Youth Engaging in the Science of Resilience in Urban and Rural NC (YES-Resilience)
This project focuses on environmental health literacy and will explore the extent to which diverse rural and urban youth in an out-of-school STEM enrichment program exhibit gains in environmental health literacy while engaged in learning and teaching others about community resilience in the face of changing climates. Science centers and museums provide unique opportunities for youth to learn about resilience, because they bring community members together to examine the ways that current science influences local decisions. In this project, teams of participating youth will progress through four learning modules that explore the impacts of changing climates on local communities, the local vulnerabilities and risks associated with those changes, possible mitigation and adaptation strategies, and building capacities for communities to become climate resilient. After completion of these modules, participating youth will conduct a resilience-focused action project. Participants will be encouraged to engage peers, families, friends, and other community stakeholders in the design and implementation of their projects, and they will gain experience in accessing local climate and weather data, and in sharing their findings through relevant web portals. Participants will also use various sensors and web-based tools to collect their own data.
This study is guided by three research questions: 1) To what extent do youth develop knowledge, skills, and self-efficacy for developing community resilience (taken together, environmental health literacy in the context of resilience) through participation in museum-led, resilience-focused programming? 2) What program features and settings foster these science learning outcomes? And 3) How does environmental health literacy differ among rural and urban youth, and what do any differences imply for project replication? Over a two-year period, the project will proceed in six stages: a) Materials Development during the first year, b) Recruitment and selection of youth participants, c) Summer institute (six days), d) Workshops and field experiences during the school year following the summer institute, e) Locally relevant action projects, and f) End-of-program summit (one day). In pursuing answers to the research questions, a variety of data sources will be used, including transcripts from youth focus groups and educator interviews, brief researcher reflections of each focus group and interview, and a survey of resilience-related knowledge. Quantitative data sources will include a demographic survey and responses to a self-efficacy instrument for adolescents. The project will directly engage 32 youth, together with one parent or guardian per youth. The study will explore the experiences of rural and urban youth of high school age engaged in interactive, parallel programming to enable the project team to compare and contrast changes in environmental health literacy between rural and urban participants. It is anticipated that this research will advance knowledge of how engagement of diverse youth in informal learning environments influences understanding of resilience and development of environmental health literacy, and it will provide insights into the role of partnerships between research universities and informal science centers in focusing on community resilience.
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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