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Making Science Matter: Collaborations Between Informal Science Education Organizations and Schools

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A CAISE Inquiry Group Report
March 2010
Making Science Matter:
Collaborations Between Informal
Science Education Organizations
and Schools
caise
center for advancement of
informal science education
About CAISE
The Center for Advancement of Informal Science Education (CAISE) works to strengthen and connect the
informal science education community by catalyzing conversation and collaboration across the entire eld—
including lm and broadcast media, science centers and museums, zoos and aquariums, botanical gardens
and nature centers, digital media and gaming, science journalism, and youth, community, and after-school
programs. CAISE focuses on improving practice, documenting evidence of impact, and communicating the
contributions of informal science education.
Founded in 2007 with support from the National Science Foundation (NSF), CAISE is a partnership among
the Association of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC), Oregon State University (OSU), the University
of Pittsburgh Center for Learning in Out-of-School Environments (UPCLOSE), and the Visitor Studies
Association (VSA). Inverness Research Associates serves as evaluator. CAISE is housed at ASTC’s
Washington, D.C. ofces.
For more information contact:
Center for Advancement of Informal Science Education
1025 Vermont Avenue NW, Suite 500
Washington, DC 20005-6310
202/783-7200
www.caise.insci.org
Copyright © 2010 Center for Advancement of Informal Science Education
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or
transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise,
without the prior written permission of the Center for Advancement of Informal Science Education.
Citation:
Bevan, B. with Dillon, J., Hein, G.E., Macdonald, M., Michalchik, V., Miller, D., Root, D., Rudder, L.,
Xanthoudaki, M., & Yoon, S. 2010. Making Science Matter: Collaborations Between Informal Science
Education Organizations and Schools. A CAISE Inquiry Group Report. Washington, D.C.: Center for
Advancement of Informal Science Education (CAISE).
Making Science Matter: Collaborations Between Informal Science
Education Organizations and Schools
This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. DRL-
0638981. Any opinions, ndings, and conclusions, expressed in this material are those of the authors
and do not necessarily reect the views of the National Science Foundation or the Center for Advance-
ment of Informal Science Education.
CAISE Formal-Informal Partnerships Inquiry Group Participants
Bronwyn Bevan* Director, Center for Informal Learning and Schools, Exploratorium,
San Francisco
Justin Dillon Professor, Science and Environmental Education, and Head of the
Science and Technology Group, King’s College, London
George E. Hein Professor Emeritus, Lesley University, Cambridge, Massachusetts
Maritza Macdonald Senior Director, Education and Policy, American Museum of Natural
History, New York City
Vera Michalchik Senior Social Scientist, Center for Technology in Learning,
SRI International, Menlo Park, California
Diane Miller Senior Vice President, School and Community Programs and
Partnerships, Saint Louis Science Center, Missouri
Dolores Root Senior Program Ofcer, New Visions for Public Schools, New York City
Lorna Rudder-Kilkenny Director, Central Library Department, Queens Public Library,
Jamaica, New York
Maria Xanthoudaki Director, Education and International Relations, National Museum of
Science and Technology Leonardo da Vinci, Milan, Italy
Susan Yoon Assistant Professor, Graduate School of Education, University of
Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
Center for Advancement of Informal Science Education (CAISE) Washington, D.C. March 2010
*Corresponding author (bbevan@exploratorium.edu)
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Contents
Foreword........................................................................................................................................................................................................6
CAISE Formal-Informal Partnerships Inquiry Group Participants ........................................................7
Acknowledgments..............................................................................................................................................................................10
Executive Summary..........................................................................................................................................................................11
Introduction................................................................................................................................................................................ 11
This Report...................................................................................................................................................................................11
Rationale........................................................................................................................................................................................12
Theoretical Perspectives...................................................................................................................................................13
Program Examples..................................................................................................................................................................14
Emergent Themes...................................................................................................................................................................15
Recommendations..................................................................................................................................................................15
Part 1: Introduction......................................................................................................................................................................... 17
Terms and Limitations........................................................................................................................................................ 19
Program Spotlights and Analyses................................................................................................................................19
Part 2: Rationale and Theory................................................................................................................................................. 21
Emerging Views of Science Literacy and Learning....................................................................................... 21
Working Across Boundaries............................................................................................................................................. 23
Structural Features and Affordances for Science Learning................................................................... 23
Social Features and Affordances for Science Learning.............................................................................25
Summary........................................................................................................................................................................................27
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Part 3: Formal-Informal Collaborations......................................................................................................................28
Documented Results........................................................................................................................................................... 30
Type 1: Supplementary Classroom Enrichment.............................................................................. 30
Type 2: Integrated Classroom Resources........................................................................................... 35
Type 3: Sustained Student Learning Communities...................................................................... 40
Type 4: Sustained Teacher Learning Communities..................................................................... 44
Type 5: District Infrastructure Development.................................................................................. 49
Summary.......................................................................................................................................................................................53
Part 4: Emergent Themes.........................................................................................................................................................54
Theme 1: Conceptually Rich and Compelling Science Learning Experiences....... 54
Theme 2: Boundary-Spanning Science Learning Communities......................................... 55
Theme 3: A Commitment to More Inclusive Science................................................................ 56
Theme 4: A Lack of Documentation and Evidence..................................................................... 57
Theme 5: The Challenge and Benets of Collaboration........................................................ 57
Summary.......................................................................................................................................................................................59
Part 5: Conclusion............................................................................................................................................................................ 60
References................................................................................................................................................................................................62
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Foreword
This report is the result of work by the Center for Advancement of Informal Science Education (CAISE)
Formal/Informal Inquiry Group which was constituted in 2008 to explore relationships between science
education in formal and informal settings.
We are grateful to all of the members of the group for their contributions, and particularly to Bronwyn
Bevan, who led the group and drafted this report. Each of the group’s members brought a depth of
experience to their exploration of this topic. In addition, the group solicited input during a session
at the July 2008 Informal Science Education Summit in Washington, D.C., organized by CAISE;
through reviews of published literature and case studies; and through consultations with their extensive
networks.
The report offers an alternative to the traditional view of informal education as secondary or
supplementary to schools, instead examining what the authors call “the hybrid nature of formal-informal
collaborations.” Drawing on both theoretical perspectives and case studies, the authors suggest that, “in
fact, formal-informal collaborations fall exactly within the core activities of both schools and informal
learning organizations, including museums, youth programs, and libraries.” By taking advantage of “the
particular affordances and strengths of different institutional types,” formal-informal collaborations, they
say, can “meet shared goals of making science learning more accessible and compelling to young people
in our communities.”
With its concise summary of relevant theory, its case studies of effective programs, and its delineation of
the affordances of each, this report will be of value to all who are dedicated to this goal.
The discussions that began among the members of the Formal-Informal Collaborations Inquiry Group
are intended to inform and spark further study, discussion, and reection among colleagues from across
the eld. We look forward to continuing the conversation. To nd out about online discussions and
conference sessions, visit the CAISE website (www.insci.org), join the CAISE Forum (at www.connect.
astc.org), or subscribe to the CAISE Newsletter.
We are grateful to the National Science Foundation for its support of CAISE Inquiry Groups and
informal science education eld.
Wendy Pollock
Principal Investigator/Director
Center for Advancement of Informal Science Education
Washington, D.C.
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CAISE Formal-Informal Partnerships Inquiry Group Participants
Bronwyn Bevan is the director of the Exploratorium’s Center for Informal Learning and Schools,
an NSF-funded CLT that develops professional practices and knowledge related to strengthening
connections between learning in- and out-of-school. Bevan has worked at the Exploratorium since
1991. She currently serves as a Principal or Co-Principal Investigator on several projects, including
the NSFAYS Research & Evaluation Center, the Museums After-school: Principles, Data, and Design
project, DRL-Net, and the Learning about Out-of-School-Time (LOST) Learning Opportunities project.
Bevan’s work in both research and professional development focuses on strengthening partnerships
between cultural institutions and schools, and building understanding about the ways that different
educational settings shape opportunities for learning.
Justin Dillon is Professor of Science and Environmental Education and Head of the Science and
Technology Group at King’s College London. After teaching in London schools for 10 years, Prof.
Dillon joined the staff at King’s in 1989. He has researched and published widely in both science
and environmental education and directs King’s contribution to the European Commission-funded
project, Towards Women in Science and Technology. Prof. Dillon’s BSc is in Chemistry (University
of Birmingham) and his MA (Science Education) and Ph.D. were both awarded by King’s College
London, University of London. Prof. Dillon was elected President of the European Science Education
Research Association (ESERA) in 2007. He is a trustee of Sustainability and Environmental Education,
Past Chair of both the London Wildlife Trust and the London Environmental Education Forum and
Secretary of Bankside Open Spaces Trust. As well as being an editor of the International Journal of
Science Education, he is on the editorial board of Environmental Education Research, the Journal
of Environmental Education and many other science and environmental education journals. He is a
member of both the Society of Biology and the Royal Society of Chemistry and is a Fellow of the
Linnaen Society of London.
George E. Hein, Professor Emeritus at Lesley University, is active in visitor studies and museum
education as a researcher and teacher. Originally trained as a chemist (Ph.D. University of Michigan, and
faculty positions at U. of Michigan, California Institute of Technology, Boston University and Harvard
Medical School) he turned to science education and then museum education, joining Lesley University
in 1975. He was a Fulbright Research Fellow in Science Education at King’s College, London (1990),
visiting faculty member at the University of Leicester Museum Studies Program (1996), Visiting Scholar
at the California Institute of Technology (1998), Osher Fellow at The Exploratorium in San Francisco
(1999) and Visiting Professor at University of Technology, Sydney (2000). He serves on the advisory
boards for several museum exhibition development teams, and as a consultant for numerous museums.
He is the author, with Mary Alexander, of Museums, Places of Learning (AAM, 1998) and of Learning
in the Museum (Routledge, 1998) as well as numerous articles on visitor studies, museum education and
museology. He has lectured widely, including cultural tours in Brazil, Finland, Greece, Mexico, Norway,
Spain, and Taiwan. He has been active in ICOM/CECA serving as both secretary and president of CECA
in the 1990’s. His primary current interest is the signicance of John Dewey’s work for museums.
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Maritza Macdonald is Senior Director of Education and Policy for the American Museum of Natural
History (AMNH) since 1997. Dr. Macdonald‘s major responsibilities include research, evaluation,
policy, higher education partnerships teaching courses and managing internships from higher education
partners, and international partnerships. Dr. Macdonald was a member of the National Commission
on 21st Century STEM Education, National Science Board, Washington, D.C. (2007) and the Regents
Work Group on Urban Education. She has been Co-PI on grants from the National Science Foundation
(NSF) to prepare Earth Science Teachers in collaboration with graduate schools of education (TRUST);
and from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), to develop science museum
education supports for English Language Learners (ELL) middle school students. Dr. Macdonald also
works closely with exhibitions for conducting in-house evaluations and managing external evaluations
of education impact. Graduate courses focus on teaching and learning in museums, informal science,
and evaluation and research and international work with museums and science research institutions
interns from South Africa, Europe, Vietnam, China, Japan, and South America. Prior to working at
AMNH, Macdonald worked at Columbia University Teachers College in Urban Education Research,
and directed teacher education program at Bank Street College of Education. In all these contexts she
focuses on issues of equity and the policies that affect learning and access to learning for underserved
groups.
Vera Michalchik is a Senior Social Scientist at SRI International’s Center for Technology in Learning
where she leads the informal learning practice. Her work includes helping lead the NSFAYS Research
and Evaluation Center, studying technology-focused youth development programs, researching models
for building partnerships between informal science institutions and schools, coordinating worldwide
evaluation for education programs funded by the Intel Foundation, and developing assessments for
informal learning settings. Vera also conducts research in the areas of teacher professional development
and visualizations for learning science and math. From 2006-2008, she served on the NSF-sponsored
Committee on Learning Science in Informal Environments at the National Research Council. Vera holds
a Ph.D. from Stanford University.
Diane Miller is the Senior Vice President of School and Community Programs and Partnerships at
the Saint Louis Science Center. Her overall responsibilities include initiating, developing, coordinating,
and implementing STEM programs and collaborative projects with schools, community-based
organizations, underserved audiences, interns, and youth. Working with schools and community-based
organizations, she is responsible to develop strategies that increase the involvement of audiences
not usually reached by the Saint Louis Science Center. Miller was the project director and program
developer for two YouthALIVE! grants, one for the California Science Center (formerly the California
Museum of Science and Industry) and one for the Saint Louis Science Center. She was a member of the
YouthALIVE! steering committee and responsible for co-planning and co-facilitating national network
meetings. Currently she is PI on an NSF grant and Co-PI on two additional NSF grants. A main focus of
her job is to design and manage programs that utilize the environment and galleries of the Saint Louis
Science Center, and to develop comprehensive, inviting curriculum that nurtures and interest in science,
technology, engineering, and math.
Dolores Root has a Ph.D. in anthropology and over 30 years experience in public programming
in the arts, science and humanities. Dolores has held leadership positions in museums, a public
humanities council and education. She has taught and lectured on museums and public interpretation,
published articles and reviews in professional journals and organized and participated in national
and international conferences and symposia. She was the Director for Exhibits and Programs at the
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EcoTarium in Worcester, MA, where she transformed a venerable natural history museum into an environmental
science museum focused on the urban ecosystem. Currently, she works for New Visions for Public Schools, an
education reform organization, and is involved in a partnership with the American Museum of Natural History
working to improve the teaching and learning of science in New York City public schools.
Lorna Rudder-Kilkenny is the Director of the Central Library Department at the Queens Public Library
in Jamaica, New York. She directs all public service operations, activities and staff of the Central Library and
oversees a 1.5 million item collection that includes: a book collection which supports up to graduate level
programs in some subjects; a multi-media center with 80k+ CDs, DVDs and audio books; and books in more
than 50 languages. Ms. Rudder-Kilkenny is the Principal Investigator for the NSF funded Science in the
Stacks program. This novel project seeks to create a new model for children’s public library services in urban
settings by integrating interactive museum type STEM exhibits with the traditional print and electronic library
resources. The Science in the Stacks Program will be an integral part of the Central Library’s new Children’s
Library Discovery Center (CLDC) scheduled to be opened in Fall 2009. Ms. Kilkenny holds a Masters degree
in Library Science from Pratt Institute in New York.
Maria Xanthoudaki is Director of Education and of International Relations at the National Museum of
Science and Technology Leonardo da Vinci of Milan, Italy. Dr. Xanthoudaki’s major responsibilities as
Director of Education include the development of policy and strategy for education addressing different
audiences and the management of the education staff and programmes. She is also coordinator of trans-national
cooperation projects for science education, informal learning or museum education and involved in professional
development courses for museum educators and teachers as trainer. As Director of International Relations,
she is in charge of the Museum’s joint programmes with foreign institutions. Dr Xanthoudaki holds a B.A. in
Education from the University of Crete (GR), a Master in Art Education and a Ph.D. in Museum Education
from the University of Sussex (UK). Before entering the National Museum of Science and Technology, she was
Senior Research Associate at the Department of Education and Professional Development at the University of
East Anglia (UK) where she worked also with the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts. She has taught B.A. and
postgraduate courses at the University of Siena, the University of Padoa, the Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa,
and professional development courses for museums across the country. Since 2001, Dr Xanthoudaki is also
Expert Fellow at the Bocconi University, Department of Management, for the Workshop in Museums and Art
Markets. She is member of the Annual Conference Programme Committee of Ecsite, the European Network
of Science Centres and Museums; member of the Editorial Board of the Journal of Science Communication,
member of the Regional Committee for the Dissemination of Scientic Culture (Region of Lombardy, Italy)
and member for the steering committee of THE Group (the thematic group of Ecsite focusing on explainers’
professional development).
Susan Yoon is Assistant Professor in the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania. Her
research and teaching span the disciplinary elds of Science, Technology, and Learning Sciences Education
where she works with both teachers in professional development activities and students in classroom and
informal learning environments. Her core interests include applying complex systems and social networking
theories and methods to curricula, group interactions, and larger educational social systems. She is the PI of
two NSF projects aimed at increasing participation in the STEM education and career pipeline for underserved
youth in the Philadelphia region. The rst is an out-of-school time project for youth in grades 4–8: SPARK—
Igniting Interest and Achievement in STEM through Engineering Design (2006–2009). The second is a high
school project: Nanotechnology and Bioengineering in Philadelphia Public Schools, under the NSF-ITEST
program (2008–2011). She is also Co-PI with the Franklin Institute Science Museum on an NSF-ISE project:
ARIEL—Augmented Reality for Interpretive and Experiential Learning (2008–2012).
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Acknowledgments
This report would not have been possible without the thoughts, reactions, and help of many colleagues
who consulted, drafted, forwarded, or reviewed descriptive material for the spotlighted programs:
Catherine Aldrich, Sue Allen, Dennis Bartels, Rita Bell, Judy Brown, Connie Chow, Kevin Crowley,
Elaine Czarnecki, Debi Duke, Preeti Gupta, Amito Haarhuis, Jennifer Hope, Cheryl Juarez, David
Kanter, Jim Kisiel, Steven Mucher, Terrie Nolinske, Chris Parsons, Wendy Pollock, Rebecca Prosino,
Lynn Rankin, Noah Rauch, Stephen Scannell, Dennis Schatz, Rob Semper, Linda Shore, David Smith,
Claudia Sumler, Abigail Swetz, Dave Ucko, and Bill Watson. Many other colleagues responded to our
queries for program examples, and we thank them for their interest and support, and regret that space
limitations did not allow us to include all of the excellent examples we learned and read about. We
also thank Christine Ruffo of ASTC for design and layout of this report.
Special thanks to Catherine Eberbach for her work reviewing the eld to identify programs to
spotlight in this report, and also for her review of and reactions to early drafts of the report.
Bronwyn Bevan
Justin Dillon
George E. Hein
Maritza Macdonald
Vera Michalchik
Diane Miller
Dolores Root
Lorna Rudder-Kilkenny
Maria Xanthoudaki
Susan Yoon
March 2010
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Executive Summary
Introduction
Throughout the world, and for many decades, science-rich cultural institutions, such as zoos, aquaria,
museums, and others, have collaborated with schools to provide students, teachers and families with
opportunities to expand their experiences and understanding of science. A recent study (Phillips,
Finkelstein, & Wever-Frerichs, 2007) found that more than 70% of science-rich cultural institutions in
the United States have programs specically designed for school audiences. These programs include
supplementary classroom experiences; integrated core academic curricula; student science learning
communities located in afterschool, summer, and weekend programs; teacher professional development
programs and communities; and even district infrastructure efforts around issues such as standards and
assessment development or teacher preparation.
