Developing A Program Model for High School Science Research, Communication and Education Experiences in Living Laboratory
As part of its overall strategy to enhance learning in informal environments, the Advancing Informal STEM Learning (AISL) program seeks to advance new approaches to, and evidence-based understanding of, the design and development of STEM learning in informal environments. This includes providing multiple pathways for broadening access to and engagement in STEM learning experiences, advancing innovative research on and assessment of STEM learning in informal environments, and developing understandings of deeper learning by participants. The Museum of Science, Boston (MOS) and Boston University (BU) will conduct a Pilot and Feasibility Study project that leverages the current Living Laboratory (LL) model and expand it to engage high school students (teens) in experimental psychology research, science communication and science education activities. In LL, which is now an extensive network of museums and university researchers across the country, scientists and museum staff collaborate to engage children in studies on the museum floor and educate caregivers about the research. Multi-site implementation and evaluation of LL has also documented positive impacts for undergraduate researchers. Many sites are eager to extend these benefits to high school students by engaging them as practitioners within the model and by providing them with opportunities to engage in current research, education and communication, thereby helping to foster stronger youth identities with science and its applications in society.
This project expands a ten-year LL partnership between MOS and BU to: 1) pilot a program in which high school students both conduct scientific research and engage the public in learning about science; 2) explore strategies for museums and universities to collaboratively engage, support and mentor high school students in science research, communication and education activities; 3) document curricular, other programmatic, and evaluation materials; and 4) convene professional participants to provide feedback on pilot materials, and assess the viability of implementing similar programs at additional sites. Guided by developmental evaluation, these activities will generate knowledge for the field, and act to increase professional capacity to integrate experiences for teens at multiple LL sites in future projects.
This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.