1. Community Science Workshop Network (CSW programs in Fresno and Watsonville)
The mission of the Community Science Workshop Network is to serve as an advocate and resource for CSW programs providing opportunities for youth to tinker, make, and explore their world through science in underserved communities across California. Its vision is for all youth to be inspired by—and engaged in—the everyday wonder of science in the world around them; to identify themselves as scientists, engineers, problem solvers; and builders, and to feel empowered to be the producers (not consumers) of their own education. The majority of children served by CSW programs in Fresno and Watsonville come from diverse, nondominant communities.
What Makes a Community Science Workshop (CSW)?
- CSWs are in neighborhoods: Each program maintains a permanent public space that is within walking distance to low-income homes and schools, and is dense with science exhibits, as well as tools and materials. User-generated content and locally hired educators foster familiarity and agency for participants.
- CSW programs are open-ended and driven by students: As much as possible, students choose what they want to do and how they’re going to do it; what questions they want to ask; and how they’re going to answer them.
- CSWs are open door: Drop-in hours minimize barriers to participating youth and families, and a variety of other programs—afterschool, daytime, field trips to the CSW, and mobile programs at rural locations—provide multiple entry points in time and space: afterschool, daytime field trips to the CSW, and via mobile programs at rural locations .
- CSWs strive to saturate their community with science: Working with schools, community-based organizations, housing projects, libraries, municipalities, and parks helps to transform a community’s experience of science education.
Community Science Workshop Fresno
Fresno Community Science Workshop (FCSW) has been serving students for 22 years since its grand opening in 1994. Fresno CSW is a program of the City of Fresno and operates hands-on science programs at more than 25 area schools; at the drop-in Science Workshop Programs loacted at Highway City Science Center; and throughout the Central Valley via the Mobile Science Workshop. Fresno CSW believes that science is the vehicle, not necessarily the product. Through teaching experiential science education, it encourages curiosity, respect, and passion. It also encourages the students to connect with and be interested in the world around them. By modeling these values, CSW hopes students will practice these values and realize their connection to each other and the larger community. Fresno CSW reaches underserved youth with more than 25,000 visits and classes annually.
Environmental Science Workshop Watsonville
The Watsonville Environmental Science Workshop has been operating for 19 years and currently runs two drop-in Science Workshop centers, five satellite sites, and programs in 14 schools. These programs include a middle-school robotics program, an early grades science-discovery program, and an afterschool making and tinkering program—all focusing on underserved youth with more than 20,000 visits and classes annually. The Watsonville ESW is a program of the City of Watsonville Department of Public Works.
For more information, visit http://cswnetwork.org.
2. Discovery Cube (Santa Ana, CA)
The Discovery Cube’s mission is to “inspire and educate young minds through engaging, science-based programs and exhibits to create a meaningful impact on the communities we serve.” The organization's goal is to impact students and adults—and positively change the way people think and behave—through museum activities and outreach experiences in Southern California.
The Discovery Cube partners with several different afterschool programs and projects in varying capacities—from teaching afterschool activities to leading professional developments for afterschool providers. The Discovery Cube supports afterschool programming through partnerships with THINK Together, Buena Park After School, Great Minds in STEM, iCreate, and universities like Cal State Fullerton. The total annual number of students seen through both field trips and outreach programs ranges between 250,000 and 275,000 children. The Discovery Cube served approximately 400 teachers through professional developments last year.
For more information, please contact Paul Pooler at email@example.com and visit http://www.discoverycube.org/education.
3. Exploratorium (San Francisco, CA)
The Tinkering Afterschool program is an ongoing partnership between the Exploratorium and Boys & Girls Clubs of San Francisco that offers tinkering programming for clubhouses serving urban communities. The current participating clubs are Visitacion Valley and Don Fisher. Adult and teen educators join elementary- and middle-school children in a weekly workshop setting to explore, design, and cocreate artifacts such as stop-motion animation films, wooden pinball machines, and musical instruments. Educators work to develop a sustained tinkering curriculum that engages youth in inquiry and meaning-making by joining STEM phenomena and concepts with artistic pursuits. The clubhouses serve predominantly low-income youth from immigrant and diasporic backgrounds, including Latino, African American, and diverse Asian American ethnicities. Since its inception, the program has prioritized equity and worked to design inclusive learning environments that widen views of intelligence and science and incorporate students' cultural and intellectual histories.
The Tinkering Afterschool program also offers regular Professional Development (PD) meetings for teen facilitators every three weeks, along with biweekly debriefs. As of Spring 2015, the adult staff of Boys & Girls Clubs—approximately 6-10 adults who work with the afterschool program—also receive monthly PDs. This program has partnered with various organizations to offer PD opportunities for educators, including SFPL Librarians, 21st Century Community Learning Center afterschool educators in five states, museum educators, and classroom teachers.
In partnership with the program's director and lead educator, Meg Escudé, educational researcher Dr. Shirin Vossoughi has been engaged in collaborative ethnographic research since the program began in 2012. This research focuses on the nature of teaching and learning in the Tinkering Afterschool program, the ways these settings design for equity, and the kinds of shifts in participation and identity that emerge among participants (children, teens, and adults) over an extended period of time.
For more information, please contact Meg Escudé at firstname.lastname@example.org and visit http://www.exploratorium.edu.
4. Techbridge (Oakland, CA)
Techbridge is an award-winning national nonprofit that is expanding the academic and career options and leadership possibilities for girls in science, technology, and engineering. Founded in Oakland in 2000, Techbridge delivers innovative afterschool and summer programs to girls in grades 4–12. Techbridge is now expanding nationally to bring its programs to more girls in cities including Seattle and Washington, DC.
Techbridge’s afterschool program model combines hands-on, girl-driven science, technology, and engineering projects, field trips, and family engagement. Techbridge collaborates closely with school teachers and administration to recruit diverse students and support afterschool STEM learning. Programs build confidence, problem-solving skills, perseverance, and public speaking.
Techbridge is scaling impact through partnerships with school districts and works with the Oakland Unified School District and San Francisco’s Department of Children, Youth, and Their Families—as well as with professional-development initiatives such as California Afterschool Network’s JumpStart, Power of Discovery STEM2, and Click2SciencePD. Techbridge also works with national groups, including Girl Scouts, YMCA, Boys & Girls Clubs, National Girls Collaborative, Society of Women Engineers, US2020, and Million Women Mentors to increase access to quality STEM programming and expand the options for girls and youth underrepresented in STEM.
For more information, please contact email@example.com. and visit http://www.techbridgegirls.org.
5. Center for Informal Learning and Schools (CILS) Research Team
The CTAN research team is housed in the Center for Informal Learning and Schools (CILS) at the Exploratorium. We are using design-based implementation research and ethnographic methods in our research-practice partnership to design for, implement, and study teaching and learning in STEM-rich, afterschool tinkering programs. These programs typically serve youth from low-income, historically marginalized communities.
The mission of CILS is to research, collaboratively design, and advocate for inquiry-based learning. We seek to broaden conceptions of learning by designing and studying experiences that focus on play, investigation, creativity, iteration, questioning, and meaning-making. We explicitly consider what these dimensions of learning offer for equity-oriented practice and dialogue between in-school and out-of-school spaces. We engage in this work through codesigning equity-oriented learning environments, conducting research on STEM-rich learning, and creating resources to share with the field.
For more information about CTAN, please contact Jean Ryoo at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about CILS, please contact Molly Shea at email@example.com.
Our work is supported by the S.D. Bechtel Jr. Foundation, as well as the National Science Foundation “Research+Practice Collaboratory” grant (DUE-1238253).