These collaborations have allowed students, and also teachers, to explore, understand, and care about a
wide range of natural settings, phenomena, and cultural and historical objects. They have helped students
to notice, consider, and investigate relationships between human social behavior and environmental
consequences. They have provided contexts, materials, rationales, and support for students and teachers
to engage deeply in scientic inquiry processes of learning. These experiences—with an array of real-
life settings, animals, professional science communities, objects, scientic instrumentation, and current
research and data—have been shown to spark curiosity, generate questions, and lead to a depth of
understanding and commitment in ways that are often less possible when the same material is encountered
in books or on screens.
But despite scores of such examples, these collaborations have generally failed to institutionalize: in many
communities they come and go with changes in funding or leadership. There are many reasons for this
pattern, both global and local. Global reasons relate to the hybrid nature of formal-informal collaborations
which make them fall outside of obvious funding categories, render standard assessment tools inadequate
to document their effects, and challenge priorities for both formal and informal institutions, since this
work appears to fall outside of the core activities of each institutional type. Local reasons include changes
in leadership or immediate priorities.
This report begins with the premise that it is important for us to move beyond these challenges. We
draw on theoretical perspectives as well as practical examples to show that, in fact, formal-informal
collaborations fall exactly within the core activities of both schools and informal learning organizations,
including museums, youth programs, and libraries. But we do not argue, simply, for more collaborations.
Rather, we argue for more intentional and strategic deployments of resources, leading to collaborations
that build on the particular affordances and strengths of different institutional types to meet shared goals
of making science learning more accessible and compelling to young people in our communities.
This Report
This report does three things that we hope will advance discussion about the value and nature of formal-
informal collaborations:
Provides a rationale and theoretical basis for why the ISE and K–12 elds should care about and
pursue such collaborations.
1)
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Reviews examples of such collaborations, noting their documented outcomes, and identifying emergent
themes or characteristics.
Identies existing trends, gaps, and questions that would benet from further experiments in both
research and practice.
Formal-informal collaborations are dened in this report as taking place among K–12 schools (and the
supportive infrastructure including schools of education or district and state education ofces), and informal
learning organizations which include (a) informal education organizations (such as libraries, afterschool and
youth programs) and/or (b) science-rich cultural institutions (such as museums, zoos, nature centers, and
aquaria).
Rationale
Over the past decade, consensus in research, policy, and education communities has begun to emerge
around three crucial understandings that pertain directly to the value and importance of formal-informal
collaborations as well as to informal science education itself. These are:
Scientic literacy is more than factual recall; it involves a rich array of conceptual understanding,
ways of thinking, capacities to use scientic knowledge for personal and social purposes, and an
understanding of the meaning and relevance of science to everyday life (American Association for the
Advancement of Science, 1993; National Academies of Sciences Committee on Science Learning K–8,
2007).
Learning, and the development of a sustained commitment to a discipline, develops over multiple
settings and timeframes (Bransford et al., 2006; National Research Council, 2000, 2009).
Science education, as it is traditionally constituted, fails to engage and include a signicant portion
of society; most notably, women and people from high-poverty and non-dominant communities are
underrepresented in science professional, academic, and organized leisure-time activities (Barton &
Yang, 2000; Eisenhart, Finkel, & Marion, 1996; Nasir, Rosebery, Warren, & Lee, 2006).
These consensus understandings have direct implications for formal-informal collaborations. First, because
the emerging vision of scientic literacy is complex, no single institution, such as schools, afterschool or
youth organizations, or science-rich cultural institutions, can achieve this vision acting alone. It will take a
combination of resources, expertise, timeframes, and learning designs to support and expand science literacy
in today’s world. Second, if we understand that children learn through multiple, varied, independent, and
inter-dependent experiences across time and settings, it is incumbent upon educational designers and leaders
(both formal and informal) to provide experiences that leverage prior and future experiences, and help to build
coherence and meaning, across settings, around critical ideas and understandings in science. Third, schools
serve diverse socioeconomic and cultural populations. But schools that serve high-poverty communities tend
to be under-resourced, text-based, and test-driven (Harvard Civil Rights Project, 2006; Nasir et al., 2006);
as such, despite dedicated teaching, these schools have limited capacity to support the development of rich
science literacies. At the same time, science-rich cultural institutions, while excelling in ways to make science
compelling, are less likely to work with children from under-represented communities. Formal-informal
collaborations bring both the audiences and the opportunities together.
2)
3)
1)
2)
3)
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Theoretical Perspectives
The recent NRC volume Learning Science in Informal Environments (2009) stresses the utility of
sociocultural theories of learning for guiding program designs and evaluations in informal as well as formal
settings. Sociocultural perspectives suggest the importance of establishing authentic goals or purposes
that provide students a meaningful context in which they can build on their skills, strengths, and interests
to participate in and contribute to valued activities (Bronfenbrenner, 1979; Eisenhart et al., 1996; Rogoff,
2003; Stetsenko & Arievitch, 2004). Learning activities are organized such that they require participants to
take up and use the cultural tools of science in order to achieve their goals. In this view, people learn to use
the tools of science (such as thermometers, telescopes, formulae, scientic argumentation, modeling, and
others) because they are the best available means for answering questions or achieving purposes that matter
to them. In this sense, powerful learning activities are designed to be “authentic” both in terms of establishing
real purposes for undertaking them, and in introducing the tools of science as the best available means for
successfully achieving one’s purpose (which is also why they were developed historically: to achieve real
purposes such as building bridges or navigating under the night skies).
Sociocultural perspectives also stress the critical role of the adult (or more capable peer or supportive
community) in helping learners to create or nd purpose. As such, they underscore the importance of
designing and facilitating activities that can both inspire and sustain participation by welcoming in,
supporting, and gradually increasing the complexity or sophistication (the “conceptual depth”) of the goals,
tool-use, and activities with which participants engage (Bronfenbrenner, 1979; Lave & Wenger, 1991). People
forge their developing selves (or identities) through active participation in such authentic, accessible, and
conceptually rich activities (Holland, Lachicotte Jr., Skinner, & Cain, 1998; Lemke, 2001).
While such perspectives help to build a vision of powerful learning designs, understanding why and how
collaborations among formal and informal organizations can achieve such a vision requires an analysis of
the particular properties and affordances of the different learning environments. Our report details both the
structural and the social properties of formal and informal settings, and later applies this analytical lens to
exemplary collaborations.
For example, structural properties of K–12 schools afford the time, sequencing, and consistency necessary
for learners to systematically develop the foundations for deep conceptual understanding. Such foundations
may be necessary for learners to become seriously engaged in the subject matter, including pursuing advanced
coursework and science careers. At the same time, schools are structured around primarily verbal or textual
engagement with subject matter, and often present concepts in ways disconnected from everyday concerns
of students. The structural properties of science-rich cultural organizations, on the other hand, include
tactile, kinesthetic, and three-dimensional exhibits, objects and experiences that may afford different kinds
of engagement and even understanding than can be developed in schools. Because most informal settings
must design for general audiences, they may also be more accessible to greater ranges of prior knowledge
and experience. At the same time, such settings are usually not accessed in systematic or regular ways; the
episodic nature of their use may be a barrier to developing systematic understanding of specic concepts and
how they relate to one another.
The social properties of informal settings include low-stakes environments, group or collaborative learning,
and levels of exibility that may afford learners’ greater use of imagination and taking of risks. They allow
learners to work at their own pace, following and developing their own interests. In schools, social properties
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include year-long relationships between teachers and students that may be critical to teaching and learning,
including expectations for engagement, and instruction that can take into account knowledge of the individual
learner that is come to be understood over time.
Thus an affordance analysis suggests that it is more than objects or collections that formal-informal
collaborations bring to K–12 science education, but rather potentially a more accessible, contextualized, and
meaningful approach to the material. Such collaborations can be designed to draw upon
The ways in which informal learning environments support direct, multi-modal experiences with multi-
faceted portrayals of science, presented within their cultural context, and using authentic objects and
phenomena.
The ways in which school contexts can provide the sustained time, and developmental and pedagogical
expertise, to build increasingly complex understandings of science phenomena and processes.
Program Examples
Our report identies a wide range of formal-informal collaborations in ve general areas: supplementary
classroom experiences; integrated core academic curricula; student science learning communities; teacher
professional development programs and communities; and district infrastructure efforts. The actual nature of
these collaborations differs, based on the local needs and resources.
Most obviously, collaborations can differ in terms of the content area, reecting the particular collections or
resources of the science rich cultural institution, and particular content foci of the schools. Some programs
are designed primarily for students, others for teachers. Formal-informal collaborations also differ along
the dimensions of time (including both frequency and duration) and structure (meaning the extent to which
activities are scripted, sequenced, and assessed). The less time and structure, the more the collaboration may
resemble typical audience patterns at informal learning institutions: the drop-in visitor who arrives with their
own agenda and spends as much time as they wish on whichever materials, exhibits, or activities that they
choose. At the other extreme, at the time-intensive, highly-structured collaboration, programs may begin to
resemble school-like patterns of activity, often in the tradition of learner-centered, constructivist classroom
teaching and learning.
Our report spotlights three programs in each of the ve collaboration types. All of these examples had
collected evidence of their impact on participants. These programs may represent just the tip of the iceberg
in terms of the number and types of formal-informal collaborations one nds around the globe. However,
they represent virtually the entirety of the collaborative programs that we located with documented impacts
on participants (and we dened impacts quite broadly, as readers will nd). Despite their small number, the
data collected by these exemplary programs suggest that formal-informal collaborations can be designed to
contribute towards:
Advancing students’ conceptual understanding in science.
Improving students’ school achievement and attainment.
Strengthening students’ positive dispositions towards science.
Advancing teachers’ conceptual understanding in science.
Supporting teachers’ integration of inquiry and new materials in the classroom.
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Emergent Themes
Our analysis of the properties and structural and social affordances of collaborations found ve recurrent
themes running through the programs:
Formal-informal collaborations can lead to conceptually rich and compelling science learning programs
that build on the structural and social affordances of informal settings and objects.
Formal-informal collaborations can lead to the creation of learning communities that develop practices,
dispositions, and understandings that valued across multiple institutional settings and boundaries.
Formal-informal collaborations can create more equity and access for children, and teachers of
children, from high-poverty communities.
There is a lack of strong, valid, and meaningful evidence of the impacts of formal-informal
collaborations, largely due to the lack of a well-theorized methodology that captures and describes
impacts that have valence with both formal and informal stakeholders.
Formal-informal collaborations take signicant time and energy, often unacknowledged by sponsors of
the work, and are a continuing but valuable process of evolution for individuals and institutions.
These themes are not conclusive ndings, but preliminary observations, all of which need to be subjected to
more rigorous experimentation and research.
Recommendations
The Inquiry Group’s review of the material, informed by both theory and impact data, led us to close the
report with ve recommendations to the eld:
Expanding the research base. There is a need for more studies of existing and robust programs,
including studies that address the different issues raised in the report, and studies that take a systems
perspective to understand how learning in formal or informal settings affects the other.
Addressing funding barriers. There is a need for more funding for formal-informal collaborations.
Many current funding agencies have difculty knowing how to classify these hybrid programs, and as
a consequence they oftentimes fall between the cracks of funding categories. Funders need to look to
the goals of the projects (enhanced teenage understanding of science, or improved teaching practices,
for example) rather than the mode. The mode of work is what needs expansion and experimentation.
In peer review panels, this means that panelists must be selected who have an understanding of both
formal and informal environments.
Expanding professional development for informal educators who work with formal audiences. There is
a need for more professional development for informal educators that addresses the nature of work with
schools and teachers, including school policies, assessment policies and trends, theories of learning,
program design and evaluation. More teacher preparation programs should include introductions to
informal learning institutions, resources, pedagogies, and people.
Expanding systems perspectives and programs. There is a need for more program experiments that
test models of systems integration, for example, testing how afterschool settings can serve as teacher
development sites, or for graduate training for future behavioral scientists, or for science-rich cultural
institutions providing science pedagogical leadership in afterschool or youth settings, or for the co-
development of K–12 science curriculum and activities.
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Institutionally valuing formal-informal collaborations, and the expertise required to advance
them. In the end, there is a need for greater understanding and support within science-rich cultural
institutions for work with schools. Too often schools and teachers are seen as a “market” for eld
trips or other paid programs, rather than as a stakeholder audience. The extent to which science-rich
cultural institutions conceptualize themselves as educative rather than entertainment organizations
will be reected in the depth of their collaborations with K–12 schools. A part of being deeply
committed to science education must involve working with the more diverse populations of
science learners that exist in local public schools and engaging their families in the life of cultural
institutions.
In conclusion, our report nds that there is a great deal of work already happening in formal-informal
collaborations. Many people and places are pioneering new ideas and approaches, some of which
were included in this report. Many are increasingly concerned with documenting the results of these
collaborations in meaningful and useful ways. We argue in this report that so long as public opinion polls
continue to nd that the public, especially the public from communities underrepresented in the sciences,
characterizes science as alien, boring, overly difcult, or not directly relevant to their lives, we must
increase our efforts in formal-informal collaborations to reach the greatest number of people, in the most
compelling ways, for the most sustained amounts of time, in ways that can be achieved at scale.
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Part 1: Introduction
Throughout the world, and for many decades, science-rich cultural institutions, such as zoos, aquaria,
museums, and others, have collaborated with schools to provide students, teachers, and families with
opportunities to expand their experiences and understanding of science. A recent study (Phillips, Finkelstein,
& Wever-Frerichs, 2007) found that more than 70 percent of science-rich cultural institutions in the United
States have programs specically designed for school audiences. These programs include supplementary
classroom experiences; integrated core academic curricula; student science learning communities located in
after-school, summer, and weekend programs; teacher professional development programs and communities;
and even district infrastructure efforts around issues such as standards and assessment development or teacher
preparation.
Programs falling into these ve categories have allowed students and also teachers to explore, understand, and
care about a wide range of natural settings, phenomena, and cultural and historical objects. They have helped
students to notice, consider, and investigate relationships between human social behavior and environmental
consequences. They have provided contexts, materials, rationales, and support for students and teachers
to engage deeply in scientic inquiry processes of learning. These experiences—with an array of real-life
settings, animals, professional science communities, objects, scientic instrumentation, and current research
and data—have been shown to spark curiosity, generate questions, and lead to a depth of understanding
and commitment in ways that are often less possible when the same material is encountered in books or on
screens. These formal-informal collaborations have rejuvenated the curriculum, the school week, teachers’
passions and commitments to their work, and in many cases have contributed to students’ development of
lifelong interests and even pursuit of particular academic or career pathways.
But despite scores of examples, these collaborations have generally failed to institutionalize: in many
communities they come and go with changes in funding or leadership. There are many reasons for this pattern,
both global and local. Local reasons include changes in leadership or immediate priorities. Global reasons
relate to the hybrid nature of formal-informal collaborations which make them fall outside of obvious funding
categories, render standard assessment tools inadequate to document their effects, and challenge priorities
for both formal and informal institutions, since this work appears to fall outside of the core activities of each
institutional type.
This report argues that it is important for us to move beyond these challenges. We draw on theoretical
perspectives as well as practical examples to show that, in fact, formal-informal collaborations fall exactly
within the core activities of both schools and informal learning organizations, including museums, youth
programs, and libraries. But we do not argue, simply, for more collaborations. Rather, we argue for more
intentional and strategic deployments of resources, leading to collaborations that build on the particular
affordances and strengths of different institutional types to meet shared goals of making science learning
more accessible and compelling to young people in our communities. The result will be science learning
opportunities that are conceptually richer and more coherent for both children and the teachers responsible for
their science education (Jolly, Campbell, and Perlman, 2004).
Over the past decade, consensus in the research, policy, and education communities has begun to emerge
around three crucial understandings that pertain directly to the value and importance of formal-informal
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collaborations as well as to informal science education (ISE) itself. These are:
Scientic literacy is more than factual recall. It involves a rich array of conceptual understanding,
ways of thinking, capacities to use scientic knowledge for personal and social purposes, and an
understanding of the meaning and relevance of science to everyday life (American Association for the
Advancement of Science, 1993; National Academies of Sciences Committee on Science Learning K–8,
2007).
Learning, and the development of a sustained commitment to a discipline, develops over multiple
settings and timeframes (Bransford et al., 2006; National Research Council, 2000, 2009).
Science education, as it is traditionally constituted, fails to engage and include a signicant portion
of society; most notably women and people from high-poverty and non-dominant communities are
underrepresented in science professional, academic, and organized leisure-time activities (Barton &
Yang, 2000; Eisenhart, Finkel, & Marion, 1996; Nasir, Rosebery, Warren, & Lee, 2006).
These consensus understandings have direct implications for formal-informal collaborations.
First, because the emerging vision of scientic literacy is complex, no single institution—whether schools,
after-school or youth organizations, or science-rich cultural institutions—can achieve this vision acting alone.
It will take a combination of resources, expertise, timeframes, and learning designs to support and expand
science literacy in today’s world.
Second, if we understand that children learn through multiple, varied, independent, and inter-dependent
experiences across time and settings, it is incumbent upon educational designers and leaders (both formal and
informal) to provide experiences that leverage prior and future experiences, and help to build coherence and
meaning, across settings, around critical ideas and understandings in science.
Third, schools serve diverse socioeconomic and cultural populations. But schools that serve high-poverty
communities tend to be under-resourced, text-based, and test-driven (Harvard Civil Rights Project, 2006;
Nasir et al., 2006). As such, despite dedicated teaching, these schools have limited capacity to support the
development of rich science literacies. At the same time, science-rich cultural institutions, while excelling in
ways to make science compelling, are less likely to work with children from underrepresented communities.
Formal-informal collaborations bring both the audiences and the opportunities together (Phillips et al., 2007).
We contend that different educational resources, formal and informal, can and must be intentionally
deployed in ways that enrich and expand a range of science experiences for more children. A wide variety of
institutional settings and opportunities are necessary to support opportunities for such engagement, including
schools, youth programs, science-rich cultural organizations, online environments, books, and lms. We do
not advocate strict alignment or lock-step agreement, or for carving up the universe of science learning (“you
do engagement and we’ll do learning”). Rather, we propose that the best way forward is to intentionally
establish systemic relationships between formal and informal institutions, with the goal of creating greater
coherence and access.
In the following sections of this report we do three things that we hope will advance discussion about the
value and nature of formal-informal collaborations:
Provide a rationale and theoretical basis for why the ISE and K-12 elds should care about and pursue
such collaborations.
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Review examples of such collaborations, noting their documented outcomes, and identifying emergent
themes and characteristics.
Identify existing trends, gaps, and questions that would benet from further experiments in both
research and practice.
A primary goal of this report is to update past reports (ASTC, 1996; IMLS, 1996) that explored the potential
for formal-informal collaborations, by providing, in today’s No Child Left Behind accountability environment,
the rationale and evidence base that will encourage educators in both formal and informal settings to design
increasingly strategic and robust collaborations to strengthen science learning opportunities for children and
the teachers who serve them.
