Icon for: Lisa Lynn

LISA LYNN

University of Illinois at Chicago
Public Discussion
  • Icon for: Lisa Lynn

    Lisa Lynn

    Lead Presenter
    May 14, 2018 | 06:28 p.m.

    Thank you for taking the time to view our video. As you will see, this is a project with multiple components: formal and informal settings, and across grade levels into higher education. The goal is to connect families in the community, organizations in the community, schools, and the university together into a cohesive network around science as a tool for making communities safer and healthier.

  • May 14, 2018 | 08:10 p.m.

    Hi Lisa,

    This is a wonderful project.  I love the idea of re-engaging the disengaged.  It reminds us that we should look at supporting STEM engagement as an iterative, ongoing process.  I have a couple of questions.  1.  How do you connect with the families and communities to better understand the issues that are most meaningful for them?  2.  How do you sustain the connections after they are initially formed?

    Thanks!

    Keisha Varma

  • Icon for: Lisa Lynn

    Lisa Lynn

    Lead Presenter
    May 15, 2018 | 11:28 a.m.

    Hi Keisha, thanks for visiting! These are great questions and very common challenges in community-based work.

    In order to connect with families, we began by connecting with organizations in the community. To some extent, existing organizations were able to give us some direction as to what issues are important to families. These organizations also gave us access to families and could sort of vouch for us as a trustworthy organization. This process took some time, a few months at least. We reached out to families directly buy doing "pop-up" events in the community--one of our major community outreach events was getting a table at a summer neighborhood festival and asking people a one-question survey about issues in the community.

    Sustaining connections has followed a similar path, via community organizations. Staying directly in touch with individuals and families has proven more challenging, not least because many folks don't have email and/or are reluctant to give out contact information. However, by having deep and sustained relationships with community organizations, we are able to have that continuous connection to the community.

     
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    Natasha Smith-Walker
  • Icon for: Rebecca Teasdale

    Rebecca Teasdale

    Researcher
    May 15, 2018 | 12:30 p.m.

    Thanks for sharing your project, Lisa! Your engagement of community ambassadors seems like a very promising approach. I'd love to hear more about how your team identified and formed relationships with the ambassadors and what their work looks like in the neighborhood. Thanks!

  • Icon for: Lisa Lynn

    Lisa Lynn

    Lead Presenter
    May 15, 2018 | 02:01 p.m.

    Hi Rebecca! Nice to see you on here! :)

    The ambassadors component has been one of the most fun and productive parts of the project. Ambassadors came through different, informal channels--some through relationships with a community engagement project in the College of Ed, and some through relationships with STEM professors on the project. Most of the ambassadors speak Spanish (necessary in Pilsen) and all of them are passionate about giving back to the community. Finding young people who were interested was not too difficult, and the more we give them to do in the community, the more engaged they are in the project. Ambassadors have done tabling and flyering, have participated along with other project staff at community organization meetings, and do a great deal of the direct interaction with community members. A couple times in the last month, the ambassadors teamed up with two of our STEM professors to deliver short activities at an after-school program.

    It's a two-way street with the ambassadors--they are gaining knowledge, skills, and experience about community work and research work; at the same time, they do a lot to help facilitate STEM in the community.

     
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    Rebecca Teasdale
  • Icon for: Natasha Smith-Walker

    Natasha Smith-Walker

    Executive Director
    May 18, 2018 | 03:04 p.m.

    Hi Lisa, 

    This is great!  Would love to see how we can develop Ambassadors in the work we are doing what are some recommendations you can provide.

    Natasha

  • Icon for: Lisa Lynn

    Lisa Lynn

    Lead Presenter
    May 18, 2018 | 06:47 p.m.

    Great to hear! The main recommendation I would make is to develop a heterogeneous group--we have STEM majors and non-STEM majors, students with and without Latino backgrounds--and then give them training as needed about community work and the relevant STEM content. (Ours also did IRB training to understand university research, but this wouldn't necessarily apply to all groups.) Having a group with diverse backgrounds really helps jump-start the connections across STEM and community.

  • Icon for: Lisa Miller

    Lisa Miller

    Facilitator
    May 15, 2018 | 05:10 p.m.

    This looks like an interesting project!  Are you at the point in the project where you have had a chance to do evaluations or research?  What has been the community and students' feedback (formal or informal) been so far?  Also, you mentioned the water testing project.  Are there any other projects you have done or are currently planning to do?  Thanks!

  • Icon for: Lisa Lynn

    Lisa Lynn

    Lead Presenter
    May 16, 2018 | 11:48 a.m.

    Hi Lisa, thanks for your comments. After the water testing project, we have not yet talked with the community about a next project. We are thinking about (and hearing about) air quality and nutrition/food, so those are likely future directions.

  • Icon for: Stephen Uzzo

    Stephen Uzzo

    Facilitator
    May 16, 2018 | 08:02 a.m.

    The program sounds fantastic and thank for sharing your work through the video clip. Since your work directly engages the community ins citizen science kinds of activities, wondering if you have plans to network with other citizen science efforts in Chicago and Beyond. Sounds like your ambassador model could fit many other citizen science efforts and help integrate them better into underserved communities, particularly those that aim to improve those communities.

  • Icon for: Lisa Lynn

    Lisa Lynn

    Lead Presenter
    May 16, 2018 | 11:41 a.m.

