CAISE on the road: A report of fall conferences


October 31st, 2018

September and October were busy months. CAISE staff, co-PIs and task forces, presented at and participated in several conferences and meetings relevant to informal STEM education. Keep reading for our quick summaries of those events, and links to publicly-available resources posted by conference organizers. 

CAISE also participated in two National Science Foundation (NSF) funded conferences, not listed here—The Rural Informal STEM Learning Conference hosted by the Maine Mathematics and Science Alliance on September 13–14 and the Arctic Researchers and Informal Science Education (ARISE) Workshop hosted by the Northwest Passage Project at the University of Rhode Island on October 10–12. A few resources have been posted by conference hosts, with more coming in the next months.

Pictured: Our session at the Association of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC) annual conference, where we presented materials from our Broadening Participation and Evaluation and Measurement task forces

Science Media Awards & Summit (SMASH)

September 25–27 at WGBH in Boston, MA

Held every other year, SMASH is the premier gathering for science media makers in television, film, and journalism. Hosted by WGBH Boston and Jackson Hole WILD, the conference starts with two and a half days of sessions, and wraps with the Jackson Hole Science Media Awards. The sessions featured emerging science and technology topics: questioning what it means to be human when considering the potential of neural augmentation, inspiring approaches to reversing and reducing the negative impacts of climate change, immersive virtual reality films, and more. At the session Let’s Get Engaged! Landmark Research Revealed at SMASH, KQED, in partnership with NPR, PBS, NOVA, Nature, Science Friday, Scientific American and others, previewed findings from the first ever survey on the science media interests of millennials. A few of the keynotes and sessions were recorded. Watch them here.

#InclusiveSciComm Symposium

September 28–29 at the University of Rhode Island in Kingston, RI

Hosted by the Metcalf Institute and the Rhode Island Consortium for Coastal Ecology Assessment, Innovation, and Modeling, #InclusiveSciComm was led by Sunshine Menezes, Executive Director of the Metcalf Institute and member of the CAISE Broadening Participation Task Force. Participants from overlapping concerned communities including STEM researchers, science communication practitioners and scholars, informal STEM educators, and university faculty and graduate students participated in sessions where they considered strategies and frameworks for making science communication practice and research more inclusive and equitable. Attendees discussed the challenge of persistent underrepresentation of non-dominant groups in STEM, science communication, and STEM education in presentations and workshops about the role of dominant culture norms, intersectionality and critical perspectives in understanding and addressing the problem. St. Andrew’s University Assistant Professor of Chemistry Raychelle Burks’ keynote address on Voice and Value can be viewed from the symposium homepage, where a collaboratively-produced resource list and other documentation will be available soon.

Association of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC) Annual Conference

September 29–October 2, Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford, CT

Hosted by the Connecticut Science Center, 1,600+ attendees experienced pre-conference intensives, more than 100 sessions on a wide variety of professional themes, and heard plenary talks that informed, challenged, and energized the field. CAISE had many opportunities to meet face to face with NSF-funded museums and science centers projects in and help attendees find resources that they can use for professional learning, proposal writing, and overall knowledge-building. A plenary talk delivered by Kumar Garg, Schmidt Futures’ Senior Director for Technology and Society and former Deputy Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, titled Eyeballs in the Fridge, used findings from an iconic paper of the same name by University of Virginia researcher Robert Tai as a starting point for exploring and expanding the variety of pathways that informal STEM learning institutions can provide for lifelong STEM engagement. The Atlantic’s staff writer on science, Ed Yong, delivered a keynote on the ways that individuals and institutions can engage with audiences around science and technology while also taking action to help solve challenges in society. Ed Yong’s keynote can be viewed here. Presentation slides from conference sessions are available now.

SciOut18: Science Outreach Models, Methods, & Measures

October 3–5, Rockefeller University in New York, NY

Hosted by RockEDU and the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB), SciOut18 took an unconference approach to exploring science outreach through written prep work (and participant-created videos), flash sessions, rotating roundtable discussions and a Slack workspace that created multiple opportunities and channels for attendees to encounter and dialogue with each other. Some predetermined topics and issues like designing for impact and evaluation and knowledge management were complemented by topics that emerged during the event such as existing and in-the-works repositories and databases of case studies, as well as the need for more outreach scholarship and publication platforms. An evening Story Collider event at Caveat, an NYC venue that characterizes its programming as “intelligent nightlife” provided an opportunity for 5 workshop participants to share their true, personal stories about science. 

During the October virtual monthly meeting of #SciEngage, Jeanne Garbarino, SciOut18 lead organizer, recapped the meeting and described takeaways and next steps. Meeting participants also contributed their thoughts and perspectives. Watch the recording.

Mo’ Time for CS at the CSforALL Summit 2018

October 8, Wayne State University in Detroit, MI

Computer science (CS) education has been a topic of growing concern among educators, administrators, policymakers, and leaders within multiple sectors including K-12 education, higher education, workforce, and industry. The New York City-based organization, CSforALL has positioned itself as a hub for national K-12 computer science initiatives and hosts an annual summit to bring together diverse stakeholders. This year’s CSforALL Summit included commitments from 294 organizations to expand CS across the U.S.

Historically, national initiatives have not focused on the informal STEM education sector. Mo’ Time for CS, a day-long working meeting, brought together funders, education professionals, and researchers to begin thinking about how to integrate CS into afterschool and summer learning programs, libraries, museums, and other out-of-school time (OST) spaces. A July 2018 meeting laid the foundation for Mo’ Time for CS. 

Organized and led by An-Me Chung, formerly of the MacArthur and Mozilla Foundation, and a leader in digital media and technology, the meeting provided a platform to share promising OST programs, identify common challenges, and brainstorm existing infrastructure. Documentation from the meeting will be used to create a blueprint that encompasses what’s next across practice, research and evaluation, and public policy. Here’s the official recap.