Terms and Limitations
In this report, we dene formal-informal collaborations as taking place among
K–12 schools (and the supportive infrastructure including schools of education or district and state
education ofces), and
Informal education organizations (such as libraries, after-school and youth programs) and/or
Science-rich cultural institutions (such as museums, zoos, nature centers, and aquaria).
This report does not address the many different media and curricular resources that are developed by a range
of educational organizations, formal and informal, for use in schools. We focus primarily on what happens
outside of schools, but in purposeful collaboration with schools, and towards ends that are valued by both
formal and informal institutions. We hope that a future CAISE report will specically address how different
web, print, and other media tools and products can be integrated into the classroom, identifying specic
features that science-rich cultural institutions and other informal education organizations may bring to the
creation and implementation of such tools.
This report also does not include or address the many other ways that ISE organizations support communities’
and children’s interest, readiness, and capacities to engage in STEM learning. For most ISE organizations
the main purpose and vast majority of their work does not directly involve formal K-12 institutions. A
comprehensive overview of the ways in which ISE supports STEM learning beyond connections with schools
is provided in the NRC (2009) consensus volume, Learning Science in Informal Environments.
Program Spotlights and Analyses
Section Two of the report spotlights fteen different formal-informal collaborations. To identify these
programs, in Fall 2008–Spring2009, Catherine Eberbach, then a graduate student with UPCLOSE at
the University of Pittsburgh, conducted a literature review in informalscience.org and sent requests for
information about relevant programs to several professional listservs including those of the National
Association of Researchers in Science Teaching Informal Learning Special Interest Group, Association
of Science Technology Centers, Center for Informal Learning and Schools, and American Public Gardens
Association. She and Inquiry Group members also contacted a variety of individuals, identied by the Inquiry
Group as people knowledgeable about programs in the eld, including the director of the Coalition for Science
After-School, leaders of professional associations such as ECSITE in Europe, the Asia Pacic Network of
Science & Technology Centres, the Southern African Association of Science and Technology Centres in South
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Africa, the Institute for Museum and Library Services, the American Association of Museums, and informal
education leaders in countries such as India, Mexico, Cyprus, Israel, the UK, Singapore, and Malaysia, as well
as around the United States.
The inquiry group leader contacted programs identied through these methods that
were co-developed by both K–12 and informal education personnel,
were formally evaluated in terms of student or teacher outcomes, and
included activities taking place in informal settings.
A series of email exchanges or phone calls ensued. Program leaders sent additional descriptive material,
evaluation reports, and promotional materials, many of which served as the basis for the program descriptions
included here. The inquiry group reviewed these program examples written in draft form, identifying salient
themes and asking questions which were then pursued with the program leaders.
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Part 2: Rationale and Theory
Our central premise is that the combination of an evolving vision of what constitutes scientic literacy, a
developing understanding of how people learn across settings and timeframes, and the need to expand access
and opportunities for participation to more students from a more diverse set of communities argue for
more collaborative work between different educational institutions and settings;
a better understanding of how the particular resources, expertise, and affordances of each institutional
setting shape, and make connections between and among, different learning experiences; and,
a more coherent strategy for utilizing all of the resources in a community to create rich, compelling, and
accessible science education for all children.
Emerging Views of Science Literacy and Learning
For decades, research has found that classroom science is too often presented and experienced as a static and
disconnected body of facts and lock-step procedures (DeBoer, 1991; Nasir et al., 2006). Science-rich cultural
institutions have not been subjected to quite the same critique; however, the ongoing movement in the eld to
expand interactivity, address social relevance, provide more cultural context, and expand an interdisciplinary
view of current science suggests that perhaps cultural institutions, too, have struggled with how to present and
represent science (Garrett, 1987; MacDonald, 1998).
Creativity, uncertainty, collaboration, the driving desire to know the unknown, the inherent inter-disciplinarity
of compelling questions about the material and social world--these things are only rarely associated with
science in the minds of children (and the general public). The xed version of science presented in much
science teaching and learning not only fails to capture the interest and imagination of most children, it also
fails to resemble the actual nature of science or practices of scientists.
For over a hundred years, many scientists and science educators have argued for the need to place scientic
inquiry at the heart of school science. The NSF-funded science curricular reforms of the 1960s (e.g., curricula
such as SCIS, ESS, and BSCS
1
) were driven by this vision. These curricula were also the inspiration for public
exhibits at some of the world’s rst interactive science museums, such as the Lawrence Hall of Science, the
Ontario Science Centre, and the Exploratorium. This reform movement, largely inspired by scholars such as
Dewey and Piaget, emphasized the ways in which students learned scientic concepts through questions and
rst-hand investigations. This constructivist view of science learning remains a strong undercurrent in science
reform efforts today (e.g., Fosnot, 2005; Minstrell, 2000).
More recent constructivist reform efforts continue this emphasis on inquiry as an organizing principle
of science, but, increasingly, they stress designs that require students to weigh evidence and develop
explanations about observed phenomena (National Academies of Sciences Committee on Science Learning K-
8, 2007). Many of these efforts also have children use and come to understand scientic modeling as a tool for
scientic thinking and understanding (see. e.g., Lehrer, Schauble, Strom, & Pligge, 2001). These and related
efforts also seek to tie the children’s science learning activities to real-world issues of concern to children,
such as endangered species and global warming, air and water quality in local communities, or the statistical
relationships between income and health problems (Roth & Barton, 2004; Roth, 2009; Tobin, Elmesky &
Seiler, 2005).
1 Science Curriculum Improvement Study, Elementary Science Studies, Biological Sciences Curriculum Study
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The rationale for providing science education rooted in authentic problems, questions, and objects derives
from sociocultural theories of learning that stress the relationship between purposeful participation, the
cultural tools of science, and learning.
Sociocultural perspectives suggest the importance
of establishing authentic goals or purposes that
provide students a meaningful context in which
they can build on their skills, strengths, and
interests to participate in and contribute to valued
activities (Bronfenbrenner, 1979; Eisenhart et al.,
1996; Rogoff, 2003; Stetsenko & Arievitch, 2004).
Activities are organized such that they require
participants to take up and use the cultural tools
of science in order to achieve their goals. In this
view, people learn to use the tools of science (such
as thermometers, telescopes, formulae, scientic
argumentation, modeling, and others) because
they are the best available means for answering
questions or achieving purposes that matter to
them. In this sense, powerful learning activities
are designed to be “authentic” both in terms of
establishing real purposes for undertaking them,
and in introducing the tools of science as the best
available means for successfully achieving one’s
purpose. (This is also why they were developed
historically: to achieve real purposes such as
building bridges or navigating under the night skies.)
Sociocultural perspectives also stress the critical role of the adult (or more capable peer or supportive
community) in helping learners to create or nd purpose. As such, they underscore the importance of
designing and facilitating activities that can both inspire and sustain participation by welcoming in,
supporting, and gradually increasing the complexity or sophistication (the “conceptual depth”) of the goals,
tool-use, and activities with which participants engage (Bronfenbrenner, 1979; Lave & Wenger, 1991).
People forge their developing selves (or identities) through active participation in such authentic, accessible,
and conceptually rich activities--particularly when they are grounded in, and developed by, communities of
peers engaged in similar goals (Holland, Lachicotte Jr., Skinner, & Cain, 1998; Lemke, 2001). Sociocultural
perspectives do not separate identity from activity, or the skills and knowledge inherent to activity, but see the
self as emerging through concrete and valued practices (Brown, 2004; Nasir, 2002). In this view, engaging
children in accessible, authentic, conceptually rich, and coherent science activities by denition contributes to
their emergent identities as science learners.
These views on the nature of how people learn suggest that to more effectively engage diverse bodies of
students in conceptually rich science learning, science educators need to understand how their community
resources and expertise can be brought to bear to make science more authentic, accessible, and coherent.
Sociocultural perspectives
Sociocultural perspectives include several
different schools of thought including:
Social constructivism
Social constructionism
Ecological systems theory
Cultural-historical activity theory
Symbolic interactionism
Such perspectives on learning are increasingly
used in the design of materials and research
in classrooms. The National Research Council’s
recent (2009) volume on informal learning
stresses the value of using sociocultural,
and especially ecological, perspectives in
designing and researching learning in informal
environments as well.
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Working across boundaries
The 2009 National Research Council report, Learning Science in Informal Environments, draws upon
the growing body of research in informal settings to note that informal environments, as a type, engage
participants in multiple ways; encourage direct interactions with phenomena; provide multifaceted and
dynamic portrayals of science; and build on learners’ prior knowledge and interests. This characterization
provides important guidance in thinking about how and why formal-informal collaborations might be
designed. In this section we consider the particular structural and social features of each setting, and how
their combination may lead to more powerful affordances for science learning than either one might have
working in isolation.
Structural Features and Affordances for Science Learning
Schools have specic structural properties that afford science learning. For example, schools are structured
around the sequencing of experiences and materials over time, in a linear or spiraling process. It is understood
that children are expected to attend school each day, over a period of years, building sustained engagement
with different subject matter and approaches. Mandated testing and evaluation reect the social contract
schools have to ensure that children’s learning is progressing. Because most schooling occurs in dedicated
classroom spaces, teachers and students have the opportunity to work on projects spanning multiple days,
What is an affordance?
“Affordances” are the opportunities for acting, thinking, or feeling that are provided by a
given environment (Gibson, 1977). As settings vary according to their environmental features
(for example, consider the contrast between a classroom, a museum oor, a web browser,
and a local city park), the affordances for learning and engagement may also vary for a given
person at a given time.
Ideas about affordances build on ecological perspectives on learning developed by scholars
including James and Eleanor Gibson and Roger Barker and Herbert Wright. The majority of the
literature focuses on how physical features of different environments afford activity (Barker
& Wright, 1971; Gibson, 1977). For instance, analyzing the equipment and landscape of a
playground for its affordances for jumping, climbing, individual or group activity, etc. (Heft,
1988). Some scholars have also considered how the social or relational features of different
settings afford various actions or affective states, such as peer interactions, inter-generational
activity, or contemplative activity (Kytta, 2002; Loveland, 1991; Valenti & Good, 1991). The
physical features of informal settings vary so widely (e.g., from libraries, to botanical gardens,
to science museums) that we do not consider them in this report. Instead we consider the
structural features that underpin and cut across many informal settings—that is, the ways in
which the settings are organized and positioned within society—along with the social features
that characterize relationships within the settings.
Understanding, designing, and assessing for these environmental features and affordances can
help efforts to intentionally build coherence across learning settings.
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leaving out materials or notes until they are no longer required. Schools are able to provide training and
professional development processes that can support the development of teacher expertise within a given
subject matter and for specic age levels. All of these properties can create conditions of stability and
coherence that may be necessary for sustaining learning.
However, some of the structural properties and affordances of schools may work against the potential for rich
science learning. For example, schools, which are primarily text-based and teacher-directed, and sometimes
test-driven, can tend to be more focused on transmitting scientic facts than on developing understanding
of science as a way of knowing. Epistemological understanding is more likely to emerge through using
scientic processes to engage with the material world rather than through reading about it. Such school-
based approaches may lead to science being understood as static truths, rather than as a tentative, evidence-
based body of knowledge and a process of inquiry. Schools may not have the resources or the institutional
practices—the real-world settings, questions, objects, and phenomena—to spark and sustain student interest
in authentic and compelling experiences with STEM. Even schools that are rich in resources and committed to
inquiry-based science programs, have limits to what they can offer students.
Science-rich cultural institutions are routinely able to mount major three-dimensional exhibits, provide
immersive experiences, offer complex technological displays, and generate science narratives in ways
beyond the capacities of most other types of educational organizations. Such tactile, visual, and kinesthetic
representations of ideas may afford different kinds of engagement and even understanding. Through on-site
or internet-based media, many science-rich cultural organizations have access to different kinds of data,
instrumentation, and representations of current science that can support the goals of engaging children with
current research. Because they design for general audiences, they may be more able to design experiences that
allow for varying levels of prior knowledge, interest, and experience. They often provide an historical and
cultural context for understanding how and why science has developed, been used, and might be developed
and used in the future; thus affording a more cultural understanding of science than a fact-based one.
Nonetheless, because they design for general audiences, science-rich cultural institutions may vary in their
ability to make science and science exhibits relevant to students’ everyday lives. Additionally, their non-
sequenced nature does not afford, necessarily, coherent understanding of processes and relationships across
phenomena. The more sporadic and eeting experiences in museums, for example, can be powerful but
may or may not be pursued further after the visit. Youth development programs, have structural properties
that include more consistent participation rates (less than schools but greater than most science-rich cultural
organizations) that can lead to knowledge of children’s personal experiences and communities. This
understanding can help programs personalize learning opportunities and help children make connections
between phenomena and their personal interests and concerns, including how such experiences can support
their engagement in school. While many youth programs, particularly in afteschool settings, face structural
constraints related to funding, staff preparation, and borrowed spaces, among others, their location between
school and home affords particular opportunities to bridge academic and personal understandings and
meaning. In some cases, bringing together youth programs, science-rich cultural institutions and/or schools
has been shown to substantially support children to come to see that science matters in their lives, and that
they can engage in science to contribute to their communities (e.g., Fusco, 2001; Rahm, 2007; Roth & Barton,
2004).
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Social Features and Affordances for Science Learning
Informal learning settings, which are not subject
to the same time and testing pressures as formal
learning settings, are generally organized to allow
learner-centered decision making or direction,
such that individual children or groups of children
may participate in the activities that resonate
most strongly with their interests and abilities.
They allow for exible uses of time, with children
following their own pace; they are low-stakes,
non-judgmental spaces, where children’s work
or interactions are not formally judged against
standardized measures (Honig & McDonald,
2005; Mahoney, Larson, Eccles, & Lord, 2005).
They thus can feel more inviting, welcoming,
and supportive of children, encouraging them to
try new things, to take intellectual risks. In this
way, they may be well positioned to support the
development of positive dispositions, linguistic
practices, and conceptual understandings and skills
that are essential for and contribute to science
literacy.
In comparison, the social properties of schooling,
where students spend up to a full year with a
teacher, can allow for the development of ongoing
and consistent relationships between adults and
children. Over extended periods of time, these
relationships among teachers and students can
be leveraged to facilitate the complexication or
transformation of students’ initial engagement with
scientic phenomena, objects, or questions into
deeper engagement with scientic structures of
knowledge.
Informal education settings that host youth development programs (whether in libraries, community centers,
or museums) can also allow for the sustained development of relationships. The social affordances of youth
programs have been found to include physical and psychological safety; appropriate structure; supportive
relationships; opportunities to belong; positive social norms; support for efcacy and mentoring; opportunities
for skill building; and integration of family, school, and community efforts (National Academies of Sciences,
2002). A growing number of science educators who seek to expand science in youth-centered after-school
programs posit that these features create conditions where science learning through direct interactions, multi-
modal learning, and building on prior experiences has the potential to ourish (Coalition, 2007, LSIE, 2009).
Finally, because informal education settings such as youth programs, libraries, or science-rich cultural
institutions are more learner-directed and learner-paced than in formal settings, they offer a wider array of
Sustained relationships, resources, and
learning in ISE settings
In some cases science-rich cultural institutions
build structures that can support sustained
and sequential learning, using informal
resources and pedagogies. For example, the
Youth Exploring Science (YES) program at
the Saint Louis Science Center requires high
school youth to participate in the program on
a weekly basis for four years, thereby creating
the time and relationships that can allow for
serious and sustained scaffolding of learning.
The American Museum of Natural History offers
a Ph.D. program based at the museum. The
Exploratorium Teacher Institute works with
teachers for an average of six years.
But most educational programs at science-
rich cultural organizations are subject to more
eeting or uctuating rates of participation.
Therefore, most cannot alone develop
the kinds of systematic understanding (of
scientic inquiry, evidence, and reasoning, for
example) necessary for students to succeed in
STEM-based academic and career pathways.
Instead, they support a different—perhaps
essential—level of interest, capacity building,
and readiness that may or may not have
opportunities to ourish beyond the ISE
experience.
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participation structures for learners. That is, they allow for multiple forms of participation, with individual
children taking on roles and responsibilities that resonate with their interests and developing capacities.
Another signicant social property of these settings is that these varied participation structures can lead to
greater rates of involvement and engagement. Research is needed to understand whether these social features
of informal settings can afford expanded opportunities for meaning-making and growing commitments to
science engagement.
Figure A. Features Affording and Shaping Science Learning and Committment
Formal Settings Informal Science Education Settings
K–12
Informal
Education Organizations
Science-Rich
Cultural Institutions
Structural
Features
Abstract/textual
Scoped and sequenced
curriculum
Mandated entry points and
modalities
Regular and required
participation
Dedicated children’s
spaces
Professional structures and
supports
Formal assessments
Concrete/object-based and
textual
Sequenced curriculum
Optional entry points and
modalities
Less regular and more
volitional participation
Borrowed learning spaces
Little professional structure
and support
Few formal assessments;
links to school scores
Concrete/object-based,
little text
Linked curriculum
Multiple entry points and
modalities
Sporadic and volitional
participation
Public learning spaces
Little professional structure
and support
No formal assessments
Social
Features
Extended (year-long)
relationships
Individual learning
Teacher-directed activities
Teacher-paced activities
High-stakes (evaluative)
Sustained relationships
Collaborative learning
Group-directed activities
Group-paced activities
Low-stakes (non-
evaluative)
Short-term, sporadic
relationships
Collaborative learning
Learner-directed activities
Learner-paced activities
Low-stakes (non-
evaluative)
Physical
Features
Classrooms in school
buildings
Variety of spaces in the
community
Variety of cultural
institutions and natural
settings
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Summary
Identifying the particular properties and affordances of the informal learning environment reveals the ways in
which the low-stakes context and exible uses of time create conditions (as in youth programs) where children
feel welcomed and supported to engage at their own pace with the multiple representations of science. Such
settings also can provide children with the historical contexts and cultural meaning and values of science
that are sometimes difcult to convey in classrooms. In settings such as zoos, natural history museums, or
nature centers, practicing scientists are available to engage directly with children, revealing both the practical
relevance of the concepts as well as possible pathways for children to pursue in school and careers. Thus, it
is more than objects or collections that formal-informal collaborations bring to K–12 science education, but
rather potentially a more accessible, contextualized, and meaningful approach to the material.
The particular properties and affordances of school settings provide the time and sequencing that most
informal settings lack, structures that are necessary for students to more systematically develop the
foundations for deep conceptual understanding, which is necessary for them to become seriously engaged
in the subject matter, including pursuing advanced coursework and science careers. Schools also work with
all children within a community, including those who may not otherwise attend museums, zoos, or youth
programs.
To provide more authentic, accessible, and coherent science learning experiences for children, formal-
informal collaborations can be designed to draw upon
The ways in which informal learning environments support direct, multi-modal experiences with multi-
faceted portrayals of science, presented within their cultural context, and using authentic objects and
phenomena.
