Conference Travel Grant: Connecting Practioners and Scholars in Public Participation in STEM Research and in Community-Based Environmental Science to Enhance Informal STEM Learning

Saturday, September 1, 2018 to Saturday, August 31, 2019
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Project Descriptions
Environment Type: 
Public Programs, Citizen Science Programs, Professional Development, Conferences, and Networks, Conferences
General Public | Museum/ISE Professionals | Scientists
Ecology, forestry, and agriculture
Access and Inclusion: 
Friends of the North Carolina State Museum of Natural Sciences

As part of its overall strategy to enhance learning in informal environments, the Advancing Informal STEM Learning (AISL) program seeks to advance new approaches to, and evidence-based understanding of, the design and development of STEM learning in informal environments. This includes providing multiple pathways for broadening access to and engagement in STEM learning experiences, advancing innovative research on and assessment of STEM learning in informal environments, and developing understandings of deeper learning by participants. This travel grant focuses on broadening participation in STEM learning and advancing scholarship and practice related to Public Participation in STEM Research (PPSR). In PPSR, members of the public participate voluntarily in scientific processes, addressing real-world problems in ways that may include formulating research questions, conducting scientific experiments, collecting and analyzing data, interpreting results, making new discoveries, developing technologies and applications, and solving complex problems. Currently, participation in many PPSR projects does not often reflect the full range diversity in the nation. The Citizen Science Association (CSA), an organization that seeks to support the rigorous and ethical practice of citizen science--a form of PPSR--across a broad range of issues and communities, brings together PPSR practioners and scholars biennially. The CSA conference, to be held March 13-17, 2019, in Raleigh, North Carolina, will build networks and capacities to support scholarship and practice across the full range of citizen science and across diverse populations.

This travel grant supports 75 participants, 25 local and 50 national, from groups underrepresented in STEM, who are actively engaged in community-based environmental science and have not previously attended a CSA conference. Community-based environmental science projects, which often occur in minority communities, are increasingly relying on PPSR approaches, including engaging public participants in STEM learning through technology and the development of data literacies. Through this travel grant, the 2019 CSA conference will bring together the expertise and experiences of practioners and scholars from citizen science and community-based environmental science projects. The conference will facilitate four days of interactions and mutual learning with significant time for iterative reflection and active discussion to make the sessions personally relevant and meaningful. This intentionally allows for identifying areas of both commonalities and tensions across citizen science and community-based environmental science projects, with time to work through various approaches and issues with colleagues for greater learning. The interactions should allow for meaningful discussion of goals, theory, methods, recruitment and retention and other aspects of projects that make a difference in the success of projects. The structure of the conference includes panels, presentations, poster sessions, and discussion to increase the quality and extent of PPSR and community-based environmental science practice.

This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

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Team Members

Caren CooperCaren CooperPrincipal Investigator
Sacoby WilsonSacoby WilsonCo-Principal Investigator

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