USC's K-12 STEM Community Outreach for Low-Income and Underrepresented Minority Students

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Research has shown that schools with large numbers of racial and ethnic minorities, low-income students, and English-language learners are systematically under-resourced compared to schools serving middle, upper class and white students. These schools have fewer well-trained teachers, fewer advanced courses, and less access to academic basics, which together lead to science achievement gaps for their students. This talk addresses these issues and the K-12 Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) pipeline model that has been created at USC to overcome these students' science achievement gaps and which is leading to their much higher participation rate in science programs at the university level.

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DJ Kast, is the STEM programs manager for the USC Joint Educational Project, which encompasses the USC Young Scientists Program and the USC Wonderkids program. She is also the STEM coordinator for the USC Neighborhood Academic Initiative. She inspires more than 3000 K-12 minority students a year to appreciate science through hands-on, inquiry-based activities and experiments. She received all her degrees from USC: a Bachelor’s in Biology with a minor in Non-profits, Philanthropy, and Volunteerism; a Master’s in Marine Environmental Biology; and a MAT with a science-teaching credential. She was listed in Forbes Magazine in 2016 as one of the 30 most promising scientists under 30 years of age for her science outreach programs that are partially based on her expeditions, such as Atlantic Ocean plankton research, Pacific Ocean hydrothermal vent research, and Arctic bacterial flora research. She loves science fashion and always wears clothing that represents the science she is teaching.