To improve access, opportunity, and equity in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, the Level Playing Field Institute operates two STEM-focused Education Programs, conducts Research on STEM Equity, and recently launched a Computer Science Initiative.
The Summer Math and Science Honors Academy (SMASH), is a rigorous 5-week, 3-year summer STEM enrichment program for underrepresented high school students of color, which provides access to rigorous coursework, college preparation, and access to mentors, role models, and support networks of students of color.
The Saturday Math and Science Honors Preparatory Program (SMASH: Prep), is a year-round Saturday program for African American males in grades 6-8, which provides mathematics, computer science, and digital communications curriculum taught through a social justice lens, and prepares African American males with the interest, skills and experiences necessary to pursue STEM studies in high school and beyond.
The LPFI Research Agenda on STEM Equity and Opportunity focuses on examining inequity in access and opportunity for underrepresented students of color in K-12 STEM education, understanding social/psychological mechanisms impacting engagement and persistence in STEM, and assessing the effectiveness of STEM intervention programs for middle and high school students of color.Through our research we aim to improve outcomes for underrepresented students, particularly in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, from the classroom to the boardroom.
The Computer Science Initiative focuses on bringing computer science to students of color. Thanks to funding from the NSF CE21 grant program, LPFI will further develop the computer science course sequence within the SMASH program as well as develop a 6th to 12th grade CS pipeline model in an out-of-school context thereby providing paths to AP CS preparation. We are exploring partnerships with school districts and other mission-aligned organizations to impact more students in the field of computer science through projects such as the pilot CampCode program with the YMCA of the East Bay. We are also hosting two youth hackathons in the fall of 2013.
LPFI believes in the importance of linking direct service programs and research in order to understand the effectiveness of our interventions, inform the continual improvement of STEM programming, and expand the existing body of knowledge on improving outcomes for underrepresented students in STEM. Through these programs, we aim to move the needle on diversifying STEM fields.