New Perspectives in Science Education

Edition 13

Accepted Abstracts

Impacting Youth and Teachers: Strategies from a Science Museum

Bryan Wunar, Museum of Science and Industry (United States)

Shannon Lindgren, Museum of Science and Industry (United States)

Nicole Kowrach, Museum of Science and Industry (United States)


Science education plays a critical role in equipping all learners with the knowledge and skills necessary to actively participate in our continuously changing world. The United States has developed a STEM Education 5-Year Strategic Plan [1] that identifies the aspirational goals of building strong foundations for STEM literacy; increasing diversity, equity, and inclusion in STEM; and preparing a STEM workforce for the future. The Museum of Science and Industry (MSI) in Chicago, IL, USA has developed a comprehensive suite of programs that are aligned with these national priorities and has reinvented the role informal science learning institutions can play in advancing science education. Two areas of emphasis that exemplify this commitment are focused on science teacher education and youth development programming as vehicles for building a platform for supporting all children in reaching their full potential. This paper explores the program models designed to use Museum resources to improve the quality of science teaching in schools and to encourage youth to consider STEM-related college and career pathways. Approaches informed by best practices in science teacher professional learning [2] and science in out of school time experiences [3] will be shared. Strategies for gaining funding support and building organizational capacity to successfully develop and implement programs will be provided. The impacts of these efforts are being measured by research studies associated with the programs [4], [5].  The findings and implications will be outlined to consider how museums, science centers, and other non-traditional learning environments can contribute to furthering science education.

Keywords: Informal learning, museums, teacher education, youth development, STEM career pathways, funding;

[1] Committee on STEM Education of the National Science and Technology Council. (2018). Charting a Course for Success: America’s Strategy for STEM Education. Washington, DC: Office of Science and Technology Policy.
[2] National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. (2015). Science Teachers' Learning: Enhancing Opportunities, Creating Supportive Contexts. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.
[3] National Research Council. (2015). Identifying and Supporting Productive STEM Programs in Out-of-School Settings. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.
[4] C. Aaron Price & A. Chiu. (2018). An Experimental Study of a Museum-based, Science PD Programme’s Impact on Teachers and Their Students. International Journal of Science Education, 1-20. 10.1080/09500693.2018.1457816.
[5] Price, C.A. & Kares, F. R. (2016). Researching Long-Term Impacts of an Out-of-School Time Program. Dimensions, 38-42.

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