Engaging Youth in Planning for the Restoration of Community Heritage Sites Through the Use of Citizen Science and Maker Practices
This project 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.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. The project will conduct a feasibility study of an informal youth STEM learning program. High school students from under served communities in New York City will use existing historical, cultural and environmental data to investigate selected UNESCO World Heritage sites. Participants will apply the skills and knowledge they have developed from their analysis of the UNESCO sites and apply them to their local communities. Participants will identify, map, and analyze their own community heritage sites, using relevant citizen science, environmental and cultural data. Throughout the program, the project will involve participants in maker-related activities. Participants will design devices to collect data, explore variables through model making, and communicate findings through models and artistic forms with the to spur both individual and community action for selected heritage sites.
The project will be implemented as a 9-month weekly after school program in Long Island City, New York. Most students from the school will be from low-income families and are youth of color. The research the question for the study is "How does access to STEM increase for historically underrepresented youth populations when culturally relevant curriculum connects citizen science and making practices?" During the first phase of the program, participants will engage with core STEM concepts and making/design processes through an engaging curriculum that explores damaged UNESCO World Heritage Sites. During the second phase, youth will identify, map, and plan enhancements for their own community heritage sites or environmental landmarks. A condensed version of the program will be piloted in the summer with youth from across the city. The Educational Development Corporation will conduct a process and summative evaluation of the project. Process evaluation, which will provide ongoing feedback to the project team, will include document review, observation of program implementation, and interviews with project partners. Summative evaluation will continue these methods, supplemented by pre- and post-participation participant surveys and focus-groups. Validated survey instruments, such as the Growth Mindset Scale, and the Common Instrument Suite (PEAR Institute) will be used. Resources from research and program practices will be disseminated through publications and conference presentations to the education research community, global learning and design fields, and practitioners from after school and other informal learning environments. Participants will share project results with their communities.
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.