Developing A Program Model for High School Science Research, Communication and Education Experiences in Living Laboratory

December 1st, 2018 - November 30th, 2021 | PROJECT

As part of its overall strategy to enhance learning in informal environments, the Advancing Informal STEM Learning (AISL) program 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 Museum of Science, Boston (MOS) and Boston University (BU) will conduct a Pilot and Feasibility Study project that leverages the current Living Laboratory (LL) model and expand it to engage high school students (teens) in experimental psychology research, science communication and science education activities. In LL, which is now an extensive network of museums and university researchers across the country, scientists and museum staff collaborate to engage children in studies on the museum floor and educate caregivers about the research. Multi-site implementation and evaluation of LL has also documented positive impacts for undergraduate researchers. Many sites are eager to extend these benefits to high school students by engaging them as practitioners within the model and by providing them with opportunities to engage in current research, education and communication, thereby helping to foster stronger youth identities with science and its applications in society. This project expands a ten-year LL partnership between MOS and BU to: 1) pilot a program in which high school students both conduct scientific research and engage the public in learning about science; 2) explore strategies for museums and universities to collaboratively engage, support and mentor high school students in science research, communication and education activities; 3) document curricular, other programmatic, and evaluation materials; and 4) convene professional participants to provide feedback on pilot materials, and assess the viability of implementing similar programs at additional sites. Guided by developmental evaluation, these activities will generate knowledge for the field, and act to increase professional capacity to integrate experiences for teens at multiple LL sites in future projects. 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.

Project Website(s)

(no project website provided)

Project Products

Teen Science Research, Communication & Education Program (TSRCP): Cohort 2 Evaluation Report
Teen Science Research, Communication & Education Program (TSRCP): Cohort 1 Evaluation Report
2019 Poster: How can evaluation both support science identity formation and assess change in science identity over time?
2021 Poster: Exploring Teen Science Identity Development Across Virtual and Physical Experiences
2021 Conference Session: Beyond Docents: Developing a Program Model for High School Science Research, Communication, and Education Experiences
2021 Poster: Member-checking about member-checking: Youth agency in identity studies
Engaging Youth in Science Research, Communication, and Education to Foster Identity Development: A Resource Toolkit

Team Members

Becki Kipling, Principal Investigator, Museum of Science, Boston
Peter Blake, Co-Principal Investigator, Boston University
Rachel Fyler, Project Staff, Museum of Science, Boston
Katie Todd, Evaluator
Ian Campbell, Project Staff, Boston University
Tess Harvey, Project Staff
Owen Weitzman, Evaluator
Allison Anderson, Evaluator


Funding Source: NSF
Funding Program: AISL
Award Number: 1811276
Funding Amount: $299,999.00


Audience: Evaluators | General Public | Learning Researchers | Museum | ISE Professionals | Scientists | Undergraduate | Graduate Students | Youth | Teen (up to 17)
Discipline: Education and learning science | Nature of science | Social science and psychology
Resource Type: Project Descriptions
Environment Type: Higher Education Programs | Informal | Formal Connections | Museum and Science Center Programs | Public Programs