    Yes, we do! We have partnered informally with several projects in Chicago, including Project SYSTEMIC (http://stemforall2018.videohall.com/presentatio...) and are looking toward more formal relationships in fall 2018.

    I think the idea of "sharing" ambassadors across projects is a good one. At each Chicago university we have students from various neighborhoods who are interested in various neighborhoods, so this would allow us to mix-and-match ambassadors across projects.

  • Icon for: Anushree Bopardikar

    Anushree Bopardikar

    Facilitator
    May 16, 2018 | 09:33 a.m.

    Thank you for providing glimpses of this wonderful citizen-science initiative to engage the local community. It was encouraging to see a broad range of community members involved actively in using science to empower their local settings! One thing I have always been curious about is how citizen-science projects study the impact of their activities, especially in informal contexts. Building on Lisa Miller's question about evaluation, I was wondering if you could share more insights into the kinds of outcomes your team has set out to achieve, and how these will be measured. 

  • Icon for: Lisa Lynn

    Lisa Lynn

    Lead Presenter
    May 16, 2018 | 12:02 p.m.

    Regarding evaluation: our formal outcomes are STEM interest, STEM self-efficacy, and STEM identity. We are measuring these with traditional Likert-type scales on surveys. We will have pre and post data soon from the semester that just wrapped up; prior to that we piloted the scales but did not have large enough groups to see any effects.

    Informal feedback from students has yielded a few interesting points: one big one is, students like learning about science and social studies together--for many of them, this is new, and whether they "like science" or not, the integration of science and social issues is a fresh perspective.

    Much of our evaluation effort to this point has been developmental. We are learning a lot about forming the relationships--in the community, higher ed, and K-12 schools--that support a wide-ranging project.

     
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    Anushree Bopardikar
  • Icon for: Jennifer Atkinson

    Jennifer Atkinson

    Project Manager, STEM Guides
    May 16, 2018 | 01:43 p.m.

    Making STEM relevant to those who don't connect with the common "success/wealth" narrative is so critical. Thank you for this important work. In the rural areas where I work, we are starting to see how that conversation leaves so many out. Some young people will be more interested in STEM if they can see how it will enable them to be successful where they are, and to contribute to the community they live in - as opposed to put them into a national talent pipeline. 

  • Icon for: Lisa Lynn

    Lisa Lynn

    Lead Presenter
    May 18, 2018 | 10:01 a.m.

    Jennifer, thanks for this comment, it gets to the true heart of the project--to get STEM into the community, for the benefit of the community.

  • May 16, 2018 | 03:01 p.m.

    Hi Lisa! INCLUDES is a great model for taking STEM out of the lab and into communities. Can you talk more about where the water project is now? Does INCLUDES provide resources or guidance for how to use evidence for advocacy or policy?

  • Icon for: Rachel Shefner

    Rachel Shefner

    Higher Ed Faculty
    May 16, 2018 | 09:18 p.m.

    Beautiful project and video! A few questions about the Ambassadors. The video states that they are UIC students from the community--I assume they are STEM students-do you try to recruit students at a specific level? Are they given training about engaging with the community around the project, or do you just let them figure that out themselves, since they are from the community? The water project is such a great defined piece that ties so well to a pressing community issue. The video mentions that with the data they collect the community members are primed to advocate for themselves. Does the project provide support with regard to the advocacy piece, to help people get to that next step? Do you connect them wth other resources for that? And has there been any action taken to address the problem they uncovered? So cool and such a great way to elevate the importance of STEM understanding not only because of the broadening participation angle, but also making the point that an understanding of STEM can solve real problems- a message that needs to be driven home! Such great work.

  • Icon for: Lisa Lynn

    Lisa Lynn

    Lead Presenter
    May 18, 2018 | 10:15 a.m.

    Hi Roxana and Rachel! You both asked about the water project and advocacy. Just yesterday we ran the final set of water samples and I haven't seen the results yet. In the first set, we found lead present in water but not above the EPA action level. We may run a second analysis this summer for more precise measurements, and there is some question as to whether the action level should be lower.

    This summer we will be focused on advocacy, and the first step will be to ask lots of people in the community what they would like to see in terms of advocacy and how the data we have collected together can serve that purpose. Among other things, we are envisioning an app or website where people can share and view a hyper-local map of environmental data including water testing results and water main replacements. One of our partners provides free water filters to the community--perhaps additional visibility would make it possible to expand this effort or target it to the highest-risk areas. The REAL water infrastructure solutions are at the ward or city level, and the community has been advocating for these things for years.

  • Icon for: Lisa Lynn

    Lisa Lynn

    Lead Presenter
    May 18, 2018 | 10:27 a.m.

    Rachel, thanks for your question about the ambassadors. Originally our plan was for ambassadors to be UIC students, from Pilsen, who are STEM majors. This was very specific and made recruitment difficult. The group we have currently are from various Chicago neighborhoods (mostly Latinx heritage and/or Spanish heritage speakers); some are STEM majors and some are not. This heterogeneous group actually works out very well; some students have more STEM knowledge/experience, and some have more of the community action knowledge/experience. It's wonderful to see this group work together and some of the cross-disciplinary conversations they have.

    Training did include community engagement background work. In particular, we gave the ambassadors some materials and had some discussions around the socio-political history of the neighborhood, including the role that community advocacy has played in preserving and strengthening the neighborhood. We also had them complete and discuss the IRB initial human subjects training, which gave them some background and perspective about doing university research in general and in specific populations.

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