Investigating the Implementation of the Be A Scientist! Project in New York City and Los Angeles: Formative Evaluation, Year Four

July 31st, 2015 | EVALUATION

The Center for Children and Technology (CCT) at Education Development Center, Inc., an international nonprofit research and development organization (, conducted the formative evaluation of the fourth year of the Be A Scientist! (BAS) project. This project, managed by Iridescent—a nonprofit afterschool science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) program (, has the goal of providing high-quality afterschool science and engineering courses to underserved families in New York City and Los Angeles. The project aims to enable participants to develop a deeper understanding of scientific practice through interaction with innovative and educational STEM activities. In the Spring of 2014, the program targeted elementary school-aged children and their families, though siblings and family members of all ages were welcome to attend. CCT researchers used the following research questions to guide this year’s formative evaluation: 1. Is the development and implementation of project materials, recruitment strategies, training, and course activities well designed and integrated into the project’s goals? 2. How do participants experience the project? The evaluation team also gathered preliminary evidence of the impact of the project on families, undergraduate engineering students, and project partners (e.g., universities, museums). Based on all evidence collected during the evaluation to date, the team also developed programmatic and strategic recommendations for the improvement of the project. Data Collection CCT researchers employed a multi-method research approach to data collection. Data collection activities included the following: 1. Family Science Observation: observations conducted by researchers during Family Science events in multiple Los Angeles sites and a single New York City site 2. Informal Parent Interview/Questions: Opportunistic interviews conducted by researchers during Family Science sessions with parents who were either recommended by Family Science staff, or who were available to talk during a Family Science session. Parents were asked about their thoughts on the program, why they chose to attend how they learned about it, and what kinds of science activities they did at home. 3. Parent Survey: A paper survey delivered during the final week of the Family Science session to parents. Spanish and English versions were available, and were distributed and collected by BAS staff. Parents were asked to rate different statements about STEM activities and careers, were asked to indicate the frequency of STEM activities they engage in at home, as well as other questions about their BAS experiences. 4. Student Survey: A paper survey delivered during the final week of the Family Science session to students. Spanish and English versions were available and were distributed and collected by BAS staff. Because many participating children were too young to complete the survey independently parents often helped. Children were asked about their attendance at Family Science, who brought them, were asked to draw a picture of construction project, and of an engineer, and were asked to rate a series of statements about STEM and about the program. 5. Engineers as Teachers (EasT) Student Survey: An online survey asked EasT students about their past teaching experience, their majors, and their past teaching experiences and their thoughts about teaching and engineering.



Team Members

Maggie Jaris, Contributor, Iridescent
Naomi Hupert, Evaluator, Education Development Center


Funding Source: NSF

Related URLs

Be a Scientist!


Audience: Elementary School Children (6-10) | Evaluators | Families
Discipline: Engineering | Physics
Resource Type: Evaluation Reports | Formative
Environment Type: Afterschool Programs | Higher Education Programs | Informal | Formal Connections | Professional Development | Conferences | Networks | Professional Development and Workshops | Public Programs | Resource Centers and Networks