This Week In Informal Stem Education (ISE): March 21-27, 2015

March 26th, 2015

This week in informal STEM education, we highlight the 2015 White House Science Fair and the announcement of new citizen science initiatives by President Obama, the Atlanta Science Festival, the National Afterschool Summit, #MuseumWeek and more.

2015 White House Science Fair

President Obama oversaw the 5th annual White House Science Fair on Monday, which featured dozens of student projects from around the country. While many science fair projects emerge from formal learning environments, of particular interest for informal STEM educators is the concurrent announcement by the White House of new citizen science initiatives, one of which is a citizen science forum to be held by year’s end. To kick off these initiatives, the Obama family installed a rain gauge in the First Lady’s Kitchen Garden to contribute rainfall data to the CoCoRaHS (Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network).

Documenting and Assessing Learning in Informal & Media-Rich Environments

MIT Press recently published a new book on assessment in informal learning environments. Produced with support from the MacArthur Foundation, Documenting and Assessing Learning in Informal & Media-Rich Environments provides a new model called the Outcomes-by-Levels Model for Documentation and Assessment. The model identifies at least ten types of outcomes that can be assessed at project, group, or individual levels. The book is available for free download, and the authors (Jay Lemke, Michael Cole, Robert Lecusay, and Vera Michalchick) are planning a series of blog posts to discuss the Recommendations and Conclusions.

Atlanta Science Festival

The second annual Atlanta Science Festival opened this week and continues through the weekend. The week-long celebration of science and technology features more than 100 events such as symposiums, workshop and film-screenings on a wide spectrum of topics, ranging from astronomy to zoology, for audiences young and old. The Expo on Saturday, March 28th, features a wide variety of informal STEM learning and engagement experiences. If you’re unable attend, you can still follow the fun on the ASF Facebook page or Twitter feed.

National Afterschool Summit

The National Afterschool Summit was held at the University of Southern California on Tuesday, March 24. Educators, politicians, business leaders and philanthropists met to discuss the future and importance of afterschool programs. Former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger spoke and called on Congress to reconsider proposed funding cuts for federal afterschool programs.


This week also began with the Twitter event #MuseumWeek, which invited museums and museum-lovers from around the globe to share their favorite experiences, exhibits and artifacts. Each day featured content on a specific museum-related topic. For example, Monday’s hashtag was #secretsMW, soliciting behind-the-scenes pictures and stories. The event continues through Sunday, March 29th. Visit the #MuseumWeek site for the complete program. Speaking of Twitter, we at CAISE hosted our first Twitter chat yesterday at 3pm EST using the #informalscience hashtag. Participants responded to five questions related to the topic “What is ISE?” Read the Storify for a summary of the event. Stay tuned for more information about our next chat by following us on Twitter @informalscience. What are your informal science education news items from this week? Please share them in the comments below. If you tips and leads for next week’s round-up, send them to us at