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Significance of the Underrepresented
March 30, 2011


African Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans and persons with disabilities make up 24% of the general population, but only 7% of the science and engineering work force; representing the biggest gap in the U.S. science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, workforce. (National Science Board. Science and Engineering Indicators, 2000).

According to STEM education research, if women and minorities participated in the science and engineering workforce proportional to their presence in the general population, there would be no U.S. talent gap.

SEMAA'S Focus on the Underrepresented

NASA SEMAA harnesses the collective resources of NASA, institutions of higher education, science centers, museums and primary and secondary schools to bridge the education gap for historically underrepresented K-12 youth in STEM. SEMAA's focus on the underrepresented is evident in the demographics highlighted below.

2008 SEMAA Student Participant Demographics

  • Ethnic Minorities - (underrepresented in STEM) 86%
  • Low Income Students (below the national poverty level) - 53%
  • Students with Special Needs -
  • Females - 49%

Transcending Barriers

NASA SEMAA is committed to transcending barriers that stand between historically underrepresented students and the STEM classroom.

  • Commitment to Homeless Students and Families - Worked collaboratively with homeless shelters within the metro Washington, D.C. area to provide SEMAA services for homeless children and families. In addition to providing services within the shelters, SEMAA personnel arranged for busing to engage participants in SEMAA classes on the University's Campus.
  • Commitment to Students on the Pine Ridge Reservation Schools - SEMAA implemented an after-school robotics outreach program for five schools on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation that captured the participation of nearly 100 elementary and middle school students. Participating students used the new LEGO® MindStorms™ Robotic System to complete simulated missions on the surface of Mars. Given the tremendous response and success of the project, and due to popular request, SEMAA is now preparing for a Reservation-Wide Robotics Competition in 2009.

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Chart showing ethnic backgrounds of SEMAA students
SEMAA helps to promote STEM education amongst underrepresented ethnic groups.
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Page Last Updated: July 28th, 2013
Page Editor: NASA Administrator