Skip to main content

Center for Informal Learning in Schools (CILS)

Center for Informal Learning in Schools (CILS)
Center for Informal Learning in Schools (CILS)

The Center for Informal Learning in Schools (CILS) was established as a multi-institution research group interested in inquiry-based learning experiences for youth from low-income, historically marginalized communities. Its aim was to advocate for inquiry-based, STEM-rich afterschool science activities with equity at their core, work that continues to impact our Tinkering Studio's afterschool programs.



Past Projects

Research + Practice Collaboratory
A group of educators and researchers developing more equitable innovations for STEM teaching and learning

California Tinkering Afterschool Network
A partnership studying STEM and equity in afterschool settings

Relating Research to Practice
A multi-institution effort to synthesize educational research for informal science education



Published Resources

Research on Learning Science in Informal Contexts
This 2007 special issue from the International Journal of Science Education contains papers by CILS scholars that advance research on learning science in informal contexts.

LOST Opportunities: Learning in Out-of-School Time 
Scholars participating in four NSF-funded centers—CILS, the LIFE Center, MetroMath, and CEMELA—contributed to this 2007 edited volume that examines how science and mathematics are experienced in everyday and out-of-school-time (OST) settings.

Making Science Matter: Collaborations Between Informal Science Education Organizations and Schools
This 2010 report was sponsored by the Center for the Advancement of Informal Science Education in order to advance discussion about the value and nature of formal-informal collaborations.
Download Full Report

Relating Research to Practice
This website resource, a collaboration among CILS, the LIFE Center at the University of Washington, and King's College London, contains synopses of current, peer-reviewed research relevant to practitioners in the field of informal science education.

Peer-reviewed Publications
An extended list of publications by CILS scholars, including graduate students, postdoctoral researchers, and faculty.



Conference & Technical Reports

Art as a Way of Knowing; Marina McDougall, Bronwyn Bevan, and Robert Semper, 2011.
Art as a Way of Knowing was a conference organized by the Exploratorium and sponsored by the National Science Foundation in March 2011, bringing together an international group of artists, scientists, museum curators, writers, educators, and other cross-pollinators to explore and discuss the role of aesthetic inquiry in public interdisciplinary learning environments. CILS sponsored a strand on learning.

Learning as Phenomenon; Bronwyn Bevan, 2011.
In March 2011, CILS hosted the Learning about Learning Design Charrette at the Exploratorium. A distinguished group of learning scholars and practitioners gathered to consider ways that informal science learning institutions might engage the general visiting public with learning as a social, cultural, and scientific phenomenon.

Out-of-School Time STEM: Building Experience, Building Bridges; Bronwyn Bevan, Vera Michalchik, Ruchi Bhanot, Noah Rauch, Julie Remold, Robert Semper, and Patrick Shields, 2010.
This report reviews patterns, challenges, and questions developing in the field of out-of-school-time (OST) science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) programs by drawing on the efforts of some two dozen federally funded programs that participated and presented their work at a conference held in Washington, DC in October 2009.



CILS White Papers

In August 2005, a group of formal and informal practitioners and researchers met at the CILS Bay Area Institute in San Francisco to discuss what we know and need to know to better understand how informal science institutions can effectively inspire, augment, and reinforce science learning for school children. The following papers were developed based on those roundtable conversations.



Additional Resources