The Learning and Youth Research and Evaluation Center (LYREC) is a collaboration of the Exploratorium, Harvard University, Kings College London, SRI International and UC Santa Cruz. LYREC provides technical assistance to NSF AYS projects, collects and synthesizes their impact data, and oversees dissemination of progress and results. This center builds on the Center for Informal Learning in Schools (CILS) that has developed a theoretical approach that takes into account the particular strengths and affordances of both Out of School Teaching (OST) and school environments. This foundation will permit strengthening the potential of the NSF AYS projects to develop strong local models that can generate valid and reliable data that can guide future investment, design and research aimed at creating coherence across OST and school settings. The overarching questions for the work are: 1. How can OST programs support K-8 engagement and learning in science, and in particular how can they contribute to student engagement with K-8 school science and beyond? 2. What is the range of science learning outcomes OST programs can promote, particularly when in collaboration with schools, IHE's, businesses, and other community partners? 3. How can classroom teachers and schools build on children's OST experiences to strengthen children's participation and achievement in K-12 school science Additionally, the data analysis will reveal: 1. How OST programs may be positioned to support, in particular, high-poverty, female and/or minority children traditionally excluded from STEM academic and career paths; and 2. The structural/organizational challenges and constraints that exist to complicate or confound efforts to provide OST experiences that support school science engagement, and conversely, the new possibilities which are created by collaboration across organizational fields. Data will be gathered from surveys, interviews, focus groups, evaluation reports, and classroom and school data.
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