Assessing the Landscape for Creating High School STEM Research Experiences Within Living Laboratory
The Museum of Science (MOS) will conduct a conference and associated activities to consider ways to foster the STEM workforce via both science research and science communications experiences for students at the high school level. The work will draw on and expand the scope in the USA of the NSF-funded National Living Laboratory Network which currently involves more than 350 institutions across 48 states and 21 countries. The National Living Laboratory initiative involves university researchers and museum professionals in co-implementing research and science communications activities in museum settings with the public, primarily families with young children. The research and communications focus is on cognitive science pertaining to the development of young children. While many scientists and museum professionals are interested in integrating high school research experiences into their practices, particularly for under-represented youth, existing infrastructure at museums and universities limits the quality of experiences and quantity of students that institutions can support. Current academic and museum members of the National Living Laboratory community have identified an opportunity to advance shared interests and knowledge in engaging youth in STEM by leveraging the Living Laboratory framework.
This project involves pre- and post- conference activities and will convene a group of science research and museum professionals at a workshop in Boston, MA to: 1) document current opportunities and challenges in engaging high-school aged youth in cognitive science research activities; 2) outline strategies to engage youth in research and science communication through Living Laboratory, with particular emphasis on cognitive sciences; and 3) create and disseminate a report on workshop outcomes through existing communication channels in both fields. The project includes pre-conference surveys of professionals about the topic and an evaluation of the project activities and outcomes. It is funded by the Advancing Informal STEM Learning (AISL) program, which seeks to advance new approaches to, and evidence-based understanding of, the design and development of STEM learning in informal environments.