Programs that focus solely on children and teenagers or (K-12) are the most popular in outreach by colleges. We hypothesize that such programs give the best ROI only for colleges seeking recruitment of the best of the youth available in underserved populations that lack access to technology resources. The underserved community only gets its return on investment when and if the youth return on the promise many years later and then become leaders within their communities.
Technology and competitive advantages are moving too fast for this model to continue to work.
It is no longer a reasonable investment by the community despite the high value of (K-12) programs to individuals, for colleges to rely solely on these as an outreach tool to benefit an underserved community. We hypothesize that the greatest and most sustainable infusions of technology must take place first with the seniors and leaders within these communities, who have been neglected. These leaders within their families and communities are better equipped to leverage change within the community due to their seniority and influence within their families and the underserved communities.
Convincing K-12 students that technology is "cool" is not enough to allow teenagers
without access to resources to break the barriers to enter STEM fields.
Instead of exposing children and teenagers to playing with toys, students need to "see" the power of learning and applying the current technologies within their spheres of interest. Access to STEM careers begins when the students observe the community's current leaders, the current matriarchs of their families and the current patriarchs of the families applying the power of current technologies to create new opportunities available only through partnering with institutions of higher learning. Then the poor thirteen year old without a computer at home won't need to hear a speech about the effectiveness of the internet. They will have already seen it. Not just as a consumer but being used within the family, because learning starts at home. I don't think the power of seeing your grandparents and leaders embracing technology within the underserved community can be overstated.
The power of teaching technology to the leaders of families and organizations
within the underserved community cannot be overstated.
We hypothesize that the returns on the desire for students to learn technology including science and math fields will be realized by being able to observe their own leaders and families utilizing that technology. These increased desires can then be measured with K-12 program involvement and creation that includes rather than excludes the leaders and families within the community. We further hypothesize that this is a preferred approach rather then "dropping" the latest technology into isolated students laps and trying to convince them it is "cool".
The inclusion of leaders and families for integrated solutions to breaking barriers to STEM Careers
such as access to new computers and support for learning is a solution which leverages the power
of the influence of these leaders and is more sustainable than exclusive solutions that focus only
We recognize that not all K-12 outreach from university laboratories operate poorly, and many programs are excellent and quite beneficial to students. However we also recognize that the gains made by the community on such programs have not been realized in many places. Therefore we propose a different approach. We also propose that the improvement of the community and not just a few in it should be the sustainable goal of learning institutions. In conclusion the LEARN Laboratory will perform outreach in underserved areas by working with existing programs and leaders in Lafayette and surrounding areas towards the development, support and implementation of sustainable programs that will benefit undeserved communities.