Scientists and Public Engagement
Scientists can collaborate with the informal STEM education (ISE) community and use informal STEM learning strategies to engage the public with the content, process and broader impacts of their research. ISE experiences and settings, such as citizen science projects, exhibits, out-of-school time programs, science cafes, and more, provide opportunities for scientists to share their questions and findings with new audiences and to leverage design strategies drawn from research about how people learn. Knowledge about successful Informal STEM education approaches has become increasingly accessible to natural and physical scientists, mathematicians, engineers and others who plan, propose, develop and implement outreach, engagement, education, communication and broader impacts activities for a variety of audiences. There are also growing numbers of informal STEM education institutions, programs, projects and individuals that have experience and expertise in collaborating with the scientific community to design and evaluate these types of experiences. Together, these developments have resulted in new connectivity and resources that can be used to help identify experienced, expert collaborators as well as to develop innovative ideas and approaches to planning and proposing engagement activities that build on best practices.
Scholarship on value of ISE
- A brief introduction to ISE: Informal Science Education: Lifelong, Life-Wide, Life-Deep
- ISE experiences have wide impact: The 95% Solution
- ISE experiences have longitudinal impacts: Eyeballs in the Fridge
- What is known about a range of ISE settings and experiences: Identifying and Supporting Productive STEM Programs in Out-of-School Settings
Every National Science Foundation grant proposal is reviewed based on two criteria--intellectual merit, and broader impacts. Broader impacts refers to the potential of research to not only advance knowledge, but to benefit society. This can come through broadening participation in STEM, tackling societal challenges, and advancing the public understanding of science. Scientists can strengthen the broader impacts of their proposals by collaborating with informal STEM education professionals, who bring their own expertise in communicating with diverse publics through rigorously evaluated experiences and settings.
Broader Impacts Organizations & Tools
- National Alliance for Broader Impacts
- Center for Ocean Sciences Education Excellence (COSEE) Broader Impacts Wizard
Publications for Broader Impacts Planning
- Informal STEM Education: Resources for Outreach, Engagement and Broader Impacts
- Perspectives on Broader Impacts
- Broader Impacts in the (NSF) Earth Sciences Division
- Broader Impacts 2.0: Frequently Asked Questions about Revisions to NSF's Broader Impacts Criterion
- Broadening and Deepening the Impact: A Theoretical Framework for Partnerships between Science Museums and STEM Research Centers
- How broad are our broader impacts? An analysis of the National Science Foundation’s Ecosystems Studies Program and the Broader Impacts requirement
Evaluation & Assessment
What evidence indicates that an informal STEM education project is informed by best practices and has achieved its intended impacts? Evaluation, carefully designed and conducted in collaboration with project developers, has been integral to helping informal STEM professionals develop more effective activities and settings via regular ’formative‘ feedback and be accountable to their learning goals.
- Principal Investigator’s Guide to Managing Evaluation in Informal STEM Education Projects
- Evaluation Tools and Instruments
- Portal to the Public Summative Evaluation: Comparative Case Studies of Implementation at Five Sites
- Life on Earth
The project, evaluation and learning research resources in the InformalScience.org repository are collected, curated, and regularly updated for use in developing, as well as in assessing the effectiveness of, education, outreach and broader impacts plans, proposals, and activities.
Professional Organizations That Support Scientists Who Engage the Public
- AAAS Center for Public Engagement with Science and Technology
- Citizen Science Association
- American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
- American Chemical Society
- American Physical Society