As Exploratorium prepares a new home on San Francisco’s waterfront in Spring 2013, it is ramping up its educational research mission
The Exploratorium announced today that as the lead collaborator with academic and science education research institutions and community organizations, it has received three National Science Foundation grants totaling $9.3M. The newly funded projects will impact the fields of science education across formal and informal settings. The grants include $8M to connect state of the art research-based knowledge addressing issues relevant to the adoption of the forthcoming next generation of STEM standards and assessments with science education practice; the creation of a web-based educational research resource for informal science education professionals ($750,000); and the development of public outdoor learning spaces—parklets—in the San Francisco Latino community ($525,000), with the Boys and Girls Club Columbia Park, located in San Francisco’s Mission district. Partners in these projects include the University of Washington, Colorado University, King’s College London, the Afterschool Alliance, Education Development Center, TERC, and Inverness Research Associates.
As the Exploratorium approaches its move to a new home on San Francisco’s waterfront in Spring 2013, it is redoubling its educational research mission, which has always provided content, experiences and educational resources for science museums internationally, and for educators and learners both in and outside of the classroom, throughout the US.
The Exploratorium is the model for inquiry-based, self-directed learning that has spawned 1000 participatory science centers around the world, and is considered the global leader in informal learning. The Exploratorium’s professional development programs for educators has impacted more than 450,000 primary and secondary teachers, including hundreds of informal science educators from museums and afterschool programs. The Exploratorium also develops extended educational experiences for outside the classroom, and with one of these grants, in the city streets. Summary information about each project is included below:
A Research+Practice Collaboratory Project Summary ($8M): The Exploratorium in collaboration with University of Colorado Boulder, and University of Washington, TERC, Education Development Center, and Inverness Research, have formed a Research+Practice Collaboratory to develop new approaches and models for strengthening connections between research and practice in STEM education across formal and informal settings, with a focus on blending scholarly and practical knowledge. The purpose is to provide more opportunities for critical engagement between educators and researchers, in order to grapple with persistent problems and effective and realistic approaches for developing usable knowledge that can be implemented to improve STEM learning opportunities for children and youth.
Relating Research to Practice: A Web Resource for ISE Professionals Project Summary ($750,000): The Exploratorium, in collaboration with the University of Washington, King’s College London, the Afterschool Alliance, and Inverness Research, will develop a Web-based research resource for informal science education professionals. The website will house scores of summaries of current peer-reviewed educational research, most conducted in classrooms, that may be relevant to informal science education (issues range from communicating climate change to supporting science-rich dialogue among children and dozens of other topics). Synthesis Papers on Hot Topics in research summarize and contextualize the knowledge base. The goal of the project is to forge stronger connections between research-based knowledge and practices in informal science education.
Ciencia Publica: Co-Creating Public Outdoor Learning Spaces with Latino Communities Project Summary ($525,000): The Exploratorium will partner with the Boys and Girls Club Columbia Park located in San Francisco’s Mission district in the co-creation of a parklet STEM learning environment with an emphasis on sustainability for the local neighborhood. The parklet will be a public space that encourages direct observations of both the natural and built landscapes, including new programs and bilingual exhibits. Together we will explore concepts underlying the science of sustainability and how patterns and processes at the local and regional scales are inextricably linked to much larger and longer time-scale global phenomenon.