WISE Guys and Gals – Boys & Girls as WISEngineering STEM Learners

September 1st, 2014 - August 31st, 2019 | PROJECT

As part of its overall strategy to enhance learning in informal environments, the Advancing Informal STEM Learning (AISL) program funds innovative resources for use in a variety of settings. The project will further develop, roll out, and conduct research on a set of materials that will introduce middle school age youth to innovative and engaging engineering challenges in the Boys and Girls Club (B&GCs) context. Building on substantial prior work and evaluation-based learning, WISE Guys and Gals - Boys & Girls as WISEngineering STEM Learners (WGG) will: (1) combine engineering design activities with the (open source, online) WISEngineering infrastructure; (2) scale-up the infrastructure; (3) engage youth in informal afterschool experiences; and (4) collect a wealth of rich data to further our understanding of how youth learn through these experiences. This work will be conducted by Hofstra University's Center for STEM Research in conjunction with Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL), The CUNY Graduate Center's Center for Advanced Study in Education (CASE), the Boys & Girls Club of America, and 25 B&GCs in New York and New Jersey. The underlying theoretical framework builds on proof-of-concept work supported by NSF and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. An open source, on-line interface (WISEngineering) provides numerous virtual tools (e.g., social networking, Design Journal, embedded assessments) that promote learning and collaboration through challenging, thoughtful, and creative work. WGG will explore how to incorporate creativity, social networking, connections to real-world STEM needs/careers, and teamwork into challenges that can be completed in a one-hour period, an activity time constraint in many B&GC settings. Staff from the clubs will participate in face-to-face and virtual professional development in an effort to build their capacity as facilitators of STEM learning. Research will focus on: (1) how activities developed for 60-minute implementation and guided by informed engineering design and interconnected learning frameworks support youth learning and engagement; and (2) characteristics of the professional development approach that support B&GC facilitators' capacity development. By the end of the project, over 6,000 middle school aged youth, the majority from groups underrepresented in STEM areas, will gain experience with engineering design as they develop engineering thinking, new STEM competencies, STEM career awareness, and an appreciation for the civic value of STEM knowledge.

Project Website(s)

(no project website provided)

Project Products

Poster - Wise Guys & Gals: Boys & Girls as WISEngineering STEM Learners
Presentation Slides - Wise Guys & Gals: A STEM Program for Boys & Girls Clubs
Video 1 - Children's Engineering
Project Website
Video 2 - Engineering Design Using WISEngineering
Video 3 - Virtual Professional Development: Low Cost, High Success
A Tool for Evaluating Youth Engagement in an Informal STEM Setting: The WGG Observation Protocol
Designing Informal Vs Formal Education Activities—What We Have Learned
STEM@Home Activities

Team Members

David Burghardt, Principal Investigator, Hofstra University
Xiang Fu, Co-Principal Investigator, Hofstra University
Kenneth White, Co-Principal Investigator
Melissa Rhodes, Co-Principal Investigator


Funding Source: NSF
Funding Program: ISE/AISL
Award Number: 1422436
Funding Amount: $2,700,000


Audience: Educators | Teachers | Middle School Children (11-13) | Museum | ISE Professionals
Discipline: Education and learning science | Engineering
Resource Type: Project Descriptions
Environment Type: Afterschool Programs | Community Outreach Programs | Media and Technology | Professional Development | Conferences | Networks | Professional Development and Workshops | Public Programs | Websites | Mobile Apps | Online Media