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Ciencia Pública: Agua

ciencia publica
Ciencia Pública: Agua

This installation was planned jointly by students from the San Francisco Boys & Girls Clubs (BGC) and a team from the Exploratorium’s Studio for Public Spaces. The parklet—a temporary public space the size of two parking spaces—holds exhibits on the theme of water and sustainable water use, including a desalination pump, a rain gauge, and a low-evaporation plant watering device. Seating and greenery, including food plants free for harvesting by locals, make the parklet a comfortable and attractive neighborhood space.

Ciencia Pública was a three-year project funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) to support informal education in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) within the Latino community. Latinos constitute the largest minority group in the United States, but they remain underserved by STEM learning experiences and under-represented in STEM careers. This project attempts to address that imbalance by creating an informal science learning space accessible to all members of the Mission neighborhood.

The parklet was co-developed with community-based organizations in the Mission—a process that was as important as the ultimate product. Neighborhood youth from the BGC spent two summers working with the Exploratorium to plan the public space. In the process, they developed skills in design and planning, exhibit prototyping, fabrication, and user testing. The parklet now resides next to Buena Vista Horace Mann School, where teachers, parents, and the school garden leader worked with us to shape the final plans so the parklet would become an active part of the school curriculum and the community.

We have now completed an in-depth summative study looking at the development of the project, the community partnerships, and the response of users to the parklet. The findings should prove useful for others interested in forming community partnerships to reach Latino audiences out where they live and work.

This project was funded by National Science Foundation grant #1224151

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