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Enhancing Engagement: Strategies for STEM Professionals to Encourage Youth to Consider STEM Careers

Check out the latest from the NASA Inspires Futures for Tomorrow’s Youth (NIFTY) NASA Science Activation project team! Led by Twin Cities PBS in St. Paul, MN, NIFTY is committed to broadening youth participation in STEM studies by providing opportunities for youth to interact with and learn from NASA STEM professionals. Building on initiatives like the SciGirls television series, online resources, and hands-on activities, NIFTY aims to change how young minds perceive science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). The mission also extends to empowering educators with professional development opportunities to advance this cause.

In collaboration with the Space Science Institute’s Star Library Network (STAR Net), the National Girls Collaborative Project, and NASA Langley Research Center, Twin Cities PBS has recently updated their Role Model Strategies Guide with the latest in gender equitable and culturally responsive practices tailored to encourage youth to consider STEM careers. This new 20-page guide provides essential training for role models, equipping them with the tools and knowledge needed to effectively engage with young learners. By addressing common questions and offering insights into volunteer efforts, the guide aims to optimize the impact of role models in inspiring the next generation of STEM enthusiasts.

Role models offer a bridge between aspiration and achievement. By sharing their personal journeys and challenges, including their backgrounds, hobbies, and career ambitions, role models can ignite a spark of inspiration in young minds. The diversity of experiences and perspectives showcased by STEM professionals serves as a powerful catalyst for youth who may not readily identify with traditional STEM narratives. Through the Role Model Strategies guide, NIFTY empowers role models to become motivators for change, driving inclusivity and diversity within the STEM landscape. In addition to a planning guide, tips, and programming ideas, the guide details 8 key strategies for encouraging youth to consider STEM careers.

Make a personal connection to create an inclusive learning space.
Share your whole Self.
Share your STEM Journey.
Show diversity of people in STEM.
Encourage learning from setbacks.
Communicate how your work impacts people, your community, and the world.
Show how STEM is creative and collaborative.
Provide resources for support and guidance.

One youth educator had this to say after learning from a NIFTY-trained Role Model: “[She] was a fantastic role model! Her presentation touched on SO many important themes – including the importance of workplace diversity, her unique STEM journey, resources for the campers to find mentors/support from family and friends, and how working at NASA is well within reach (and an exciting possibility) for any of our campers!”

Join us in celebrating NIFTY’s efforts to transform STEM education. Learn more at https://science.nasa.gov/sciact-team/nifty/ and download the complete Role Model Strategies Guide at https://go.nasa.gov/49aanZE.

NIFTY is supported by NASA under cooperative agreement award number 80NSSC22M0123 and is part of NASA’s Science Activation Portfolio.

Cover of the 20-page Role Model Strategies Guide.



Last Updated
Feb 23, 2024
Langley Research Center

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