The Franklin Institute's Museum-Community Programs 1993-2014: Lessons Learned

Saturday, January 24, 2015
Resource Type:
Reference Materials | Report
Environment Type: 
Public Programs, Community Outreach Programs, Museum and Science Center Programs
Families | Parents/Caregivers | Pre-K Children (0-5) | Elementary School Children (6-10) | Middle School Children (11-13) | Youth/Teen (up to 17) | Museum/ISE Professionals | Evaluators
Education and learning science | General STEM
The Franklin Institute, Insight Evaluation Services

The Franklin Institute (TFI) engaged Insight Evaluation Services (IES) to conduct a review of TFI museum/community partnership programs from 1993 through 2014 for the purpose of identifying "lessons learned", that is the successes and challenges of working together to achieve a common goal. IES reviewed over 40 research studies and evaluation reports for fourteen programs in which TFI was a partner in a long-term collaborative relationship with one or more community-based organizations, informal learning organizations, and/or other education-oriented public service institutions, including: The Bridges Conference (Bridges) City Skies Community Ambassadors in Science Exploration (CASE) Communities of Learning for Urban Environments and Science (CLUES) Families Exploring Science Together (FEST) Girls at the Center (GAC) Grow Up Great with Science Keystone Science Network (KSN) LEAP into Science (LEAP) National Science Partnership (NSP) Parent Partners in School Science (PPSS) Partnerships for Achieving Careers in Technology and Science (PACTS) Philadelphia Science Festival (PSF) The Science Learning Network (SLN) Ultimately, many of the lessons and recommendations that emerged from the literature review were found to be at the programmatic level; however there were a number of insights that addressed the broader issues of partnering. In short, the following main messages rose to the surface: • Spend time understanding the culture and needs of community-based organizations, including who their audiences are and the personal barriers to participation that may need to be removed. • Create a welcoming environment (e.g., low/no cost programming) and provide a variety of events/activities at different venues to ensure there is something for everyone. • Present science in an accessible way on topics that are relevant, fun, and hands on and that offer a multi-generational experience (for families to do together). • Provide host sites with ongoing training and support that give program facilitators the skills to lead activities on their own, adapt them as needed, and ultimately build community capacity. • Continually seek and respond to feedback in order to address persistent challenges such as recruiting families and sustaining participation, as well as logistical issues (e.g., unanticipated administrative requirements) that can also get in the way of effective program delivery. • Partner with organizations that share the same/similar goal(s) and have a desire to collaborate in meaningful ways to accomplish that goal(s), establish partner roles and expectations early on, and foster regular, face-to-face communication that is open to discussing successes and failures.

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