The ways in which school contexts can provide the sustained time, and developmental and pedagogical
expertise, to build increasingly complex understandings of science phenomena and processes.
Despite this rationale for collaboration, we contend, along with others (Carnegie Corporation of New York
& Institute for Advanced Study, 2009; Institute for Museum and Library Services, 2002; National Research
Council, 2009) that the potential of formal-informal collaborations is not currently being capitalized on
in ways that can advance goals of developing a more STEM-engaged populace. It might be argued that
neither the K–12 nor the ISE eld pays sufcient attention to the ways in which they can design facilitated
experiences that bridge students’ and teachers’ formal and informal experiences.
To encourage consideration of the need for, possibilities for, and outcomes of such collaborations, in the next
section we examine collaborations that have built on the social and structural features and affordances of both
formal and informal learning institutions to provide authentic and accessible science learning opportunities to
both students and teachers.
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Part 3: Formal-Informal Collaborations
This section of the report contains descriptive examples of formal-informal collaborations and their
documented impacts on children and teachers. This is not intended to be a scientic review of programs, but
rather meant to illustrate possibilities and raise questions for future work, in both research and practice.
There is a wide range of ways in which formal and informal organizations collaborate. These include
collaborations around core curriculum, particular learning activities or events, teacher practice and
professional development, family and community events, after-school/summer enrichment programs, and
even support of district infrastructure and improvement efforts. The actual nature of these collaborations
differs widely, based on local needs and resources.
Most obviously, collaborations can differ in terms of content area, reecting the particular collections or
resources of the science-rich cultural institution or informal learning organization, and particular content foci
of the schools. Some programs are designed primarily for students, others for teachers.
Formal-informal collaborations also differ along the dimensions of time (including both frequency and
duration) and structure (meaning the extent to which activities are scripted, sequenced, and assessed). The
less time and structure, the more the collaboration may resemble typical audience patterns at informal learning
institutions: drop-in visitors who arrive with their own agendas and spend as much time as they wish on
whichever materials, exhibits, or activities they choose. At the other extreme, at the time-intensive, highly
structured collaboration, programs may begin to resemble school-like patterns of activity, often in the tradition
of learner-centered, constructivist classroom teaching and learning.
Figure B roughly approximates the ways in which a range
of formal-informal collaborations may fall into a time-
structure matrix. The time axis represents a multiple of
frequency and duration. That is, programs can differ in
the frequency of interactions (such as a one-time eld trip
versus a semester-long series of eld trips) and the duration
of interactions (such as a 2-hour eld trip versus a whole-
day eld trip, or a 3-hour teacher workshop versus a 3-week
teacher institute). The structure axis represents the level
to which activities are designed and delivered in a planned
sequence, with explicit inclusion of specic concepts or
experiences, and are monitored (or assessed) to some degree
such that the program leaders can make adjustments if
certain understandings or capacities are not evidenced by
participants.
Many other local variables must be considered to make
this calculus meaningful (see below). Nevertheless, it is
our conjecture that the programs at the higher ends of the scales would be more likely to show measured or
documented impacts than activities on the lower ends; activities in the top right quadrant would be more likely
to show lasting or transformational effects. This conjecture is based on the theories of human development
and learning we referenced earlier in the report, but to date this has not been systematically tested in the
context of formal-informal collaborations. It is another conjecture that the experiences at the lower ends of the
Figure B
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scales may be critical for engaging interest, stimulating ideas and questions, and introducing or reinforcing
science concepts and skills, which translates to a readiness or capacity to engage productively in activities at
the higher ends of the scale, or in science learning activities at home, on the Internet, in school, or elsewhere.
Again, this is a conjecture that needs to be tested. Current theories of learning suggest that all of these
activities are important, but taken in isolation they yield different types of results, with more structure yielding
more measurable results. (The relationship between measurable and meaningful results is a highly contested
issue that this report will not address.) The chances of isolated experiences leading to lasting change are
low. Yet, we all have had such experiences—they are not impossible. The question is whether as educational
designers we are content leaving this issue to chance.
Although we call out frequency and duration as essential dimensions of collaborations, we also argue that
time has to be thought of broadly—as the time before, during, and after the collaboration. For example, in
2002, a K–12 school in Poughkeepsie, New York, designed an entire grade 1 and 2 Science and Humanities
curriculum around the study and use of local informal science and other cultural resources. Initial funding
from the National Park Service, through a project called Teaching the Hudson Valley, allowed the teachers to
design a series of 12 eld trips to local nature centers, natural settings, and cultural institutions for students
to experience and learn about the natural and social history of the Mohonk Ridge and Hudson River. But
in addition to these site visits and interactions with museum and park educators, students spent intensive
classroom time conducting further research, activities, and experiments related to the geological and
ecological systems of the Ridge and River. They built a clay model of the river bed and ridge. They tracked
and recorded weather patterns in the region. They wrote and illustrated poems and short stories about the
native Lenape culture. They learned songs about the composition of the conglomerate rock that ran through
the ridge. They thus developed, over time and multiple settings, deep relationships with understandings of the
scientic, cultural, and historical developments in the area. Building on just 12 4-hour eld trips per year, this
2-year long unit now serves as the foundational curriculum for all rst and second graders at Poughkeepsie
Day School. These are the types of local conditions, contingencies, and variables (including the dedication of
the teachers and the vision of the school leaders) that must be taken into account when conceptualizing and
evaluating the impacts of formal-informal collaborations.
The types of programs we describe above can be grouped into ve general categories:
Figure C
Supplementary classroom
enrichment
Time: low-medium
Structure: low-high
These programs build on the goals for classroom STEM. For example, eld
trips to augment student understanding of science concepts, school visits
and demonstrations, or drop-in afterschool science programs at a range of
settings. They may also include teacher workshops that provide orientation
and pre and post materials for teachers to plan their eld trips.
Integrated classroom
resources
Time: medium-high
Structure: medium-high
These programs include materials, activities, regular or sequenced eld trips
and eld research projects, kits and collections, and other resources that
are developed by informal institutions and integrated into the core academic
curriculum. They may include teacher workshops that help teachers to
integrate the resources into the classroom curriculum.
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In the next part of this section we provide examples of these types of programs that have collected evidence of
their impact on participants.
Documented Results
Through multiple inquiries, we identied a modest number of formal-informal collaborations in the United
States and the European Union that had collected participant impact data. Many programs had evaluations
that attended to the features and designs of the programs, including participant satisfaction levels; but few
addressed the ways that the programs contributed to changes in attitudes, understanding, or practices among
program participants. Some, like the Florida Museum of Natural History’s Project Buttery WINGS or St.
Louis’s Forest part Forever, had impact data but had not been designed in collaboration with schools. We
did not seek to establish causal relationships between program designs and documented impacts. (In fact, we
conjecture that dynamic models that identify multiple variables and feedback loops may be more appropriate
than linear causal models for assessing impacts of formal-informal collaborations.)
Type 1: Supplementary Classroom Enrichment
Although they are perhaps the most common formal-informal collaborative programs, and there is a robust
research literature that examines the nature of eld trips and eld trip design (see National Research Council,
2009, pp. 131–135), our search did not locate any typical (3-hour) eld trip programs that were designed in
collaboration with schools and that had student impact data. This is not surprising, given our learning model
described above, which links measurable causal impacts to more sustained and systematic experiences.
We did however locate several programs where formal and informal educators co-designed programs
that provided students with STEM learning experiences that intentionally connected with, and potentially
enriched, their classroom studies. These programs built on the affordances of school STEM in that they
approached STEM through sequenced curricular units. They built on informal affordances by situating the
units in low-stakes, multi-modal, and hands-on approaches to the activities.
Sustained student learning
communities
Time: medium-high
Structure: high
These programs work directly with K–12 students, for example in afterschool,
weekend and summer programs that develop specic skills, capacities, and
understandings, including understanding of possible academic and career
pathways that may be available to students. These programs may or may
not directly reference state standards, and aim to build student capacities to
engage in STEM.
Sustained teacher learning
communities
Time: medium-high
Structure: high
These programs provide teachers with sustained or ongoing professional
development support that focuses on science content and/or science
pedagogies. They use the resources of the science-rich cultural institution
(which may include exhibits, natural settings, staff teaching expertise, staff
scientic research activities) to engage teachers as science learners (and not
necessarily for direct use with their students).
District infrastructure
development
Time: high
Structure: high
These programs are designed in collaboration with districts as part of long-
term improvement strategies. They include novice teacher training, district-
mandated teacher development, curriculum planning projects, etc.
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LEAP (Learn, Explore, And Play): Science is Fun!, Belcamp, Maryland
LEAP: Science is Fun! is a program based at the Harford County Public Library (HCPL) in the northeast
corner of Maryland. It is supported by federal Institute for Museum and Library Services funds through the
Maryland State Department of Education. LEAP provides children aged 8 to 13 with science programs that
focus on conceptual learning and how science connects with their everyday lives and communities. The
program, which has worked with more than 1,000 children since 2007, has documented the participants’ and
parents’ perceptions of how the LEAP Programs and materials have affected their attitudes and beliefs about
science, their performance in science at school and on science projects at home, and the possibility of science
as a future career choice.
LEAP library educators worked with science teachers from the
Harford County Public Schools, and representatives from local
STEM industries, to design and develop a series of after-school
science programs as well as a set of 50 science kits on 18 different
topics. Topics included Roots, Droids, and Transformers; Medical
Manhunt; Voyage to the Planets; Legends and Lore of the Night Sky,
and others.
The kits are used as the centerpiece of inquiry-based science
programs in the library. The concepts that children explore through
the kits and programs relate to the elementary and middle school
curriculum in the district, which are aligned with the state science
standards. They also represent the interests of the local children.
For example, when children had questions about microscopic life
they heard lived in a local stream, the program held a program about
plankton, and created both a Microscope Kit and a Microscopic
Aquatic Life Kit. Topics for programs and kits include Chemistry,
Microscopy, Robotics, Biology, Engineering, Astronomy,
Environment, Forensics, and Entomology.
LEAP programs meet twice a month throughout the school year and once a month during the summer.
Program topics often coincide with national science celebrations such as National Chemistry Week, Inventors
Day, or Archeology Month. LEAP is housed at the Edgewood branch of the HCPL system. Edgewood is a
low-income area and many library users do not possess library cards. The LEAP kits can be used within the
library as well as at home. Sometimes a group of four to ve middle schoolers can be found building electric
circuits or erecting bridge models all at one time.
Making the science kits accessible for children to check out and take home has proven to be an immensely
popular aspect of the program. For most of the rst summer, for which the program has data, about 75 percent
of kits were checked out at any given time. LEAP kits are available for children to check out and use at home.
One of the most popular kits has been the Microscope Kit. This kit includes a microscope that magnies
20X–200X; a set of prepared slides of insects, textiles, plants, and more; along with an explanation of each
slide; blank slides and cover slips; lens paper; and a book detailing how to make your own slides. By taking
the kit home, children can explore the microscopic world found in their own house. Rather than just reading
about science, they are able to use the tools of science to explore scientic aspects of their everyday lives.
LEAP: Science is Fun!
Structural
Features
Social
Features
Sequenced
activity units
Learner-
directed
3-D or hands-
on objects
Learner-paced
Multiple
access points
Low stakes
context
Multi-modal
activities
Connections
to everyday
STEM
Documented Outcomes
Attitudes
Interest
School performance/practices
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The evaluation of LEAP used a descriptive research design to test the hypothesis that participation in Project
LEAP would produce an increased interest in science and awareness of science in the participants’ lives, a
desire to consider a career in a science-related eld, and a positive perception in the community of the project
and of the public library. Data was collected using a combination of surveys, interviews, and a focus group of
participating children who had attended three or more LEAP programs. The evaluation suggests that parents
of children participating in Project LEAP highly value the programs and materials. Children participating in
the program report that LEAP programs
have made science more interesting for them
have caused them to consider a career in science
have helped them pay more attention to science in the world around them
have helped them want to read more about science.
The LEAP program is a good example of a semi-structured program—carefully chosen curricular topics that
connect to the school curriculum—offered in ways that allow students to engage with the materials and kits
that interest them, during timeframes that work for them (at home, at the library, repeatedly, or not at all),
within a safe and supportive community setting. The program thus has the potential to advance students’
science interest, capacities, and commitment, which they bring with them to school and other everyday
settings.
A key question LEAP raises is the ways in which schools can become aware of, and build on, the kinds of
questions, capacities, and interests students are developing in after-school hours. It also raises questions
about how intermediary spaces such as librarieslearning environments that are equally associated with
home and school lifemay provide unique niches for supporting student comfort with trying new subject
matter and activities.
Minds-on-Math, Shreveport, Louisiana
Sci-Port, a science center in Shreveport, in partnership with the Caddo Parish Schools, has developed a K–8
after-school program that has documented statistically signicant improvements in state math scores. Since
2007, the program, funded by the state Department of Education, has worked with 73 students.
Minds-On-Math is a two-and-a-half-hour after-school program that meets twice a week at the museum for a
seven-week period. The program, which serves roughly 20 students at a time, is designed to use the exhibit
collection to support students’ development of mathematics concepts. Designed as a state-funded State
Education Standards (SES) program, Minds-On-Math consists of math activities; guided and directed time
with exhibits; and other activities. Examples of exhibit experiences include:
Bed of Nails—Students explore the concept of inverse proportionality, discovering that the greater the
area over which their weight is spread, the less pressure is exerted.
Standards of Measurement—Students are challenged to determine how many exact units of dried
noodles are needed to ll up a range of different vessels shaped as pyramids, cylinders, spheres, and
cubes. The different shapes require careful use of standard units of measurement in order to get to exact
results.
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Students take diagnostic tests, which closely mimic the
Louisiana state achievement tests, and then are assigned to
different elementary or middle school groups of about 10
children per adult. Each session focuses on a specic area in
which the child’s diagnostic tests show that the child could
benet from remediation and enrichment; each consecutive
session reviews concepts from the last session before introducing
new content. Exhibits are used as tactile and 3-D teaching tools.
For example, one child who was working on area and perimeter
experienced an “aha” moment at an exhibit consisting of a
square grid and different at shapes. By working with the shapes
at the exhibit, the child came to see that she could nd the area
by counting the number of physical one-inch diameter squares
that completed the grid. What “a square inch was” suddenly
became clear to her. This exhibit experience was followed by an
activity called Three Units where participants were given string,
paper, scissors and clay and challenged to make a centimeter, a square centimeter, and a cubic centimeter.
Teaching staff include certied teachers from local schools and museum education staff who participate in
trainings at the museum on how to use the exhibits as teaching tools, as well as training in the state SES
program audit requirements. Family nights are scheduled so that siblings can experience the museum while
parents meet with the adult leaders. All students receive a year-long Sci-Port Family Membership.
Evaluations show that, as a whole, the children who attended Sci-Port’s SES math program showed a
noticeable increase in math scores in the Louisiana LEAP/iLEAP test. More than 80 percent of participants
who completed the 2008–2009 year of Minds-On-Math and took both the Sci-Port-administered pre- and post-
tests increased their scores. Sci-Port and the school district have comparison data to show that the students in
the program show greater math score gains than non-participating students.
This program is a highly structured, 7-week intensive that strictly
follows the state standardized test curriculum, but which builds on
the inquiry and tactile modalities and affordances of a science center
to create new opportunities for children to experience and come to
understand subject matter that they are struggling with. It is thus an
example of how the resources of science-rich cultural institutions can
be intentionally deployed to make school science more accessible,
possibly more enjoyable, and thus more inclusive.
A key question that Mind-on-Math raises is how three-dimensional,
and often life-sized, exhibits can be used to help children grasp
and understand concepts that may be more difcult to comprehend
using verbal approaches. How can school systems more seamlessly
collaborate with institutions that house such collections before
students nd themselves in need of remediation?
Minds-On Math
Structural
Features
Social
Features
Sequenced
activity units
Sustained
relationships
Diagnostic
assessments
Learner-paced
3-D or hands-
on objects
Connections to
school STEM
Multiple access
points
Multi-modal
activities
Professional
training/support
Documented Outcomes
School performance/practices
A tutor works with students on volume concepts.
Photo by Al Bohl, Sci-Port: Louisiana’s Science
Center
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Science Centre at School, Amsterdam, Netherlands
2
The NEMO Science Centers Science Center at School project challenges 11-
and 12-year-old students to design and create their own exhibits, culminating
in the creation and installation of a science center in their school. The program
involves 8 day-long sessions, over a 5-week period, at both NEMO and at the
participating school.
At the Science Center, students view and play with exhibits. They are then
introduced to a set of exhibits selected to be both conceptually rich and easily
constructed using low-cost materials. Students select one of these exhibits and
make a technical drawing that they will take back to school. Later, in their
classrooms, the students are supported by their teachers to build a tabletop
version of the exhibit using a booklet of recipes for building the exhibits.
The booklet contains the description of 20 well-known, easy to build exhibits
(featuring for example, soap bubbles, an electrical cell, an electrical motor,
leaf recognition, the Bernoulli effect, mirrors, sounds from straws, and so
on). NEMO also provides a teachers guide to the project. Students explore,
research, and draft written explanations of the science behind the exhibits
which they incorporate into a poster that accompanies their exhibit. At the
school, students make oral presentations of their exhibits and the science
behind them before opening up the science center to the school and family
audiences.
The Science Centre in a School project was developed by NEMO staff working with the Institute for
Mathematics and Science Education of the University of Amsterdam (Amstel). It emphasizes processes of
inquiry over the exhibit product. Therefore, teachers are asked to focus primarily on students’ use of inquiry
and other technical skills that can help them to isolate issues that require investigation. NEMO provides a full
day of staff development to prepare teachers for the project. This session includes an overview of the project
goals and schedule, introduction to the range of exhibits the children will choose to replicate, having teachers
build a number of the exhibits themselves, and assistance in supervising the process of research- and design-
based learning.
NEMO was funded through the PENCIL project, a collaboration between ECSITE (the European science
center professional organization) and the European Union Ministry of Education. NEMO designed the project
to address specic Dutch Ministry of Education learning objectives, including:
Key objective 42 : The pupils learn to research materials and physical phenomena such as light, sound,
electricity, force, magnetism and temperature.
Key objective 44: The pupils learn to see relationships between the operation, form, and use of
materials in products from their own environment.
Key objective 45: The pupils learn to design solutions for technical problems and to implement and
evaluate them.
2 Portions of this description were provided by the authors of Permanent European Centre for Informal Learning (PENCIL).
(2009). Science centres and museums working with schools: New ways of cooperating. Brussels: ECSITE.
