Evaluation of the Summer Science Project


pdf Summer Science Findings Report

The Summer Science Project supported the availability and quality of summer and science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) learning programs in Oakland, Concord and San Jose, California. The project was led by the Partnership for Children and Youth (PCY) and Techbridge, in collaboration with four project communities, which included Oakland, Mt. Diablo, Franklin-McKinley, and San Jose Unified School Districts.

Summer Science combined the resources and experiences of PCY’s Summer Matters Campaign and Techbridge’s informal STEM education curriculum to build the capacity of expanded learning staff to lead hands-on summer and science programming for 3rd-5th grade youth. Through this initiative, project communities received hands-on curriculum, professional development, and coaching around best practices to engage youth in summer and STEM.

Summer 2014 was the final year of the three-year project. As part of this final year, project leadership at both PCY and Techbridge focused some efforts on setting programs up for continued success. Project leadership supported programs to find, modify and create their own summer science curricula and prompted programs to take on more autonomy in setting their own program plans and monitoring their own programs.

Summary

Led by the Partnership for Children and Youth (PCY) and Techbridge, the Summer Science Project provided quality science summer learning programs in Oakland, Concord, and San Jose, California. In the project’s first two years, PCY and Techbridge offered curricula, training for staff, and on-site coaching support for summer program staff. In the final year, the summer learning programs took on more autonomy in setting their programming plans and monitoring their progress.

 

The Question: Can training and coaching for summer program staff lead to stronger practice?

Public Profit’s evaluation focused on the benefit of these supports for staff and the influence of their practice on youth. We also explored the unexpected benefits of the Summer Science project for programs, staff, and young people, such as increased staff retention rates as a result of higher job satisfaction.

 

The Process: Measuring shifts in staff practice and youth learning

Public Profit led the evaluation of the program’s effectiveness using a mixed-methods approach that included surveying youth and staff to determine their perceptions of the program, interviewing key stakeholders of the Summer Science Project, and conducting focus groups to gain staff input.

 

The Outcome: Project design informed by findings

PCY and Techbridge used our findings and recommendations to modify the Summer Science Project and better meet their goals. They also used our findings to broadly communicate the project’s impact to stakeholders, thereby building support for the program.

Partnership for Children and Youth (PCY)

In 1997, a group of concerned government, philanthropy and business leaders decided to do something about the persistent poverty and barriers to success faced by children and youth in Bay Area communities. The Partnership for Children and Youth was created to connect schools and their community partners in these underserved communities with available public and private resources, and to improve the effectiveness of funding streams and services for low-income children. PCY works around three key initiatives: Expanded Learning, Community Schools, and Policy and Advocacy. PCY ignites systems of collaboration, leadership and continuous learning among school districts, government agencies and community-based organization serving low-income children and youth by supporting community school, after school and summer partnerships through training, assessment, planning, policy and advocacy.

Techbridge

Founded by Chabot Space & Science Center with support from the National Science Foundation, Techbridge was launched in 2000 to expand the academic and career options of girls and to help increase the representation of women and underrepresented youth in STEM. Building on 12 years of success, Techbridge spun off as an independent nonprofit organization in 2011. Techbridge has reached over 4,000 girls in the Bay Area through after school and summer programs for girls that offer innovative hands-on projects, role models and worksite visits, and academic and career guidance. Through partnering with school districts and community-based organizations, Techbridge has helped engage thousands more girls and boys in STEM.