Abstract

A STEM+M identity, a form of social identity, is the extent to which an individual feels accepted in the STEM+M (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math, and Medicine) career fields. The development of a strong STEM+M identity hinges largely on one's perceived self-efficacy in STEM+M and can be bolstered by associating STEM+M with other areas in which an individual already exhibits self-efficacy. In this study, a basketball camp served as a platform for STEM+M education in an effort to link participants' self-efficacy in basketball to STEM+M concepts where they may feel less self-efficacious. Over the first two years of the program, known as the Youth Sports Lab (YSL), two cohorts of underrepresented minority (URM) middle school students attended a 4-day long basketball camp hosted at Columbia University in partnership with Harlem- and Albany-based afterschool programs. The camp consisted of basketball training, jump plate fabrication, data collection, invited speakers, and group-based research projects. Our hypotheses were that participation in the program would lead to improved (1) familiarity, (2) perceived importance, and (3) interest in STEM+M. Participant responses, gathered from a 17-question Likert scale survey administered before and after the camp, demonstrated 10 questions with significantly increased responses due to the program. The results support the conclusion that the sports-based engineering program increased STEM+M identity in the URM cohort. Future improvements to the program will include mid-year student engagement and long-term follow-up.

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