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Project Descriptions

Storybook STEM: Professional Convening for Cross-Sector Understanding of Children's Literature as a Tool for Supporting Informal STEM Learning

February 1, 2019 - January 31, 2021

A large body of research highlights the benefits of storybooks for children's learning. In the context of preschool classrooms, the use of storybooks to engage young children in STEM is a frequent topic of practitioner-oriented articles. There is also an increasing number of informal STEM education (ISE) projects exploring how to leverage storybooks to engage young children and their families in different STEM content domains. While there is universal excitement for the potential of storybooks in ISE, there is an acknowledgment of a critical need for more cross-project sharing, more research, and more efforts to synthesize and share findings. This award will catalyze new research studies and partnerships to advance efforts in ISE contexts, including the role of books in the overall learning experience or program, how books are selected or designed, and how the reading is facilitated by teachers and families. Participants will be educators and researchers working with or studying family learning for preschool-age children (three to five years) using early childhood fiction books as a tool for engaging families in STEM topics and skills.

Storybook STEM will be implemented in four phases: (1) pre-convening activities to plan, synthesize existing resources, engage a broader group of educators and researchers beyond convening attendees, and prepare convening participants to maximize the value of the in-person discussions; (2) in-person convening to catalyze cross-project discussions, outline promising practices, and identify questions and ideas for the future; (3) evaluation of the impact and value of the convening, from the perspective of participants and a project steering committee; and (4) dissemination of findings and recommendations to educators and researchers within and beyond the ISE field. Outcomes include: (1) documenting current and past work in ISE and other fields; (2) summarizing key recommendations and resources from the reading, literacy, and early childhood development fields; and (3) outlining promising directions for future work. 

The findings from this project will provide a critical resource to help broadening participation efforts be more effective and inclusive for audiences across the country. Research studies motivated by the convening will address the lack of empirical work on storybooks as a tool for ISE programs and advance the ISE field's knowledge of how to integrate these books effectively. Because storybooks are a highly accessible and almost universally used family learning resource, the topic of the convening will be relevant to a wide range of audiences and will help educators broaden access to ISE for traditionally underserved and under-resourced communities.

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.


Funding Program: Advancing Informal STEM Learning (AISL)
Award Number: 1902536
Funding Amount: $75,000


  • 2013 06 21 IMG 0768
    Principal Investigator
    TERC Inc
  • 2015 03 12 IMG 20130207 112101
    Co-Principal Investigator
  • Resource Type: Projects
    Discipline: Education and learning science
    Audience: Pre-K Children (0-5) | Families | Educators/Teachers | Museum/ISE Professionals | Evaluators | Learning Researchers
    Environment Type: Media and Technology | Comics, Books, and Newspapers | Professional Development, Conferences, and Networks | Conferences

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