This project in the Advancing Informal STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Learning program's Innovations in Development track aims to build professional capacity in Informal Science Education (ISE) institutions for effective engagement of Latinx audiences. A collaboration between The Exploratorium and the Children's Discovery Museum (CDM) of San Jose, Cambio is a professional development project based on the premise that developing cultural competence specific to Latinx communities and STEM learning, together with organizational change capacity, will enable ISE institutions to improve their ability to be inclusive of Latinx communities, cultures, and audiences. Cambio's ultimate aim is to broaden participation in STEM by building the ISE field's capacity to effectively engage Latinxs in informal STEM learning. ISE institutions and other out-of-school programs and organizations have an important role to play in inspiring and preparing the next generation of Latinx STEM students, employees, and educators. Cambio participants will deepen their engagement with the research and practice relevant to this role and build an understanding of what broadening Latinx engagement can and should look like in their institutions. Working with expert instructors and coaches, and together as peers, Cambio participants will apply what they learn to real-world strategic initiatives they implement at their home institutions.
The heart of the Cambio project is the creation of a professional development (PD) model for ISE institutions and their staff that synthesizes: (a) current knowledge about strategies for Latinx engagement in informal STEM learning; (b) previous NSF-funded projects that leveraged that knowledge to chart a way forward for the field; and (c) CDM's Cultural Competence Learning Institute professional development program for building cultural competence, inclusion, and organizational change in museums. This synthesis will form a robust professional development platform that has the potential to create a field-wide shift in the way informal science institutions approach working with Latinx audiences. The Cambio professional development program will include: a new professional development framework and curriculum that will reach 54 practitioners in 15 institutions; the development and dissemination of professional development tools and resources for use by ISE practitioners; a Community of Practice focused on Latinx engagement in informal STEM learning; evidence of the efficacy of the Cambio PD model; and knowledge generated by formative and summative evaluation that will inform other ISE efforts focused on increasing the participation of Latinxs in STEM. A STEM focus will be woven throughout the professional development experience that focuses explicitly on areas of intersection between Latinx culture and identities and STEM. Practitioners will increase their expertise in designing experiences that will invoke emotional engagement, spark curiosity and excitement, in ways that explicitly value Latinx identities.
This project is funded by the National Science Foundation's (NSF's) Advancing Informal STEM Learning (AISL) program, which supports innovative research, approaches, and resources for use in a variety of learning settings.
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