About the Program
( For more information about the program, please consult the "Eyes to the Future" public website; the information on this page is excerpted from that site. )
What's It All About?
"Eyes to the Future," based at TERC, Inc., in Cambridge, MA, intervenes with middle-school girls of all abilities before they have chosen or ruled out possible futures for themselves. This multi-age mentoring program uses the Web to link middle-school girls with high-school girls in their school districts who have stayed interested in science and technology and with women who use science and technology in their careers. We aim to provide urban middle-school girls with role models who have pursued science and technology in high school and beyond. "Eyes to the Future" gives girls broader knowledge of possible futures in high school and science- and technology-related careers as well as personal relationships with female role models who can lend emotional and academic support.
Mentoring and Electronic Communication
With teachers at participating schools, we place participants into "teams" of three middle-school girls, one high-school girl from the same district, and one adult mentor each. The middle-school girls meet weekly in an after-school club where they use the project website to communicate with their high-school and adult mentors. Each team of three middle-school girls, one high-school girl, and one adult has its own private discussion area on the website; middle-school girls, high-school mentors, adult mentors, and teachers have their own separate discussion areas, as well. When a participant logs into the site, the website notifies her if she has new mail and tells her which of her messages are unread. The website also supports collaborative writing and the sharing of information about science projects.
Middle-School Girls and High-School Mentors
High-school girls can look at middle-school girls' concerns from the point of view of someone who has "been there" recently. Carefully selected 11th- and 12th-grade mentors can offer valuable advice about staying involved with science and math in high school, including tips on studying, consequences of course choices, coping with academic stress, finding supportive teachers, and ways to locate math and science clubs.
Many middle-school girls are anxious about entering high school and know little about clubs and supportive teachers that could support their science and math learning and achievement. High-school mentors' advice and moral support is particularly valuable because they attend the high school that the middle-school girls will soon be attending. High-school juniors also provide the assurance that they will be there to welcome the 8th graders when they arrive at the high school.
Middle-School Girls and Women Mentors
Women mentors in science and technology fields provide a fresh perspective on the relevance and "real life" applications of the science and math being taught in middle-school classrooms. Many middle-school girls know little about professions, arts, and trades that involve science and math components. They rarely see their current classes in the context of possible careers.
Disadvantaged and minority students often lack female role models who would make science and math seem more relevant to their own futures. Many girls lack confidence in their ability to succeed in math and science and know little about particular branches of science such as biology, chemistry, and physics.
In "Eyes to the Future", girls develop year-long relationships with adult mentors and benefit from ongoing dialogues about how mentors chose their careers, how they use science and math at work, what schooling is needed for such a profession, what challenges they face, and what it feels like to be a woman in these fields. Girls broaden their understanding of different fields and explore different paths for the future and how science could be a part of their lives.
We work closely with teacher-facilitators and mentors to tailor activities for each school. Science activities vary from year to year in the program depending on the mentors', teachers', and students' interest. At the after-school clubs, girls write about their activities to their high-school and adult mentors using the "Eyes to the Future" website, and mentors can send feedback and relate the girls' activities to their own day-to-day work.
Creating an Online Magazine
Throughout the program, the 7th- and 8th-grade girls take on the role of "investigative reporters" whose goal it is to produce an online magazine, called "Speak Out!", for other girls their age (this magazine is hosted on this website). Based on their experiences in "Eyes to the Future," the girls write articles about their high-school and adult mentors, about what science is like in high school and in the workplace, and about what it's like to be a girl in middle school today. This writing component of the program helps the girls reflect on their experiences and think about their own views on what role science might have in their lives. Using tools created by "Eyes to the Future," the girls turn their articles into webpages, complete with color, images, and links. Once the pages are finished, the girls publish their work in the online magazine, where it is publicly available on the web. To read articles from the magazine, please return to the main page of this website and read articles under the "Middle School Stories", "High School Stories", "Real Scientists", or "Talking about Science".
"Eyes to the Future" is funded by the National Science Foundation and housed at TERC, Inc. in Cambridge, MA. Opinions expressed are not necessarily those of the Foundation.
( For more information about the program, please consult the "Eyes to the Future" public website; the information on this page is excerpted from that site. For contact information, look under the "Contact Us" section)
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