Using Media and Texting to Foster STEM Learning in Low-Income and Latinx Families
Cyberchase: Mobile Adventures in STEM is designed to advance the STEM learning of children ages 6-8 and engage low-income families in informal STEM interactions. Based on a successful NSF-funded pilot, the project combines the appeal of the PBS KIDS series Cyberchase and the potential of mobile texting to deliver informal learning. WNET and Education Development Center will produce: three Cyberchase videos that blend math and environmental content; a bilingual family engagement campaign in 15 communities across the U.S. that combines this media with weekly text-based engagement; and research into use and impact of the model among low-income Latinx families. Mobile Adventures addresses the need to better engage underserved families in informal science practices that are foundational for future STEM learning. While the materials target low-income communities broadly, research will focus on low-income Latinx families with children ages 6-8, an age group overlooked in previous research on educational uses of texting. A needs assessment and formative testing will ensure that the project design meets the needs and interests of diverse Latinx and other families.
The goal of Mobile Adventures is to build knowledge about how innovative, culturally responsive tools can help Latinx and low-income families engage in fun STEM learning at home. A three-tiered research study will address the question: how and to what extent does a mobile text-and-media approach to delivering informal STEM learning materials foster joint media engagement between children and parents, building new repertoires for learning together? The study will combine analysis of observation in homes and community settings, backend data, and pre/post surveys. Research will deepen understanding of effective family engagement models that make media a central component, the potential of text messaging as a stimulus to parent/child STEM learning, and maximal design of media and community engagement to serve low-income Latinx families. Findings will be disseminated through national conferences and journals. The Cyberchase videos, distributed free on broadcast and digital platforms, will build the STEM literacy of millions of diverse children, while the family engagement campaign will involve a projected 3,750 families in 15 locations. Evaluation will assess how well the project has met its goals.
This Innovations in Development project is funded by the Advancing Informal STEM Learning (AISL) program.
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