Evaluation of NASA's Summer of Innovation Program
Abt’s recent report examines the implementation of NASA’s Summer of Innovation project (SoI) and offers several recommendations for the SoI stand-alone model, which holds particular promise as a summer engagement model for middle school students that may be replicable across other STEM programs. NASA launched SoI in 2010 in response to President Obama’s Educate to Innovate initiative. SoI provides STEM-focused summer learning opportunities to school-aged youth, and is designed to engage the nation’s young people in NASA’s broad mission. Its long-term goal is to inspire students to pursue education in STEM fields and eventually join the country’s STEM workforce. Abt Associates’ evaluation efforts focused on SoI implementation and outcomes of interest to investigate the potential of the program model to engage middle school students. The evaluation found that SoI reached a high number of students from groups traditionally underrepresented in STEM. Further, SoI camps offer programming of high-quality on multiple dimensions, and the hands-on nature of the activities were viewed as key to engaging students. The professional development, though limited, was important in supporting the successful implementation of activities. Read an Abt report on implementation of SoI.