Maltese, A., Melki, C., & Weibke, H. (2014). The nature of experiences responsible for the generation and maintenance of interest in STEM. Science Education, 98(6), 937–962. doi:10.1002/sce.21132
Researchers Maltese, Melki, and Wiebke investigated when lasting interest in STEM is sparked and how it is maintained by comparing the remembrances of adults who did and did not persist in STEM. Both groups said that they became interested in STEM early, usually by Grade 6. Those who persisted in STEM were more likely than those who did not to say that they had always been interested in STEM. Parents and teachers were early influences for those who stayed in STEM fields.
Van Schijndel, T. J. P., Franse, R. K., & Raijmakers, M. E. J. (2010). The Exploratory Behavior Scale: Assessing young visitors’ hands-on behavior in science museums. Science Education, 94, 794–809.
The authors of this paper were interested in knowing how parents can support exploratory behaviors of their preschool-aged children at museum exhibits. They developed a quantitative instrument based on psychological literature on exploration and play in order to describe and quantify young children's increasing levels of exploration of their environment. They then tested the measurement tool with parents and their preschool-aged children to investigate what types of adult coaching would achieve high-level exploratory behavior at various exhibits.
Blikstein, P. (2013). Digital fabrication and “making” in education: The democratization of invention. In J. Walter-Herrmann & C. Büching (Eds.), FabLabs: Of machines, makers and inventors (pp. 1–21). Bielefeld, Germany: Transcript Publishers.
The field of informal science education has embraced “making” and design activities as a powerful approach to engaging learners. This chapter by Blikstein finds that in order to create disruptive spaces where students can learn STEM, design and build inventive projects, educators . This paper provides theoretical background and concrete cases that illuminate program design and implementation issues related to making.
Alexander, J. M., Johnson, K. E., & Kelley, K. (2012). Longitudinal analysis of the relations between opportunities to learn about science and the development of interests related to science. Science Education, 96(5), 763–786. doi:10.1002/sce.21018
This study considers the relationship between preschoolers’ early exposure to informal science experiences and their interest in science, with particular attention paid to gender differences. A longitudinal study of children ages 4 to 7 found that early science interest was a strong predictor of later parent-provided opportunities to engage in science learning.
Briseño-Garzón, A. (2013). More than science: Family learning in a Mexican science museum. Cultural Studies of Science Education, 8(2), 307–327. doi:10.1007/s11422-012-9477-0
Briseño-Garzón analyzed interviews with 20 families after they visited Universum Museo de las Ciencias. She concluded that the benefits of visiting a science museum are “much more than science,” including spending quality time together as a family, interacting with others, learning about local culture and history, learning from each other, and, of course, learning science.
Szechter, L. E., & Carey, E. J. (2009). Gravitating toward science: Parent-child interactions at a gravitational-wave observatory. Science Education, 93(5), 846–858.
This study looks at how characteristics of parent-child dyads, in combination with exhibit qualities, contribute to their interactions in a science center. Parent schooling, parent and child attitudes toward science, and the type of activity supported at the exhibits play a role in how they interact together. For ISE professionals, this study shows that parents exert a great deal of influence over what and how their children feel and learn about science.
Gutiérrez, K.D. , Baquedano‐López, P., & Tejada, C. (1999). Rethinking diversity: Hybridity and hybrid language practices in the third space, Mind, Culture, and Activity,6(4), 286-303. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10749039909524733
Within learning environments kids talk can often be seen as disruptive or off task. However, Gutierrez et al reframe how teachers can engage kids talk and welcome diverse activities and linguistic practices to deepen learning and participation. This article explores how teachers allow students to offer local knowledge, reorganize activities, and make meaning that can connect to the official curriculum in unexpected ways.
Kisiel, J., Rowe, S., Vartabedian, M. A., & Kopczak, C. (2012). Evidence for family engagement in scientific reasoning at interactive animal exhibits. Science Education, 96(6), 1047–1070. doi:10.1002/sce.21036
Informal science educators are seeking ways to support scientific reasoning. This study of touch tanks at four different museums found that, although the exhibits were not designed to do so, they supported families in engaging in scientific reasoning practices. Specifically, they engaged family members in making claims, seeking evidence, devising tests, seeking information, testing claims, and challenging claims made by others.
Allen, S., & Gutwill, J. P. (2010). Creating a program to deepen family inquiry at interactive science exhibits. Curator: The Museum Journal, 52(3), 289–306.
Many informal science institutions design exhibits to encourage inquiry and experimentation. But the authors of this paper suggest that often museums have found that visitors lack the expertise or confidence to engage in coherent inquiry. They report here on their efforts to equip visitors with key inquiry skills through providing families and groups with focused trainings on how to use inquiry-based exhibits.