Icon for: Aaron Cortes

AARON CORTES

Northeastern Illinois University
Public Discussion

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  • Icon for: Billy Spitzer

    Billy Spitzer

    Facilitator
    Executive Director
    May 10, 2022 | 08:26 a.m.

    Aaron, thank you for sharing information about this project. It sounds like there are so many dimensions and layers to this work. I am curious to learn more about how you were able to support students in the technological and cross-cultural aspects, and what kind of scaffolding you provided to help the students succeed individually and as a group. 

    I was also curious about what approaches you are taking to documenting the impact of this work on the participants in Puerto Rico and Chicago.

    Thanks,
    Billy

  • Icon for: Aaron Cortes

    Aaron Cortes

    Lead Presenter
    Director. STEAM Pathways
    May 10, 2022 | 10:11 a.m.

    Hello Billy, 

    Thank you for your comment and for your interest in the project. The student we support during this academic and cultural experience in Puerto Rico are student who have participated in our U.S. Education Department TRIO program for a number of years. Their participation in our program provides them with the academic support to learn about STEM concepts, STEM implementation, STEM research and skills to lead groups or be part of groups. There are many other areas that our students engage to develop personally to take on a task as large as leading in this project which include but not limited to, language immersion,  instruction of academic concepts, instruction of technical skills, resilience in the face of not being successful on an outcome, presentation skills, etc. 

    With regards to documenting, we provide students with a pre and post assessments on a number of areas that we want to measures (many of the areas are mentioned above). We also do pre departure and post participation debriefings. We are still developing the assessment for the students that we visit in Puerto Rico but there are some initial measurement just not as extensive. 

    Once again, thank you so much for your interest. 

     
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    Allison Gonzalez
    Billy Spitzer
  • Icon for: Beatriz Canas

    Beatriz Canas

    Facilitator
    Director of equity, diversity, inclusion and accessibility
    May 10, 2022 | 10:24 a.m.

    Aaron, I really enjoyed learning about this project. I see how impactful the peer learning aspect of the program was on both groups of youth. What were the key skills that you worked on with the youth to help prepare them to teach the workshops? What were the greatest challenges that the youth had to navigate throughout this process?

     

    Thanks!

    Beatriz

  • Icon for: Aaron Cortes

    Aaron Cortes

    Lead Presenter
    Director. STEAM Pathways
    May 11, 2022 | 02:22 p.m.

    Hello Beatriz, 

    Thank you for reaching out and for your questions. There are a number of areas that we support our program participants to develop as they enter the space of leading instruction in STEM workshops. We can begin by sharing that we make sure they have a strong content knowledge of the activity they are leading. Then we focus on delivery, engagement, interactions, presentation methods, methods for teaching and instruction, dry runs with staff on the presentation and also present in other venues before their trip to Puerto Rico. We also do this internationally with our partnership in Colombia Medellin. That probably will be next year's video =).

    Some of the challenges shared to us by our participants during interviews and Post surveys include the culture shock to the place we visit, the experience of traveling by plane, the experience of speaking another language (not English) and of course being away from home and their immediate support systems. 

     
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    Billy Spitzer
  • Icon for: Jessica Parker

    Jessica Parker

    Informal Educator
    May 10, 2022 | 06:45 p.m.

    Thanks Aaron for sharing your amazing project. The impact on both college and high school students seems impressive. I am curious if you have any advice for how to create and approach this kind of STEM project that includes cultural immersion, intentional partnerships, and student-centered approaches to teaching and learning? 

  • Icon for: Aaron Cortes

    Aaron Cortes

    Lead Presenter
    Director. STEAM Pathways
    May 11, 2022 | 02:29 p.m.

    Hello Jessica, 

    Thank you for your comment and question. I can only share my experience in the development of partnership and the projects we have implemented. We have travel to Puerto Rico for 3 summers with students, traveled to Alaska twice with students, travel to Medellin Colombia with students 3 times and once to China with students. 

    In all of the projects we had to develop collaborations with entities in those countries or with organizations in the US that have those collaborations. For the most part we meet with many people until we find the right fit for the work we do in access for financially disadvantaged and first generation college bound students. Once we find the right collaborator then we develop small pilots to test the activity/ project. We also engage in PD and collaboration via remote access to strengthen the work/relationship so that when we are incountry the experience for the students is impactful. My suggestion is to be involved in organizations that oversee areas such as the Organization of American States, APEC, TRIO regional and national organizations, NSF projects, etc. Once you are involved find those who are willing to explore these types of programs. I usually try to present at conference on our work not the travel but the STEM, college access and success, etc. and from there we plant seeds for individuals to work with us. We plant seeds. 

     
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    Jessica Parker
  • Icon for: Brian Drayton

    Brian Drayton

    Facilitator
    Co-Director
    May 11, 2022 | 08:53 a.m.

    Very nice work!  In addition to your answer to Jessica's question, I'd be interested to hear about how your partnership with UPR-Rio Piedras developed, and what work has to happen to develop and maintain that collaboration.  I know it's not your main focus, but it's foundational, and your experience might help others interested in programs with some of the same features. 

  • Icon for: Aaron Cortes

    Aaron Cortes

    Lead Presenter
    Director. STEAM Pathways
    May 11, 2022 | 02:32 p.m.

    Hello Brian, 

    Thank you for your post and comment. Our partnership with UPR Rio piedras came from meeting TRIO grant staff at that university and exploring together opportunities to impact youth. By developing these professional relationships we have been able to explore opportunities across the island. Also, I have been involved in local, regional and national leadership in TRIO programs which also has allowed us to build recognition of our work and willingness for colleagues to work with us on different types of projects. Hope this helps. 

     
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    Billy Spitzer
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