STEM IL Nobel Project DREAM and Wealth Incubators


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Academic mentor: Prof. Ruby Mendenhall 

Community partner: Unity in Action Magazine

Community-Academic Scholar: Graciella Abbey

Project description: 
STEM Illinois is deeply rooted in the historic mission of land-grant institutions, which is to democratize higher education and to address the world’s most pressing societal challenges. However, over 150 years after the Morrill Act was passed, social inequality reflects the harsh lived experiences of racially marginalized groups.

The Nobel project, in partnership with Tanya Parker at Unity in Action Magazine, works with youth from 5th to 12th grade to create a unique ecosystem that will nurture future computer scientists in industry and the academy. The Nobel project is also a pathway program to the Carle Illinois College of Medicine and provides students with artistic experiences (e.g., graphic design, documentaries, etc.). The Nobel project will use a radical model of intergenerational outreach and education to create DREAM and wealth incubators where all members of the community see, understand, and feel that they can contribute to computer science and health innovation. The DREAM incubator will partner youth with mentors to help them achieve their bold and audacious ideas. The wealth incubator will help youth develop legacy wealth based on Dr. Pamela Jolly’s framework of social, human, intellectual, cultural, and spiritual capital.

The Nobel Project research questions include:

  1. Which aspects of our culturally engaging program fosters a computer science and medicine identity among the youth? 
  2. How have we provided unprecedented access to the fields of computer science and medicine? and,
  3. In what ways is the entire community engaged in supporting their youth to pursue careers in computer science?

Role of the Community-Academic Scholar:
The Community-Academic Scholar will help us answer our research questions through qualitative research and will help to produce a documentary about the project. They will review video submitted by Nobel scholars to help us create a storyline for the documentary. They will help students with PowerPoint digital books that capture their experiences during the Nobel project. They will also conduct surveys and interview Nobel scholars about their experiences with computer science and medicine. The Community-Academic Scholar will also help us to document how students are moving towards achieving their DREAMs and accumulating legacy wealth.