Practice Brief 38 -- Topics: Implementation InformalEd Equity

What is the role of informal science education in supporting the vision for K-12 science education?

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Why It Matters To You
  • Teachers should make educational plans that intentionally make use of out-of-school learning experiences in support of STEM learning goals.
  • District staff & PD providers should help teachers learn about specific outof- school learning experiences (e.g., hobbies, programs) that support STEM learning goals—and build their capacity to take advantage of those experiences.
  • School leaders should be supportive of and allocate resources so students can engage in powerful STEM learning experiences beyond the school walls.

What is the Issue?

There can be a mistaken impression that the new vision for K-12 science education is only relevant to classroom science instruction. But youth frequently engage in powerful science and engineering activities that take place after or outside-of-school. They learn STEM content, engage in STEM practices, and develop an understanding of how STEM is used in the world. To capitalize on those assets, educators and other stakeholders should learn about, leverage, and broker connections for youth across the STEM learning experiences available in and out of school.



Reflection Questions

  • How can teachers partner with community organizations in order to support life-wide learning of youth (see below)?
  • How do you encourage instruction that intentionally leverages students' STEM learning experiences outside of school? Is afterschool and summer STEM programming part of your plan?
  • Do you build teacher's capacity to make deep use of the out-ofschool STEM learning?

Things to Consider

"Life-wide learning refers to the learning that takes place as people routinely circulate across a range of social settings and activities—classrooms, afterschool programs, informal educational institutions, online venues, homes, and other community locales. Learning derives, in both opportunistic and patterned ways, from this breadth of human experience and the related supports and occasions for learning that are available to an individual or group."

NRC Informal Science Report, p. 28

Attending to Equity

Recommended Actions You Can Take


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Work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 Unported License. Others may adapt with attribution. Funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF). Opinions expressed are not those of any funding agency.