Links to Publications on SMILE Programs

Research & Evaluation

Talamantes, Adam, 2020
Equity Strategies: Community Hosts and Design Thinking in a Middle School Summer Camp
NSTA/Connected Science Learning July - September 2020 (Volume 2, Issue 3)
Abstract: There is a growing need to document, assess, and evaluate strategies used to successfully engage historically underserved youth in equitable Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) learning experiences (Penuel 2017). Equity strategies relate to ways that organizations leverage research and practice to promote “the agency of the educators and the learners, and they present opportunities for collective efforts to challenge historically shaped inequities that many engaged in everyday science seek to address” (Penuel 2017, p. 520). iINVENT attempts to enact and assess ongoing equity strategies to provide underrepresented youth (e.g., rural, low-income, Spanish speaking, first-generation college student) access to equitable STEM education experiences framed as invention. The specific strategies are (1) using Design Thinking, undergraduate mentors, and open-ended invention projects to support engagement in camp activities and (2) partnering with community hosts to find a location for the camp and recruit local youth.


Rowe, Shawn, Riggio, Mariapaola, De Amicis, Raffaele, and Rowe, Susan, 2020
Teacher Perceptions of Training and Pedagogical Value of Cross-Reality and Sensor Data from Smart Buildings
Education Sciences, Received: 31 July 2020; Accepted: 2 September 2020; Published: 4 September 2020
Abstract: This paper discusses elementary, and secondary (K-12) teachers’ perceptions of cross-reality (XR) tools for data visualization and use of sensor data from the built environment in classroom curricula. Our objective was to explore the use of sensor-informed XR in the built environment and civil engineering (BECE) field to support K-12 science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) experiential learning and foster BECE-related career awareness. We conducted surveys and informal questionnaires with 33 primary and secondary teachers attending an annual two-day university-based teacher professional development workshop as part of a statewide STEM afterschool program serving students in rural communities. We assessed teachers’ familiarity with, knowledge about, and appraisal of using cross-reality platforms and sensor data in classrooms and after school curricula. Findings show that, while all teachers reported relatively high interest in learning about sensor applications and innovative interactive techniques, middle school teachers in particular were most likely to see value in using these applications for teaching and learning. Implications for teacher professional development are discussed.


Taylor, Seth, Calvo-Amodio, Javier, and Well, Jay, 2020
A Method for Measuring Systems Thinking Learning
Systems 2020, 8(2), 11
Abstract: The myriad of problems facing the world today are increasingly complex, dynamic, and transcend multiple domains. This necessitates the need for trans-disciplinary approaches capable of providing a framework to help solve these problems. Systems thinking provides the skills necessary for people to approach these types of problems. However, a lack of awareness and understanding of systems thinking hinders a potential systems-literate and systems-capable society. Systems thinking is comprised of four underlying concepts or skills: distinction-making, organizing systems, inter-relating, and perspective-taking. The path to becoming a systems thinker follows a process comprised of three levels—sensibility (awareness of systems), literacy (knowledge of systems), and capability (understanding of systems)—repeated across multiple learning phases. During this research study, a method was defined to measure whether non-experts learned the underlying systems thinking concepts according to this learning process. An experiment was conducted with 97 middle and high school students who were asked to draw a fish-tank system before and after being taught to apply the systems thinking concepts as skills for identifying elements, interactions, and roles/purposes. The results provide evidence to conclude that student learning of systems thinking significantly increased from the first drawing to the second drawing.


Traphagen, Kathleen and Traill, Saskia, 2014
How Cross-Sector Collaborations are Advancing STEM Learning
Working Paper
Abstract: STEM learning ecosystems harness unique contributions of educators, policymakers, families, and others in symbiosis toward a comprehensive vision of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education for all children. This paper describes the attributes and strategies of 15 leading ecosystem efforts throughout the country with the hope that others may use their lessons to deepen rich STEM learning for many more of America's children.


Bottoms et al., 2017  S.I. Bottoms, K. Ciechanowski, K. Jones, J. de la Hoz, A.L. Fonseca
Leveraging the community context of Family Math and Science Nights to develop culturally responsive teaching practices
Teaching and Teacher Education, 61 (2017), pp. 1-15
Abstract: This paper examines how elementary teacher candidates experience Family Math and Science Nights with culturally and linguistically diverse children and families. Weekly reflections were analyzed using Gay's (2002, 2013) Culturally Responsive Teaching framework to highlight the process of enacting and thinking in key areas: (1) Changing attitudes and beliefs, (2) Leveraging culture and difference, (3) Grappling with resistance, and (4) Improving pedagogical connections. An action-oriented focus underscores that teacher candidates need multiple rounds of practice to disrupt traditional notions of teaching and move towards cultural responsiveness. Findings suggest the importance of repeated practice, context, and focused guided reflection.