
- Raise community awareness about the importance of science and math so that kids can be successful in both.
- Provide pathways to expose students and parents to possible STEM careers.
- Inspire passion.
- Equip families with resources and strategies to help their children succeed.
Workshop attendees inquired about how they might build and scale a program like this in their own community. Program leaders Taylor and Kenneth Hill recount a major success and growth of ChiS&E was due to word-of-mouth. Parents, teachers and students all served as strong advocates in the community to scale the program.
Additionally, Hill and Taylor stressed the need for high-quality curriculum must be high quality. With that in mind, the quality of the curriculum is secondary. The real success of ChiS&E is its ability to connect families with their kids in fun, friendly, and nurturing environments.
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