Urban Advantage Denver
UA Denver serves approximately 3,000 students and 24-30 teachers annually from Denver Public Schools middle schools. Findings from a comprehensive efficacy study show that the program creates a positive environment in which teachers can engage their students in STEM learning. UA Denver teachers devote 44% of class time to student-directed investigation experiences, compared to 19% for non-UA teachers—an increase of 25%. UA Denver students are significantly more likely than their non-UA peers to report an interest in pursuing science-related activities outside of school, demonstrating the program’s positive impact on student interest, engagement, and persistence in science.
- Need Accomplished
- Evaluation Accomplished
- Sustainability Developing
- Replication & Scalability Developing
- Partnerships Accomplished
- Capacity Accomplished
- Challenging & Relevant Content Accomplished
- STEM Practices Accomplished
- Inspiration Developing
- Under-Represented Groups Accomplished
“I am so impressed by Urban Advantage: they have taken scientific discovery into our least affluent communities and engaged our most vulnerable students in love of learning through scientific exploration…Of particular note was the gender and racial diversity of the participants, which directly addresses the prevailing imbalances in STEM education and employment.”
representing the Colorado Department of Higher Education
The programs in this database clear a high bar. STEMworks reviewed each program against the Design Principles for Effective STEM Philanthropy. Programs must be Accomplished () across all Design Principles, or be Developing () in a maximum of three areas.
Identify and target a compelling and well-defined need.
Use rigorous evaluation to continuously measure and inform progress towards the compelling need identified.
Ensure work is sustainable.
Replication & Scalability Developing
Demonstrate replicability and scalability.
Create high impact partnerships.
Ensure organizational capacity to achieve goals.
Challenging & Relevant Content Accomplished
Offer challenging and relevant STEM content for the target audience.
STEM Practices Accomplished
Incorporate and encourage STEM practices.
Inspire interest and engagement in STEM.
Under-Represented Groups Accomplished
Identify and address the needs of under-represented groups.
Urban Advantage Denver (UA Denver) improves science literacy and reduces achievement gaps among middle school students by immersing them in scientific questions based on observable phenomena; connecting them with STEM professionals; building critical thinking and process skills; and fostering positive attitudes toward STEM fields. In addition to multifaceted, hands-on educational opportunities for students both in and outside the classroom, UA Denver maximizes its impact by involving teachers and families—students’ support system. UA Denver comprises multiple integrated experiences throughout the academic year: * Professional development sessions throughout the year equip teachers with strategies to connect inquiry-based science teaching methods with district curricula, Colorado Academic Standards, and Next Generation Science Standards Engineering and Science Practices. * Students become invested in their own learning through facilitated activities and open-ended, student-driven scientific investigations around natural phenomena. Students visit the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, Denver Zoo, and Denver Botanic Gardens on field trips, and have opportunities to visit with their families on their own time. * Family events at the partner cultural institutions and within the community inform families and build confidence in supporting their child’s education. Free access to partner institutions (via field trips, bus allowances, and admission passes) encourages participants to use the institutions as learning resources
Funders and Partners
UA Denver is a partnership among three major science-based cultural institutions—Denver Museum of Nature & Science, Denver Zoo, and Denver Botanic Gardens—and Denver Public Schools, one of the largest and most diverse districts in Colorado. The National Science Foundation previously supported this work with a five-year grant designed to study the efficacy of an informal-formal education collaboration to enhance teachers’ effectiveness in providing STEM education and assure all students the opportunity to learn STEM content and 21st century skills. The program currently receives leadership support from the Carnegie Corporation of New York.