Project Exploration is proud and excited to be working with the Chicago Botanic Garden and the New York Hall of Science to lead the Pathways for STEM Success collaborative, a partnership of national STEM education stakeholders working to research best practices for increasing diversity in STEM programs. Read more about the origins and goals of the collaborative in a short article by CBG’s Jennifer Schwarz on the website of the Hive Chicago Learning Network, which is the project’s principal supporter.

On October 16th-17th, members of the collaborative came together in Chicago for two days of activities and meetings.

Day One, October 16 – Events started with the Maker Party at this year’s STEMFest/Ten80 Expo, which featured over 25 local and national STEM organizations hosting hands-on activities to expose students to a wide array of STEM opportunities that ranged from afterschool programs, colleges, and careers. Students enjoyed walking freely to each table that engaged them with electric systems, computer programming, creating a geo-locative game, Arduino, forensics, robotics, and many other exciting subjects. Close to 700 participants experienced the entire STEMFest and more than 250 students visited the Maker Party that was arranged by Project Exploration and The Chicago Botanic Garden. After the event, presenters enjoyed a visit to the Museum of Science & Industry then bonded over dinner.


Members of the collaborative meeting in Chicago.

Day two, October 17th was held at the Chicago Botanic Garden, members gathered on a shuttle bus and started the day long convening at 10am. The morning began with a lot of sticky notes to complete charts and questions about their organizations and missions to get an idea of who was in the room, what ages they served, their discipline, etc. We then had group discussions on the following questions;

-How can pathways help make STEM accessible for youth from backgrounds underrepresented in the field?

-Does the pathway metaphor mischaracterize how students make decisions and move through the world?

-What are the elements of effective pathway programs? What it can look like and all the possibilities that we can create for engaging students on this journey.

The second part of the day was focused on gathering thoughts on building an effective national ecosystem. Members voiced their opinion on the following;

-What makes a good ecosystem?

-What can we pull together that makes this system work?

-How do we keep it going?

-What is needed for the ecosystem?

Collaborators will systematically document successes and meet virtually to reach consensus about what constitutes best practices to increase diversity in professional STEM fields. Participants will continue the crucial conversations each month furthering the discussion and collecting information to create a final report/tool kit that can be shared with other organizations.

Below see Jonathan Lazatin’s (Experience Institute) wonderful video and his experience through this process thus far:

[youtube id=”lVscNuw_0Go” width=”600″ height=”350″]

*This list includes presenters of the STEM Fest Maker Party plus Pathways to STEM Success participants

Adler Planetarium (Chicago, IL)

Agape Werks- LevelUP (Chicago, IL)

American Museum of Natural History (New York, NY)

Artifice at University of Chicago (Chicago, IL)

Chicago Botanic Garden (Glencoe, IL)

Chicago Park District (Chicago, IL)

Chicago Public Library –YOUMedia (Chicago, IL)

Chicago Zoological Society-Brookfield Zoo (Chicago, IL)

DeVry Military Resource Club (Chicago, IL)

EnvironMentors at Louisiana State University (Baton Rouge, LA)

Experience Institute (Chicago, IL)

Global Kids, Inc. (New York, NY)

Illinois Institute of Technology (Chicago, IL)

New York Hall of Science (Corona, NY)

Northeastern Illinois University-Center for College Access and Success (Chicago, IL)

Pacific Science Center (Seattle, WA)

Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy (Pittsburgh, PA)

Project Exploration (Chicago, IL)

Project SYNCERE (Chicago, IL)

Saint Louis Science Center (St. Louis, MO)

ScriptEd (New York, NY)

Seattle Public Library (Seattle, WA)

SJCOE Da Vinci Center for Innovative Learning (Stockton, CA)

Ten80 Education National STEM League

The Forest Preserve of Cook County (River Forest, Illinois)

True Star (Chicago, IL)

University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign College of ACES (IL)

University of Washington (Bothell, WA)



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