Partner Highlight: Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) and Chicas Youth Development Program: A Bilingual, Bicultural Collaboration Model

Veronika Nunez, OMSI

This month's Partner Highlight features a NISE Net partner whose collaborative projects with a local community organization helps provide high-quality STEM learning experiences to Latina girls and women through hands-on programming and more.

The Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) has a history of fruitful collaboration with one of the most focused and dedicated
local community organizations providing support to Latina girls and women in the state of Oregon: Adelante Mujeres.

Adelante Mujeres, through the Chicas Youth Development Program (one of their many programs), helps participants to develop their potential as community leaders, adopt a healthy lifestyle, develop their cultural identity, and achieve academic success in their education, from school to their enrollment in college.

Over the past few years, OMSI and Chicas Youth Development Program have collaborated in various ways, including OMSI’s participation during their STEM summer camp week. For the past four years, OMSI has been invited to the camp and facilitated hands-on sessions, including activities around the topic of nanotechnology. The sessions are usually held in English and Spanish since most of the girls are bilingual and interactions happen in both languages, according to the girls’ needs.

But this is not the only project in which Chicas and OMSI actively collaborate.  Thanks to a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF), the two organizations are currently developing and will soon implement an ambitious project called Designing Our World (Adelante Mujeres is one of four organizations OMSI is partnering with for this project). The project centers on STEM equity and addresses the need for more girls to pursue engineering careers. During the 2015-2016 and 2016-2017 school years, OMSI and Chicas will facilitate at least eight engineering focused afterschool sessions, as well as field trips, family events, parent workshops, and other professional development opportunities.

One of the goals of Designing Our World is to create experiences that are culturally relevant for the girls and their families. With this purpose in mind, OMSI and Chicas are collaborating to create these programs, providing opportunities for teams and staff to meet and discuss and share ideas and perspectives that can enrich the experience of participants. Meetings and working sessions are happening both at OMSI and Adelante Mujeres to allow a more inclusive environment and to provide team members with the opportunity of getting to know both the organizations and the communities from a different perspective.

It has been an incredible way to nourish and grow our knowledge and a unique opportunity to learn how to personalize experiences and adapt programs to the needs of diverse communities; our community.

To learn more about NISE Net partner, OMSI, visit http://omsi.edu/
or contact Veronika Nunez at VNunez@omsi.edu for more information about OMSI's collaborative projects with Chicas Youth Development Program.