This Week in Informal Stem Education: Philadelphia Science Festival, IMLS & More

April 24th, 2015

This week in informal STEM education, we highlight the Philadelphia Science Festival, IMLS National Medals, National Environmental Education Week, National Physics Day, ‘Revisiting the STEM Workforce’, Marti Louw and team receiving the “Engaging” award from the Interaction Design Association.

Earth Day, Environmental Education Week, and National Physics Day

In addition to Earth Day, we also celebrated Environmental Education Week and National Physics Day this week. The theme of EE Week this year is Greening STEM: Surrounded by Science. The National Environmental Education Foundation website features toolkits and resources for educators that are applicable year-round. Today is National Physics Day. Amusement parks around the nation transform into laboratories as they open their gates to students to conduct experiments and collect data. See our Perspectives post for examples of environmental education projects available on

Philadelphia Science Festival

The 5th annual Philadelphia Science Festival starts today. The festival is an opportunity for Philadelphians to build a community around STEM learning through informal science education experiences such as hands-on activities, exhibitions, and presentations.

Marti Louw Takes Home Interaction Design Association “Engaging” Award

Marti Louw is the recipient of the Best in Category award for “Engaging” at Interaction15, the annual Interaction Design Association (IxDA) meeting for interactive design professionals and educators. Louw and her team earned the award for their work on, which makes “the process of learning to see and identify insects more visual and engaging, without sacrificing scientific detail”. The NSF-funded project will become a permanent exhibit at the Carnegie Science Museum.

2015 National Medals for Museum and Library Service Recipients Announced

The Institute of Museum and Library Services announced this week the recipients of the 2015 Medal for Museum and Library Service. The National Medal is given to museums and libraries that demonstrate exemplary community service through programs, partnership and outreach. The list of honorees is available on the IMLS website.

Revisiting the STEM workforce

The National Science Board released a report this week, Revisiting the STEM Workforce, outlining current debates and discussion regarding STEM careers and the lack of consensus on a definition of what constitutes a STEM workforce. “The character of the STEM workforce is much more expansive than when NSF was founded 65 years ago,” said NSB Chairman Dan Arvizu. “New industries and the growing importance of STEM skills in jobs not traditionally thought of as STEM, means that we must revisit what we mean by a ‘STEM worker’.” While the definition of a STEM workforce is still up for debate, the paper highlights the importance of science, technology, engineering and mathematics skill sets for careers in the 21st century. “Perhaps we ought to shift from asking ‘how many STEM workers do we need’ to ‘what knowledge and skills do all of our workers need to be successful now and in the future’,” said NSB Vice Chairman Kelvin Droegemeier.

Image: PhilaScienceFestival via Flickr