Students of Baken Park
High School in Almere, the
Netherlands, have designed
this Bernoulli Blower exhibit,
called the Magic Hand. Photo
by Amito Haarhuis
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Interesting ndings relating to gender emerged from the evaluation
of the data. First, boys and girls had different preferences with regard
to the exhibits they chose to build. For the boys, the most popular
exhibits were those about batteries and electric circuitry; girls liked
exhibits involving human interaction such as the magic mirrors and
the exhibit involving a quiz about the names of leaves. Second, pre
and post questions asking students “how technical” they would say
they were showed changes, with girls becoming 50 percent less
likely to describe themselves as “not very technical” (moving from
60 percent to 30 percent describing themselves in this way); self-
estimations of the boys remained high both before and after the
experience.
NEMO’s project is an example of a way that science centers can
provide a context for students and teachers to take on targeted
activities that expand the nature of the school science curriculum.
The strategic use of the science center, as a place to inspire the school
activities (instead of as a “reward” at the end of the unit), suggests
an important way that collaborations can be designed to advance
student engagement.
Type 2: Integrated Classroom Resources
The programs we highlight here have designed semester- or year-long experiences that serve as the
centerpiece of students’ school science curriculum. Combining site-based programs for students, classroom
resources, and teacher professional development, these programs have developed hybrid or blended curricula
that span both informal and formal settings, resources, and pedagogies.
Calumet Environmental Education Program, Chicago, Illinois
The Calumet Environmental Education Program (CEEP)
3
was developed by the Field Museum of Natural
History in collaboration with Washington High School and its eight feeder elementary schools in the Calumet
region of southeast Chicago. The Calumet region, which has been environmentally challenged by industrial
pollution from former steel mills and municipal and industrial garbage dumps, is home to several hundred
acres of forest preserves and recreational areas, a large lake, and waterway system and is endowed with rich
ecosystems.
CEEP focuses on expanding teachers’ knowledge of local biodiversity and basic ecological concepts in order
to support the adoption of an integrated multi-year environmental studies curriculum for students in grades
4–12. Evaluation results showed that teachers participating in CEEP signicantly increased their knowledge
of local environmental issues and content, increased their inclusion of local biodiversity into their teaching
objectives, and reported higher condence levels when teaching about environmental subject matter. Student
results, using pre and post tests addressing subject-matter understanding, also showed increases in knowledge
about local ecologies. Moreover, principals and teachers remarked that the project required students to use
problem-solving, collaboration, and higher order thinking skills. Questionnaires were also administered to
3 Signicant portions of this description were provided by a report prepared by Laurel Ross and KirkAnne Taylor, of the
Conservation Education Department at the Field Museum, using evaluation data collected by Terrie Nolinske.
Science Center at School
Structural
Features
Social
Features
Sequenced
activity units
Extended
relationships
Performance
assessments
Learner-
directed
activities
3-D or hands-
on objects
Connections to
school STEM
Professional
training/support
Documented Outcomes
Attitudes
Interest
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students at the beginning and end of the academic year, each of the three years, to detect changes in attitudes
and behaviors towards the environment.
Subject matter that students learn in their regular earth science, chemistry, and biology classes is integrated
into CEEP activities along with frequent eld trips and hands-on experiences in local natural areas. For
example, students in 4–6 grades, participate in Mighty Acorns, a eld-based program that introduces young
people to nature through exploration and stewardship. Stewardship activities can include anything from
removing invasive plant species and collecting seeds to reintroducing native plants. By participating in
stewardship activities, students become part of a larger land management effort which includes private
citizens, public agencies and community organizations. Students learn basic ecological concepts such as
adaptation, interdependence, communities, competition and biodiversity as they move through a series of
integrated classroom lessons and eld experiences. Students take three eld trips each year to a local natural
area such as a park, a prairie, or a woodland. They explore the area in order to become familiar with its
ora and fauna, to understand its history and to observe its ecological relationships. Teachers build on these
experiences throughout the school year.
Summer Institutes and Inquiry Group workshops enhance teachers’ environmental content knowledge, while
giving them time to plan and integrate that content. During these workshops teachers practice upcoming
segments of CEEP curricula and network with teachers from other grades and disciplines to coordinate
activities across years. Together, teachers have constructed strand maps depicting concepts to be learned
in each grade and how these concepts link to each other through the curriculum. They also help to dene
learning goals, highlight areas of curricular overlap, identify strengths and weaknesses in lesson plans, and
suggest assessment measurements.
Questionnaires were administered to teachers at the beginning and
end of the school year to measure changes in attitudes towards the
environment and gains in environmental and ecological knowledge.
In addition, teachers were surveyed at the end of each year on their
teaching style preferences and how they incorporated CEEP into
their daily curricula. According to the questionnaires, which were
independently validated by a statistical consultant, teachers made
sometimes dramatic gains in science concepts, understanding of
the local ecological systems, and awareness of stewardship issues.
Teachers also reported integrating teaching about the environment
across their curriculum. This increased from 25 percent in the year
one pre-test to 56 percent in the year three post-test. At the end of
the three years there was a 96 percent increase in agreement with
the statement: “I am comfortable answering student questions about
environmental issues in Calumet.” There was a 79 percent decrease
in the number of teachers who agreed with the statement: “Lack of
knowledge makes it difcult to include content about nature or the
environment in my teaching.”
The CEEP program is a time-intensive and structured program
that fundamentally changes the nature of the STEM curriculum for
students, and simultaneously builds long-term capacity of teachers.
It thus exemplies the ways in which formal-informal collaborations
CEEP
Structural
Features
Social
Features
Sequenced
activity units
Extended
relationships
Assessments Connections
to everyday
STEM
3-D or hands-
on objects
Connections to
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Place/site-
based
Collaborative
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Multi-modal
activities
Professional
training/support
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Student conceptual understanding
Teacher practices
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can change the experience of science learning, by rooting it in the real world environment, by building
professional networks grounded in disciplinary material and environmental settings, and by getting students
out of the classroom and into the local ecology.
The CEEP project raises questions about how place-based professional development may support teacher
professional development in ways different than traditional approaches, and whether such programs are more
likely to lead to changes in classroom practice and student learning.
WATCH, Monterey, California
4
In 2006, the Monterey Bay Aquarium, in partnership with Pajaro Valley High
School, launched the Watsonville Area Teens Conserving Habitats (WATCH)
program. The program includes a three-week summer session where students
work in teams to visit, study, and restore three main habitats of the Pajaro
River Watershed (riparian, wetlands, and dunes), and a school-year project-
based environmental science class involving more extensive research projects
in the watershed. The program serves about 30 students annually, of whom
over 90 percent self-report as Latino, and almost 70 percent as female. Using
pre/post surveys and concept maps, a study of the program found statistically
signicant changes in students’ relationships to local ecologies, including their
awareness of various environmental issues, and their import and impact for
local communities.
During the summer, WATCH students learn key scientic skills—observation,
exploration, data collection, communication—and apply them as they explore
and work to restore the Pajaro River Watershed. During the school year, the
students transform their summer experiences into community leadership.
With the support of aquarium staff and high school faculty, students identify
an environmental issue that’s of personal interest and design and implement a
project to address it. In the past, projects have included studying the impact of
watershed education classes at local elementary schools, comparing the levels
of nutrients in wetlands surrounded by agriculture and urban development, sampling beaches to quantify
common types of marine debris, and developing restoration plans for local dune habitats, among others.
During their year-long projects, students are paired with mentors from the local scientic community,
including scientists and educators from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, Moss Landing Marine
Laboratories, the University of California, Santa Cruz, the City of Watsonville, and Watsonville Wetlands
Watch. The students work with these mentors along with high school teachers to create projects that are both
scientically rigorous and relevant to their community.
In the process of developing and implementing their projects, the students also learn environmental science
content through a class co-taught by a Pajaro Valley High School Science teacher and aquarium staff. The
2009–2010 school year marked the rst year that the WATCH school-year program was integrated into the
regular school day as an elective science course. The school year culminates in two formal presentations
of the students’ work: a poster presentation at the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary Currents
4 Signicant portions of this description were provided by MBA employee Angela Haines
As he tends the Community
Garden at Pajaro Valley High
School, a WATCH student
attempts to identify the impacts
that conventional agricultural
methods have on the local
environment. Photographed by
Monterey Bay Aquarium Staff
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Symposium, alongside local scientists and graduate students, and a nal presentation for the students’ families
and other community members at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute.
Upon completion of their projects, students are eligible to apply for
a scholarship of up to $1,000 to be used at the college or university
of their choice. The amount awarded to each student is based
on participation as well as the community impact and longevity
of their project. After students have participated in the WATCH
program, the aquarium also offers opportunities to continue
engaging in leadership opportunities through an Alumni Action
Committee. The alumni meet during the school year to plan local
conservation events, such as hosting a site for the California Coastal
Commission’s Coastal Cleanup Day and implementing restoration
events in the Pajaro River Watershed. Students can also continue
participating in the WATCH program as summer interns and as
teaching assistants for the WATCH class.
In the future, the program will add an economics component so that
students engage not only directly within their sphere of inuence,
like authoring a brochure on environmental debris, but also on
coming to understand issues that drive change within community.
The program is also scheduled to expand to a second school,
Watsonville High School, during the 2010–2011 school year, with
plans to continue expanding to other Watsonville area schools.
The WATCH program is a strong example of a year-long, integrated program that builds on the expertise of
staff at the aquarium to engage students with research questions that matter to them, their communities, and to
the professional elds of the scientists who work at the aquarium. It effectively expands the resources of the
local school system to incorporate these perspectives into the academic curriculum.
WATCH programs may provide foundational experiences for students to develop identities as active science,
environmental, or community participants and leaders. How these experiences play out in the students’
lifetime is a critical question for understanding the importance of providing students such experiences.
Considering how such locally engaged, science-rich experiences can be scaled up to be available to more
students (offered in a variety of local sites organized around a range of science-based issues or resources) is a
challenge to both formal and informal institutions.
Urban Advantage, New York City
Urban Advantage has documented the ways in which participation in their program has impacted students’
understanding of both inquiry-based investigations and of specic science subject-matter.
Led by the American Museum of Natural History, the Urban Advantage (UA) program is a collaboration
that includes the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, New York Botanical Garden, New York Hall of Science, Queens
Botanical Garden, Staten Island Zoological Society, the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Bronx Zoo and New
York Aquarium, and the New York City Department of Education. The project is funded by the New York
WATCH
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Features
Social
Features
3-D or hands-
on objects
Extended
relationships
Multi-modal
activities
Learner-
directed
MBA staff
scientists
Connections
to everyday
STEM
Place/site-
based
Connections to
school STEM
Collaborative
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Documented Outcomes
Attitudes
Interest
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City Council and several private foundations. In 2008, the program served 30 percent of the city’s 8th grade
population—24,000 students from 147 schools—as well as 257 of their teachers.
The centerpiece of the UA program consists of student investigations that also serve as the students’ required
“exit projects” for middle school in New York City. The investigations are designed as controlled experiments,
eld studies, secondary research, and design projects—giving opportunities to teachers and the UA partners
to use the best of their content and processes. Investigations are usually conducted by groups of three to
four students, mentored by teachers and staff at the partnering science-rich cultural institutions, and carried
out over the course of several weeks after initial visits to the institutions. In addition the initiative includes
48 hours of professional development for teachers, resources for students and their families, and inquiry
instructional tools for participating classrooms.
Examples of model projects developed by institutions to prepare students and teachers include :
a study of the effects of composting on seed germination and plant growth, inspired by a student noting
enormous sunower plants during a trip to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden;
a study to understand how feeding schedules affect sea lion activity, inspired by visits to the Bronx Zoo;
a study of earthquakes at different types of plate boundaries based on content and resources from the
Hall of Planet Earth at the American Museum of Natural History;
a study of how a waterfall affects water oxygen levels, inspired by a trip to the New York Botanical
Garden.
The UA project builds on the affordances of both schools and
cultural institutions. It uses the authentic and multi-modal objects,
collections, visualizations, and sites of science-rich cultural
institutions to motivate and inspire student questions and interest.
Teachers, supported by UA professional development offered by
partnering organizations, work with children over a period of weeks
to design and develop their studies. Families participate in UA
family day programs and receive vouchers for visiting for future
visits. Resources for families are available in the nine different
languages spoken in participating schools. Science experts at the
cultural institutions are available to coach and mentor students,
directing them to resources or providing them access to information,
tools, or locations that schools may not have. The investigations
are grounded in real questions, real settings, and the real purpose
of completing the required middle school exit projects. During
the course of the projects, students work with a range of science
concepts through learning about and conducting controlled
experiments. Completed projects are shared at school-wide poster
sessions. Each school selects a single project to be highlighted at a
city-wide poster session event, hosted by the American Museum of
Natural History and attended by families and the community.
Preliminary evaluations found that 83 percent of UA teachers
observed evidence of improvement in the quality of UA
Urban Advantage
Structural
Features
Social
Features
Sequenced
activity units
Extended
relationships
Assessed Learner-
directed
3-D or hands-
on objects
Connections
to everyday
STEM
Multi-modal
activities
Connections to
school STEM
Professional
scientists
Collaborative
learning
Place/site-
based
Professional
training
Documented Outcomes
Student conceptual understanding
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students’ science content knowledge. Additionally, 80 percent of UA teachers reported students’ increased
understanding of the process of scientic investigations. In the past several years, the rubric developed for
exit projects has improved the pacing and quality of the projects. These evaluations relied on ve forms of
evidence: observations in classrooms, observations in eld trips, observation and interviews with students
at the time of exhibitions at the end of the year, interviews with teachers, and multiple surveys to teachers,
families, and partners. Currently, UA evaluators are also looking into the items in the 8th grade New York
State exam that specically test for knowledge of investigations, and preliminary ndings suggest that
students in UA do better in those parts of the exam. The program is on its sixth year, reecting sustainability
and growth. It began with 35 schools and 60 teachers and now serves 168 schools, 383 teachers, and 37,510
students in every borough of New York City and in every city council district.
Key questions that this program raises are whether, how, and the degree to which rooting science experiments
in children’s authentic questions can lead to enhanced learning outcomes. Furthermore, if authentic
questions can serve as powerful motivators for science engagement, how can formal-informal partnerships
be developed at scale, such that all school children have access to such settings not at the close of curricular
units, as a capstone eld trip experience, but at the beginning, as a starting point for in-depth studies?
Type 3: Sustained Student Learning Communities
These programs provide sustained, multi-year science learning programs for students spanning all grade
levels. Although they have different levels of direct connection to the school curriculum, they each provide a
social learning space in which students can build their science capacities, understandings, commitments, and
identities. Schools do not generally play a strong role in the design and implementation of these programs,
but they participate in the partnerships—by providing space, recruiting participants, or communicating with
parents because of shared formal and informal goals of supporting students’ identities of achievement, as well
as their development of specic STEM skills and understandings.
Science Club for Girls, Cambridge, Massachusetts
Science Club for Girls (SCFG) has documented changes in girls’
attitudes towards science and science careers. SCFG partners
with several schools and community centers in the greater
Boston area, which provide space for the program during after-
school hours, and disseminate information about the program to
support recruitment of students.
SCFG engages girls in grades K–12 in weekly hands-on
science programs led by a volunteer staff of women scientists.
The program is designed around establishing relationships
among the participating youth (in both age cohorts) and the
women scientists, graduate students, or undergraduate science
majors. The goal of these relationships is to make science more
accessible and science careers more imaginable to participating
girls. The women scientists, who volunteer to lead the programs at local sites, bring passion for their work and
deep familiarity with processes of scientic inquiry. They mentor high school students who, in turn, serve as
peer mentors to the K–7 girls. The women scientists serve as three-dimensional role models who challenge the
stereotypes that girls might have about who scientists are.
Fifth grade Science Club participants dissect a
perch. Photo courtesy Science Club for Girls
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Girls in grades K–7 participate in after-school clubs led by the
women mentor-scientists. High school girls participate in a Junior
Mentor (JM) program, which involves engaging in science learning
activities, learning about local science resources, professions, and
industries, and serving as peer mentors to the K–7 girls. In weekly
workshops, JMs reect on work and learn leadership and life
skills. For example, a group of 6th and 7th graders spent a semester
performing biochemical assays on food and uids, performed a mock
angioplasty, and discussed their family experiences with diabetes,
heart disease, and hypertension with their two mentor-scientists (a
Wellesley College student majoring in biochemistry and a Ph.D.
cell biologist). At the end, they impressed their parents and friends
with a skit called “Fat Cinderella,” which, they named, wrote, and
performed to humorously explore the correlations between diet and
disease.
SCFG credits some of their success in recruiting girls from low-
income families to their ability to provide programs at familiar
locations (local schools) and at no cost, thus removing major
barriers to access for children from low-income families. Teachers
at collaborating schools have repeatedly reported that for some girls,
including some who may be in a homeless situation, SCFG is the
only after-school program that they attend. Similarly, the program’s eld trips to museums, special STEM-
related events, and introduction to a wide range of STEM professionals and industries expose girls to science
experiences and environments that they may not otherwise be able to access.
SCFG seeks to build girls’ condence. As one graduate explains, “Being with a small group of girls, there’s
more freedom to be wrong, it’s easier to open up. We developed really good friendships because the program
emphasized working together so much.” In 2006, SCFG completed its rst outcomes-based evaluation, which
examined how the program affected the condence and attitude of participating middle school and high school
girls. The evaluation suggests that, as compared to peers from the same schools, girls in the programs:
retained their interest in science throughout high school
had higher condence in themselves as science students
were more favorably disposed towards science
were more likely to select a career in STEM, and
had a greater desire to attend college.
Key questions raised by SCFG are how participation in such multi-leveled communities of practice affects
children’s lifelong trajectories with science, and how schools can tap into these communities to strengthen
both their programs and student experiences.
Science Clubs for Girls
Structural
Features
Social
Features
3-D or hands-
on objects
Sustained
relationships
Multi-modal
activities
Learner-
directed
Professional
scientists
Low-stakes
Collaborative
learning
Connections
to everyday
STEM
Documented Outcomes
Attitudes
Interests
Career awareness
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SPARK!, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
SPARK! works with children in grades 4–8 to engage in real-world
science and engineering activities. Children are recruited through
the schools to participate for up to 100 hours through after-school,
Saturday, and summertime programs offered at the partner institutions.
SPARK! has found that students’ interest in science and engineering
has increased, along with their conceptual understanding of the design-
engineering process. The project has achieved these outcomes through
contextualizing science and engineering activities in their social use
and relevance. SPARK! is an NSF–funded collaboration between the
Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania, the
School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, the Philadelphia Zoo, and
the School District of Philadelphia.
The program focuses on how engineering design is premised on human,
societal, and environmental interdependence. For example, during
the summer and weekend hours, one group of children works with
zoologists at the Philadelphia Zoo to understand design considerations
for animal habitat construction. This activity involves observing and
learning about animal behavior and needs, and coming to understand how zoologists design and engineer
appropriate habitats. During the school year, participating teachers from Philadelphia schools work with
students in after-school programs to build similar inquiry and engineering design capacities to solve problems
that are relevant to their daily lives such as designing and constructing a shoe with a particular purpose, or
designing a variety of devices to support people with disabilities. Students are challenged in both settings to
work with partners to solve a design problem by rst identifying important parameters, planning the solution,
constructing a prototype, evaluating purpose and impact, and redesigning to improve results.
