Project GUTS: Growing Up Thinking Scientifically - An Overview

Project GUTS, Growing Up Thinking Scientifically, began as a collaboration between the Santa Fe Institute, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, New Mexico Supercomputing Challenge, the Santa Fe Public School district, Santa Fe independent schools, science-related local businesses and local informal science centers. It began in January 2007 as a youth-based program that hoped to engage 200 middle school students and 40 school day teachers serving as club leaders during after school and extracurricular programs, in Santa Fe, New Mexico over a three year period.

Project GUTS has enjoyed a great amount of success with 133 students and 12 teacher participating in cohort 1 (during the 2007-8 school year) and 344 students and 25 teachers participating in cohort 2 (during the 2008-9 school year.) In the 2009-2010 school year we served almost 500 students and 30 teachers acting as club leaders.

Project GUTS aims to serve 6th through 8th grade students from underrepresented groups who make up approximately 75% of the student population in Santa Fe and 65% of students statewide. Project GUTS students will each participate up to 100 hours a year comprised of after school club meetings, field trips, and roundtables. Additionally students are invited to participate in the Supercomputing Challenge Kickoff and Expo and the Project GUTS 2-week summer intensive workshop. As GUTS students enter high school they have the opportunity to continue participating in Project GUTS as a student mentor.

The organizing framework for Project GUTS surrounds place-based research, which uses students' schools and neighborhoods as the focus for investigation, as the context for scientific inquiry and agent-based modeling. The study of complex adaptive systems comprises the theoretical framework for student investigations and serve as a unifying construct for GUTS endeavors. Near-peer mentoring by high school students, parent involvement, and meeting youths' developmental needs serve as project components designed to strengthen the educational pipeline of students committed to STEM areas.