A Culturally-Responsive Maker Program Designed to Develop the STEM Interest, Self-Efficacy and Science Identity of Black Girls

August 1st, 2021 - July 31st, 2023 | PROJECT

Black Girls Create (BGC) is a program that uses maker pedagogy, social history (i.e., Black women’s contributions in STEM), culturally responsive pedagogy, and mentoring to engage Black girls in STEM. For the project, culturally responsive making is operationally defined as the use of cultural knowledge and maker technologies to create, design, and produce artifacts that are related to a particular concept, theme, or person. The project will conduct a feasibility research study that investigates how engagement in BGC affects participants' STEM interest, STEM confidence, and racial and gender identities. In the project, participants will discover how Black women have made an impact in STEM fields and will learn how to digitally create cultural artifacts/wearable art related to their discoveries. Approximately 120 middle school girls in grades 6-8 (8 groups of 15 participants each) from underserved neighborhoods will be recruited for participation in this two-year study. Each group will meet for 3 hours per week over an 8-week period. Instructional materials from this research will be made freely available online so that they can be adapted and used at other formal and informal educational institutions that seek to garner interest and access to STEM learning for Black girls and women.

A pre- and post-test, quasi-experimental design will be used to research the program’s influence on participants’ self-efficacy, racial identity, and gender identity. Lagged regression models that control for students’ age, race/ethnicity, and pre-survey scores will be used to examine growth in each of the four outcomes. Once all of the participants in the groups have completed BGC, data from all groups will be combined to increase power and thereby detect statistically meaningful differences in pre- and post-survey scores. In addition, variables representing attendance and program engagement will be entered into the model to examine whether students who are highly engaged in BGC programming exhibit more growth in the four outcomes. Qualitative data will be derived from students' journal entries as well as focus group interviews. Weekly journals will be used to gather data about the context and experiences of participants as they unfold throughout the program. Semi-structured focus groups will center around the usefulness of skills and knowledge gained from the program activities, significant experiences with peers and program staff, the opportunity to learn about Black women STEM progenitors, and learning how to make digitally fabricated artifacts. NVIVO, a computer software program, will be used as a tool to support the analysis of the rich, text-based information resulting from the journals and focus group narratives.

This feasibilty research project is funded by the Advancing Informal STEM Learning (AISL) program, which seeks to (a) advance new approaches to and evidence-based understanding of the design and development of STEM learning in informal environments; (b) provide multiple pathways for broadening access to and engagement in STEM learning experiences; (c) advance innovative research on and assessment of STEM learning in informal environments; and (d) engage the public of all ages in learning STEM in informal environments.

Project Website(s)

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Team Members

LaShawnda Lindsay-Dennis, Principal Investigator, Wellesley College
Kristin Searle, Co-Principal Investigator
Jaycee Holmes, Co-Principal Investigator


Funding Source: NSF
Funding Program: Advancing Informal STEM Learning (AISL)
Award Number: 2115750
Funding Amount: $299,941.00


Access and Inclusion: Black | African American Communities | Ethnic | Racial | Women and Girls
Audience: Middle School Children (11-13) | Museum | ISE Professionals
Discipline: General STEM
Resource Type: Project Descriptions | Projects
Environment Type: Informal | Formal Connections | K-12 Programs | Making and Tinkering Programs | Public Programs