The partnership is supported through joint professional development
sessions in which engineering and zoo instructors collaborate with
the school of education and district teachers to build understanding
of both learning and pedagogical strategies and content knowledge
needs. This program element was developed in the face of
perceived institutional cultural gaps affecting both communication
and program implementation. The sessions focus, for example,
on engaging engineering students in student-centered social
constructivist approaches while teachers learn about cutting-edge
scientic research. This capacity building has provided contiguous
programming where students experience the same concepts and
teaching approaches from their teachers and at sites where real-
world science takes place.
A central goal of SPARK! has been to raise student engagement
levels in STEM. Two aspects of the SPARK! program evaluation
focused on what students learned about the engineering design
process and whether their interest in science increased as a result
of participation in the program. In post-intervention concept
SPARK! students built biodomes and
used STEM skills to record their weekly
observations. Photo courtesy SPARK!
SPARK!
Structural
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Features
3-D or hands-
on objects
Sustained
relationships
Multi-modal
activities
Learner-
directed
Professional
scientists
Low-stakes
Professional
training
Collaborative
learning
Connections
to everyday
STEM
Documented Outcomes
Interest
Student conceptual understanding
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maps 57 percent were able to accurately demonstrate understanding of the engineering design cycle and
processes compared to just 26 percent at the beginning of the study. In short answer responses, 73 percent of
students also showed increased understanding of engineering design and associated applications. Similarly,
in individual interviews, students overwhelmingly signaled their interest in science and identied SPARK! as
having a major inuence on their opinions about science and science learning.
A key question raised by SPARK! is the degree to which helping children understand science and engineering
as a tool to solve real-life challenges or problems can be leveraged to engage them in increasingly complex
and sophisticated studies in science. It also suggests that schools might look to informal learning institutions
not just to provide resources as illustrations but also as professional settings where science is used to pursue
practical purposes.
Youth Exploring Science, St Louis, Missouri
Youth Exploring Science (YES) is a year-round youth development
program based at the Saint Louis Science Center which was
developed with funding from NSF (DRL-0423178). Participants
enroll in 9th grade and are expected to continue through 12th grade.
It is a collaboration between the Saint Louis Science Center, the St.
Louis Public School District, and 15 after-school and youth programs
that work with high-poverty communities. Examples include shelters,
group homes, faith-based youth programs, and traditional after-
school programs in the city of St. Louis, county of St. Louis, and East
St. Louis, Illinois. The program is funded through private donations
as well as through the science centers general operating fund. The
YES program has shown signicant impacts on student high school
graduation and college enrollment rates.
The program recruits students from high schools around the city.
Youth attend classes at the science center that focus on science
concepts, facilitating hands-on science activities, and inquiry
pedagogies. They then lead the same science activities for elementary
and middle school youth at local after-school programs. Students’
participation is seen as a commitment and a job, and students are
paid for their time in the program. YES provides participating students opportunities for increasing leadership,
including mentoring of younger participants, as they progress through the program.
The community partner venues where YES students lead elementary and middle school science activities
provide a sense of purpose and achievement to the students’ activities that add authenticity to their studies at
the science center and allow them to actively contribute to their communities. The program positions science
as a way of understanding the world which can be used to engage learning and to address real social and
community issues. For example, through their work at one after-school program, students in the YES program
learned that a food pantry located in the same building had limited access to fresh produce and instead mostly
distributed canned and boxed food to families in need. In response to what they perceived as a community
need for more fresh produce, the YES students decided to design and build a greenhouse and garden at a
museum-owned green space. Science center staff were called upon to help the YES students learn about and
accomplish their goals.
Youth Exploring Science
Structural
Features
Social
Features
3-D or hands-
on objects
Extended
relationships
Multi-modal
activities
Learner-
directed
Authentic
employment
Low-stakes
Collaborative
learning
Connections
to everyday
STEM
Documented Outcomes
School performance/graduation
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The project involved research, measurement, engineering, and ongoing work to plant and harvest the produce,
which they presented to the food pantry throughout the summer. The partnerships between community groups
thus provided a real-world application of science and math skills, as well as a way in which students could
become more connected with each other and their community.
YES provides participating students with a community of peers that is dedicated to both supporting the local
community and also to developing their own individual trajectories through high school graduation and into
college. The program has documented a 95 percent high school graduation and college admissions rate against
a city average of less than 60 percent.
The YES program raises questions about how science-rich cultural organizations can not only provide rich
science experiences, but also leverage these programs to connect with other community venues, both to
develop participants’ understanding of science as a tool that can be used to support people and places in local
communities, and also as a mechanism to strengthen ties between science-rich cultural institutions and local
audiences who may not otherwise come to use or know them.
Type 4: Sustained Teacher Learning Communities
These programs have been co-designed to address teacher classroom practices through sustained, multi-week
professional development programs. Programs address different combinations of conceptual understanding,
classroom strategies, and STEM lessons/activities for the classroom. They are not tied to teachers’ use of the
informal setting or to specic mandated curricula for students, but rather to the teachers’ own professional
development and capacity. Equally important seems to be the development or strengthening of teachers’
identities as capable and committed STEM teacher leaders and participants.
Da Vinci Science and Discovery Center, Allentown, Pennsylvania
The Da Vinci Teacher Leader Institute is a partnership between
the Allentown School District, Cedar Crest College, and the
Da Vinci Science Center. Teachers from several other regional
districts have also been involved. The goals of the partnership are
to increase teachers’ content knowledge, ability to use inquiry in
the classroom, and leadership activities, with the ultimate goal
of increasing student science achievement. The project, funded
through a USDOE Math Science Partnership, has shown positive
impacts in all of these areas.
The project is organized around collegial networks, involving
Da Vinci Fellows and Da Vinci Peers. Fellows participate in
content training at the science center, and then provide ongoing
professional development to their colleagues, who become Peers,
at their various school sites. Since 2004, the project has served
more than 300 teachers.
Each year, Fellows participate in 85 hours of professional development workshops, mostly during an intensive
two-week summer institute at the science center. The subject matter changes each year and includes physical
science, life science, or earth science. Most workshop activities or inquiries begin with the Allentown
A group of Da Vinci Fellows Meet in the Da
Vinci Science Center to read and comment on
science notebooks from each other’s students
as part of an investigation of how students
express understanding in their notebooks.
Photograph by David Smith
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elementary science curriculum FOSS kits, but the goal is to move beyond the curriculum to engage teachers in
learning the science content themselves at an adult-appropriate level.
Back at their school, Fellows recruit their colleagues to participate as Peers in a science teaching professional
learning community (PLC) led by the Fellow. Each PLC identies and focuses on a question or issue related
to the needs of their school—for example, through learning how to use science notebooks to advance literacy
goals on a school-wide basis. Peers and Fellows attend two workshops at the science center. These workshops
feature activities that can be more directly applied to the classroom, but are still oriented toward supporting
teachers’ abilities to deeply implement their existing science curriculum. Teachers who participate in the
program also receive free eld trips and outreach programs from the Da Vinci Science Center, thus reaching
many students from Allentown, a poor urban district, with new experiences and opportunities to engage with
science in informal settings.
The summer institute and school year workshops are taught by a
team consisting of science content faculty from Cedar Crest College,
exemplary elementary teachers from the Allentown School District,
and professional development experts from the Da Vinci Science
Center. The faculty keep the content rich and current, the teachers
keep the team focused on what teachers need to perform better in
their classrooms, and the professional developers from the science
center keep the team focused on the adult learning needs and styles of
the participants. Project leaders report that this sometimes contentious
triangulation of perspectives has contributed signicantly to the rigor
and quality of the project.
For example, in 2005, the university life sciences faculty led an
experimental activity involving seed germination observed that
teachers’ investigations were simplistic and often mixed multiple
variables. When the workshop was repeated three years later, the Da
Vinci Center professional developer integrated the use of “inquiry
boards,”
5
which allowed teachers to signicantly deepen and improve
their questions. The school faculty worked with teachers to consider
how they might integrate this tool into their classrooms.
Each year, Fellows have shown a statistically signicant gain in content knowledge on nationally-normed
conceptual inventories (such as DTAMS and MOSART)
6
. Peers have also shown statistically signicant gains
in most years. Often the gains are small, however, and the project reports struggling to balance the time to
do deeper inquiry with the desire to support teachers across the breadth of the curriculum. There is tentative
evidence that portions of the Da Vinci workshops that are rated higher on the RTOP assessment of inquiry-
based teaching practices may result in greater gains on the corresponding portions of the content tests.
5 Inquiry boards are graphic organizers that use post-it notes to isolate questions, hypotheses, variables, and other elements of
investigations. They allow students or teachers to review the different steps and dimensions of their investigations before deciding
whether designs are appropriate.
6 Diagnostic Teacher Assessment for Math and Science, Misconception Oriented Standards-based Assessment Resource for
Teachers
MSP, Da Vinci
Structural
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Social
Features
Sequenced
activity units
Sustained
relationships
Assessed Learner-
directed
3-D or hands-
on objects
Collaborative
learning
Multi-modal
activities
Connections to
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Professional
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Professional
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Documented Outcomes
School performance
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One of the major efforts of the science center’s professional developers in the last few years has been to
explicitly try to help content faculty shape their content lessons to include more and better inquiry practice.
They have seen this effort pay off in improved evaluations of workshop sessions by the project’s external
evaluator.
In addition to content gains, both Peers and Fellows show statistically signicantly higher practices of inquiry
(based on RTOP observations of science lessons) than comparison teachers in similar schools (average RTOP
for Fellows and Peers =80/100, average comparison = 40/100). This is the most dramatic effect and it shows
up most dramatically in the second year of a teachers participation.
A question this project raises is how informal science institutions bring specic, and replicable, value-added
to work traditionally led by universities and school districts, and whether a national network of such efforts
could support school systems across the country.
CLUSTER, New York, NY
CLUSTER is an NSF–funded teacher preparation program led by the New York Hall of Science (NYSCI),
the City College of City University of New York, and City University of New York’s Center for Advanced
Study in Education. CLUSTER responds to a city-wide need by focusing on both the recruitment of cultural
minority teacher candidates and the incorporation of inquiry practices into the classroom. In addition to
completing state-mandated courses, preservice teachers enrolled in the program at City College participate
in a paid internship at NYSCI. At the museum, they work as Explainers for 150+ hours, interact with public
and school group visitors, and participate in weekly training sessions. CLUSTER, which involves preservice
secondary teacher training in both formal and informal environments, has documented ways in which it has
supported expanded use of inquiry methods in the classroom by new teachers.
Training at the museum focuses on the science content of the exhibits,
different approaches for engaging visitors, various presentation
styles and strategies for relating the content to the visitors’ daily
life, and reective practices. The rigorous training and associated
opportunities to interact with visitors builds participants’ capacities to
experiment with and rene their teaching practices. For example, one
of the preservice teachers, when conducting a cow’s eye dissection
for a group of 11th grade students, was directly confronted by a
student who yelled out, “Miss, you think we are so smart, but we
don’t know what you are talking about.” The low-stakes context
both gave the student “permission” to speak out, and also allowed
the teacher to “hear” the complaint without putting her authority
at risk. The program has documented how this reective moment
led the preservice teacher to become more aware of when and how
to introduce science words into her demonstration, which she was
then able to test through multiple opportunities to conduct the same
demonstration with different audiences over time.
Although the number of CLUSTER participants is small (n=43), early results suggest that CLUSTER
graduates improve in their understanding of inquiry pedagogy, although not in their understanding of science
content. In a comparison study of student teaching observations, CLUSTER students were found to engage
CLUSTER
Structural
Features
Social
Features
Sequenced
activity units
Sustained
relationships
Assessed Low-stakes
3-D or hands-
on objects
Collaborative
learning
Multi-modal
activities
Connections to
school STEM
Professional
training
Connections
to everyday
STEM
Documented Outcomes
School performance
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student interest more successfully than students in another teacher preparation program at the same college.
As of Fall 2008, a majority of CLUSTER students were from populations that are underrepresented in science
(e.g., 59 percent female; 87 percent from minority groups, including Black, Hispanic, Asian/Pacic Island,
West Indian, Other).
A question this project raises is whether alternative and low-stakes teaching environments, where science is
more broadly dened and portrayed than in many classroom curricula, can help to “inoculate” new teachers
against narrow conceptions of science, and how this would play out over their teaching careers. Additionally,
we wonder how preservice programs might more consistently make use of such environments, while at the
same time building connections to school science.
CREI, National Museum of Science and Technology Leonardo Da Vinci, Milano, Italy
In 2009, the National Museum of Science and Technology
Leonardo da Vinci in Italy launched CREI, the Centre for
Research in Informal Education. Building on the museum’s
history of working with teachers, CREI is designed specically
to support the integration of inquiry methods into the science
classroom. CREI provides teachers’ workshops, institutes,
classroom resources, activity designs, and regular after-school
discussion groups. Among the several long-standing projects that
contributed to the creation of CREI were Open Schools (Scuole
Aperte) and Educate in Science and Technology (EST).
Open Schools is a project developed in response to the Ministry
of Education’s plans to institute more community after-school
programs at school sites. Open Schools works with teachers
from about 100 schools to support the inclusion of inquiry-
based science in their new school-based after-school programs.
The museum provides professional development courses,
education kits, and support in integrating a learner-centered hands-on and inquiry-based approach to science
programs. Open Schools stresses teachers’ direct experimentation, encouraging them to learn through personal
experience and critical reection on the content and methodology of the activities.
Open Schools is the rst program at the National Museum that does not include students’ eld trips to the
museum, but rather works directly for the development of an inquiry “culture” in the school itself. As such, it
invests in building structural and social properties in the programs that can be sustained over time. In addition
to professional development courses and resources, the program has engendered relationships among the
school teachers and museum staff that have spilled over the bounds of the project, leading to the establishment
of a set of scheduled meetings where formal and informal educators can discuss and test activities that will be
used both in the after-school and sometimes the classroom setting.
EST, a partnership with another project of the National Museum of Science and Technology Leonardo da
Vinci, the Museum of Natural History of Milano, the Regional Ofce for Schools, and the Regional Authority
for Lombardy, is funded by the Cariplo Foundation. Between 2004 and 2009, EST worked with 3,000 teachers
in 1,000 schools of the region, involving many more museums in the same territory. The challenge was to
Teachers participate in a CREI training course
in the Genetics Interactive Lab of the National
Museum of Science and Technology Leonardo
da Vinci, Italy. Photo courtesy National Museum
of Science and Technology
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reach an ambitious number of schools and teachers and at the same time establish personal, long-term, and
personalized collaborations with each one of them.
EST consists of four interrelated elements: a) teacher training;
b) work in the classroom using museum resources; c) visits to
museums; d) project-based learning as the teaching and learning
framework in which the other activities of the project are integrated
(Xanthoudaki, Tirelli, Cerutti, & Calcagnini, 2007). The principal
aim of the project has been to improve the quality of, and approach
to, science education at school by building on teachers’ professional
development, inquiry-learning methodologies, and museum- and
classroom-based resources.
Each of the involved museums developed activities and resources
focusing on one or more science and technology topics. The National
Museum of Science and Technology Leonardo da Vinci built
three new interactive labs on telecommunications, robotics, and
biotechnologies. The labs offered an experimental context in which
teachers (in training) and students (in eld trips) were able to follow
inquiry-base learning activities and run experiments. Experience in
the labs was also considered as the base for, and related to, additional
resources for work at school. Educational kits focusing on the same topics were given for free to each teacher
with tools and materials for activities in the classroom. Museum staff also visited students at school in order to
run more activities with them.
The central element of EST has been the teacher as an agent of change. Although the principal objective of
the project addresses students and their relationship with science, the program works with teachers as the
focal and pivot point for reaching young people. Teacher training workshops have been centered on rst-hand
experiences. Hands-on and cooperative learning, observation, and evaluation of outcomes are some of the
methods used, encouraging teachers to learn through personal experience and practice. Using a train-the-
trainer model, participating teachers worked in small groups focusing on one topic, and later engaged their
school colleagues in the same or similar efforts.
The project included documentation of the joint work of teachers and museum staff both in museums and
schools, focusing in particular on teachers’ and museum educators’ perceptions of change. Data, collected
through observations, interviews, and questionnaires, documented how EST changed practice and attitudes
towards science as well as how teachers themselves changed their approach to teaching science, especially
through the use of museums. The nal evaluation report is expected in 2010. Some of the main outcomes of
the documentation argue that:
addressing teachers as learners and as reective practitioners offers substantial support to their
professional development as educators and facilitators of students’ learning, with long-term sustainable
effects;
teacher-training courses based on inquiry and action research have been decisive in helping teachers
overcome feelings of self-limitation or skepticism towards experimental approaches to science
teaching, away from the consolidated book-based approach;
CREI
Structural
Features
Social
Features
3-D or hands-
on objects
Sustained
relationships
Multi-modal
activities
Low-stakes
Professional
training
Collaborative
learning
Connections to
school STEM
Documented Outcomes
Teacher attitudes
Teacher interests
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using objects (including museum or everyday objects) and tools of science for creating authentic
questions and problems strongly contributes to the use of an inquiry-based approach in science
education;
the museum is a powerful teaching and learning resource, the benets of which go beyond the one-
off eld trip to a “science wonder-full” setting. If seen within a long-standing collaboration that helps
setting goals and methods, the museum becomes a permanent tool for the delivery of the curriculum
and the development of science-related knowledge, skills, and attitudes for young people.
This project exemplies how museums can provide external supportive structures for teachers and school
systems that are highly centralized, including as professional development nodes connecting schools and
after-school programs. Better understanding which teachers elect to participate in the programs and how
their participation may change their teaching would help the eld to generalize from the successes of this
program.
Type 5: District Infrastructure Development
These programs represent joint district-informal efforts to address infrastructural elements of the local school
systems. Museum schools, of which there are over two dozen in the United States (Phillips, 2006), are one
signicant example of such efforts. Building district capacity to design and lead inquiry-based professional
development, or training and supporting lead teachers, is another approach. Additionally, some science-rich
cultural institutions participate in district or state-wide standards or assessment committees. These intensive
collaborations may be the places where the most compromise is needed, where the two cultures come face to
face, and where signicant changes in practice in both cultures have the potential to result in a hybrid culture.
Alexander Science Center School, Los Angeles, California
In 2004, the California Science Center (CSC) partnered with the
Los Angeles Unied School District to open the Dr. Theodore
J. Alexander, Jr. Science Center School. This K-5 afliated
charter school uses a lottery process to ensure that at least 70
percent of students are from the underserved neighborhood
surrounding Exposition Park, where the science center is located.
