Citylab and Urban Squash: A New Pathway to Achieve Stem Success

Project Audience

Middle and High School Students, initially focused on those who are enrolled in participating urban squash education programs in MA and NY

Subjects Addressed

Exercise Physiology, Molecular Biology, Cardiovascular System

Project Website

http://www.bumc.bu.edu/citylab/

Project Description

Many urban minority middle and high school students lack exposure to authentic laboratory science experiences that can have a profound influence on their academic performance in school and ultimately, their career trajectories. Since today’s students will determine our nation’s future scientific competitiveness and need to be intelligent evaluators of new science and health advances, we will test a new model of infusing afterschool biomedical/STEM enrichment into urban squash education programs. We will employ rigorous evaluation techniques, including well-matched comparison groups, to examine our hypothesis that embedding laboratory-based experiences into urban squash education programs and extended participation in such programs will positively impact diverse populations of students, promote their continued engagement in STEM, propel these students towards careers in the health professions and STEM fields, and ultimately improve the nation’s understanding of the scientific basis of human health and disease.

Abstract

“CityLab and Urban Squash: A New Pathway to Achieve STEM Success”, has five initial partners who will engage in curriculum development and implementation, and refinement: Boston University, Fordham University, and three urban squash education organizations in Boston (SquashBusters) and New York (CitySquash and StreetSquash) that recruit URM/low SES students to participate in afterschool squash training and academic enrichment programs. We have also partnered with the National Urban Squash and Education Association to disseminate the new program through its national network of affiliated squash education programs. The proposed project will enable us to demonstrate feasibility and replicability within the 5 year scope of this grant. Our shared vision is to develop a national model for informal precollege biomedical science education that can be infused into a myriad of similar athletic/academic enrichment programs.

The squash education movement for urban youth has been highly successful in enrolling program graduates in college. Since the academic offerings of the squash education programs focus on English Language Arts and Mathematics, their students struggle with science and rarely recognize the tremendous opportunities for long-term employment in STEM fields. This project will bring CityLab’s resources to local squash programs in a coordinated and sustained engagement to introduce students to STEM, specifically the biomedical sciences. Together with the urban squash centers, we will build upon the hands-on life science experiences developed and widely disseminated by CityLab to create engaging laboratory-based experiences involving athletics and physiology.

The specific aims of the proposed project are:

  1. To develop, implement, and evaluate a new partnership model for recruiting URM/low SES students and inspiring them to pursue careers in STEM
  2. To examine changes in the science learner identities (SLI) of the students who participate in this program and establish this metric as a marker for continued engagement in STEM.