Connecting Rural Youth to STEM Experiences

Monday, April 14
11:00a.m. - 12:30p.m.

In connection with the ISLES (Informal Sciences Learning Experiences) for Rural Youth Project (Civil, Derry, Anderson, & Meece), consultant Jan Mokros will give a talk about her team’s unique approach to STEM education in remote rural areas.

A light lunch for 20 will be served at noon.

An increasingly acknowledged challenge of STEM education is serving rural youth and their families during out-of-school time. Especially important in rural communities is integrating fragmented experiences and resources to support coherent STEM learning. The project presented here employs “STEM Guides” who connect learners in rural communities with resources that are already available, though these resources may be unseen or underutilized.

The target audience is 10-18 year old youth and their families in two rural areas of Maine. The project creates and studies a model of capacity-building: small networks of STEM Guides who have an interest in STEM and are familiar with local needs and interests in their communities. These STEM Guides link existing resources with individuals and groups. They serve three coordinated functions: (i) identifying and characterizing a broad range of STEM resources, (ii) reaching learners and their families via existing programs such as 4-H and library programs, and (iii) customizing matches of learners with appropriate next-step resources, using a project-designed STEM Resource Bank ( The Guides are enthusiastic STEM counselors, resource people, and problem-solvers.

About Dr. Jan Mokros

Dr. Jan Mokros is the co- Director of the Maine Mathematics and Science Alliance, which is a leader in STEM education and policy, both in and outside of school. Dr. Mokros is the Principal Investigator for MMSA’s “STEM Guides” project, which promotes out-of-school learning for Maine’s underserved rural youth. She serves on the Maine Governor’s STEM Council and on the state’s STEM Collaborative.

Prior to coming to MMSA, Dr. Mokros was a long time staff member at TERC, where she was an author of the curriculum 'Investigations in Number, Data, and Space' and directed the evaluation and research efforts on this project. More recently, Jan has led projects to bring math to science centers, zoos, aquariums, and after-school programs. She has developed activities, games, and a book, “Math and Your Kids: Beyond Facts and Flashcards” to help parents incorporate engaging math into their everyday family lives. Dr. Mokros also has been involved in higher education as a professor and administrator. She launched San Francisco State University's Center for Science and Mathematics Education, which focuses on recruiting and retaining K-12 science and math teachers.