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STEM Integration in the Digital Forensics Science Learning Environment Grades 9-12


This project is funded by the STEM+Computing Partnership (STEM+C) program which seeks to advance new approaches to, and evidence-based understanding of, the integration of computing in STEM teaching and learning. This project will contribute to that effort by engaging young women in computer science as applied to the field of cyber forensics, and the integration of computing in computing-intensive STEM fields. The project is guided by research showing that young women are attracted to careers that improve society; thus, learning the application of computer science to solve cyber crimes, has potential to attract female participation in the cybersecurity field. Students will learn computing skills through an innovative cybercrime system that will engage students in real investigations. The project will teach young women in grades 9-12 a range of essential topics, including forensic science, scientific inquiry, critical thinking, computation thinking, data analysis, basic programming, and ethics in computing. Through an interactive platform, students will act as forensic, cybercrime investigators. Partnering with schools and organizations in Baltimore, New Orleans, and Seattle, the National Girls Collaborative Project, digital forensic experts, private and public sector STEM organizations, and content experts and mentors from industry, the project will build broad support and interest in STEM and computing that has potential to guide students toward careers in STEM and computing, including cybersecurity, a critical national priority.
The investigators intend to reach over 600 girls through the project, and will design 30 hours of digital forensic, goal-based scenarios and curriculum along with supporting resources using a Goal-Based Scenario theory and the Investigate and Decide Learning Environment (IDLE) as their instructional framework. They will design a role-based curriculum in an accessible interface for young women and underrepresented students in STEM, train 18 pilot site teachers to deliver the interactive modules, and recruit mentors and partners from the STEM public, private and government community to encourage the participants to think about STEM-related career paths. Recruitment will occur through Operation Spark in New Orleans, the Edmonds School District, Core Element, and Maryland Out of School Time (MOST) network. Facilitators will be recruited from the professional and college student communities, with a goal to recruit women. The project will be reviewed externally by an advisory board, and the evaluation will include questions about student outcomes, teacher outcomes, facilitator outcomes and mentor outcomes. Findings will be disseminated through the project website with sections for educators and youth, presented at research conferences and through webinars in coordination with the National Girls Collaborative Project, and through social media.