Program Details

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A Brief Description of the Program
Description and Participants
List of the Workshops
Program Goals
Program Objectives
Accomplishments of the Program

A Brief Description of the Program

Pathways To Your Future: Exploring STEM Careers at Penn State York is a career awareness program for seventh grade girls, their teachers and parents that highlights college major and career opportunities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). The program, which is free for participants, brings together young women and professional women from academia, medicine, government agencies, business and industry for a day of learner-centered, hands-on workshops. In addition, Pathways provides participating teachers and parents with information to guide young women toward college majors and career opportunities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) related fields.

Description and Participants

All of the middle schools (both public and private) in the Penn State York service area (which includes York County, parts of Adams and Lancaster Counties, as well as fourteen schools in Maryland) are eligible to attend Pathways. We also invite established groups of York County home schooled children, one “bricks and mortar” and three cyber charter schools (that enroll York County students) to participate in our program. Each school may send, free of charge, six girls, one teacher (female mathematics or science teachers are encouraged to attend) and one parent to the conference. Workshop assistants from Penn State York and the York community, workshop leaders, Penn State York alumni and Penn State York faculty and staff volunteer their time and talents to plan, coordinate and facilitate this conference.

Pathways 2013 hosted 234 students, parents, and teachers from twenty-eight different schools. Approximately 75 volunteers - workshop presenters, workshop assistants, conference coordinators/planners, Exelon Generation employees, Penn State alumni, Penn State York faculty and Penn State York staff members - contributed to the success of the program.

The middle school participants are chosen by the school (usually by our teacher contact). Teachers use a variety of methods for selecting the girls to attend the conference: grades, lottery, essays, interest in college degrees in math, science, engineering and/or technology, teacher recommendation, etc. We ask the schools to select girls from all ability levels and to encourage girls to participate even though they may not yet show a genuine interest in college and/or mathematics and science. Our hope is that by engaging these girls in meaningful, hands-on activities, we will encourage more young women to consider a science, technology, engineering, or mathematics related (STEM) college major/career.

List of the Workshops

The titles of the twenty workshops offered at Pathways 2013 are listed below. Complete workshop descriptions are available in the conference brochure and in the workshops section of our website.

Goals of the Program

Objectives of the Program

Measurement of Goals and Objectives

Most of the conference assessments are qualitative. After leaving the conference, we ask each teacher, workshop leader, and workshop assistant to complete an online evaluation form to assess their overall conference experience and workshop effectiveness. In addition, we ask these participants for suggestions to improve the conference.

The responses to all of the forms are tabulated and categorized and are then discussed by the conference coordinators/planners. We use the results of the evaluations to determine the immediate effectiveness of the conference, to provide a workshop assessment to each workshop presenter, and to modify the conference program for the following year.

Accomplishments of the Program

For the past seventeen years, this program has brought together students, teachers and parents from local middle schools; current students, professors, career counselors, administrators and alumni from Penn State; professors from other universities; individuals from Harrisburg and Baltimore area educational facilities; and people from businesses and industries for a most exciting, informative and rewarding day-long conference.

The Pathways program has given our campus an opportunity to reach out to the community with a free educational conference for seventh grade girls, their teachers and parents to encourage young women to pursue college majors/careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) related fields.

During our wrap-up session, students indicate that they enjoyed the day and learned something new at Pathways. In addition, students have commented that, as a result of participating in this conference, they understand how important science, mathematics and technology are to their future success, and they now are considering college majors/careers that require these skills. We feel very strongly that we have “made a difference” and positively influenced the future college/career paths of many of the student participants from the local middle schools by providing worthwhile experiences and excellent female role models.