A Framework for Informal STEM Education Outreach at Field Stations

October 10th, 2018 | RESEARCH

Field stations across the United States provide learning opportunities to the general public through their outreach programming. With approximately 78% and 98% of the US population living within 60 and 120 miles of a field station, respectively, stations have the potential to be key providers of informal STEM education. We surveyed a sample of US biological field stations and asked them to describe their outreach programming and goals. Our findings indicate that field stations prioritize outreach by dedicating personnel and fiscal resources, but such initiatives are highly variable in magnitude and scope. We propose an informal STEM education framework to guide outreach efforts by aligning place-based activities with outreach goals, strands of science learning, and learner engagement theories. Such intentional program design can help stations focus on meaningful learning outcomes for their outreach participants.


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Team Members

Rhonda Struminger, Author, Texas A&M University
Jill Zarestky, Author, Colorado State University
Rachel Short, Author, Texas A&M University
A Michelle Lawing, Author, Texas A&M University


Identifier Type: doi
Identifier: 10.1093/biosci/biy108
Identifier Type: issn
Identifier: 0006-3568

Publication: Biological Sciences
Volume: 68
Number: 12
Page(s): 969–978


Funding Source: NSF
Funding Program: AISL
Award Number: 1713351

Funding Source: NSF
Funding Program: AISL
Award Number: 1713359

Related URLs

Informal Science Learning at Biological Field Stations


Audience: Educators | Teachers | Evaluators | General Public | Learning Researchers | Museum | ISE Professionals | Scientists
Discipline: Climate | Education and learning science | Life science
Resource Type: Peer-reviewed article | Research Products
Environment Type: Citizen Science Programs | Higher Education Programs | Informal | Formal Connections | Public 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 InformalScience.org are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of NSF.

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