The purpose of this project is to design, study, and evaluate a model afterschool program in which fourth and fifth grade boys work with UH undergraduate STEM majors to learn about engineering. The research on the program has two broad purposes: First, to study the participants (i.e., elementary school students, undergraduate mentors, undergraduate pre-service teachers, and male relatives), and second to evaluate the implementation and impact of the program on the elementary students.

Award Number 1760311 (ITEST-Innovative Technology Experiences for Students)

Research Team

Dr. Jerrod A Henderson
PI: Dr. Jerrod A Henderson, University of Houston (jahende6 [at] Central.UH.EDU)

Dr. Jerrod A. Henderson (”Dr. J”) is an Instructional Assistant Professor in the Cullen College of Engineering at the University of Houston. He joined the University of Houston after six years as a chemical engineering faculty member at the University of Illinois. He has dedicated his career to increasing the number of students who are in the pipeline to pursue STEM careers. He believes that exposing students to STEM early will have a lasting impact upon their lives and academic pursuits. He is the co-founder of the St. Elmo Brady STEM Academy (SEBA). SEBA is an educational intervention aimed at exposing underrepresented fourth and fifth grade boys to hands-on, inquiry based STEM experiments and activities. Henderson is a part of the first year engineering experience team and he was recently appointed by the Dean of the College as the Director of the Program for Mastery in Engineering Studies (PROMES), a program aimed at increasing engineering student achievement, engagement, and graduation rates. His research interests are in engineering identity formation and persistence among underrepresented students, especially African American males. He was most recently recognized by INSIGHT Into Diversity Magazine as an Inspiring STEM Leader Award recipient.

Mariam Manuel
Co-P: Dr. Mariam Manuel, University of Houston (mamanuel [at] Central.UH.EDU)

Mariam Manuel is a graduate of the University of Houston’s TeachHouston program and the UTeach Engineering Master’s program at the University of Texas at Austin. In Spring 2016, Mariam returned to the University of Houston to serve as an Instructional Assistant Professor / Master Teacher for teach-HOUSTON. In this role, Mariam is charged with teaching and inspiring the next generation of high-quality math and science teachers through inquiry-based instruction and ongoing field experiences. Mariam also teaches Physics 4345 (Physics for Pre-Service Teachers), a course that connects middle school physics state standards with content knowledge and instructional strategies that are designed to enhance student learning. Mariam is also the one of the writers and instructors for the Preparing for AP Physics I Massive Open Online Course (MOOC), offered through the University of Houston. The MOOC has served over 10,000 students in more than 110 different countries.

Mariam previously served as the Instructional Specialist for the Robert Shaw Center for STEAM in the Katy Independent School District (KISD). She was responsible for implementing STEAM curriculum, instruction, and projects appropriate for K-12 students. Additionally, Mariam has taught both on-level and AP Physics I (formerly known as Pre-AP Physics) and played an integral role in writing the district physics curriculum consisting of rigorous labs, activities, and projects. Mariam fills the role of Alumni Representative on the UTeach STEM Educators Association (USEA) Board and was also elected Secretary-Treasurer. She is also currently pursuing a Ph.D. in STEM education at Texas Tech University.

Dr. Virginia Snodgrass Rangel
Internal Evaluator: Dr. Virginia Snodgrass Rangel, University of Houston (vrangel4 [at] Central.UH.EDU)

Virginia Snodgrass Rangel, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies at the University of Houston, where she teaches courses on program evaluation, research design, and quantitative research methods. Her research interests include STEM education, reentry of justice-involved youth, policy implementation and evaluation, and program evaluation.

Chelsea Martinez
Graduate Research Assistant: Chelsea Martinez, University of Houston

Chelsea Martinez is a Ph.D. student in the Higher Education Leadership and Policy Studies at the University of Houston, where she studies college access, early college high school programs and non-traditional student resources. Her prior work experiences include college access counseling at the high school level and college recruitment and substitute teaching.

Mr. Rick Greer
Program Manager: Mr. Rick Greer, University of Houston (rpgreer [at]

Rick Greer graduated from Tuskegee University with a bachelor’s in History. He went on to work at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign as a community outreach specialist & unit operations laboratory manager. Mr. Greer is also a co-founder of St. Elmo Brady STEM Academy (SEBA). Currently, Mr. Greer has enrolled in the Higher Education M. Ed program at the University of Houston. His research interests include STEM education, STEM identity development and disability services. Mr. Greer’s thesis research investigates STEM identity development in Black college males in engineering.

Melanie Davis-Sanchez
Family and Parent Liaison: Melanie Davis-Sanchez

Known for her selective word choice even in casual conversation, Melanie is a staunch advocate when it comes to assisting others with acquiring lifelong reading and writing skills. Melanie currently serves as an adjunct professor at two colleges and universities in Texas where she teaches developmental studies and English composition. She has held roles as mentor teacher for Region IV, Houston ISD, and Univ. of Houston, respectively in addition to demonstration lessons to assist classroom teachers with effective implementation of strategies. She has been recognized for her efforts in education such as Top 10% of Teaching excellence in Houston ISD in English Language arts instruction (top 10% based on state and national data), Teacher of the Year recipient for HAABSE, Houston Area Alliance of Black School Educators, Houston ISD Fan Favorite Teacher of the Year finalist, a district vote in from the community where she placed in the final 4 of over hundreds of educators in the largest district in Texas. She has also received the distinction of being a Houston ISD District teacher of the year award recipient, Superintendent Schools region. Melanie’s research surrounds English acquisition for all language learners, interjections of visual rhetoric to enhance digital literacy into english language arts instruction, embedding cognitive behavior therapy and techniques in instruction and behavior management as well as working class studies and precarity. She also conducts research of color coding theory in instruction, Autism and ADHD behavior management. She is an advocate for students and families with exceptionalities, a firm proponent of positive reinforcement, in addition to being certified to teach Project Based Learning. Melanie has been selected to serve as a secondary education science fair judge for Environmental Sciences, sports coach and writing club coordinator. She actively serves as a family and parent liaison with St. Elmo Brady STEM Academy in the University of Houston College of Engineering department.

Melanie has earned her Bachelor’s degree from Louisiana State University-Shreveport,  Master's Degree in Education with a concentration in Critical Reading Skills from Centenary College of Louisiana and has also received an M.S. degree in English from Texas A&M University-Commerce in Summer 2021.With over 17 years of successful teaching experience, this veteran educator’s goal is to continue to bridge the gaps in learning for all students, no matter their race, gender, disability, or address.