Prior to developing DIGITS, program founders did extensive research to develop a foundation for the program that would excite middle school students about STEM subjects and careers. The initial program research focused on answering four key questions:
1. What do middle school students think of STEM courses?
- Middle school students think science and math courses are “hard” and only for “very smart students.”
- They move towards subjects that require abilities they think they either have or can develop and move away from subjects that require abilities they think they don’t have or about which they have self doubts.
2. How do middle school students learn?
- They need concrete examples of things and not theoretical abstracts.
- They learn better through “hands-on” activities.
3. What constitutes a “good job” in the minds of middle school students?
- Flexible schedules and making good money are important to these students.
4. What do middle school students know about STEM careers?
- Middle school students know very little about careers in general and even less about STEM careers.
The results of our research led us to develop DIGITS, which creates a unique and concrete link between classroom learning and real jobs, seeks to help students overcome the stereotypes and barriers that often stand in their way, and provides a positive context for students to envision themselves in STEM careers.
Click here for a full copy of the Research Report.