Inquiry in the Community: Building Science Capacity in Volunteer Leaders

September 1st, 2008 - August 31st, 2013 | PROJECT

Girl Scouts of Western Washington and Seattle University have collaborated to develop an innovative model for science learning in youth programs. By embedding training and support on science inquiry facilitation directly into existing Girl Scout systems, the project is empowering volunteers to effectively facilitate inquiry science explorations with youth. We are engaging a new audience in the delivery of informal science education: volunteers, predominantly adult women and mothers, in community settings beyond typical science environments. \r\n\r\nNew volunteers participate in science inquiry at Girl Scout recruiting events and in their ongoing support meetings, and also receive training through a project-developed curriculum adapted from the NSF-funded Fundamentals of Inquiry. These classes engage volunteers (who may not be science content specialists) in direct experiences with inquiry, and teach them specific skills to help youth plan, carry out, and synthesize learning from inquiry investigations. Science inquiry processes are seamlessly integrated into broader lessons about implementing Girl Scout programming, thus positioning scientific inquiry as a normal, expected part of Girl Scouting. This sustainable, replicable model enables community youth programs to build volunteers' skills to support inquiry, while at the same time increasing the organizational capacity to sustain quality science programming. Three Girl Scout councils are currently replicating the project, and their experiences will inform the final designs of the curriculum and supporting documentation. The project's mixed-methods evaluation is being conducted by Evaluation & Research Associates.

Project Website(s)

(no project website provided)

Project Products

Inquiry in the Community presentation
Inquiry in the Community: Building Science Capacity in Volunteer Leaders poster

Team Members

Jennifer Sorensen, Principal Investigator, Seattle University
Stephanie Lingwood, Principal Investigator, Girl Scouts of Western Washington


Funding Source: NSF
Funding Program: ISE/AISL
Award Number: 0813455
Funding Amount: 205045

Funding Source: NSF
Award Number: 0813464
Funding Amount: 715413


Access and Inclusion: Women and Girls
Audience: Adults | Elementary School Children (6-10) | Museum | ISE Professionals | Parents | Caregivers
Discipline: General STEM | Nature of science
Resource Type: Project Descriptions
Environment Type: Community Outreach Programs | Professional Development | Conferences | Networks | Professional Development and Workshops | Public Programs