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International Journal of STEM Education







The Nebraska Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics 4U (NE STEM 4U) program was initiated at the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) in 2013. NE STEM 4U is a student-run, faculty-led program facilitating problem-based learning (PBL) sessions in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) for socioeconomically disadvantaged kindergarten through grade 8 (K-8) students. PBL sessions are provided throughout the academic year in a twice-weekly, after-school, informal education program. The instructional material provided after school builds upon the curricula of the school day. Importantly, this program is a partnership between faculty members and administrators in higher education at UNO with community partners of Omaha including Collective for Youth, Beyond School Bells, and Omaha Public Schools. We focus on engaging K-8 youth in after-school immersion experiences in STEM fields using undergraduate students as mentors and facilitators using a model of problem-based learning.


This program fosters an educational pipeline for students with hands-on experience in problem-solving and critical thinking. The partnerships among the community provide the foundation for success for students across the K-16 pipeline.


Herein, we describe the model of this program as documented by demonstrated successes to date in an effort to guide others in developing such a model in their city or region. We also provide models for implementation of assessment instruments.


© 2016 Cutucache et al. Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.



Funded by the University of Nebraska at Omaha Open Access Fund