Youth Engaged in STEM and Service (YESS)

Youth Engaged in STEM and Service (YESS) is a four-year (2020-24) National Science Foundation ITEST-funded project to design, implement, and study the cultural relevance and outcomes of two solar-technology summer camp experiences.

Students from the YESS program are building solar suitcases.

Youth, ages 13-15,  from female identifying and black and brown communities participate in engaging, hands-on solar technology summer camps. Through a collaborative and iterative development process, we design, test, and refine two culturally-relevant summer camp models and curricula to focus on (a) local relevance or (b) global service learning. Local relevance is the pedagogical approach of making connections between science content and local issues so youth can gain an understanding of the relevance of alternative energy in their lives. Youth learn about natural disasters that are relevant to the surrounding area (e.g., drought, wildfires, earthquakes) and how solar technology can mitigate these disasters. In the service learning camp, youth learn about global energy poverty and work to identify solutions to provide solar power for an international community. Youth then build and ship a solar suitcase, a standalone power source, to a community without access to electricity. In both camps, youth learn about electricity, energy, engineering, and solar technology; practice science and engineering practices; gain a greater awareness of STEM career pathways; and reflect on their own STEM identities.  This project is a partnership between Lawrence Hall of Science, Girls Inc. of Island City, Boys & Girls Club of Alameda, Alameda Unified School District and We Share Solar.  

The research includes a three-part study: (1) Design-based Research: How can solar-based summer camps be designed to be culturally relevant through a local  relevance and/or global service learning lens? (2) Implementation Study: How are the camps implemented? How do camp features support student engagement? And (3) Outcomes Study: To what extent do the camps support positive outcomes and are there any differences by camp or gender?


For more information about this project please contact

Joanna Totino

Project Director