Collaborative Research: Latinx Families’ Talk about Science in Stories with Young Children

September 1st, 2021 - August 31st, 2024 | PROJECT

This project is funded by the EHR Core Research (ECR) program, which supports work that advances fundamental research on STEM learning and learning environments, broadening participation in STEM, and STEM workforce development. It responds to continuing concerns about racial and social inequities in STEM fields that begin to emerge in the early childhood years. The overarching goal of the project is to identify cultural strengths that support early science learning opportunities among Spanish-speaking children from immigrant Latin American communities, a population that is traditionally underrepresented in STEM educational and career pursuits. Building on a growing interest in the ways stories can promote early engagement in and understanding of science, this project will investigate the role of oral and written stories as culturally relevant and potentially powerful tools for making scientific ideas and inquiry practices meaningful and accessible for young Latinx children. Findings will reveal ways that family storytelling practices can provide accessible entry points for Latinx children's early science learning, and recommend methods that parents and educators can use to foster learning about scientific practices that can, in turn, increase interest and participation in science education and fields.

The project will advance knowledge on the socio-cultural and familial experience of Latinx children that can contribute to their early science learning and skills. The project team will examine the oral story and reading practices of 330 Latinx families with 3- to 5-year-old children recruited from three geographic locations in the United States: New York, Chicago, and San Jose. Combining interviews and observations, the project team will investigate: (1) how conversations about science and nature occur in Latinx children's daily lives, and (2) whether and to what extent narrative and expository books, family personal narratives, and adivinanzas (riddles) engender family conversations about scientific ideas and science practices. Across- and within-site comparisons will allow the project team to consider the immediate ecology and broader factors that shape Latinx families’ science-related views and practices. Although developmental science has long acknowledged that early learning is culturally situated, most research on early STEM is still informed by mainstream experiences that largely exclude the lived experiences of children from groups underrepresented in STEM, especially those who speak languages other than English. The proposed work will advance understanding of stories as cultural resources to support early science engagement and learning among Latinx children and inform the development of high quality, equitable informal and formal science educational opportunities for young children.

Project Website(s)

(no project website provided)

Project Products

Science in stories: Implications for Latine children’s science learning through home-based language practices

Team Members

Gigliana Melzi, Principal Investigator, New York University
Catherine Haden, Principal Investigator, Loyola University Chicago
Maureen Callanan, Principal Investigator, University of California Santa Cruz


Funding Source: NSF
Funding Program: ECR-EHR Core Research
Award Number: 2055382
Funding Amount: $767,844

Funding Source: NSF
Funding Program: ECR-EHR Core Research
Award Number: 2055345
Funding Amount: $815,531

Funding Source: NSF
Funding Program: ECR-EHR Core Research
Award Number: 2055426
Funding Amount: $778,346


Access and Inclusion: English Language Learners | Ethnic | Racial | Hispanic | Latinx Communities | Immigrant Communities
Audience: Educators | Teachers | Families | Learning Researchers | Museum | ISE Professionals | Pre-K Children (0-5)
Discipline: Education and learning science | General STEM
Resource Type: Project Descriptions
Environment Type: Comics | Books | Newspapers | Informal | Formal Connections | Media and Technology | Pre-K | Early Childhood Programs

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This material is supported by National Science Foundation award DRL-2229061, with previous support under DRL-1612739, DRL-1842633, DRL-1212803, and DRL-0638981. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations contained within are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of NSF.

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