Academies for Young Scientists
Funded by the National Science Foundation
PEAR joined a team including the Exploratorium, King's College London, SRI International, and UC Santa Cruz, to determine and document the ways after school and summer programs support and expand at-risk and all student participation in science education. Below is information about this project.
The National Science Foundation's Academies for Young Scientists (NSFAYS) is a new initiative at NSF designed to increase student interest in STEM education and careers through out-of-school-time programming. Responding to a congressional mandate, the NSFAYS initiative provides "seed money for new projects with the goal of increasing the pool of individuals pursuing science, technology, engineering, and mathematics careers through programs that catalyze and maintain interest of K-8 students in math[ematics] and science." NSFAYS will be funding up to 16 projects that meet these goals. To date funded projects include:
• COMETS (West Virginia State University)
NSF also awarded a grant to fund an NSFAYS Research and Evaluation Center, which is headed by CILS. The CILS research team consists of leaders from the Exploratorium, Harvard University's PEAR, King's College London, SRI International, and UC Santa Cruz. The team is applying a theoretical framework that draws on cultural historical activity theory, the new institutionalism in organizational theory, and theories of inquiry-based science to determine and document the ways in which the OST programs support and expand student participation in science education activities.
The research examines how the 17 projects leverage their partnerships to design programs that respond to the interests, motivations, identities and capacities of the participating children in order to promote students enthusiasm, knowledge, skills, agency, and persistence in participating in science in and out of school. The confluence of these components, the research holds, will shape student learning experiences and outcomes.
Some of the questions the research will ask include:
• How do the programs respond to and tailor themselves to the particular interests and capacities of the participating children? How does this, in turn, shape children's engagement and learning in science?