As part of its overall strategy to enhance learning in informal environments, the Advancing Informal STEM Learning (AISL) program funds innovative resources for use in a variety of settings. This conference proposal represents the first phase of a larger three-phase participatory research project that will use communities of interest as a vehicle for solving problems of common concern about designing youth-based STEM programs. It will set the stage for research over the next 10-25 years about the long-term impact of a variety of youth programs on STEM learning and career aspirations. Through a virtual format, the Association of Science-Technology Centers will bring together two representatives from ten long-standing youth programs, experts in the field of out-of-school time youth programming, and researchers to collaboratively develop a program profile template for measuring the impact of youth programming. The program profile template will help identify specific characteristics that will capture the influence of youth programs on their participation in out-of-school STEM activities. The program profile template will be the main outcome from the conference. It will serve as the foundation for designing long-term impact studies that support the needs of program staff interested in improving youth programming in informal environments. It will also allow program staff and researchers to document and share intellectual capital, compare goals and features across programs, and support network efforts among informal agencies worldwide. The program profile template will be shared online through informalscience.org, the Association of Science-Technology Centers' communities of practice networks, and through other out-of-school-time national organizations.
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