The population of 620 students is roughly two-thirds Latino and
one-third African-American. More than three-quarters of students
participate in the free or reduced price lunch program. School
performance data show that students in the Science Center School
outperform demographically matched peers on state tests.
The school’s approach is to integrate science, mathematics,
and technology into a language arts, social studies, and ne
arts curriculum. The partnership allows teachers and students
regular access to the resources of the science center—exhibits, programs, materials, and professional staff.
Curriculum and programs are developed and implemented collaboratively between the school’s teachers and
CSC staff, who meet on a monthly basis.
The collaboration builds on the strengths and affordances of both partners. The science center draws on its
collections, inquiry pedagogies, and facility with forming partnerships to co-develop a K–5 curriculum that
Students build sailboats at the water works
experimental platform at the Science Center’s
Big Lab. Photo courtesy Alexander Science
Center
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engages students in multiple modes of learning. Teachers in the
school incorporate activities, materials, and eld trips into their
curriculum to engage students in standards-based district-mandated
studies. The school stresses the everyday relevance of science and
the natural world, drawing on formal and informal experiences. For
example, fth graders take an annual 4-day trip to nearby Catalina
Island, chaperoned by teachers, science center staff, and parents,
where they explore local ecologies. The trip is a culmination of a
year-long course of study that builds on science center exhibits,
investigations in its Big Lab, text-based studies in the classroom,
and local eld trips where students experiment with water activities
involving swimming, kayaking, and other experiences they will be
encountering in Catalina, sometimes for the rst time.
Ongoing professional development for teachers includes science
content and teaching methods that integrate inquiry and learner-
driven teaching strategies. In recognition of the role that families
play in student academic achievement, parents receive mentoring,
special workshops, and free family membership in the science center
so that new opportunities for science learning may go beyond the
school day.
Leaders discuss the challenges to developing a hybrid institutional culture, including reliance on vision
setting and exibility through the district ofce as well as from the science center staff. To date, outcomes
have focused on student academic performance as demonstrated by standardized, criterion-referenced and
performance-based tests. For example, recent ndings from the Academic Performance Index suggest that
Science Center School students scored signicantly higher for prociency in English language arts, math, and
science than students in comparable schools with similar demographics. An extensive multi-year evaluation of
both student and teacher performance is forthcoming.
The work and collaboration of the Alexander Science Center School make us wonder about the development
of different kinds of hybrid practices among both the school and the science center staff. How is this
collaboration changing expectations, practices, and decision-making at the level of both staff and
administration? What can such schools teach us about schooling?
The Exploratorium Teacher Programs, San Francisco, California
The Exploratorium has two distinct teacher programs, both of which have documented the ways in they have
impacted teacher practices. The Exploratorium Institute for Inquiry, which works with district elementary staff
developers, has been shown in a triple blind study to have led to greater inquiry practices in the classroom.
The Exploratorium Teacher Induction Program (TIP), for middle and high school teachers, has dramatically
affected teacher retention rates for new teachers in the San Francisco Bay Area and has contributed to
teachers’ growth in content understanding and classroom practices.
The Institute for Inquiry, a national professional development program, was initially funded by NSF in 1995.
The program built on its prior two decades of work with regional elementary teachers, to begin to support
teams of elementary school science professional developers from state and urban systemic school change
Alexander Science Center
Structural
Features
Social
Features
Sequenced
activity units
Extended
relationships
Assessed Collaborative
learning
3-D or hands-
on objects
Connections to
school STEM
Multi-modal
activities
Connections
to everyday
STEM
Professional
training
Documented Outcomes
School performance
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projects from around the country. Since its inception, over 4,000
curriculum and professional development leaders and lead teachers,
representing over 500 school districts, museums, and universities from
42 states have attended workshops at the Institute for Inquiry. Week-long
workshops include: Fundamentals of Inquiry, Assessing for Learning,
and Classroom Strategies for Teaching Hands-On, Inquiry-Based
Science.
Institute for Inquiry participants engage in a number of inquiry activities
that can be replicated in professional development workshops back
in their home districts. Special attention is paid to the facilitation of
inquiry workshops for adults, with a focus on the materials, pacing,
and pedagogical strategies that can not only engage adults in learning
inquiry, but can prompt reection and discussion about how such
activities could be integrated into the elementary classroom as part of
district-wide shifts to make science more inquiry-oriented. External
evaluation found that professional development leaders from districts
that had participated in the Institute for Inquiry program revealed greater
depth of understanding of inquiry, had more sophisticated professional
development designs, and were “clearly and statistically distinguishable”
from their comparable counterparts.
In 1999, the Exploratorium started a middle and high school science
teacher induction program (TIP) in collaboration with the San
Francisco Unied School Dustrict and San Mateo County Ofces
of Education. TIP, which has served 375 teachers to date, provides
novice science teachers with a two-year professional development
program consisting of a menu of supports. The program is funded by
NSF and several private foundations.
TIP is the rst part of a developmental, staged, multi-year program
that begins with teacher induction, progresses through mid-
career support, and concludes with teacher leadership training.
Some program components (such as classroom management or
working with parents) specically support TIP novice teachers,
but many components are integrated so that novices are working
alongside experienced and veteran teachers. Over two years, the
TIP program provides 400 hours of supports including intensive
summer institutes, weekend content workshops, peer support groups,
classroom coaching, and mentoring led by veteran teachers who have
graduated from the Teacher Institute’s Leadership Program. TIP was
developed in response to changing demographics in California’s
classrooms, with increasingly young and out-of-eld teachers
being placed in science classrooms, due to massive retirements and
a “revolving door” which saw more than half of teachers leaving
the eld within their rst three years in the classroom. The theory
behind TIP is that new teachers need not only content, pedagogical
Novice teachers building fancarts
during a summer workshop on
Newton’s Laws. Photo by Linda Shore
Exploratorium Teacher
Programs
Structural
Features
Social
Features
Sequenced
activity units
Sustained
relationships
3-D or hands-
on objects
Learner-paced
Multi-modal
activities
Low-stakes
Professional
scientists
Collaborative
learning
Professional
training
Connections to
school STEM
Connections
to everyday
STEM
Documented Outcomes
School performance
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strategies, and classroom coaching, but they also need a community of like-minded teachers committed to
high-quality science teaching that can help to sustain their vision and commitment to the practice.
A ve-year evaluation of TIP found that after completing the two-year induction program, over 90 percent of
the novice science teachers remain in the teaching profession (compared to 50 percent retention rate typically
reported in participating Bay Area school districts). In addition, novice science teachers reported higher levels
of condence in their ability to plan and create science lessons and more frequent use of investigative teaching
practices than a control group of novice science teachers. They also reported that their knowledge of science
concepts, modes of scientic inquiry, and the richness of their instructional repertoires increased over the
course of the program.
Both of these programs illustrate ways that science-rich cultural organizations can become embedded
components in systemic efforts to make changes in districts, at multiple levels throughout the district. The
informal educational environments, which are dedicated to and animated by inquiry-based learning, may help
to create a grounded vision of what districts are aiming for (science-engaged children), and a belief that the
vision is realizable. It would be important to understand how locating these professional communities outside
of the district infrastructure, in science-rich settings, affects participants’ vision and commitment.
LASER, Seattle, Washington
For nearly a decade, the Pacic Science Center (PSC) has
demonstrated that informal education institutions can play key
roles in K–12 statewide science education reform. Though
its leadership of the Leadership and Assistance for Science
Education Reform (LASER) program, PSC identied 10 LASER
Alliances that provided professional development to 20,000
teachers, often providing each teacher with at least 54 hours
of professional development over the course of three years.
In addition, PSC staff has vetted new science curriculum and
developed science education materials for use across the state
of Washington. Evaluation of state test scores has shown that
student gains correlated with teacher participation in LASER.
LASER is one of eight regional sites across the country that has disseminated and implemented the adoption
of NSF funded inquiry-based science curriculum materials through an Implementation and Dissemination
grant to the National Science Resource Center (NSRC). PSC has collaborated with statewide education
ofcials to help establish and support a state infrastructure to sustain the adoption of curriculum funded
by NSF (e.g., STC, FOSS, SEPUP)
7
. PSC leads the LASER program in Washington by coordinating the
participation of a network of LASER Alliances across the state that provide regional support to teachers and
school systems. PSC brings to the collaboration a statewide reputation as a site for engaging and inquiry-
based learning. PSC thus appeals to teachers through leveraging the experience and perception that PSC, as a
longstanding institution dedicated to rsthand learning in science, is neutral territory in school system politics.
The longstanding relationship with the education system, and close understanding of state standards and
policies, also means that PSC is seen as a statewide resource to the LASER Alliances, and as such works to
support their capacity to be productive contributors to the statewide project.
7 Science and Technology Concepts, Full Option Science System, and Science Education for Public Understanding Program
School district leadership teams at a Washington
State LASER Strategic Planning Institute. Photo
by Dennis Schatz.
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LASER’s teacher workshops stress 1) the content in the elementary curriculum, 2) inquiry-based teaching
strategies, 3) the adoption and incorporation of NSF–funded curriculum materials into the classroom, and 4)
how to integrate the science curriculum with other subject matter into the elementary classroom.
At the district leadership level, workshops focus on national and statewide trends in science education and
science curriculum and assessment. Through attending a LASER Strategic Planning Institute, school-district
teams review their resources and assets, develop a mission and vision statement, map to the state standards,
discuss standards for collaboration, and identify needs for engaging
stakeholders. External evaluation of LASER is generally focused on
teacher professional development, teacher classroom practice, and
the relationship of these to student academic performance. Findings
from the 2007–2008 school year evaluation studies suggested that
students with the highest gains were instructed by teachers with a
minimum of 18 hours of professional development. Furthermore,
student gains were also more closely associated with those teachers
who participated in professional learning communities and took
time during the day to work on professional development. In future,
PSC plans to implement school-embedded professional learning
communities where the teachers examine student work and modify
their instructional practices based on student outcomes.
LASER is a strong example of how science centers can help to
leverage networks to support school systems state-wide. We wonder
what particular features of informal science institutions make them
effective partners, and how such a system might be replicated in
other parts of the country.
Summary
The programs highlighted above represent just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the number and types of
formal-informal collaborations one nds around the globe. Furthermore, it is important to note that most
informal education organizations provide programs either directly or indirectly to students and teachers,
outside of the framework of formal collaborations. The programs we included here, however, represent
virtually the entirety of the collaborative programs that we located that have documented participant
outcomes. Despite their small number, they provide the science education eld with a window into the fact
that formal-informal collaborations can be designed to contribute towards
Advancing students’ conceptual understanding in science
Improving students’ school achievement and attainment
Strengthening students’ positive dispositions towards science
Advancing teachers’ conceptual understanding in science
Supporting teachers’ integration of inquiry and new materials in the classroom.
In the next section we discuss the ways in which these collaborations build on the affordances of both formal
and informal settings to achieve results that perhaps neither of the partnering institutions could achieve alone.
LASER
Structural
Features
Social
Features
Sequenced
activity units
Sustained
relationships
Assessed Collaborative
learning
3-D or hands-
on objects
Connections to
school STEM
Multi-modal
activities
Professional
training
Documented Outcomes
School performance
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Part 4: Emergent Themes
A central premise of this report is that both K–12 schools and informal education and science-rich cultural
institutions have a vested interest in supporting student and teacher engagement with science, and that their
efforts can be enhanced through collaboration with one another.
Schools are concerned with many different subject areas, with the social and emotional development of
children, and with community and district policies and needs. Science-rich cultural institutions are concerned
with learners of all ages, with stewardship of science resources and collections, and with public engagement
with science. Youth and after-school programs are concerned with children’s emotional, intellectual, physical,
and social well-being. But enabling and enhancing student and teacher engagement with science is the
common ground; and the programs we highlighted provide evidence that collaboration can advance the goals
and enhance the respective work and impacts of each institutional type in strengthening student and teacher
engagement with science.
Part One of this report provided a rationale for the ways in which formal and informal institutions can
collaborate. It provided a theoretical perspective that positions purposeful and meaningful social activity
as the driver of learning and development. It showed how formal and informal institutions, combining
their respective pedagogies and institutional affordances, can provide more authentic, rich, compelling,
and sustained science learning activities than they might be able to do acting alone. Part Two of this report
highlighted ve different types of formal-informal collaborations that build on these institutional affordances
to support and sustain participant engagement with science. The programs we highlighted have documented
their impacts on participants in terms of conceptual understanding, inquiry skills, dispositions, career
awareness and interest, school achievement, and classroom teaching practices.
Five central themes emerge from our review of the programs described in Part Two. We discuss these themes
in this section of the report.
Theme 1: Conceptually rich and compelling science learning experiences
The nature of formal-informal collaborations, sustained over time, seems to consistently produce science
learning programs, curricula, and experiences that are conceptually rich and compelling to participants. They
build on interests, communities, and local resources to capture the imagination, stimulate questions, and drive
participants to take up the tools of science to address their concerns or curiosities.
A signicant part of this conceptual richness and engagement appears to be the physicality of place,
phenomena, life forms, and objects that are deployed to engage attention and imagination on the part of
the participants. Whether conducting ora and fauna counts to better know the Calumet region of Illinois,
or working with pin-screen exhibits in Shreveport, to explore the meaning of cubic units, the physicality
of informal settings can help learners care about and make meaning of abstract concepts otherwise usually
encountered in books on screens.
Deeply implicated in the programs we highlighted is the way in which the scientic processes of inquiry
emerge naturally as modes of engagement in object-based or place-based programs. Indeed, informal learning
environments seem to be places where inquiry can ourish. Much has been written about object-based
learning (for an overview, see Paris, 2002). The fact that informal environments possess authentic objects,
collections, or phenomena is one obvious reason why inquiry is so deeply associated with them. This raises
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questions about how schools might more strategically deploy eld trips to help children approach concepts
through tactile and visual, rather than only verbal, approaches. How would the regular integration of such
props, in key conceptual domains, affect student learning? What role does the environment play in such
experiences, or could the same exhibits be experienced similarly in classroom settings?
We posit that there are other, perhaps less obvious, affordances, referenced in Part One, that may be even
more critical for allowing inquiry practices to blossom—namely, exible uses of time, low-stakes/non-
judgmental contexts, and multiple ways into and modes through ideas or concepts. These elements may
support students’ affective engagement with the subject matter, leading to the development of genuine and
personally compelling questions, creating the low-stakes space that supports exploration and a commitment to
the time-intensive processes of inquiry.
The programs we reviewed provide examples of collaborations that seem to indicate that such programs,
experienced in informal settings, but deeply tied to, and sustained by, the school curriculum can expand
students’ opportunities to develop their cognitive-affective relationship with science, gain insight and
understanding of concepts that may be more difcult to grasp verbally or to care about in the abstract, and
gain views into possible personal pathways or trajectories that they could choose to follow. What role do
both affect and cognition play in encountering and developing questions with authentic objects, animals,
and settings? Are informal learning environments particularly well equipped to support students’ cognitive-
affective engagement? How can schools build on this? There are a range of studies that examine the ways in
which informal settings engage children’s affective and cognitive development (see NRC, 2009), but there are
few that examine how these developments manifest themselves in school settings.
Developing and testing our understanding about the role and contributions of the social affordances of
informal learning environments would clarify why the same objects or phenomena in the school classroom
might be experienced or investigated differently than they would be in the informal environment. It would
also provide informal learning institutions with guidance on what features they need to further develop, or to
protect and sustain, in the face of institutional changes.
Theme 2: Boundary-Spanning Science Learning Communities
A second consistent theme in the programs we reviewed is the way in which formal-informal collaborations
are organized around communities of learners, sometimes multi-generational (as in SCFG) and other
times multi-institutional (as in LASER). These communities of learners establish shared valued purposes,
and provide social and physical places for students and teachers to develop practices, dispositions, and
understandings that they can use across multiple settings.
Some programs, such as YES, TIP, and SCFG have intentionally created communities as foundational design
elements. But in other cases, where the foundational design elements are access to resources or settings (such
as Urban Advantage or CEEP) or rooting science studies in local community practices (such as SPARK or
Science Centre in School), program directors reported anecdotally that learning communities have emerged as
a driving force for participants. Afliation with the communities, at an affective, intellectual, and social level,
they reported, sustained participation and commitment to the programs and to the core themes and subject
matter the programs addressed.
The involvement of science-rich and community settings perhaps creates new possibilities for such
communities. First, it grounds the activities and the relationships in physical spaces dedicated to the study
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of science, possibly generating a more deeply affective connection with the subject of study. Second, it
underscores the connections between what is being done and learned inside classrooms to what is being
done and learned beyond the school walls, illuminating both immediate purposes of the subject of study and
also possible longer term trajectories in terms of careers or academic choices. We speculate that programs
situated in science-rich settings may have the potential to help teachers or students begin to grapple with
epistemologies of science in ways that more disciplinary-neutral settings cannot. All of these conjectures must
be tested.
But beyond the notion of the emergent community of learners, which are powerful in their own rights, these
programs suggest possible ways of organizing community resources at a systemic level, mapping onto the
institutional affordances of the different community settings. The CLUSTER project, for example, provides
a model of a low-stakes, multi-modal informal setting being leveraged to support the development of more
exible and perhaps more broad-minded conceptions of science for science teachers. The LEAP program
shows how libraries can build on exible timeframes and boundary-spanning objects such as kits to provide
drop-in and lending materials to advance science engagement and learning. In what ways can informal
environments, including the after-school setting, be better leveraged as preservice teacher development sites?
This also begs the question about how communities, including school systems, can develop better and more
integrated systems for, or habits of, understanding how science interest and learning that develops out of
school is brought to and capitalized on during school.
There are a range of researchers working on questions and problems related to learning communities, identity
development, and place-based learning (Bekerman, Burbules, & Silberman-Keller, 2006; Leinhardt, Crowley,
& Knutson, 2002; Mahoney et al., 2005), but not often from a systemic perspective of making change happen
at an macro-institutional level. The point our inquiry group grappled with is how to imagine, build, and test
such a system at scale.
Theme 3: A Commitment to More Inclusive Science
A third theme we see across more than half of the programs is an explicit commitment to engaging students,
and teachers of students, from high-poverty communities in order to expand access and develop a more
inclusive science-engaged populace. Indeed a 2007 study of museum programs for schools found that almost
half of school audiences, on average, were composed of children or teachers from high-poverty schools
(Phillips, et al., 2007). This stands in stark contrast to typical general admission demographics, which nd
museum-goers to be typically white, college-educated, and middle class.
This contrast indicates the essential role that formal-informal collaborations can play in expanding the reach
and opportunities of science-rich cultural institutions to children from communities who may not otherwise
access the resources or sites. In this sense, expanding formal-informal collaborations becomes an issue of
equity and access.
