Collaborative Research: Advancing professional development and broadening participation in informal science learning via the integration of the science and art of color

September 1st, 2017 - August 31st, 2022 | PROJECT

The intent of this five-year project is to design, deliver, and study professional development for Informal Science Learning (ISL) educators in the arena of equity-focused STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics) teaching and learning. While the strategy of integrating art and science to promote interest, identity, and other STEM-related learning has grown in recent years, this domain is still nascent with respect to a guiding set of best practices. Through prior work, the team has developed and implemented a set of design principles that incorporate effective practices for broadening participation of girls in science via science-art integration on the topic of the biology, chemistry and optics of "Colors in Nature." The continued initiative would impact the ISL field by providing a mechanism for ISL educators in museums, libraries and after-school programs to adopt and implement these STEAM design principles into their work. The team will lead long-term (12-18 months) professional development activities for ISL educators, including: 1) in-person workshops that leverage their four previously developed kits; 2) online, asynchronous learning activities featuring interactive instructional videos around their STEAM design principles; 3) synchronous sessions to debrief content and foster communities of practice; and 4) guided design work around the development or redesign of STEAM activities. In the first four years of the project, the team will work with four core institutional partners (Sitka Sound Science Center, Sno-Isle Libraries, the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District after-school program, and the Pima County Public Library system) across three states (Alaska, Washington, and Arizona). In the project's later stages, they will disseminate their learning tools to a broad, national audience. 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 has three main goals: (1) To support ISL educators in offering meaningful STEAM activities, (2) To create institutional change among the partner organizations, and (3) To advance the ISL field with respect to professional development and designing for STEAM Programming. The research questions associated with the professional development activities address the ways in which change occurs and focus on all three levels: individual, institutional, and the ISL field. The methods are qualitative and quantitative, including videotaped observations, pre and post interviews, surveys and analysis of online and offline artifacts. In addition, the project evaluation will assess the implementation of the project's professional development model for effectiveness. Methods will include observations, interviews, surveys and Website analytics and program data.

Project Website(s)

(no project website provided)

Project Products

2019 AISL PI Meeting Poster: Fostering STEAM
2021 Poster - Fostering STEAM: Designing art-science activities with equity and access in mind
Intertwining art and STEM: an analysis of STEAM activities.
Materials and participants: A dialogical relationship
STEAM stop motion animation
Iteration in STEAM: Moving Beyond Failure
Everyday STEAM Objects as Integrative Boundary Objects
Fostering STEAM Final Summative Evaluation Report
Fostering a STEAM Mindset Across Learning Settings
2023 AISL Awardee Mini-Poster: 1713155, 1713276

Team Members

Laura Conner, Principal Investigator, University of Alaska
Carrie Tzou, Co-Principal Investigator
Mareca Guthrie, Co-Principal Investigator
Stephen Pompea, Co-Principal Investigator
Blakely Tsurusaki, Principal Investigator, University of Washington
Laura Oxtoby, Project Staff
Perrin Teal-Sullivan, Project Staff, University of Washington


Funding Source: NSF
Funding Program: AISL
Award Number: 1713155
Funding Amount: $688,341.00

Funding Source: NSF
Funding Program: AISL
Award Number: 1713276
Funding Amount: $495,692.00


Access and Inclusion: Women and Girls
Audience: Educators | Teachers | Evaluators | Learning Researchers | Museum | ISE Professionals
Discipline: Art | music | theater | Chemistry | Education and learning science | General STEM | Life science
Resource Type: Project Descriptions | Projects
Environment Type: Afterschool Programs | Library Programs | Museum and Science Center Programs | Professional Development and Workshops | Websites | Mobile Apps | Online Media