This project addresses fundamental equity issues in informal Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) learning. Access to, and opportunities within informal STEM learning (ISL) remain limited for youth from historically underrepresented backgrounds in both the United States and the United Kingdom. However, there is evidence that ISL experiences can expand opportunities for youth learning and development in STEM, for instance, increase positive attitudes towards educational aspirations and future careers/pursuits, improve grades and test scores in school settings, and decrease disciplinary action and dropout rates. Through research and development, this project brings together researchers and practitioners to focus on the experiences, practices and tools that will support equitable youth pathways into STEM. Working across conceptual frameworks and ISL settings (e.g., science centers, community groups, zoos) and universities in four urban contexts in two different nations, the partnership will produce a coherent knowledge base that strengthens and expands research plus practice partnerships, builds capacity towards transformative research and development, and develops new models and tools in support of equitable pathways into STEM at a global level.
The project will be carried out by research + practice partnerships in 4 cities: London & Bristol, UK and Lansing, MI & Portland, OR, US, involving university researchers (University College London, Michigan State University, Oregon State University/Institute for Learning Innovation) and practitioners in science museums (@Bristol Science Centre, Brent Lodge Park Animal Centre, Impressions 5, Oregon Museum of Science & Clubs of Lansing, and Girls, Inc. of the Paciﬁc Northwest).