SYNERGIES–Understanding and Connecting STEM Learning in the Community

January 1st, 2011 - December 31st, 2015 | PROJECT

Several major international studies recognize that children (and adults) pursue lifelong STEM interests and understandings, in and out of school, using a variety of community resources and networks. In most communities though, these resources are not well connected with one another, nor is there understanding on the ground of how children and adults can best access and use these resources to support their lifelong STEM interests and learning. The SYNERGIES project is predicated on the assumption that better understanding how 10-14 year old youth become interested and engaged with STEM (or not) across settings, time and space, will make possible a more coordinated network of educational opportunities, involving many partners in and out of school, and in the process, create a community-wide, research-based educational system that is more effective and synergistic. Using the under-resourced Parkrose community of Portland, Oregon as a case-study, the SYNERGIES team has been longitudinally studying the STEM interest and participation pathways of 200 youth for four years. Data from this investigation formed the foundation for a community-wide, multi-year STEM education improvement plan jointly developed by the schools, after-school providers, museums, libraries, parks, colleges, parents and businesses.

Project Website(s)

(no project website provided)

Project Products
Taking an Ecosystem Approach to STEM Learning: The Synergies Project as Case Study
Understanding youth STEM interest pathways within a single community: the Synergies project
The Synergies research–practice partnership project: a 2020 Vision case study

Team Members

John H Falk, Contributor, Oregon State University
Lynn Dierking, Contributor, Oregon State University
Nancy Staus, Contributor, Oregon State University
Jennifer Wyld, Contributor, Oregon State University
Deborah Bailey, Contributor, Oregon State University
Bill Penuel, Contributor, University of Colorado, Boulder
Ben Kirshner, Contributor, University of Colorado, Boulder
Adam York, Contributor, University of Colorado, Boulder
Samuel Severance, Contributor, University of Colorado, Boulder


Audience: Educators | Teachers | Elementary School Children (6-10) | Evaluators | General Public | Middle School Children (11-13) | Museum | ISE Professionals
Discipline: Education and learning science | General STEM
Resource Type: Project Descriptions
Environment Type: Exhibitions | Informal | Formal Connections | Media and Technology | Public Programs