Youth, after-school, and library programs are already serving children from high-poverty and
underrepresented communities. Expanding their program repertoires to include science provides their
audiences with opportunities to develop interest and capacities that can allow them to access new academic
and career trajectories, as well as develop lifelong engagement with a variety of subjects.
Although the programs that we highlighted did not study this issue specically, we conjecture that some of
the affordances of informal settings are particularly likely to support more inclusive participation in science
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learning. Studies have found that children from high poverty and cultural and linguistic minority communities
nd science to be alienating, boring, and difcult (Nasir et al., 2006; Tobin, 2006). The authenticity of setting
and objects, the connections of many programs to local communities and community needs and resources,
and the more learner-centered approaches to science teaching and learning can operate to make science more
accessible and appealing. Some studies have documented these effects in the informal setting (National
Research Council, 2009), but few have traced how these effects contribute to or interact with science learning
in the formal setting.
Theme 4: A Lack of Documentation and Evidence
While there is substantial evidence that there is a great deal of formal-informal collaboration, there is
substantially less evidence related to the outcomes of these collaborations.
Many programs are evaluating the experience that their program provides teachers or students (whether they
understood, were engaged, liked, thought that they would use), but extremely few are evaluating whether
the experience translates to changes in practice, or anything else, outside of the program. Even in the few
cases where programs had impact evidence, much of the time that evidence was collected in ways that did
not reveal the particular strengths and contributions of the institutional partners and therefore could establish
the value of the collaborations. Whether, for example, the museum or youth aspects of the program changed
thinking and practice was not as closely considered as whether or not the inquiry experiences (which could be
offered by formal institutions as well) were impactful. The levels of reliability and validity associated with the
different data collection methods are widely varied.
A major challenge to the eld, as noted by the recent NRC report (2009), is that existing measures of change
and impact have not been designed to take into account the values and contributions that science-rich
cultural institutions and youth development programs bring to science learning. School tests are attuned to
specic aspects of schooling, and not necessarily to deeper conceptual understandings, inquiry practices, or
career interests. There is a pressing need for the development of appropriate methods for uses in informal
environments—methods of assessment that do not fundamentally alter or confound the experience of learning
in non-school settings, but do identify and describe measures of learning that have valence to both formal
and informal stakeholders. There is signicant theoretical and methodological work needed to identify these
measures and how they may map to standard measures used in schools (e.g., test or achievement scores) and
informal settings (e.g., levels of active engagement and positive dispositions).
Theme 5: The Challenge and Benets of Collaboration
Collaborations, by denition, require substantially more time and resources than projects undertaken by
just one organization. Almost all of the programs highlighted here shared with us some of the struggles that
they had in developing and maintaining their collaborations. But seldom do funders recognize or support
this extra layer of work. Collaborators are not only embroiled in designing, implementing, and assessing
their programs—they are struggling with new cultures, uses of language, expectations about time and
documentation, protocols, people, and practices. School personnel are often subject to more complex systems
of administration and hierarchies and therefore may have less exibility or autonomy. Informal educators
may have less familiarity with the pressures or constraints that school personnel must address from their
many constituents, ranging from children to parents to community and government stakeholders. At the same
time informal education, as a eld, is underpaid, more transient and precarious, and less clearly a recognized
professional track. This creates more instability in the system.
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These constraints are not easily overcome and will usually take years to work themselves through. During
that time, key personnel may move to new positions, and the work of building relationships must begin anew.
At the same time, leaders of the highlighted programs anecdotally remarked on the great professional strides
they have made at individual and also institutional levels through collaborating with colleagues from other
types of institutions. Something we heard consistently was the way in which formal-informal collaborations
beneted staff at the informal learning institutions. Staff at science-rich cultural organizations talked about
what they had learned about children, by spending more consistent time with the same group of children, and
about teaching, from working with teachers to construct coherent science learning activities that unfolded over
a period of weeks. Some reported how their work with teachers and school systems had led them to better
understand current theories of learning, current research, and current educational policies that impacted their
work. A study conducted by the Center for Informal Learning and Schools showed statistically signicant
growth in stafng and budgets when science-rich cultural institutions reported that they were collaboratively
developing their school programs with school personnel, and when they were evaluating impacts in terms of
changes in the school (not necessarily test scores) (http://cils.exploratorium.edu/cils/page.php?ID=134). We
speculate that close collaboration with schools prompts reection and challenges informal educators to think
more deeply about how their work connects into the larger timeframes and trajectories of people who come
through our doors, sometimes for just a few hours in a year. The vast body of research and policy conducted
around school science in some cases might help informal educators more carefully hone and direct their
efforts.
NSF has made investments in large-scale centers to better understand and explore the potential of learning
across formal and informal contexts. The LIFE (Learning in Informal and Formal Environments) Center,
Center for Inquiry in Science Teaching and Learning (CISTL), and Center for Informal Learning and Schools
(CILS), are three multi-year, multi-million dollar investments in research, development of young scholars,
and professional community that address different aspects of many of the issues raised in this report (as well
as many not addressed here). The European Union (EU) also funds cooperation between formal education
institutions and informal learning settings. For example, in 2001 the EU funded the School-Museum European
Cooperation project to focus on the use of museums and science centres as resources for school science
teaching and learning, by supporting collaborations among museums, schools, and teacher-training institutions
from eight countries. The project resulted in activity designs, classroom resources, and museum programs
for students as well as in-service training course School and Science Museum: Cooperation for Teaching,
Learning and Discovery. The course is currently in its fth edition and is run by an international group of
experts. A central feature is that it includes both school teachers and informal/museum educators from all
EU-member countries. This offers the opportunity for educators coming from different institutions to work
together on common goals, exchange experience and expertise, and explore the potential of shared, structured,
and sustained collaborations. In 2004, the EU funded a 13-nation formal-informal collaboration called
PENCIL. This effort produced a number of program innovations and evaluation studies that showed how the
informal institutions supported student motivation, understanding, and interest (Permanent European Centre
for Informal Learning, PENCIL, 2009).
Despite these impressive system-level examples, the walls between formal and informal learning professional
elds are only beginning to crumble. There is too little transfer of practice, learning, and community.
People developing life sciences curriculum for middle schoolers are often unaware of the work being
done by museum exhibit developers or zoo educators on developing approaches and pedagogies to engage
learners with core themes and questions. And similarly, informal educators are largely unaware of research
ndings related to classroom work on mutual topics or audiences of interest. Educators in formal-informal
collaborations are at the frontlines spanning these boundaries. More research is needed to document the ways
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in which collaborations among institutions create communities of learners at the institutional level, and how
this may change institutional priorities and programs.
Summary
We identied ve recurrent themes that ran through the formal-informal collaborations that we highlighted in
Part 3:
Formal-informal collaborations lead to conceptually rich and compelling science learning programs that
build on both the structural and social affordances of informal settings and objects.
Formal-informal collaborations have led to the creation of learning communities that could develop
practices, dispositions, and understandings that are of value across multiple institutional settings and
boundaries.
Formal-informal collaborations have created more equity and access for children, and teachers of
children, from high-poverty communities.
There is a lack of strong, valid, and meaningful evidence of the impacts of formal-informal
collaborations, largely due to the lack of a well-theorized methodology that captures and describes
impacts that have valence to both formal and informal stakeholders.
Formal-informal collaborations take signicant time and energy, often unacknowledged by sponsors
of the work, but are a continuing but valuable process of evolution for participating individuals and
institutions.
We present these themes not as conclusive ndings, but as preliminary observations, all of which need to be
subjected to more rigorous experimentation and research. While there is a good deal of research looking at
different elements or aspects of these themes, little of the research (with the notable exception of the work
of the LIFE Center) is taking a systems perspective to understand how interest, learning, and commitment
develop across time and space, and incorporate both formal and informal learning opportunities and
institutions.
1)
2)
3)
4)
5)
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Part 5: Conclusion
We began this report with the observation that current understanding about science learning points to the
importance of developing and better understanding the potential of formal-informal collaborations to more
inclusively engage children, ages K–12, in science and science learning. These trends are:
Scientic literacy involves a rich array of conceptual understanding, ways of thinking, capacities to
use scientic knowledge for personal and social purposes, and an understanding of the meaning and
relevance of science to everyday life. No one institution acting alone can achieve the goal of developing
science literacy.
Learning, and the development of a sustained commitment to a discipline, develops over multiple
settings and timeframes. Lack of collaboration across settings can create barriers to learning and
development.
Science education, as it is traditionally constituted, fails to engage and include a signicant portion
of society; most notably, women and people from high-poverty and non-dominant communities are
underrepresented in science professional, academic, and organized leisure-time activities.
Using a theoretical lens described in Part One, we reviewed a number of formal-informal collaborations
that showed evidence that they had impacted participants in terms of conceptual understanding, inquiry
skills, dispositions, career awareness and interest, school achievement, and classroom teaching practices. We
grouped these programs into ve clusters: 1) Supplementary classroom enrichment, 2) Integrated classroom
resources, 3) Sustained student learning communities, 4) Sustained teacher learning communities, and
5) District infrastructure development.
The programs drew on different affordances, both structural and social, both formal and informal. Most but
not all used three-dimensional objects or immersive experiences to engage participants, but some of the most
highly structured programs did not use exhibits or 3-D objects at all. Many, but not all, relied on the sense of
place to engage participants in cognitive and social commitments to the programs. Some used the low-stakes
environments of informal settings to encourage risk taking and experimentation. Others did not draw on this
affordance at all. Some were sequenced and assessed, others were more exible in allowing participants to
develop their own agenda for activity and did not formally assess learning outcomes beyond self-reports. We
found that ve themes ran through the programs we highlighted:
Formal-informal collaborations lead to conceptually rich and compelling science learning programs that
build on both the structural and social affordances of informal settings and objects.
Formal-informal collaborations have led to the creation of learning communities that could develop
practices, dispositions, and understandings that are of value across multiple institutional settings and
boundaries.
Formal-informal collaborations have created more equity and access for children, and teachers of
children, from high-poverty communities.
There is a lack of strong, valid, and meaningful evidence of the impacts of formal-informal
collaborations, largely due to the lack of well-theorized methodology that captures and describes
impacts that have valence to both formal and informal stakeholders.
Formal-informal collaborations take signicant time and energy, often unacknowledged by sponsors of
the work, and are a continuing but valuable process of evolution for individuals and institutions.
1)
2)
3)
1)
2)
3)
4)
5)
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We have thus tried to show that formal-informal collaborations can be powerful mechanisms for building
engagement and understanding in science. They build on the different, but often complementary, affordances
of both formal and informal institutions to create science learning programs that are accessible, authentic, and
conceptually rich.
We close this report with ve recommendations:
Expanding the research base. There is a need for more studies of existing and robust programs,
studies that address the different issues we raise above, and studies that take a systems perspective to
understand how learning in formal or informal settings affects the other.
Addressing funding barriers. There is a need for more funding for formal-informal collaborations.
Many current funding agencies have difculty knowing how to classify these hybrid programs, and as
a consequence they oftentimes fall between the cracks of funding categories. Funders need to look to
the goals of the projects (enhanced teenage understanding of science, or improved teaching practices,
for example) rather than the mode. The mode of work is what needs expansion and experimentation.
In peer review panels, this means that panelists must be selected who have an understanding of both
formal and informal environments.
Expanding professional development for informal educators who work with formal audiences. There is
a need for more professional development for informal educators that addresses the nature of work with
schools and teachers, including school policies, assessment policies and trends, theories of learning,
and program design and evaluation. More teacher preparation programs should include introductions to
informal learning institutions, resources, pedagogies, and people.
Expanding systems perspectives and programs. There is a need for more program experiments that
test models of systems integration—after-school settings can serve as sites for teacher development
and undergraduate training for future behavioral scientists; science-rich cultural institutions providing
science pedagogical leadership in after-school or youth settings; or co-development of K–12 science
curriculum and activities.
Institutionally valuing formal-informal collaborations, and the expertise required to advance them. In
the end, there is a need for greater understanding and support within science-rich cultural institutions
for work with schools. Too often schools and teachers are seen as a “market” for eld trips or other paid
programs, rather than as a stakeholder audience. The extent to which science-rich cultural institutions
conceptualize themselves as educative rather than entertainment organizations will be reected in the
depth of their collaborations with K–12 schools. A part of being deeply committed to science education
must involve working with the more diverse populations of science learners that exist in local public
schools and engaging their families in the life of cultural institutions.
There is a great deal of work already happening in formal-informal collaborations. Many people are
pioneering new ideas and approaches, some of which were included in this report. Many are increasingly
concerned with documenting the results of these collaborations in meaningful and useful ways. We have
argued in this report that so long as public opinion polls continue to nd that the public, especially the public
from communities underrepresented in the sciences, characterizes science as alien, boring, overly difcult, or
not directly relevant to their lives, we must increase our efforts in formal-informal collaborations to reach the
greatest number of people, for the most sustained amounts of time, in ways that can be achieved at scale.
1)
2)
3)
4)
5)
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... In order to fill gaps within traditional school-based science learning, informal science learning experiences can be integrated into formal learning environments (Malcolm et al., 2003;Stocklmayer et al., 2010). In fact, many education researchers are calling for more collaborations between schools and informal science institutions (Bevan and Semper, 2006;Bell et al., 2009;Bevan et al., 2010;Stocklmayer et al., 2010;Falk and Dierking, 2019). These collaborations could reduce barriers faced by schools by creating more equity and access to informal science programs and their benefits (Bell et al., 2009;Bevan et al., 2010). ...
... In fact, many education researchers are calling for more collaborations between schools and informal science institutions (Bevan and Semper, 2006;Bell et al., 2009;Bevan et al., 2010;Stocklmayer et al., 2010;Falk and Dierking, 2019). These collaborations could reduce barriers faced by schools by creating more equity and access to informal science programs and their benefits (Bell et al., 2009;Bevan et al., 2010). Echoing this, Falk and Dierking (2018b) have recently suggested an "ecosystem-based" approach to science education, which would give learners access to a network of different intersecting science learning opportunities that include formal schooling with a variety of other free-choice learning opportunities. ...
... Students typically access free choice or informal science learning opportunities through supplementary class room experiences (like field trips, activities, or events), collaborations between formal and informal institutions to create changes in curriculum, out-of-school programs, teacher professional development, and updated and increased infrastructure (Bevan et al., 2010). Field-trips are the most common form of freechoice science experiences and these have been researched extensively for student and teacher outcomes (Bell et al., 2009, examples, Kisiel, 2005DeWitt and Osborne, 2007;DeWitt and Storksdieck, 2008). ...
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The aim of this paper is to describe an analytical approach for addressing the ceiling effect, a measurement limitation that affects research and evaluation efforts in informal STEM learning projects. The ceiling effect occurs when a large proportion of subjects begin a study with very high scores on the measured variable(s), such that participation in an educational experience cannot yield significant gains among these learners. This effect is widespread in informal science learning due to the self-selective nature of participation in these experiences, such that participants are already interested in and knowledgeable about the content area. When the ceiling effect is present, no conclusions can be drawn regarding the influence of an intervention on participants’ learning outcomes which could lead evaluators and funders to underestimate the positive effects of STEM programs. We discuss how the use of person-centered analytic approaches that segment samples in theory driven ways could help address the ceiling effect and provide an illustrative example using data from a recent evaluation of a STEM afterschool program.
... Furthermore, school and out-of-school science education communities have begun to collaborate in creative and complementary ways (Bevan et al., 2010). The Fiocruz Museum of Life (Brazil), for example, hosts weekly professional development opportunities for school teachers and administrators, with the scope of planning meaningful and relevant school visits and productive connections across both landscapes. ...
Once dominated by a focus on collecting and preserving, and later communicating science through hands-on experiences, science museums are slowly reshaping their identities and purposes to explicitly include and promote active citizenship, social responsibility, engagement with complex science and technology issues, and agency. Informed by progressive views of scientific literacy and dialogic and participatory models of communication, science museums are beginning to re-imagine their spaces and practices to embrace broader goals. This theoretical paper explores and discusses the changing roles and identities of these institutions through the emergence of what we identify as fourth-generation science museums and their six defining drivers (Pedretti & Navas Iannini, 2020). We argue science museums can become places that (1) embrace change and transformation; (2) promote productive struggle; (3) develop allyship; (4) foster empathy; (5) support epistemic democracy; and (6) act as a hybrid third space.
... Hosting events that offer developmentally appropriate informal learning experiences within a child's school but outside the formal classroom makes them more accessible to children and their caregivers Bevan et al., 2010). The practice bridges formal (school-based) and informal learning, creating cross-contextual learning spaces (Fallik, Rosenfeld, & Eylon, 2013;National Research Council, 2009;Russell, Knutson, & Crowley, 2013). ...
Article
Early childhood teacher candidates benefit when presented with opportunities to engage meaningfully with their clinically-based school community. Informal learning events that are hosted after school hours but within school settings present a valuable way to provide these opportunities. Too often, content areas exist in isolation in classrooms, a stark contrast to the real world where content is connected and overlapping. Additionally, while many early childhood teachers express insecurity about their ability to teach STEM content, an integrated STEAM (STEM + Arts & Humanities) approach may help to promote comfort with STEM content and presents an authentic example of content integration. This article presents a model of informal STEAM learning that capitalizes on collaborative school-university partnerships to improve both teacher candidate development and student learning outcomes. The model described provides practical ideas for facilitating successful informal STEAM events at local schools and is of value to a variety of educational stakeholders.
... To maximize our impact on K-12 student learning, a clear channel of communication between formal K-12 schools and nonformal educational institutions is essential (Bevan et al., 2010;Garcia, 2015). Institutions of nonformal learning can be very important partners for supporting K-12 learning initiatives and objectives (Ng-He, 2015), as is the case for our partnership. ...
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This chapter describes two courses in which university students were involved with community partners, in one case a local school system and in the other, a local nonformal educational institution. We begin with a discussion of the benefits of civic engagement through service learning in an academic setting and describe how we integrated socio-scientific issues of local importance and a service learning aspect into our courses. We follow with a discussion of the impacts the project has had on each of the partners involved in the collaboration. We conclude with lessons learned as a result of the project and future plans for the partnership.
... • It is structured around time and standards, which is necessary for serious engagement in subject matter and science studies (Bevan, Dillon, Hein, Macdonald, Michalchik, Miller, … Yoou, 2010). ...
Thesis
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This is a Dissertation on the use of Amazon Alexa for teaching. https://etd.ohiolink.edu/apexprod/rws_olink/r/1501/10?p10_etd_subid=184032&clear=10
... There are a number of potentially powerful influences which are critical to understanding the pathways of STEM interest development during adolescence. For example, participation in out-of-school STEM activities such as watching STEM-related TV shows or attending science clubs may critically support learners' pursuit of lifelong STEM interests and understandings, both in and out of school (cf., Barron, 2006;Bevan et al., 2010;Falk & Dierking, 2002Falk & Needham, 2013;National Research Council, 2015;Stocklmayer, Rennie & Gilbert, 2010). ...