The influence of the High school students United with NASA to Create Hardware (HUNCH) program on student motivation to study and pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM)
In today's society of global economic competition, environmental concerns, and the race to explore outer space, the study of mathematics and science has reached the forefront of educational goals around the world. The gap between the number of STEM professionals in the United States and other countries is closing. To address this occurrence, private organizations, businesses, and government agencies are teaming up with schools to promote the study of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) courses. This research investigates the High School Students United with NASA to Create Hardware (HUNCH) program, an innovative school-based partnership between public schools and NASA, with the educational goal of motivating students to study and pursue careers in STEM areas. To evaluate the HUNCH program, this research takes a mixed-method approach that collects data quantitatively from an analysis of student responses on a Student Interests and Motivation in Science Questionnaire (SIMSQ) and qualitatively from an analysis of focus groups and individual student interviews of HUNCH participants. This research answers the following questions: (1) How do students who participate in HUNCH programs perceive STEM HUNCH courses and other STEM courses? (2) How do students who participate in HUNCH programs perceive STEM related careers? (3) What learning experiences do HUNCH students describe as motivating them toward pursuing courses and careers in STEM areas? (4) Do students who have fewer than two semesters in HUNCH perceive STEM courses and careers differently than students who have participated in three or more semesters in HUNCH? By investigating the HUNCH program, this research helps to identify the benefits of secondary schools teaming up with professional organizations, such as NASA, with the hope of encouraging and influencing the creation of new innovative school-based partnerships.