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Cultivating Diverse Talent In STEM

Overview:

The Cultivating Diverse Talent in STEM partnership is developing the next generation of "STEM innovators" by increasing the number and diversity of exceptionally talented students who have access to interventions that accelerate their learning. Specifically, this project is studying the potential of innovative methods to identify gifted students in STEM, especially among underserved Hispanic and Native American students in Arizona. This Prototype project in the Identifying and Cultivating Exceptional Talent focal area identifies students in their junior year and engages with them through their senior year of high school.


Partnering with Sunnyside Unified School District, Tuba City Unified School District, Greyhills Academy High School, and Shonto Preparatory Technology High School, the University of Arizona's BIO5 Institute and Colleges of Education, Pharmacy, and Science are comparing methods to identify and nurture gifted students in STEM. Students who have outstanding GPAs, convincing personal statements, and stellar teacher recommendations (traditional method) are participating side-by-side with students identified with an alternative method that assesses scientific abilities through creative problem solving and concept mapping.


Students identified as exceptionally talented through either method are being nurtured in a summer biomedical research program and in school year activities in their schools and communities. To assess students' success, the research team compares their attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors prior to, throughout, and after participation in the program. The project contributes knowledge to STEM education concerning how methods of identifying exceptional talent limit or enhance access to opportunities that nurture talent. It also provides insights into how students from different backgrounds respond to research experiences in biology, toxicology, engineering, and medicine.